Most Yankees fans wouldn’t know Dillon Lawson if they tripped over him in the Great Hall at Yankee Stadium.
Brian Cashman is not one to fire a hitting coach to feed red meat to the masses, so it’s safe to say that Lawson’s firing — sorry, “relieving of duties” — after Sunday’s 7-4 loss to the Cubs was not done because of fan pressure. It was done for the simplest reason:
He wasn’t getting the job done.
So while fans may have rejoiced at the news, that could be premature. If the fortunes of the New York Yankees rely on who the hitting coach is, then the New York Yankees have bigger issues than we think.
Questions, we have questions:
How does firing Lawson fix Giancarlo Stanton or Anthony Rizzo or DJ LeMahieu or Josh Donaldson? Those four highly paid vets have 14 All-Star selections among them. None of them are for Tuesday’s All-Star Game, which makes sense when you look at their individual and combined offensive numbers.
How does bringing in someone from outside the organization, as Cashman said he’s going to do to replace Lawson, fix Aaron Judge’s injured toe?
And zeroing in on Sunday’s demoralizing defeat — in which the Yankees blew a 4-1 lead in their final game before the break — how does a new hitting coach make Aaron Boone not take out Domingo German, Mr. Perfect Game himself, in the seventh after only 74 pitches when German had allowed only one hit?
How does a new hitting coach make Gleyber Torres not boot a sure inning-ending double-play ball in the Cubs’ tying three-run seventh?
And the biggest question of all: Was it the chicken parm incident that ultimately doomed Lawson?
By now you know the tale: Rookie Anthony Volpe, with his average down to .186 and people outside the organization calling for his demotion to Triple-A, got a tip from Yankees minor-league catcher Austin Wells about his stance during a chicken parmigiana and spaghetti dinner at the Volpe family home.
Volpe righted his offensive ship after the meal. On Sunday, it was Volpe’s two-run homer in the sixth inning (followed by a solo shot by Kyle Higashioka) that snapped a 1-1 tie and appeared to send the Yankees on their way to victory.
According to Cashman, the decision to fire Lawson was made before Sunday’s game. So even if the Yankees had won, the general manager still would be looking for a new hitting coach before the Yankees' second half opens on Friday in Colorado.
It had to be embarrassing for Lawson that Volpe was fixed not by him but by a minor-league catcher and some chicken parm. In the court of public opinion, that probably was the moment when Yankees fans learned the name of the hitting coach, just so they could call for his firing.
Cashman’s belief that he “felt like this was necessary” is sincere, which we know because since taking over as Yankees general manager in 1998, he had never fired a coach in-season.
Dillon Lawson apparently wasn’t the best hitting coach ever. But he does own the dubious distinction of being the first coach fired during the season in the Cashman era.
The Yankees under George Steinbrenner used to fire managers and coaches willy-nilly, to the point that it got ridiculous.
The Yankees under Hal Steinbrenner are criticized today for not being trigger-happy enough when it comes to holding folks accountable for failure.
Cashman is proud of the stability he has brought to the Bronx. But with the Yankees near the bottom of MLB in most offensive categories, he felt now was the time to act.
The Yankees go into the All-Star break one game out of a playoff spot. They still have a shot to make it to the postseason, especially if Judge can return, Carlos Rodon turns into a co-ace alongside Gerrit Cole and Cashman makes some savvy deadline-day trades to beef up the offense.
The new hitting coach? Maybe Austin Wells is available. And pass the chicken parm.