Although Rob Thomson has been with the Yankees the last 28 years, he said he nonetheless can be the “fresh” and “new” voice that general manager Brian Cashman said he’s looking for in a manager.
“I am a new voice, I am a fresh voice,” Thomson said on a conference call Thursday. “As much as I like Joe and respect Joe, everybody’s a little bit different.”
Thomson, Joe Girardi’s bench coach the last three years, was the first candidate to interview for the manager’s job. He characterized Wednesday’s nearly six-hour session as “thorough,” saying it left him “worn out,” but in a good way.
Among those in the room were Cashman, assistant general managers Jean Afterman and Michael Fishman, vice president of baseball operations Tim Naehring and assistant director of professional scouting Dan Giese.
Thomson feels indebted to Girardi for bringing him to the big-league staff in 2008. Yet it was obvious he wanted to draw a distinction between himself and Girardi when it comes to player relationships. Several times Cashman had mentioned Girardi’s “communication” issues as the reason he wasn’t brought back after 10 years as manager. Not coincidentally, Thomson used the word liberally.
“One of my strengths is my communication skills and being able to reach people, build relationships, gain trust,” said Thomson, who joined the Yankees in 1990 as the third-base coach for Class A Fort Lauderdale. “I really don’t want to compare myself to Joe, I love Joe, but I do know this: My strengths are my communication and my trust with the players.”
Thomson, 54, spent four years in the Tigers’ system after being drafted in the 32nd round out of the University of Kansas in 1985. He said his long-standing ties with the Yankees’ organization and its players can only be positives.
“One of the things that stands out for me is the continuity and how much I know these players and how much they know me,” he said. “They know that the only thing I have in mind for them is what’s best for them. I really have no other agenda. I just want what’s best for the players.”
The Yankees have the largest analytics department in the majors, and Thomson said he’ll have no issues working with it.
“It’s another tool to have,” he said. “And if you’re not paying attention to it, and you’re not utilizing the analysts that are upstairs, I think you’re kind of foolish.”
Like every member of Girardi’s staff, Thomson’s contract expired Oct. 31, and Cashman told them all they could talk to other teams. Some have, including Thomson, but he said he has no desire to go elsewhere.
“I’m a Yankee,” he said. “I’ve been here 28 years, and if I didn’t get this job, I would certainly want to come back because this is what I consider my home. I love it here, I love the players, I love what’s going on here. I’m very optimistic for the future of this franchise.”
Judge, Sanchez win Silver Sluggers. The Yankees’ Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez were among eight first-time recipients of Louisville Silver Slugger Awards, which were announced Thursday night. MLB managers and coaches vote on the awards, which go to the top players at each position in each league. Judge, a lock to win AL Rookie of the Year and co-favorite for AL MVP with Houston’s Jose Altuve, hit .284 with a rookie-record 52 home runs, 1.049 OPS and 114 RBIs. Sanchez, in his first full season in the big leagues, hit .278 with an .876 OPS, 33 homers and 90 RBIs despite missing 21 games because of a biceps strain.