Oct
26

The Obligatory Pitching Coach Post

By

(AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

The Yankees made a somewhat surprising move yesterday when Brian Cashman announced that pitching coach Dave Eiland will not return for the 2011 season. He said the reason was “private” and declined to elaborate, but there’s a good chance that Eiland’s month-long leave of absence in June contributed to his departure. Cashman also indicated that it was his decision alone, and there’s nothing manager Joe Girardi could have said or done to change his mind. That tells you that Cash’s mind was made up a while ago.

Anyway, regardless of why Eiland is no longer with the team, the Yankees will move forward and presumably begin the search for a new pitching coach almost immediately. There are no shortage of candidates out there, but as fans how do we know what a pitching coach really does? How do we know his strengths and weakness when we almost never see him at work? It’s almost impossible for us to judge these guys from the outside, but that’s not going to stop us from talking about it.

Below is a list of potential candidates for the job, but don’t take this as my recommendation or anything like that. It’s just a list of guys that could be considered and their qualifications. That’s pretty much it. Feel free to form your own opinions, but remember that they don’t mean anything. The Yanks will conduct a thorough search and interview process, and make the best decision they can based on that.

These guys are listed alphabetically, so don’t read into the order at all. On to the list…

Scott Aldred

Aldred is essentially the next Dave Eiland, working his way up through the Yanks’ minor league ladder as a pitching coach. He held the position with Double-A Trenton in 2007 and 2008 before moving up to Triple-A Scranton the last two years. Aldred’s minor league career has allowed him to work with basically every young pitcher on the big league staff, namely Phil Hughes, Joba Chamberlain, David Robertson, and Ivan Nova. That familiarity works in his favor, but Aldred has zero coaching experience at the major league level.

His playing career is nothing to write home about; six teams in parts of eight-plus seasons with a 6.02 ERA, but that tells you nothing about his skills as a pitching coach.

Nardi Contreras

The Yanks’ minor league pitching guru, Contreras currently spends his time working with minor leaguers, refining their deliveries and mechanics with a high degree of success. He served as the Yanks’ pitching coach in 1995 before moving on to the Mariners (1997-1998) and White Sox (1998-2002) in the same capacity, returning to New York in 2005. Aside from Eiland, no one knows the Yankee pitching staff – not to mention the young players coming up through the system – better. He might be too valuable in his current role, but we can’t write him off as a candidate.

Mike Harkey

(AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

The Yankees’ current bullpen coach and long-time pal of Girardi, Harkey served as the pitching coach for Triple-A Iowa (Cubs) before coming to the Bronx in 2008. He has no experience as a full-time pitching coach in the big leagues, though he did fill in for Eiland when he was on his leave of absence this June. The lack of coaching experience certainly hurts, but Harkey is familiar with the staff, and that shouldn’t be discounted. He might be the front-runner for the job just based on his current position with the Yanks, but I definitely wouldn’t consider him a shoo-in.

Joe Kerrigan

The Yankees’ bullpen coach in 2006 and 2007, Kerrigan has experience as a pitching coach with the Expos (1992-1996), Red Sox (1997-2001), Phillies (2003-2004), and Pirates (2008-2010). Pittsburgh cut him lose in August because their pitching staff was horrifically bad, but his reputation within the game is pretty strong. Kerrigan might not even be a candidate for the job, but I wanted to cover all my bases and at least list him as a possibility.

Rick Kranitz

The current Orioles’ pitching coach was Girardi’s pitching coach with the Marlins in 2006, when he was named Baseball America’s Major League Coach Of The Year in his first season on the job. He resigned from that position during the 2007 season and joined Baltimore in 2008, though new manager Buck Showalter is still in the process of determining his 2011 coaching staff. There’s a chance Kranitz will be let go as Buck brings in his own people, freeing him up to rejoin Girardi in New York.

Leo Mazzone

Mazzone made a name for himself the Braves, coaching three Hall of Famers in Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, and John Smoltz. Those three will make anyone look good, but Mazzone also guided guys like Denny Neagle, Jaret Wright, and Russ Ortiz to the best seasons of their careers, only to watch them fall apart once leaving town. Mazzone left the Braves in 2005 and served as Baltimore’s pitching coach until being fired after the 2007 season. He hasn’t coached since and co-hosts a radio show in Atlanta.

Curt Young

(AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

The A’s long-time pitching coach (2004-2010), Young declined the team’s contract offer this past weekend and to seek opportunities elsewhere. His time in Oakland gave him ample opportunity to work with young pitchers, namely Brett Anderson, Trevor Cahill, Gio Gonzalez, and Dallas Braden. Their pitching staff has consistently been one of the best in the league, though having a strong defense and favorable home park played into that. Young also has some ties to the Yanks, albeit loose ones; he threw 43.1 innings in pinstripes in the second half of the 1992 season. I would be surprised if he didn’t at least interview for the Yanks’ job.

Carl Willis

The current pitching coach in Seattle, Willis was promoted to that position this past August when the Mariners fired basically their entire coaching staff. Before that he spent seven seasons as the pitching coach for the Indians (2003-2009), which means he’s very familiar with CC Sabathia and top free agent target Cliff Lee. With former Indians manager Eric Wedge taking over in Seattle, Willis may not even consider changing jobs right now.

Categories : Pitching

83 Comments»

  1. Jimmy McNulty says:

    Would Mike Harkey even fit in the dugout with the rest of the team?

    • Big Stein says:

      He is tall, but I think he can fit into the dugout. and if necessary, they can always lower the floor a couple of inches.

  2. CanoFTW says:

    Probably not even a remote possibility but it would be pretty cool to see David Cone as the pitching coach…

  3. Jimmy McNulty says:

    Mike. Fucking. Mussina.

    • J.R. says:

      As I recall, he wasn’t well liked in the clubhouse. He had the reputation of being elitist and would complain when he had to break his typical 5 day schedule.

      Maybe he would be different as a coach, but that’s not exactly a personality you need to bring back.

      That being said, I do remember him also asking for Hughes and IPK to have lockers next to his, so he has shown that he enjoys aspects of coaching.

    • cr1 says:

      Moose would roll his eyes at Girardi and turn around and walk off if a reporter addressed a question to him.

      Other than that, terrific idea.

  4. Tom Zig says:

    Of the ones you listed I like Aldridge Aldred and Willis the best.

    Aldred for his familiarity with the young pitchers we have on our staff. Which is the same reason why Eiland got hired, no?

    Willis for his familiarity with the big man.

    Other names I’ve seen mentioned by various people:

    Al Leiter
    David Cone
    Dave Righetti (although after his team making it to the WS, I doubt he leaves)
    Greg Maddux

    • James says:

      If Leiter is available (as he splits time with both the YES Network and the MLB Network) he might be a good option. He’s knowledgable and connects with viewers well… I’m sure he could connect with the staff well also.

      I seriously doubt Mussina would even consider it, considering he retired two years ago to spend more time with his family. The dude could be the 5th starter on the Yankees right now even after a 2 season layoff.

  5. Hughesus Christo says:

    Mark “The Thunder from Down Under” Hutton

    Any MLB experience? Nope. Is he coaching something somewhere? Maybe. Did he play for the Yankees at some point? Yes.

    Done deal.

  6. Tom Zig says:

    Whoever the Yankees hire I have faith that it will be because they like his credentials as an instructor and wasn’t just someone who was good at pitching. I’m not saying that all good pitchers can’t be good teachers.

    cough cough Ron Guidry cough cough

  7. Big Stein says:

    Randy Johnson

    maybe, Curt Schilling.

  8. mike says:

    Eiland was cheating on his wife and she found out. That is why he had to leave team during the season.

  9. I see Curt Young interviewing for sure. Harkey, yes, and man i’d love to see mazzone. He had a good staff in atlanta for years he made better, and he didn’t have a good time in Baltimore. Probably becase the Orioles didn’t give him good pitching. The Yanks HAVE good pitching, he’ll improve them. I dont see Guidry coming back, but i’d like that as well.

    • Big Stein says:

      mazzone will be 63. Isn’t that a little long in the tooth.

    • Tom Zig says:

      I doubt Mazzone even interviews. At 62 I don’t think he’d want to jump back into the daily grind of being a pitching coach. I’m sure he is perfectly happy just kickin it with his radio show.

      Pass on Guidry.

  10. Clay Bellinger says:

    Nice rundown on the list of candidates…Curt Young seems intriguing

  11. Murakami says:

    Off-topic question:

    Is Cliff Lee’s wife really Laura Bush?

    I am starting to despise Lee.

    Let him re-sign with the Texans.

    • Big Stein says:

      you mean because she didn’t like fans spitting and throwing beer on the texas section.

      really, I’ve always been embarrassed by knuckleheads who abuse out of town fans.

      • Murakami says:

        Since I was actually there, seated in the handicapped section just above 226, I’d say Mrs. Lee is singling out 1 or 2 idiots for her own purposes.

        Were you there?? The entire visiting team’s family section was directly in front of me. I saw the beer go flying, and the people attempting to locate the offending person, of their own volition, to help security. Oh yeah, those people trying to help were GASP Yankee fans.

        The little group of Texans were also trying to provoke, with their insipid little chants that went on as the score rose to 8-0, they pogo-ed up and down, waved their banners even though people complained they couldn’t see when they did it, and the embalmed-looking, coiffed little wifies made an endless procession to and from somewhere – the ladies’ room, I suppose? – during a game ostensibly important to their team’s playoff fortunes, but I guess they figured Cliffie had it under control and putting on lipstick was eminently more important.

        The majority of people responded to the game, like any reasonable fan body with a team playing a game with high stakes would. No one was going to be acting like a welcoming committee, fawning over Texas wives and circulating cucumber sandwiches and dacqueries.

        Fans were concerned with trying to will their team to win a swing playoff game (this was Game 3).

        • Since I was actually there, seated in the handicapped section just above 226, I’d say Mrs. Lee is singling out 1 or 2 idiots for her own purposes.

          Were you there?? The entire visiting team’s family section was directly in front of me. I saw the beer go flying, and the people attempting to locate the offending person, of their own volition, to help security. Oh yeah, those people trying to help were GASP Yankee fans.

          The little group of Texans were also trying to provoke, with their insipid little chants that went on as the score rose to 8-0, they pogo-ed up and down, waved their banners even though people complained they couldn’t see when they did it, and the embalmed-looking, coiffed little wifies made an endless procession to and from somewhere – the ladies’ room, I suppose? – during a game ostensibly important to their team’s playoff fortunes, but I guess they figured Cliffie had it under control and putting on lipstick was eminently more important.

          The majority of people responded to the game, like any reasonable fan body with a team playing a game with high stakes would. No one was going to be acting like a welcoming committee, fawning over Texas wives and circulating cucumber sandwiches and dacqueries.

          Fans were concerned with trying to will their team to win a swing playoff game (this was Game 3).

          http://riveraveblues.com/off-topic-8/

    • Joe West's Music Career says:

      So much no to all of this.

  12. Dave the Ox says:

    Nolan Ryan.

  13. Doug says:

    Young is apparently the frontrunner for the Red Sox pitching coach opening

  14. Johnny O says:

    There’s some guy toiling around in the Mexican league, but I heard he’s ready to come back to the States. Plus he may or may not be familiar with Alfredo Aceves, although this guy is the original Mexican Gangster. He is non other than Kenny F*cking Powers.

    If this were in english, it would have read 101.

  15. Frank says:

    MLBTR is reporting Young will likely be interviewed by the RS.

    Willis seems to make sense given his relationships with CC and Lee. Is he willing to leave Seattle for NY?

  16. Big Stein says:

    How ’bout Kenny Powers

  17. Dick Whitman says:

    Forgot Venditte.

  18. Ok, no Mazzone, so what are we thinking? Mussina? he’s home on a tractor, i don’t see that happening. what’s scott erickson doing these days. i’m joking but i honestly can’t think of anyone.

  19. Rey22 says:

    Mariano Rivera.

  20. JerseyDutch says:

    Aldred. It’s going to be Aldred. Book it.

  21. JohnathanCold says:

    Rick Ankiel should be on the list.

  22. Jerome S says:

    Any HOF pitcher who recently retired.

    -Pedro
    -Maddux
    -Randy Johnson
    -Roger Clemens
    -John Smoltz (eeeww)
    -Tom Glavine
    For shits and giggles, El Duque.

  23. John Flynn says:

    Joe Kerrigan oh please GOD not Joe Kerrigan.

  24. those candidates suck.

  25. Chris in Maine says:

    Come on, how come Billy Conners is not listed…

    Being serious now, how about Al Leiter?

  26. Jeremy says:

    Do I have to be the first jerk to point out that in a truly alphabetical list one would think Willis would come before rather than after Young?

  27. Yankeegirl49 says:

    No one mentioned Jimmy Key..may as well throw his name in with the rest of them

  28. Robb says:

    Seriously, what about Gil Patterson. How long is his contract with the A’s?

  29. my spouse and i uncover this website anagin as a result of big g! fine artical,feel ough!

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