Larry Rothschild named new Yankee pitching coach

Larry Rothschild, the new Yankee pitching coach, signals the start of the Cubs Spring Training in 2010. (AP Photo/Paul Connors)

Updated (5:20 p.m.): The Yankees have signed 37-year Major League vet Larry Rothschild to serve as the club’s pitching coach. Rothschild, who most recently had served as the Cubs’ pitching coach from 2002-2010, served as a coach on two World Series teams: the 1990 Reds where he served as the bullpen coach and the 1997 Marlins where he worked as the pitching coach.

“Larry will be a welcome addition to our pitching staff. He comes with an impressive resume as a former Major League manager and a world champion pitching coach. He has a great reputation with his players, who know they can trust him and rely on him to put them in a position to succeed,” said Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman.

Rothschild, 56, seems to be a strike out-oriented coach. His Cubs clubs led the majors with 11,604 strike outs over the last nine seasons, and set a Major League record with 1404 K’s in 2003. He signed with the Reds as a non-drafted free agent in 1975 and spent 11 years in the minors. He made just seven career relief appearances with Detroit in 1981 and 1982 and allowed 5 earned runs on 8 hits and 8 walks while striking out just one in 8.1 innings. His coaching career has been far more successful.

His first job on the bench came with the Reds where he served as a roving minor league instructor for four seasons before he joined the club in Cincinnat as the bullpen coach. He was a Reds pitching coach from 1992-1993, worked with the Marlins in the same capacity from 1995-1997 and managed the Tampa Bay Devil Rays from their inaugural season in 1998 through April 18, 2001.

“Larry brings a wealth of invaluable experience to our team and to our pitching staff,” Yankees Manager Joe Girardi said. “He’s a championship pitching coach, and I’m excited to add Larry’s abilities to our staff. He is above all else an excellent teacher, who brings a professional attitude and a keen sense of preparation to his craft. I’m very much looking forward to working with him moving forward.”

Rothschild: A.J. can still be ‘very effective’

During an press conference with reporters shortly after the announcement, Rothschild spoke about the hiring process and his views on the Yanks’ pitching staff. Cashman put the candidates through a rigorous interview process which included approximately eight hours of video including two A.J. Burnett appearances and a CC Sabathia and a Phil Hughes appearance.

Rothschild spoke specifically of the need to straighten out Burnett. “I think he can be a very effective Major League pitcher,” the new pitching coach said. He certainly has his work cut out for him in that regard.

The RAB Radio Show: November 19, 2010

It’s been a fun inaugural week, and we close it with perhaps the most newsworthy day. Derek Jeter has an offer on the table. He’ll surely reject it, but that won’t stop Mike and I discussing what this means for the negotiations.

Then we move on to Mo, who reportedly wants a two-year deal. That sounds fine. It does, however, bring up an interesting point. How differently would we be viewing these Jeter negotiations had he produced another elite season?

Bye bye Jon Albaladejo. Please don’t say hello to J.C. Romero.

And, finally, to cap the week, we bring you: The Mystery Pitcher.

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Yankees release Jon Albaladejo

Updated (4:51 p.m.): The Yankees released righty reliever Jon Albaladejo today so he could pursue a contract in Japan. He probably requested the release after an NPB team expressed interest, and the Yanks obliged. The 28-year-old has thrown 59.1 unspectacular innings for the Yanks since being acquired from the Nationals for Tyler Clippard after the 2007 season, though he was a monster in Triple-A. Albie was out of options, so he would have had to clear waivers to go back to the minors next year. He’ll be getting a deal from the Yomiuri Giants, so good for him.

The move frees up another 40-man roster spot. By my unofficial count, there are just 30 players on the team’s 40-man at the moment, but they have a full offseason ahead of them.

RAB Live Chat

What they’re saying about Derek Jeter

Like it or not, Derek Jeter will dominate New York headlines until he and the Yankees reach an agreement. We all have our opinions on what the Yankees should offer him, but that means little in determining what they will offer. All we can do is look to people who are closer to the people involved and see how they’re interpreting events. Of course, we can then interpret their interpretations, based on what we know about them as writers and reporters.

Just today we’ve seen plenty of takes on how the talks are going. The Yankees plan to make Jeter an offer soon, perhaps as early as today, and it’s not expected to exceed three years or around $15 million in average annual value. That would signal that he’s going to get more, if this is the Yankees’ opening bid. But will Jeter be insulted by the proposed pay cut?

As Joel Sherman writes this morning, the Yankees are trying to keep this thing respectful:

And [respect] is quite the devilish word in these negotiations, because the Yankees are trying to find the right way to pay Derek Jeter for his present value without disrespecting his legacy and his standing with the fans. In other words: What do you offer a player based on the current facts — 37 next year, coming off his worst offensive season, with dying range at short?

That’s not an easy task to accomplish, of course. Jeter has been worth plenty to the franchise. But haven’t they already compensated him for that? Didn’t they hand him a 10-year, $189 million contract after the 2000 season? I think that money, plus all the endorsement deals Jeter has signed because he’s the face of the Yankees franchise, adequately covers his past value to the franchise. In other words, they’ve already respected him for the past.

Steve Politi at the Ledger, in what has to be a play to drum up outrage, makes some specious connections as he tries to argue for overpaying Jeter.

This is the overlooked number with Jeter: 1,705,263. That was the Yankees attendance in 1995, the year before Jeter became the everyday shortstop in the Bronx. It was actually below the American League average.

Four championships and 14 years later, when the team played its final season at the old Yankee Stadium, that number had climbed to 4,298,655 — and, as any fan can tell you, the ticket price climbed right along with it.

The team moved to its giant ATM of a ballpark and started the YES Network, becoming the Bronx branch of the U.S. mint along the way. They were worth $185 million in ’95, and according to Forbes, that value is now $1.5 billion. Plenty of players had a hand in that, but Jeter tops the list.

Where do we even start with this assertion? First, 1995 was the year following the strike. The Yankees were actually good for the first time in a long time during the 1994 strike season, and I know that fans were beyond disappointed that the season ended in August. I’m sure that played into the diminished attendance. And yes, Jeter showed up in 96 and won four championships. But he’ll be the first to tell you that pitching had everything to do with those.

Plus, if you want to talk attendance you have to talk about Alex Rodriguez. In 2003 the Yankees led the league with 3,465,640 attendees. That’s quite a considerable leap from 1995, but again that was in large part because of the championships and general interest climbing as the sport moved further away from the attendance-killing strike. In 2004 attendance jumped to 3.775 million. In 2005 it crossed the 4 million mark. So why don’t we attribute these attendance records to A-Rod? Because it’s ridiculous to do so. Yet Politi does it for Jeter.

The $185 million to $1.5 billion franchise valuation? Again, that’s largely because of the championships, but also because of inflation and general economic growth. The sport became more valuable, hence its marquee franchise became more valuable. Jeter played a role, for sure, but the championships played a bigger role. Jeter was just one of 25 on that championship team.

Again, this is a blatant attempt to manufacture outrage. The Yankees have paid Jeter for the past. Why do they need to pay him for it again?

(Politi also makes the argument that baseball is entertainment and Derek Jeter entertains. OK. And if he’s terrible in Year 3 of the deal, will he remain entertaining? Have you listened to Yankees fans talk?)

If you thought Politi’s assertion was willfully ignorant, look at Bill Madden:

In the aftermath of all the rhetoric coming out of the owners’ meetings in Orlando, it appears Derek Jeter is about to join the ranks of Thurman Munson, Reggie Jackson and Dave Righetti in learning the hard reality of free agency as practiced by the Steinbrenner Yankees: More often than not, they are willing to pay more for somebody else’s free agent than for their own.

Because they didn’t pay Mariano Rivera more than any other team would have paid him. Ditto Jorge Posada and Alex Rodriguez. Andy Pettitte at $16 million in 2008? No one else was matching that. What about Jeter himself in 2000? Was any other team going to give him a 10-year contract at nearly $200 million?

For a really good read on Jeter, check out Keith Olbermann’s latest. It nicely balances the Yankees should overpay for Jeter articles. It puts his current situation into perspective, rather than yelling that the Yankees should pay him for his past performance. This is not the Derek Jeter who signed a 10-year contract for his ages 27 through 36 seasons. This is the Derek Jeter who will turn 37 next year. Why should the Yankees overpay him?

Mailbag: AzFL, MiL Free Agents, Nova, Wood

In this week’s edition of the RAB Mailbag we’re going to talk about some general minor league stuff, plus Ivan Nova, the free agent market for relievers, and the concept of adding a second Wildcard team. If you want to submit a question, send it in via the Submit A Tip box in the sidebar.

Ari asks: What level of ball is the AZ Fall League considered equivalent to (A, AA, AAA, etc)? Are some of the winter ball leagues considered better than the others? Thanks.

The rules stipulate that each team has to send at least six players (most send seven) to the Arizona Fall League, and that just one can have played at a level lower than Double-A that season. Considering that, plus the fact that the league also features a plethora of top prospects, I’d put the level of competition a little bit higher than Double-A. Not quite Triple-A because you don’t have pitchers with considerable big league experience and stuff like that, but it’s certainly a step up from Double-A. Especially for the guys on the mound, it’s just a brutal league for pitchers given the extreme run environment.

I honestly don’t know about the level of competition in the Latin American winter leagues, it’s very much a mixed bag. You’ll find established big leaguers and kids from Single-A playing in the same game. I suspect the AzFL is the cream of the crop though, you don’t see many top prospects playing winter ball in the Dominican Republic and stuff.

Mike asks: When a minor league free agent (7 plus years of minor league experience) signs a deal is it generally year to year of can it be multiyear deals?

It’s six full years (though there’s usually a partial seventh) to qualify for minor league free agency, and from what I understand most go year-to-year after that. Players with big league experience will have opt-out clauses written into the deal, meaning if they’re not in the majors by a certain date they an become free agents. That’s why Dustin Moseley was called up, his opt-out date was coming up and the Yanks didn’t want to lose him. For guys with no big league experience, they’re basically hanging on at that point. If they were any kind of prospect they’d have been placed on the 40-man (thus remaining with their previous organization). But yeah, it’s usually year-by-year. It’s understandable why teams wouldn’t want to sign Triple-A fodder to a multi-year deal.

Mark asks: Is it safe to assume that Ivan Nova replaces Andy Pettitte in the rotation if he retires this offseason or do you see them acquiring a second veteran starter besides Cliff Lee?

I certainly wouldn’t call it a lock, but I agree that Nova stepping into the fifth starter’s spot should Pettitte retire is a safe bet. That’s only if they sign Lee though; if the Yanks don’t land the lefty and they have to settle for a lesser starter, then I don’t think they can gamble on Nova establishing himself as a big leaguer. If they can’t sign Lee and add all that certainly, then they’ll have to basically go out and get two veteran guys instead. He’s that good and is that tough to replace. Perhaps the Yanks are more confident in Nova than I, but that’s why Brian Cashman & Co. make the big bucks.

Ethan asks: With deals given so far (Benoit in particular), are the Yankees more likely to offer Wood arbitration? I assume that Berkman and Vasquez are still no?

For the record, I said yes to offering arbitration to Puma. Javy’s an absolute no-no, but hopefully the Marlins sign him before next Tuesday’s deadline and the Yanks get the draft pick anyway. Cross your fingers.

As for Wood, I don’t think the absurd Benoit contract changes anything. Sure, it might make him and his agent think there’s more money out there than previously thought, but the issue is Wood’s 2010 salary. He made ten-and-a-frickin-half million dollars in 2010, so if he accepts arbitration he’s looking at at least $11M in 2011. Wood was flat out awesome for the Yankees, but no setup man is worth that much cash, especially not one that old (33) and with that kind of injury history.

Even with the Benoit deal it’s a stretch to see Wood getting $11M guaranteed on the open market, regardless if it’s a one year deal or two or three. I love draft picks as much as the next guy, but a reliever making that much dough will severely limit the Yankees’ payroll flexibility next year. I appreciate what Kerry did in pinstripes, but offering him arbitration just isn’t a smart business move.

Keane asks: What do you think of extended playoffs being ‘almost inevitable?’ It barely helps the sport at all, makes a long season even longer and nothing is being done about replay. Is Selig doing the right thing here?

I’m not surprised that the idea of another Wildcard team is going over well with the GM’s, it means more job security for them. I’m sure the owners will love it as well, it means more revenue. And you know what? I’ll probably be great for the game and create more interest, so in that sense Selig is doing the right thing.

I don’t know how they’d work this with five playoff teams, but I assume the two WC clubs would meet before the LDS’s begin. If it’s a best-of-three or five series it’ll completely suck, because that means the other four clubs have basically a week off and there are that many more off days. A one game playoff would be amazingly entertaining but completely unfair in the grand scheme of things, a 162 game season potentially ending because anything can happen in one game. I dunno, I’m intrigued but I tend to believe a second WC spot is unnecessary.

You make a great point about replay, Selig appears to be much more behind the idea of expanded playoffs than he does instant replay even though it isn’t nearly as pressing. The umpiring around the league generally sucks, and fixing that is far more important than making sure the team with the fifth best record in the league gets a crack at the postseason. If it was up to me, I’d just send the teams with the four best records in each league to the playoffs regardless of division. You’d need a balanced schedule for that, which is another topic for another mailbag.