Hope you like Christmas surprises, because the New York Yankees delivered you one on Tuesday evening, finally naming the additional two hitting coaches we’d long been promised following the promotion of minor-league hitting coordinator Dillon Lawson to top dog.
The good news? There’s a former Yankee involved!
The bad news? This day serves as a stunning reminder of just how long ago 2012 really was.
Consider that, in choosing the photo from this article, I came across a large number of viable 2012 Yankees who might be joining our coaching staff, or someone else’s, in a matter of days. There was no wrong turn. Curtis Granderson? He was a rumored Mets manager just a few weeks ago. Raul Ibañez? He was a floated Aaron Boone replacement!
Ichiro? No, but … maybe? Russell Martin? Give it another two years.
Turns out, it’s none of the above, but it’s another name that had reportedly been under consideration for an elevation in recent weeks: welcome to New York, Eric Chavez! Now let’s get to work.
3B Eric Chavez joins the Yankees’ 2022 coaching staff
Hopefully, this runs a lot smoother than the last time a former Yankees third baseman ended up back in their dugout. Ooh!
Chavez, in addition to rocking the quintessential 2001 Soul Patch, was known as a very productive hitter who simply could not stay healthy for the better part of the 2000s. On his theoretical last legs when he hooked on with the Yanks in 2011, having played just 64 games in the previous three seasons, Chavez posted an unimpressive 82 OPS+ in 58 games that first year before busting out and staying healthy in 2012.
At the age of 34, Chavez played in 113 games, bashed 16 homers, batted .281 and ripped an OPS+ mark of 125. He parlayed that success into two final seasons in Arizona, where he sported two consecutive 120 OPS+ marks (though he played 80 games in 2013, then just 44 in 2014).
And yes, he saw this career transition coming all along — or, at least he did in the later years.
Chavez isn’t the only former MLB player joining the staff, though his six Gold Gloves and four top-30 MVP finishes certainly render him the most relevant.
In case you forgot Travis Chapman’s MLB career, it consisted of a single at-bat for the 2003 Phillies in which he made an out, giving him a disappointing career OPS+ total of -100. Now he’ll be the team’s first base coach, in charge of pep and encouragement for all the players who make it farther than he ever did at the MLB level (kidding, Travis).
Joining Chavez as the second hitting assistant will be Casey Dykes. A 2012 graduate of Western Kentucky University, Dykes took a grad assistant position there before moving onto VMI and Indiana, where he aided the Hoosiers in winning the Big Ten (Kyle Schwarber, come on down!). He joined the Yankees’ system in 2019 and was supposed to be the Single-A Charleston RiverDogs’ hitting coach in 2020 before the pandemic had other plans. We assume this is a bit better.
The Yankees bizarrely deleted their tweet announcing these new hires about 15 minutes after they released it, but a press release was sent out to the media, so we assume everything is copacetic/they just forgot to add a catching coordinator (EDIT: That’s what happened). Regardless, we’re very glad some experienced (on the field) new blood is joining the ranks.