With Derek Jeter in charge of the Miami Marlins, he has his sights set on the New York Yankees to help improve his new franchise.It was only a matter of time before New York Yankees legend Derek Jeter went to his old organization to find help for his new one.
And it looks like the new Miami Marlins Minority Owner and CEO has focused on his first target. According to Mark Feinsand of MLB.com, Jeter is looking to bring Gary Denbo — the Yankees Vice President of Player Development — down to South Beach.
Growing industry buzz that Gary Denbo (Yankees VP/Player Development) is a top candidate for Marlins GM job once Derek Jeter takes over.
— Mark Feinsand (@Feinsand) August 20, 2017
Throughout the 27 years of his post-playing career, the former infielder has been a minor league manager with the Cincinnati Reds (1986-89), a scout for the Cleveland Indians (2002) and the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters of Nippon Professional Baseball (2003-05) and hitting coach for the Toronto Blue Jays (2008).
But for someone who didn’t spend his entire career with the Yankees, Denbo is as close to a franchise-lifer as it gets.
When he joined the organization in 1990, he was brought in as a minor league hitting coach and eventually worked his way to a managerial role. In 1997, Denbo was named hitting coordinator for the entire organization and then went on to become an Assistant Minor League Director at the turn of the millennium. He was then named the Yankees hitting coach the following season.
When Denbo returned to pinstripes in 2009, he became a Player Development Consultant. That position evolved into the role of VP of Player Development, one that he received in 2014 and continues to hold today.
From Jeter, Mariano Rivera and Jorge Posada to Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez and Greg Bird, Denbo has had an integral role in their growth, as well as countless other young talents looking to make their way through the Yankees organization.
When Jeter was going through a hitting drought in 2011, he turned to Denbo to fix his swing. Posada considered Denbo someone who was instrumental in making him an everyday force in the batter’s box. When letting Rivera shag fly balls back in the lower levels of the minors, Denbo thought the future all-time great closer was also their best center fielder.
Fast forward to current day and Denbo’s help has continued. He had a hand in helping Aaron Judge go from looking lost at the plate to AL MVP over the first half of 2017. He signed Sanchez as a 16-year old out of the Dominican Republic and has also watched and worked with Bird closely as he inches towards a return to the Bronx.
But Denbo hasn’t only worked with past and present stars. He knows the importance of having both sides work together.
Ever since taking on the new role, he has created Captains Camp. This was generated to help bridge the gap between former Yankees and the current crop of Baby Bombers.
“We want to develop championship-caliber players for the New York Yankees. We are not satisfied with an average player. We know that it takes above-average players to win championships and that’s what we’re trying to develop. And part of that is what we are teaching in Captains Camp,” Denbo told Sweeny Murti. We are going to ensure that our players understand that this is the ‘New York Yankee Way.’ We respect the game and we respect our opponents. We respect our teammates and our fans and everything about it. And we have a clear understanding that it’s a privilege to put the uniform on. What we’ve done over time is bring in some speakers to talk to these young men that have very clearly expressed to these players what a great privilege it is to play for the New York Yankees, talked about the history of the organization and how important it is to pay respect to that, how important it is that they be a good teammate.”
If Jeter and Denbo eventually come to an agreement, the Yankees will continue to have a number of strong voices in the front office. Brian Cashman has done a tremendous job in reshaping the roster, Tim Naehring and Jim Hendry have done wonders working side by side with him and Gene Michael still has a prominent voice in the organization.
But that doesn’t change the fact that losing Denbo will hurt the franchise. He’s done a fantastic job in developing young players and has a strong eye for talent. He’s kick started relationships with past and present players that benefit the future of the team.
And most importantly, he knows — and cherishes — the Yankee way.