Saturday Notes: In-Market Streaming, Netting, Martone, Murtaugh

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Here are some stray links and notes related mostly to league-wide matters that affect the Yankees and their fans.

MLB announces in-market streaming deal with FOX

Yesterday afternoon commissioner Rob Manfred announced MLB has agreed to a three-year deal with FOX to provide in-market streaming. It is only available for teams whose games are broadcast by FOX Sports — that’s 15 teams, so half the league — and that does include the Yankees thanks to the YES deal with News Corp. a few years back. This is NOT a cable alternative. You have to subscribe to YES through your cable provider for in-market streaming. It’s better than nothing, I guess. MLB is still working with the other networks on in-market streaming deals.

MLB to recommend new stadium netting regulations

Manfred also announced yesterday that MLB will recommend new stadium netting regulations for the 2016 season. (That’s the netting behind home plate. Duh.) It’s unclear how far the league will ask the netting to be extended but to the dugouts seems reasonable. There were several incidents of foul balls and broken bats injuring fans last year. Not everyone is as lucky as this guy:

“In addition to a recommendation on the physical location of nets, there will be a broad fan education component to the program,” said Manfred to the Associated Press. “A lot of things seem easy and are not always so easy. We want our fans to be safe in the ballpark, but we also have lots of fans who are very vocal about the fact that they don’t like to sit behind nets.”

Martone leaves, Murtaugh joins front office

The front office shuffling continues. Manager of pro scouting Steve Martone, who had been with the Yankees the last nine years, has left the organization to become Billy Eppler’s assistant GM with the Angels, reports Mike DiGiovanna. Martone, 35, was responsible for identifying trade and waiver targets on other clubs. He’ll do something similar with the Angels. No word on how the Yankees will replace Martone.

Meanwhile, Nick Piecoro reports veteran scout Pat Murtaugh recently left the Diamondbacks to join the Yankees’ pro scouting staff. Murtaugh, 56, has been in the scouting game a very long time, and, as Piecoro wrote two years ago, he was the scout who recommended Didi Gregorius to then D’Backs GM Kevin Towers back in the day. The Yankees lost Eric Chavez to the Angels a few weeks ago. Chavez had been working in the pro scouting department.

CBA negotiations to begin early next year

Last week, MLB chief legal officer Dan Halem told Mark Feinsand Collective Bargaining Agreement negotiations between MLB and the MLBPA are likely to begin early next year, in February or March. The current CBA is set to expire on December 1st, 2016. The qualifying offer and international free agent spending systems figure to get an overhaul, among other things. (We could see an international draft.) MLB has had labor piece for over two decades now. The game is flush with money and I doubt either side wants to mess things up with a work stoppage. I’m hopeful MLB and the union will get a new deal worked out without much of a headache.

MLB minimum salary will not rise in 2016

According to the Associated Press, the Major League minimum salary will remain $507,500 next season due to a lack of inflation. The CBA includes a modified cost-of-living adjustment. The methodology used actually said the minimum salary should be reduced next year, but lol no. The CBA says the minimum salary can only go up, not down. Minimum minor league salaries for players on split contracts are $41,400 for first year players and $82,700 thereafter. Baseball’s good work if you can get it.

Yankees finalize coaching staff, Mike Harkey returns as bullpen coach

(NY Times)
(NY Times)

The new bullpen coach is the old bullpen coach. The Yankees announced Monday evening that Mike Harkey has rejoined the team as the bullpen coach, replacing the departed Gary Tuck. Also, first base coach Tony Pena replaces Tuck as the team’s catching coordinator.

Harkey, 49, spent the last two seasons as the Diamondbacks pitching coach. He was let go a few weeks ago. Harkey, who is very close with Joe Girardi, was the Yankees bullpen coach from 2008-13 before leaving for the job in Arizona. Harkey pitched eight years in MLB before getting into coaching.

The coaching staff is now set. Alan Cockrell replaced Jeff Pentland as the main hitting coach and Marcus Thames was promoted from Triple-A to take over as assistant hitting coach a few weeks ago. Pena, bench coach Rob Thomson, pitching coach Larry Rothschild, and third base Joe Espada remain.

Yankees promote Alan Cockrell to hitting coach, Marcus Thames to assistant hitting coach

Thames. (Blade/Julia Nagy)
Thames. (Blade/Julia Nagy)

6:34pm ET: The Yankees have officially announced the moves. Cockrell takes over as hitting coach and Thames is the assistant hitting coach.

5:23pm ET: According to George King, the Yankees are planning to promote assistant hitting coach Alan Cockrell to the primary hitting coach position. Triple-A Scranton hitting coach Marcus Thames will be promoted to serve as Cockrell’s assistant. The Yankees have not yet confirmed or announced the moves.

Hitting coach Jeff Pentland was let go earlier this month, as was bullpen coach Gary Tuck. The Yankees hired Pentland and Cockrell last offseason after firing Kevin Long. Pentland always seemed like a stopgap coach, though I thought he would stick around longer than one year. I was wrong.

Cockrell, 52, was the Rockies hitting coach from 2006-08, the Mariners hitting coach from 2009-10, and a minor league hitting coordinator with the Diamondbacks from 2011-12. He served as a roving minor league hitting coordinator with the Yankees from 2013-14 before joining the big league staff.

Thames, 38, played for the Yankees in 2002 and 2010. They hired him as a coach prior to the 2013 season and he steadily climbed the minor league ladder — Thames was the hitting coach for High-A Tampa (2013), Double-A Trenton (2014), and Triple-A Scranton (2015) in recent years.

It has seemed as though the ultra-likable Thames was being groomed for the hitting coach job the last few seasons. King says the Yankees were impressed with his minor league work and notes other clubs were showing interest in Thames as a coach. The Yankees decided he was ready for a big league job. Neat.

With Cockrell and Thames promoted, the Yankees now only have to replace Tuck as bullpen coach. There have not been rumblings any yet, but I do think it’s worth noting ex-bullpen coach Mike Harkey was let go as D’Backs pitching coach a few weeks ago.

Front Office & Coaching Staff Notes: Hendry, Chavez, Mattingly, Magadan, Baylor, Tuck

(Mike Stobe/Getty)
(Mike Stobe/Getty)

Both the Yankees’ front office and the coaching staff have been shaken up a bit in recent weeks. Assistant GM Billy Eppler left to take over as Angels GM, and trusted scout Tim Naehring was promoted to take his place. Hitting coach Jeff Pentland and bullpen coach Gary Tuck were let go as well. Here are some front office and coaching staff notes via Nick Cafardo, Joel Sherman, Jerry Crasnick, George King, Ryan Hatch, and Jon Heyman.

  • Special advisor Jim Hendry interviewed with the Phillies for their since filled GM position. They named Angels assistant GM Matt Klentak their new GM over the weekend. Although he didn’t get the GM job, it’s still possible Hendry will join the Phillies as an advisor.
  • Special assignment scout Eric Chavez has left the Yankees to join Eppler with the Angels. His contract was up, so he was free to leave on his own. The Yankees hired Chavez last offseason and he had input into the Didi Gregorius trade since he played with Gregorius with the D’Backs.
  • Don Mattingly is not currently interested in the Yankees hitting coach position. He’s been there, done that. Mattingly wants to continue managing and right now there are four open managerial jobs: Dodgers, Padres, Nationals, and Marlins. Obviously he’s not going back to the Dodgers after leaving last week. The Marlins’ job is reportedly Mattingly’s to lose.
  • Dave Magadan will not be a candidate for the hitting coach job, apparently. He was let go as Rangers hitting coach about a week ago. The Yankees interviewed Magadan for their hitting coach position last offseason before hiring Pentland.
  • Don Baylor could be a hitting coach candidate. He held the position with the Angels the last two seasons before Eppler let him go a few days ago. Baylor, a former Yankees player, managed Joe Girardi with both the Rockies and Cubs, so there’s a connection.
  • Gary Tuck was apparently let go as bullpen coach last week because he and the analytic heavy front office didn’t mesh too well. I’m not sure what a bullpen coach does that involves analytics, but whatever.
  • In case you missed it yesterday, the Yankees reached out to former Red Sox GM Ben Cherington about joining the front office, but he declined.

Sherman: Yankees reached out to Ben Cherington about joining front office

(Jared Wickerham/Getty)
(Jared Wickerham/Getty)

According to Joel Sherman, the Yankees reached out to former Red Sox GM Ben Cherington to see whether he had interest in joining the team’s front office a few weeks ago, but Cherington declined. “I reached out to him. I have a lot of respect for him, his integrity and how he did his job,” said Brian Cashman to Sherman.

Cherington, 41, stepped down as Red Sox GM in mid-August after the team named Dave Dombrowski their president of baseball operations. The BoSox gave Cherington an opportunity to remain with the team, but he decided to leave, feeling his authority within in the organization had been diminished.

A few weeks ago Cherington told reporters he planned to get away from the GM life for a while. He reportedly turned down opportunities to interview with Mariners and Angels about their since filled GM positions. Cherington signed on to teach a “leadership in sports” course at Columbia recently.

I’m not at all surprised Cashman reached out to Cherington. The Red Sox have kinda sucked the last few years, but Cherington’s been there a very long time and had a hand in building their 2004, 2007, and 2013 World Series title teams. As far as I’m concerned, the more smart people in the front office, the better.

The Yankees lost assistant GM Billy Eppler a few weeks ago when he left to take over as Angels GM. Trusted scout Tim Naehring was recently promoted to vice president of baseball operations to replace Eppler. Cherington would have helped fill the void created by Eppler’s departure, for sure.

Reports: Yankees tab Tim Naehring to replace Billy Eppler

Naehring back during his playing days. (Getty)
Naehring back during his playing days. (Getty)

Trusted scout Tim Naehring has received a “major promotion” and will replace departed assistant GM Billy Eppler, according to multiple reports. Eppler left the Yankees to take over as the Angels GM earlier this month. An official announcement is expected soon. Apparently the Yankees may also shuffle some other front office personnel into new roles as well.

Naehring, 48, will hold the title of Vice President of Baseball Operations — not Assistant GM like Eppler — and assume all of Eppler’s responsibilities. That essentially means he will take over as Brian Cashman‘s right hand man. Cashman indicated he would look outside the organization for Eppler’s replacement but preferred to promote from within.

The Yankees hired Naehring back in 2007 after he spent time working for the Reds. He has had a trusted voice in the organization for a few years now — Naehring was the first to recommend Didi Gregorius, for example — but reportedly turned down promotions in the past so he could remain close to his family in Cincinnati. I guess this promotion was too good to pass up.

Naehring, a former Red Sox infielder, was one of three internal candidates to replace Eppler. Scout Jay Darnell and player personnel head Kevin Reese were also in the mix, reportedly. I don’t know anything about Naehring’s front office skills, so I have nothing to offer. Sorry. All I know is Cashman trusts him enough to make him his top lieutenant.

Yankees fire hitting coach Jeff Pentland and bullpen coach Gary Tuck

Pentland. (NY Daily News)
Pentland. (NY Daily News)

According to George King, the Yankees have fired hitting coach Jeff Pentland and bullpen coach Gary Tuck. Apparently the rest of the coaching staff will remain in place, including assistant hitting coach Alan Cockrell. Cockrell could be considered for the main hitting coach job.

“I am not coming back,’’ said Pentland to King. “When I signed, I was told it was probably a one-year deal. That was always in the back of my mind, but we didn’t look too good the last month. It’s the Yankees, that’s the best way to describe it. I have no regrets.’’

The Yankees went from 20th in runs scored to second this season, though most of their players struggled down the stretch and late in the season. After firing Kevin Long last offseason, the Yankees will be on their third different hitting coach in three years next season.

It’s a bit more surprising the Yankees let go of Tuck, to be honest. He worked well with the team’s catchers and Brian McCann has credited Tuck for improving his throwing. McCann has thrown out 36% of base-stealers as a Yankees after throwing out only 24% with the Braves. It’s worth noting former bullpen coach Mike Harkey was let go by the Diamondbacks a few weeks ago. I suppose he could be in the mix to replace Tuck.

As for the hitting coach, the Yankees could look at Cockrell and other internal candidates like Triple-A Scranton hitting coach Marcus Thames and minor league hitting coordinator James Rowson. Both interviewed for the job last year. I’m curious to see if the two hitting coach system, which is so common in baseball nowadays, will remain in place.