The mayor’s stint with the New York Yankees is over: hitting coach Sean Casey will not return to the team next season, he announced on his podcast, “The Mayor’s Office,” on Wednesday. Here’s what you need to know:
- Casey spent half of the 2023 season with the Yankees, who hired him in early July after firing Dillon Lawson.
- The 49-year-old Casey joined a struggling Yankees squad that finished the season at 82-80 and missed the playoffs for the first time in seven years.
- Casey played 12 MLB seasons, earning three All-Star selections with the Cincinnati Reds. He had most recently worked as an MLB Network analyst at the time of his hiring.
What Casey said
“Boone and I had talked about coming back next year and what that would look like,” Casey said. “I told him that I’m not going to be able to come back next year.”
Casey explained that he didn’t want to be away from his two teenage daughters, who live in Pittsburgh, for eight months of the year while he’s in New York. He went on to add that working for the Yankees was “one of the best experiences of my whole life.”
Analyzing Casey’s stint as hitting coach
The main reason why the Yankees hired Casey midway through this season is because of his ability to connect with players. The veterans in particular enjoyed Casey’s positivity and wanted him to return in this role next season. At the end of the season, it was heavily implied by Casey that the Yankees’ front office told him they wanted him back, too.
The Yankees’ offense didn’t improve under Casey’s watch, though. The Yankees went from a 96 wRC+ under Lawson this season before he was fired to a 92 wRC+ under Casey. Their OPS dropped from .711 under Lawson to .688 with Casey, and they scored just 3.85 runs per game with Casey compared to 4.4 runs under Lawson.
Casey didn’t have much familiarity with the analytics the Yankees use when he was hired, and if the team is going to be analytically oriented moving forward, it would make sense to hire someone who has good communication skills but also understands how to implement the team’s data. — Chris Kirschner, Yankees staff writer
While Casey was undoubtedly appreciated by essentially everyone he came across for his energy, positivity and experience playing in the majors — and especially by the likes of DJ LeMahieu, Anthony Rizzo and Aaron Judge, among others — there was some disconnect between Casey’s teachings and the approaches taught in the Yankees’ minor leagues, according to several sources inside the organization and outside of it. Those sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity in order to speak freely, referenced how the Yankees continued to preach in the minor leagues the style developed by Lawson.
Lawson’s direction, essentially, was to emphasize the idea of hitting the ball hard in the air and to the pull side, and his methods were drivers in the relatively quick ascension to the majors of top prospects Jasson Domínguez, Oswald Peraza, Anthony Volpe, Everson Pereira and Oswaldo Cabrera. But they weren’t in direct line with the philosophies of Casey, which included working into deeper counts and emphasizing hitting to right-center field, among other things, and some questioned whether the disconnect may have contributed to some degree to the second-half struggles of several of the rookies.
Also, some in the organization questioned whether Casey — who hadn’t coached prior to taking the Yankees’ job — would be the best fit to develop a new organizational hitting philosophy, if the Yankees were to move away from Lawson’s methods in the minors. On his podcast, Casey said that he believed he would have been able to return to the Yankees if he wanted, though the team didn’t make him a formal offer. The Yankees’ willingness to keep Casey was likely true, another high-ranking team source said, but it would have been unclear exactly what his job responsibilities would have entailed next season. — Brendan Kuty, Yankees staff writer
(Photo: Brett Davis / USA Today)