The New York Yankees haven't gone on a firin' spree since the days of George Steinbrenner, but did undergo a mini remodel a few years back when both Aaron Boone lieutenant Phil Nevin and hitting coach Marcus Thames found themselves out of a job in an attempt to shift the culture.
It seemed to work ... insanely well for the first half of 2022, but all's been rolling downhill ever since. The Yankees have been a roughly-.500 club since the 2022 trade deadline -- or, more specifically, they fell way below .500 in August, rallied in September, found themselves embarrassed in the ALCS, and are in danger of drowning yet again following Aaron Judge's toe injury.
Something has to change, given the spotlight that's eternally on this team. But how many heads must role? And will it really make much of a difference?
If this season ends in turmoil, out of the playoffs, the Yankees might have to make some high-profile changes yet again to appease the masses. How far will they go, and who has the best chance of staying?
Firing Yankees Scapegoats: Who should go if Yankees miss 2023 MLB Playoffs?
1 Yankees scapegoat for the hot seat: Dillon Lawson
Yankees hitting coach Dillon Lawson seems to have done admirable work in the Houston Astros' minor-league system in the mid-2010s, and was part of an effective revolution in the Yankees' minor-league ranks from 2018-2021. When the Yankees promoted him to be their big-league hitting coach, they thought they'd found the man who was responsible for so much accelerated offensive development below the MLB surface.
They might've picked the wrong guy yet again.
Lawson's Yankees haven't made a tangible leap from the middle-of-the-road offense that wrapped 2019. Through June 2022, he looked like a world-beating genius, but that team's horrific second half (non-Aaron Judge division) and 2023 swoon have left him reeling and taking postgame hostage interviews in front of a brick wall at Fenway.
Lawson's simplistic message -- "Hit Strikes Hard" -- is prime fodder for the media if his team is struggling. Certainly, his philosophy goes deeper than that, but it's an easy phrase to latch onto when things aren't working. Anthony Volpe seeking swing solutions at a chicken parm dinner rather than in several meetings with his hitting staff also isn't a fantastic look/endorsement of trust in Lawson.
If the Yankees are raking, "Hit Strikes Hard" sounds like a powerhouse motto. If they're flailing, whiffing, and hitting the ball into the ground, it's laughably reductive. Lawson might not be actively hurting the team's patchwork offense, but he's not helping much these days (though, yes, the cast also stinks). He'd be the easiest name to dismiss if the end of the season matches the first half.