For the past few years (decade? every year since 2002 except for 2009?), the Yankees have been the exact same team: a spectacular regular-season offense, followed by a silent departure when the lights turn brightest in the postseason.
Now, at least, the modern Yankees have built a pitching factory to rival any in the game. Even without prototypical big names, they've still managed to reach the ALCS and compete several times since 2017. Unfortunately, the result has been the same old, same old anyway. Against the game's elite arms, New York's bats have faltered and disappeared (yes, including Aaron Judge).
How do you change that while the personnel stays the same? That's the impossible task ex-big leaguer and Aaron Boone ally Sean Casey has now been handed.
Casey will take over as the Yankees' hitting coach midstream, and he'll be forced to navigate a world where batting average has been deemphasized in favor of slugging ... until the game speeds up on its biggest stage, of course.
In a segment on his personal podcast "The Mayor's Office" this offseason, Casey recently raged about the type of lineup that slugs with a low batting average in April through September, only to receive a wake-up call in October. According to Casey, teams that end up with low batting averages struggle to move runners over and score once they're no longer facing No. 4 starters and bullpens.
But can he actually fix this issue with the Yankees, or just yell about it?
Yankees hitting coach Sean Casey hates the Yankees' playoff offense
Can someone who hates the Yankees effectively coach the Yankees? We'll find out soon.
At least Casey didn't have to agree to a lengthy commitment in order to enact this experiment; if he reaches the end of 2023 and the assignment isn't for him, he can end the partnership. So can Brian Cashman. If production falls another level below its current stasis, Aaron Boone might even be joining him.
Logic dictates that Casey's philosophy will lean heavily on DJ LeMahieu who, when healthy, provides the exact type of production that he seems to desire. LeMahieu peaking was the main reason the heavily injured 2019 Yankees seemed different from their predecessors; even as the cast changed constantly, the run production motor stayed constant.
If LeMahieu (and Anthony Rizzo) can't find their mojo, and quickly, Casey's Yankees might be doomed, regardless of how well he motivates them. The ingredients are technically there. Unfortunately, they might've regressed (while battling injuries), invalidating their theoretical contributions.
Casey's preaching what some Yankee fans have been yearning for over the course of a turbulent last few decades. Hopefully, he'll actually get a chance to execute his strategy, and either prove those fans right or disastrously wrong.
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