We're less than 2 days from the reported team-set deadline for hiring a new hitting coach. We know the Yankees interviewed Dave Magadan last Wednesday, we know they interviewed Chili Davis on Thursday, and via Rob Bradford and Alex Speier, we know that Davis was hired by the Red Sox to be their new hitting coach last night.
The Yankees were scheduled to meet with a few other candidates on Friday and this past weekend, but as of yet we have not found out the names of those other interviewees. One of the names that was connected to the job was Marcus Thames, most recently the hitting coach at Double-A Trenton and former Yankee player. While Magadan appears to be the front runner for the job based on the reports that are out, I can't help but think that Thames could be the surprise sleeper candidate from the rest of the pool.
Look at Thames' resume. He's young and relatively new to the coaching job at age 37, he's worked in the Yankee system as a hitting coach for the last few years, and done so to very positive reviews. In that respect, he's a perfect fit for the type of change the Yankees have said they want and need to make in their organization. Thames is also a former Yankee draft pick, one who came up through their system during the great dynasty of the late 90s-early 2000s. He was traded away before he could make an impact on the team, but he returned for that great year in 2010. Thames is a link back to the glory days and someone who the front office is familiar with and fond of. In that respect, he's a perfect fit for the type of decisions the front office usually makes, ones based in familiarity and connection to the glory days rather than a desire to think differently and look forward.
Thames is almost a perfect fit to both sides of the Yankee decision-making machine, the one that they express publicly and the one they act out privately behind closed doors. Based on the work he's done in High-A and Double-A over the last 2 years, giving Thames the hitting coach job could be seen as a sign that the team is really committed to getting younger and developing a new core from their farm system. Thames will already have a rapport with some of the young top prospects moving up to the higher levels of the system, and his previous stints as a Yankee should give him some clout with the veterans already on the team.
The concern about a younger coach commanding authority from veteran players is not completely unwarranted, and the idea of Thames giving hitting advice to A-Rod, someone almost 3 years his senior, next year does seem a little strange. But that would be a move that's outside the typical Yankee playbook, and in that sense maybe that's why it would be a good move. The Yankee shot callers clearly think highly of Thames as a coach who can work well with young players and they know they need to start getting younger. Hiring Thames could be a small early step in that direction.