Archive for Front Office
The Marlins have hired Tino Martinez to be their big league hitting coach according to multiple reports. While we all remember him for his days as a player, Tino has been with the Yankees as a Specialist Assistant to the GM since 2008. He worked with the club’s minor league prospects down in Tampa throughout the year, and the Yankees had to give him permission to interview with the Marlins. Martinez also did some games on the YES Network but to be honest, I won’t miss him. He was always better seen and not heard, if you catch my drift.
In other news, the Pirates have hired Bill Livesey as a Senior Advisor to GM Neal Huntington. Livesey spent two stints and over 20 years in the Yankees front office, most notably drafting Derek Jeter while serving as the team’s amateur scouting director from 1991-1996. He most recently worked with the team as one of Brian Cashman‘s most trusted pro scouts from 2008-2011.
Via the NY Post: The Yankees have reassigned minor league pitching coordinator Nardi Contreras and replaced him with Gil Patterson. Patterson has held the same role with the Athletics since 2008 and he’s had a number of coaching stints in the New York system dating back to the mid-80s. The Yankees interviewed Patterson for their pitching coach job before hiring Larry Rothschild in 2010. Contreras had been the club’s minor league pitching coordinator since 2005.
Between this move and the recent Billy Connors firing, it seems pretty obvious that the Yankees are not happy with how their minor league pitchers are developing, and they shouldn’t be. The only starting pitcher to really reach his ceiling under their watch in the last 10-15 years was Chien-Ming Wang. We all focus on the draft and international signings and all that, but acquiring talented amateur players means little if you can’t develop them properly. The Yankees have really struggled with their young pitchers in recent years, so change was in order.
The Yankees were swept out of the ALCS by the Tigers almost a week ago, but it wasn’t until today that Joe Girardi conducted every manager’s annual end-of-season press conference. He said the team has yet to look back and evaluate the 2012 campaign just because everyone takes a few days off to be with their families and kinda get away from baseball immediately after the season ends. They’ll obviously evaluate the club top to bottom in the coming weeks. Here are the important notes from the press conference…
On Alex Rodriguez…
- “These were things that we evaluated a lot before we made our decisions,” said Girardi when asked about benching A-Rod in the postseason. “I don’t go back and second guess myself.”
- Girardi has not yet spoken to Alex (or any other player for that matter) about their relationship, but said “that will take place … it just hasn’t yet.” He isn’t worried about things being strained but acknowledged that actions have consequences and he will deal with them if need be.
- Girardi said he believes A-Rod was healthy in the postseason and was just struggling, particularly against righties.
- “Can Alex be a very good player again? Absolutely, I don’t have any question in my mind,” said the skipper. He praised A-Rod’s baseball smarts and said he expects him to be his everyday third baseman next season.
- Chad Jennings has Girardi’s full quotes about A-Rod if you aren’t sick of hearing about it yet.
On the playoffs…
- “Yes it was somewhat puzzling,” said Girardi on the offense’s struggles. He attributed Robinson Cano‘s disappearing act to being pitched well and just falling into a poorly-timed slump. He did acknowledge that Robbie was frustrated, which likely compounded the problem.
- Girardi said he doesn’t think the team’s unfavorable postseason schedule contributed to their lack of hitting, ditto all the tough games they had to play down the stretch in September. He basically said he doesn’t believe his team was worn out after a month of playoff-type games.
- “I hope not,” said Girardi when asked if he may have he lost the trust of some players by sitting them in the postseason. “I was making moves trying to win ballgames … I’ve been honest with our players and I will continue to do that, and I will do my best for this organization to win every game.”
- Girardi attributed the dull Yankee Stadium atmosphere in the postseason to a lack of scoring on the team’s part, nothing more. “I think our fans are very passionate about the Yankees (because) we see it even on the road.”
- “(It has) not taken place,” said Girardi when asked if CC Sabathia has gone to visit Dr. James Andrews about his elbow. He is encouraged by his ace left-hander’s performance in September and the ALDS and he expects to have him in Spring Training. “We’re always concerned that it’s maybe something more than you think it is … I don’t like people going to see doctors (but) sometimes people have to be evaluated to make sure everything is okay.”
- “We expect him to be back and playing for us next year on Opening Day,” said Girardi about Derek Jeter and his fractured ankle. He added that there are always concerns following a surgery, including Jeter pushing his rehab too hard and having some kind of setback.
- Mariano Rivera did throw sooner than expected this year but Girardi never did ask him if he will definitely return next season. “I don’t think you push a rehab like he pushed it unless you have some interest in coming back,” he said.
- There were no undisclosed or “hidden” injuries this year, so to speak. Russell Martin‘s hands are banged up but that is typical catcher stuff and isn’t a long-term concern.
- Both hitting coach Kevin Long (elbow) and third base coach Rob Thomson (hip) will have surgery this offseason, if you care.
On free agents and the team moving forward, etc…
- “There’s a lot of hunger and fire in him,” said Girardi about Andy Pettitte, but he doesn’t know if the veteran southpaw will return next year. He expects him to discuss things with his family before making a decision.
- He mentioned briefly that like Pettitte, Hiroki Kuroda is among the players who will make a decision about his future and playing beyond this year.
- Girardi said he was unsure about Ichiro Suzuki coming back next year but he knows the veteran outfielder enjoyed his time in New York. He also praised Ichiro for making adjustments like playing left field and batting towards the bottom of the order.
- “I think this kid has something to offer us,” said the manager about Eduardo Nunez while also acknowledging that his role for next year is undetermined because other parts of the club are unsettled. “There is talent there, there is speed, there is excitement, he has a lot to offer.”
- “There’s a lot of players we have to decide what we’re going to do with, but I believe when Spring Training starts next year, we’ll be a championship club,” said Girardi, acknowledging that the team has a lot of players with open contract situations.
- He also spoke about the Yankees getting power from non-traditional power sources (specifically catcher, second base, and center field) and their ability of the offense to absorb the loss of a homerun hitter (i.e. Nick Swisher) if that happens this winter.
- Girardi acknowledged that the team has a busy offseason coming but doesn’t expect the chaos to be a problem. “Sometimes quiet is a bad thing,” he joked.
On the status of him and his coaches…
- “No. The pressure you see I put on myself,” said Girardi when asked about the pressure of entering a contract year. He doesn’t expect the team to talk about a new deal until his current one expires and he doesn’t anticipate asking for an extension before then either.
- Girardi expects the entire coaching staff to return next year but again pointed out that the team has not yet discussed everything.
- Girardi praised his role players for stepping up into more prominent roles than expected this year, mentioning Raul Ibanez, David Phelps, and Cody Eppley by name.
- When asked about Cano’s general lack of hustle down the line to first base, Girardi said he “will address with every player to play hard.”
Via Jon Heyman: Brian Cashman said that none of the Yankees’ coaches are in danger of losing their job following the team’s early ALCS exit. “As far as I’m concerned, all the coaches are safe,” said the GM. “There’s no blame game taking place here.”
Despite what Cashman said, there could still be some turnover with the coaching staff. Bench coach Tony Pena interviewed for the Red Sox’s managerial job last week, and George King and Dan Martin report that third base coach Robbie Thomson is expected to draw some interest from the Blue Jays. Martin says Cashman also praised hitting coach Kevin Long despite the team’s offensively inept postseason showing.
1:01pm: Nick Cafardo clarifies that the Yankees did have to grant Pena permission to go to the interview today since it’s an off-day during the ALCS. He could have waited until after the season and gone on his own, but the Red Sox appear to be in a bit of a rush.
11:00am: Via Rob Bradford: The Red Sox will interview Tony Pena for their managerial vacancy today. It’s a travel day for the ALCS and the Yankees are not holding a workout at Comerica Park, so he’ll head up to Beantown during the off-day.
Pena, 55, has been with the Yankees since 2005, first as the first base coach (2005-2008) and then as the bench coach (2009-present). The team also considered him for their manager’s job after parting ways with Joe Torre in 2007. Pena managed the Royals from 2002-2005, winning the 2003 Manager of the Year award along the way. I don’t know much about his managerial style (or his bench coach prowess, for that matter), but I do know that he has a reputation of being a player’s coach and that’s probably something the Red Sox are looking for after the Bobby Valentine fiasco.
Via George King, the Yankees have hired Drew Henson as a minor league coach with the rookie ball club in Tampa. The 32-year-old had been working in financial planning, but he is currently assisting with Instructional League and will join the organization full-time next year.
Henson, as you probably know, was once a big-time prospect with the Yankees who managed to flame out of both baseball and football. Baseball America ranked him as the ninth best prospect in the game prior to 2002, and he was supposed to be the club’s long-term solution at third base. George Steinbrenner paid Henson multiple multi-million dollar bonuses to stay away from football, but all he got in return was one single in nine big league plate appearances.
Via George King, the Yankees have relieved long-time VP of Player Personnel Billy Connors of his duties, effectively immediately. He has been offered the opportunity to remain with the team during Spring Training, but otherwise his role within the organization has changed. Brian Cashman would not confirm if Connors was fired, demoted, or reassigned.
Connors has thrice served as the team’s pitching coach (1989-1990, 1994-1995, 2000) and has been a big part of the Tampa-based portion of the front office since 1996. He was George Steinbrenner‘s long-time pitching guru and has worn many hats during his tenure with the Yankees, most recently working with minor league pitchers during their injury rehab. I have absolutely no idea what the change means for the organization or anything like that, but I’m pretty sure there’s no chance the change would have been had had The Boss still been running things.
The Yankees have won six of their last ten games, but that is barely a footnote in the second half slide that has brought they back to the pack in the AL East. Their ten-game lead has vanished, and when leads that size are blown around here, people tend to lose their jobs. Yesterday we examined Joe Girardi‘s job security, so it’s only natural that today we look at his boss, Brian Cashman.
It hasn’t been a good year for Cashman in terms of his roster moves and decisions, not at all. Last season he hit on nearly everyone, but his only significant success story this year is Hiroki Kuroda, who has been better than anyone could have reasonably expected. The Michael Pineda trade is already looking like a disaster, Andruw Jones and Raul Ibanez have cratered in the second half, Jose Quintana is thriving for the White Sox, Justin Maxwell and George Kontos are performing well for the Astros and Giants, and there were no significant moves made at the deadline to shore things up. Here is a recap of the team’s moves over the last twelve months for reference.
Cashman’s off-the-field issues are worth mentioning, as his very public divorce and stalker trial haven’t exactly brought positive attention to him and the Yankees. That said, Cashman is the third longest-tenured GM in baseball and it wasn’t until this past offseason that something resembling a line of succession was established in the front office. He is under contract through 2014 and reportedly is very tight with Hal Steinbrenner, which could save his job if the Yankees wind up missing the postseason. Whether it should is another matter entirely.
The Yankees are mired in a brutal second half slide that has seen them lose 27 of their last 52 games and blow a ten-game division lead. They still remain tied atop the AL East because the Orioles can’t seem to find a way to break through to take over sole possession of first, but any time a team crashes as hard as the Bombers have, the manager’s job security will come into question. Fair or not, it happens.
Two weeks ago I said that I would be surprised if Joe Girardi keeps his job through the winter if the Yankees miss the postseason only because situations like that call for a scapegoat, and the manager is as good a scapegoat as any. Ken Rosenthal wrote yesterday that Girardi is “a good manager who doesn’t deserve to be fired” while also acknowledging that he’s likely to be on the hot seat if the Yankees fail to make the postseason. Although Girardi was hand-picked for the job by Brian Cashman and Hal Steinbrenner and remains under contract through next season, I can’t imagine a second playoff-less season in five years would sit well.
It’s probably worth noting that Girardi has had some blow-ups in recent weeks — he lashed out at a fan in Chicago and got into a shouting match with Joel Sherman after calling him into his office — which were very uncharacteristic. Could the stress of the collapse be getting to him? Maybe, maybe not. We’ll never know, but the narrative can be spun any way you choose. Point being, the two incidents could give the brain trust more of a reason to part ways with their skipper of five years after the season if there is no October baseball in the Bronx.
From Andrew Marchand…
The issue of (CC Sabathia)’s health led to Girardi ending up nose-to-nose — like he might with an umpire — with [Joel Sherman of The New York Post]. During his postgame news conference, Girardi was asked about Sabathia’s health and he said he was fine. The columnist was in the back of the scrum and could not clearly hear the previous answers.
“I think you might have just been asked my question,” he said. “Are you convinced that CC is healthy?”
Girardi said, “Yes, that’s the third time. He’s healthy.”
What followed was a rigid exchange between reporter and manager. After the news conference, Girardi invited the writer into his office and the two ended up nose-to-nose, yelling before security stepped in between them.
The Yankees suck right now. They’ve won just six of their 18 last games and the division lead is down to zero. They’re playing terribly and everyone is frustrated — you, me, the players, the coaches, the front office, everyone. That said, Girardi is the team’s daily spokesman and public figure of authority, so he above all else must remain composed regardless of how chaotic things get on the field or in the standings. That’s his job as much as filling out the lineup and changing pitchers. I’d argue moreso.
Girardi, obviously, did not remain composed last night. He lashed out in frustration at a reporter, probably the worst possible thing he could have done outside of a physical altercation with a fan. It’s the media’s job to dig and dig and dig, hoping for moments just like this. It makes for great copy. Girardi and his team are going to get torn to shreds by the media not just for their play anymore, now the conversation moves on to their mental state and their ability to remain poised during this tough stretch. It’s an unwanted distraction the club will have to deal with not just today or tomorrow, but pretty much any time things get tough on the field during the next few weeks. Now that the skipper has revealed his boiling point, the questions and probes from the media will only get tougher.
I understand that Jerry Meals made a laughably bad call to cost the Yankees a game, but Girardi is the proverbial adult in the room. He can’t lose his cool, at least not publicly. If he wants to yell at his players behind closed doors or slam his hat and kick dirt on the umpire on the field, fine. But he overstepped his bounds last night and frankly it’s not the first time it’s happened during this slide — remember when he lashed out at the fan in Chicago a few weeks ago? It reflects horribly on Girardi and his ability to remain in control when the adversity ramps up. The guy calling the shots is supposed to be the last one to crack, not the first.