Yankees choose 2017 Aaron Boone alternative as assistant hitting coach
If Aaron Boone’s seat felt secure when the week began, the New York Yankees made sure on Monday to remind him how tenuous his “three-year extension” really is by bringing in a Ghost of Yankees Past.
If he finds a pattern of success? Sure! Three years could be a lifetime contract. If he fails spectacularly? Anyone can be dismissed outright at any time, and a potential replacement for Boone may now be sitting down the bench from him.
We thought, for a week and a half, that New York’s braintrust was grooming assistant hitting coach hire Eric Chavez for that role one day. Boone raved about Chavez, post-hire, calling him a “Swiss Army Knife” for the staff who could theoretically instruct (and learn) anything.
Then, days later, he was gone to the Mets, given a promotion to the primary hitting coach instead of an assistant. How were the Yankees going to survive in the wilderness without their Swiss Army knife?
Apparently, by waiting several months, then finally settling on quite an impressive get.
The Yankees chose Hensley “Bam Bam” Meulens on Monday to be their final assistant hitting coach. He was once a Yankees top prospect, but has become a rising star in recent years as a hitting coach with the three-time World Champion San Francisco Giants, a coach of the Netherlands team in the World Baseball Classic … and, oh yeah, a finalist for the vacant Yankees managerial job at the end of the 2017 season.
Yankees hire potential Aaron Boone replacement Hensley Meulens as hitting coach.
Meulens was worth -1.7 WAR as a Yankee, Expo, and D-Back from 1989-1998, so ideally he would provide a bit more contribution this season manning the third (and most experienced) spot on the hitting coach depth chart.
Slotting in alongside promoted minor-league coordinators Dillon Lawson and Casey Dykes (go Hoosiers), Meulens will not be the leader in the clubhouse — that’s Lawson, king of the “Hit Strikes Hard” mantra.
He will be the most familiar name, though, as well as a decorated leader in the field. And he’s someone who was also thought to be the second-place finisher in the managerial race four years ago, ahead of Eric Wedge and Rob Thompson.
Meulens has plenty of familiarity with Didi Gregorius and Andrelton Simmons from his Netherlands days (and also Xander Bogaerts, folks), making him an easy punchline for those trying to connect all the wrong dots.
The far more interesting takeaway, as far as we’re concerned, is the fact that the Yankees have mended fences with not one, but two potential “manager of the future” options this offseason, bringing both back into the family. Not only Meulens, but also Carlos Beltran, who is rehabilitating himself in the YES booth, bring an interesting subplot to this season’s action.
Boone has no alternative but to smile and welcome the help, of course, but a name like Meulens is a lot more threatening to his seat than rumored additions Eric Hinske and Mark Trumbo ever were.
Ultimately, it’s a better look for the Yankees that the final piece of the coaching staff puzzle has this much experience, regardless of whether or not anyone gets displaced.