Quick Notes: Managerial Search, Shohei Ohtani, Non-Tenders

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

This morning Brian Cashman took a practice run rappelling down the Landmark Building in Stamford as part of the annual Heights & Lights Festival. He also spoke to reporters and passed along two important pieces of information, one surprising and one not so surprising. Here’s the latest, via all the wonderful reporters in attendance.

Managerial interviews are over

First the surprising news: Cashman said the Yankees will not interview any more managerial candidates. The job will go to one of the six men they’ve interviewed: Carlos Beltran, Aaron Boone, Hensley Meulens, Rob Thomson, Eric Wedge, and Chris Woodward. (Mark Feinsand says a clear frontrunner emerged during the interview process.) Furthermore, Cashman said there will not be a second round of interviews in Tampa. The next step is making a final recommendation to Hal Steinbrenner and that’ll be that.

Also, interestingly enough, Cashman said he consulted Alex Rodriguez several times during the process. A-Rod didn’t want the job — “He never expressed interest in any way, shape, or form,” said Cashman — but Cashman said he got Alex’s insight on the various candidates. A-Rod and Beltran are super close. The fact this is all suddenly wrapping up, with the second round of interviews canceled, right after Beltran’s interview is intriguing. Coincidence? Maybe. But intriguing. Anyway, a poll:

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Yankees will pursue Shohei Ohtani

Now the not-so-surprising news: the Yankees will indeed pursue Ohtani, Cashman confirmed. They are prepared to let him both pitch and hit, which seems like a prerequisite for signing him. Here’s a snippet of what Cashman said about Ohtani:

“It’s a big stage here and it’s meant to have the best talent to play on it. Ohtani represents the next great talent that is available in the world of baseball. This stage is made for players like this … This is an impact type player that we feel would make us better. I think we have a great situation going on here with a lot of young players … I think he’d be a perfect fit for us.”

Ohtani was officially posted earlier today, and already there are some wild rumors floating around. He’s narrowed his list down to three teams! He doesn’t want to play with another Japanese star! I get the sense we’re going to hear lots more stuff like that over the next three weeks. For now, all we know for certain is that Ohtani has been posted, and Cashman said the Yankees will pursue him.

Yankees tender all eligible players

One last quick note: the Yankees tendered all their eligible players contracts prior to today’s deadline, the team announced. Can’t say I’m surprised. Austin Romine was the only real non-tender candidate and I never thought the Yankees would actually non-tender him, and they didn’t, so there you go.

Manager/Coaching Staff Search Notes: Beltran, Thomson, Paul

Beltran. (Bob Levey/Getty)
Beltran. (Bob Levey/Getty)

It has now been four weeks and six days since the Yankees parted ways with Joe Girardi, and prior to today they’d conducted only five managerial interviews. The GM Meetings and Thanksgiving slowed things down a bit, but this has certainly been a slow-moving process. Here’s the latest managerial search and coaching staff news.

Yankees interview Beltran

As expected, the Yankees did indeed interview Carlos Beltran for their managerial opening today, the team announced. Beltran retired as a player earlier this month and said he wants to stay in baseball and hopefully manage one day. Not counting player-managers, he would be only the fourth person to go from playing one year to managing the next if he were to get the job, joining Yogi Berra, Joe Adcock, and Gil Hodges.

Beltran has long been considered a future manager because he’s a top notch clubhouse dude with a long history of taking young players under his wing. (He mentored Aaron Judge in Spring Training 2016.) It doesn’t seem communication would be an issue with Beltran at all. Is he familiar with analytics? That’s a big question. I don’t love the idea of hiring someone with zero coaching or managerial experience. If the Yankees do name Beltran their manager, I hope they’d bring in an experienced bench coach (and coaching staff in general) to help him out.

Yankees will interview at least one more managerial candidate

According to Mike Mazzeo, the Yankees will interview at least one more managerial candidate after Beltran. It’s possible they will interview several more candidates, in fact. Earlier this month both Brian Cashman and Hal Steinbrenner indicated the Yankees would interview fewer than ten candidates total. Beltran is the sixth, and the next interview would be the seventh. Can’t imagine there will be many more after that.

Most of the managerial candidates the Yankees have interviewed have come out of left field — Rob Thomson was no surprise, and Hensley Meulens getting an interview wasn’t that unexpected, but everyone else? not many saw them coming — so your guess is as good as mine as to who the Yankees will interview next. Maybe Triple-A Scranton manager Al Pedrique? Matt Kardos says Pedrique hasn’t been contacted about an interview yet. Maybe Cashman’s longtime pal Trey Hillman, assuming Hillman has an out in his contract with the SK Wyverns in Korea?

Thomson to interview with Phillies

Thomson. (Brian Blanco/Getty)
Thomson. (Brian Blanco/Getty)

At some point this week Thomson will interview with the Phillies for their bench coach vacancy, reports Sweeny Murti. Thomson was the first managerial candidate the Yankees interviewed, and he said he wants to stay with the team even if he doesn’t get the job, but he’s going to cover his bases and interview elsewhere in case things with the Yankees fall through. If nothing else, interviewing with the Phillies might give Thomson some leverage to use against the Yankees when it comes time to talk contract, for whatever role.

Thomson has been with the Yankees since the early 1990s and he’s held a variety of coaching and front office roles. He knows the organization inside and out. And, as Joel Sherman recently noted, Thomson has run Spring Training for the Yankees for a while now, and their camp is arguably the most organized and well run in baseball year in and year out. Thomson has obvious and considerable value to the Yankees, in my opinion. Even if the Yankees don’t name him manager, keeping him in a no-brainer, especially if they hire a rookie skipper.

Paul joins the Angels

Minor league catching coordinator Josh Paul has left the Yankees to join the Angels as Mike Scioscia’s bench coach, the club announced. Paul played for the Halos from 2004-05, and I’m sure he and GM Billy Eppler have a relationship dating back to their time with the Yankees. Scioscia’s contract is up after 2018. Maybe Eppler is grooming Paul to take over? Catching coordinator to bench coach is a big jump.

Paul, who had been with the Yankees since his playing career ended in 2008, was speculated as a potential managerial candidate soon after Girardi was let go. He never did get an interview though, and I’m sure that contributed to his decision to join the Angels. That and the fact he got promoted to bench coach. Hard to turn that down after years of coaching and instructing in the minors. Paul worked with all catchers in the minors and was highly regarded, which is why he was considered a potential managerial candidate and another team named him bench coach.

Managerial Search Update: Wedge, Boone, Flaherty, Cone

Wedge. (Dilip Vishwanat/Getty)
Wedge. (Dilip Vishwanat/Getty)

Two weeks and one day ago, the Yankees parted ways with longtime manager Joe Girardi. They’ve just now started interviewing managerial candidates, at least as far as we know. Here’s the latest.

Yankees interview Eric Wedge

The Yankees have interviewed former Indians and Mariners manager Eric Wedge for their managerial opening, the team announced earlier today. He joins Rob Thomson as the only candidates who we know actually interviewed for the job. Wedge, 49, managed the Indians from 2003-09 and the Mariners from 2011-13. He famously ripped the Mariners after resigning, accusing the front office of “total dysfunction and a lack of leadership.” Zoinks.

Wedge, who managed CC Sabathia for a number of years with the Indians, has spent the last few seasons working with the Blue Jays in their player development department. He was well regarded for his work with young players during his time in Cleveland, and he has a reputation for being a players’ manager, though he will get on his guys if he feels it is necessary. Wedge has made it no secret over the years he wants to get back into managing. I do like the idea of Wedge as a candidate, though he has been out of the managerial game for a few years now.

Boone a candidate for managerial opening

According to Buster Olney and Andrew Marchand, former Yankee and current ESPN television analyst Aaron Boone is a candidate for the team’s managerial opening. He of course played for the Yankees in 2003, and hit one of the biggest home runs in franchise history. The Yankees have reached out for an interview. Also, Marchand says David Ross, another ESPN analyst, may be a managerial candidate as well. Hmmm.

Boone, 44, last played in 2009 and he joined ESPN immediately after retiring. He has no coaching or managerial experience. Boone did grow up in MLB clubhouses as a third generation big leaguer, and he spent the last few seasons of his career bouncing around as a role player who received praise for his leadership. Based on his broadcasts, Boone is into analytics. Can he be an effective manager? Your guess is as good as mine.

Cone, Flaherty interested in manager’s job

Cone. (Al Bello/Getty)
Cone. (Al Bello/Getty)

Both David Cone and John Flaherty, two former Yankees turned YES Network broadcasters, have reached out to the team to let them know they’re interested in the manager’s job, reports Mike Mazzeo. “I just wanted (Brian Cashman) to know I’m at a point in my life where I would be interested in it. My agent and him have had a conversation, but it hasn’t gone any further than that,” said Flaherty. The Yankees have not gotten back to either Flaherty or Cone about an interview.

Neither Cone nor Flaherty has any coaching or managerial experience, and as fans, it’s tough to separate our opinions of them as broadcasters from their potential as managers. Just because Flaherty comes off as old school on television doesn’t mean he’d be a bad manager, the same way Cone reciting FIP and WAR doesn’t make him a good manager. Cone has been a staunch pro-labor guy throughout his career and he was heavily involved in the MLBPA. I wonder if that’ll work against him. Ownership might not love the idea of him running the clubhouse.

Thomson wants to remain with Yankees

Even if he doesn’t get the manager’s job, Thomson would like to remain with the Yankees, he told Erik Boland. “I’m a Yankee. I’ve been here 28 years and if didn’t get this job, I would certainly want to come back because this is what I consider my home. I love it here, I love the players, I love what’s going on here,” he said. Thomson, who interviewed earlier this week, has been with the Yankees since 1990 and has done basically everything there is to do in the organization. Given his existing relationships with the young players on the roster, I think Thomson is worth keeping around in some capacity.

Manager search begins: Yanks reportedly interview Thomson

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

It has been nearly two weeks since the Yankees parted ways with Joe Girardi, and we finally have our first report of the team interviewing a managerial candidate. The candidate: Rob Thomson. Ken Rosenthal reports Thomson interviewed today. Earlier this week Brian Cashman said each candidate hold a conference call, though I’m not sure whether that actually happened.

Thomson, 54, is a Yankees lifer who has been with the team since 1990, and he’s done everything over the years. Coached and managed in the minors, worked in the front office and in player development, and of course coached at the big league level. Thomson served as Girardi’s third base coach (2009-14) and had two stints as his bench coach (2008, 2015-17).

During the postseason both Alex Rodriguez (during a FOX pregame broadcast) and Girardi went out of their way to praise Thomson for staying on top of the team’s young players. “Rob Thomson, he stays on these guys all the time to make sure they’re in the right place and ready to go,” said Girardi prior to Game Five of the ALCS. The fact Thomson already has a relationship with the young guys can only help his chances of getting the job, I think.

Thomson interviewed with the Blue Jays for their managerial job a few years ago, and according to George King, the Twins spoke to him about their bench coach position this offseason. I suspect that, given how long he’s been with the organization and his existing relationships with the players, Thomson will be kept around in some capacity. If he doesn’t get the manager’s job, then maybe he stays on as a coach.

Yanks have yet to offer Cashman, Girardi, Denbo, or coaching staff contract extensions

(Brian Blanco/Getty)
(Brian Blanco/Getty)

Not much of a surprise here, but according to George King, the Yankees have yet to make contract extension offers to their front office and coaching staffs. General manager Brian Cashman, vice president of player development Gary Denbo, vice president of baseball operations Tim Naehring, manager Joe Girardi, and the entire coaching staff are unsigned beyond this season. I’m sure a bunch of others too.

The Yankees have, historically, waited until contracts expire before negotiating new deals. That used to apply to players as well, though the team came to their senses with that a few years ago and are now at least open to the idea of extending a player before free agency. The last few times Cashman and Girardi have been up for new deals, they became free agents and then worked out new contracts.

Denbo, who has helped turn the farm system into a player development machine, is reportedly under consideration for a position with the Marlins. He and Derek Jeter are very close — Denbo managed Jeter in the minors back in the day and was his big league hitting coach in 2001 — and it makes sense that Jeter would look to bring in someone he knows and trusts to run the team he’s about to purchase.

There were rumors circulating last month that the Yankees offered Denbo a big five-year contract extension — five-year contracts are pretty rare in the front office world, from what I understand — though King says that is not the case. The Yankees haven’t made him or anyone else an offer. Interestingly enough, Jeter’s purchase of the Marlins may take a while as the league reviews financial information. From Charlie Gasparino and Brian Schwartz:

“The owners told (Bruce) Sherman that the Jeter bid will get what amounts to a proctology exam,” said one baseball executive who spoke on the condition of anonymity and has direct knowledge of the owners meeting. “And they indicated that exam could take a long time.”

Front office and coaching staff contracts typically expire October 31st or at the end of the World Series. If the Marlins sale takes a while, it could give the Yankees a leg up on re-signing Denbo, who I can’t imagine will want to wait around for the Marlins sale to go final and leave his future uncertain. The Yankees could lock him up before Jeter fully controls the Marlins, which doesn’t sound imminent.

Of course, the Marlins could always approach the Yankees about Denbo after the sale goes final. Teams interview personnel under contract with other teams all the time. With permission, of course. The Yankees could deny that permission — they denied the Diamondbacks permission to interview scouting director Damon Oppenheimer back in 2010 — though most teams don’t when it involves a big upward promotion. Denbo could always push for having permission to interview elsewhere put into his contract. We’ll see.

For now, neither Denbo nor Cashman nor Girardi nor anyone on the coaching staff is under contract beyond this season. No one has a contract offer in hand either. I wonder if this will lead to some coaching staff changes? I guess it depends on Girardi. If he returns, which I think is likely, chances are his coaching staff will remain mostly intact. If Girardi leaves, all bets are off.

Sanchez suspended four games, Romine two games following brawl with Tigers

(Gregory Shamus/Getty)
(Gregory Shamus/Getty)

As expected, MLB has handed down several suspensions and fines following Thursday’s brawl(s) with the Tigers. Here’s a recap of the discipline, as announced by MLB this afternoon:

  • Miguel Cabrera: Seven-game suspension for “inciting the first bench-clearing incident and fighting.”
  • Alex Wilson: Four-game suspension for “intentionally throwing a pitch at Todd Frazier” after warnings had been issued.
  • Gary Sanchez: Four-game suspension for “fighting, including throwing punches.”
  • Austin Romine: Two-game suspension for “fighting, including throwing punches.”
  • Brad Ausmus: One-game suspension for “the intentional actions of Wilson.”

Joe Girardi, Rob Thomson, Tommy Kahnle, Brett Gardner, Garrett Cooper, Clint Frazier, and Jose Iglesias all received fines but were not suspended. Cooper and Frazier were fined for entering the field of play while on the disabled list. I’m kinda surprised Dellin Betances escaped without any discipline, even if he didn’t hit James McCann on purpose. Same with Michael Fulmer, who started the whole thing by hitting Sanchez.

I imagine Sanchez and/or Romine are going to appeal their suspension. I mean, they kinda have to, otherwise the Yankees won’t have any catchers tonight. Sanchez will definitely appeal because he (and the Yankees) want to get that suspension knocked down as much as possible. The more Gary is on the field, the better. Every game without him hurts the team’s chances at the postseason.

Kyle Higashioka is currently on the Triple-A Scranton disabled list, so the Yankees don’t have a obvious third catcher to call-up for the time being. They’ll have to add someone (Eddy Rodriguez, most likely) to the 40-man roster. The Yankees do have an open 40-man spot, though that’ll go to Greg Bird when he returns. Also, suspended players can’t be replaced on the roster. Teams have to play short.

All things considered, I think the Yankees got off pretty light here. I thought Sanchez was heading for six or seven games given the sucker punches. Rougned Odor got eight games (reduced to seven on appeal) for punching Jose Bautista when he was squared up. Sanchez threw punches at defenseless Cabrera. Whatever. Forget this pointless nonsense, be happy no one got hurt, and move on.

Update: Not surprisingly, Sanchez and Romine both said they will appeal their suspensions. Ken Rosenthal hears the appeals may not be heard until after rosters expand on September 1st, which would make it a million times easier to deal with losing a catcher(s). Also, Jack Curry hears Sanchez was only suspended four games because Cabrera instigated the brawl. Gary on reacted, basically.

Joe Girardi and the coaching staff [2017 Season Preview]

(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

New year, same coaching staff. For the first time in a little while, the Yankees didn’t tinker with the staff surrounding Joe Girardi and will go into their second straight season with the same coaches.

That means Larry Rothschild is still the pitching coach, Alan Cockrell and Marcus Thames handle the hitters, Mike Harkey is the bullpen coach, Tony Pena and Joe Espada man the bases and Rob Thomson returns as the bench coach.

This doesn’t mean the job will be easy for these guys just because they remain in their roles. Each of them may have their most challenging job yet with the Yankees promoting their youth throughout the roster.

Joe Girardi

Girardi is entering his 10th season as the Yankees manager. Only two managers — Mike Scioscia with the Angels and Bruce Bochy of the Giants — have been in their current jobs longer than Girardi, who was hired in October of 2007. Stability hasn’t always been a trademark for Yankees’ coaches, but this is the second straight manager to last at least a decade. Not bad.

This is a contract year for Girardi: his four-year deal ends after the season. As in past years, the team isn’t going to extend him early, which will lead to plenty of speculation that the Yankees will move on at manager. That seems unlikely: the Steinbrenners appear to be happy with Girardi’s performance thus far and that’s for good reason. Girardi has been solid as manager. Still, that storyline will play out this season, especially if the team gets out of the gates slow.

In his 10th season, Girardi has perhaps his toughest days ahead of him. In the past, he’s been surrounded by veteran players who know the “Yankee way” and can indoctrinate the few young players moving onto the roster. But now Mark Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez, Carlos Beltran and Brian McCann are all gone in one fell swoop. The Baby Bomber movement has taken over with plenty of rookies, or at least inexperienced, players taking key spots on the roster. Girardi’s main job is making sure that all gels in the clubhouse.

He has some veteran help with Matt Holliday‘s addition or the continued presence of guys like Brett Gardner, Jacoby Ellsbury and co., but it’s still a challenge. For Girardi (and I guess Thomson), making sure inexperience doesn’t topple this team will be paramount to success. The one positive of having a younger roster is a lot less rest needed all around. Starlin Castro, for example, has played 151 games or more in five of the last six seasons. Fewer achy vets like A-Rod and Tex means more days with the team’s optimal lineup, whatever that may be.

Another change to the job will be instant replay. MLB has mandated that teams are quicker in requesting replays this season, so there will be less of the manager holding up play while the team’s replay people check it out. The Yankees’ guy, Brett Weber,  will have a tougher job this year (NY Times profiled him last year) and the team may need Girardi to go with his gut on challenges. The Yankees were the second-best team at getting calls overturned percentage-wise last year (Royals), but they also requested the fewest challenges (just 28). Maybe Girardi takes more chances with it and risks being quite as efficient in 2017.

Finally, Girardi’s job comes down to the bullpen. He once again has a strong back-end with Aroldis Chapman and Dellin Betances. I expect Chapman will have the 9th, Betances usually just the 8th and Tyler Clippard and Adam Warren would then be dispensed for the middle innings along with maybe Ernesto Frieri? Don’t forget Tommy Layne as a LOOGY! Girardi loves to get the platoon advantage.

And that’s not a knock on Girardi. His bullpen management is his best trait and is likely why the Yankees consistently outperform their Pythagorean record. He both has strong relievers to utilize and then actually utilizes them well. I don’t expect anything different in 2017.

Hitting, hitting and more hitting

Cockrell and Thames return, but many of their disciples do not. The two have been handed some interesting projects this season. They won’t have to worry too much about the veterans like Matt Holliday. Instead, they’ll have to work with 6-foot-7 rookie Aaron Judge to keep his strikeouts down or with Greg Bird and Gary Sanchez to make sure their rookie performances aren’t just mirages.

It’s tough to ever pinpoint exactly where a hitting coach makes his mark — best example for the Yanks in recent memory is Kevin Long working to correct Curtis Granderson‘s swing in the summer of 2010 — but any breakouts this year could come from Cockrell and Thames’ tutelage. Let’s hope they can make plenty happen.

Handling the pitching

(Getty Images)
Rothschild and Tanaka (Getty Images)

This season will be Rothschild’s seventh with the Yankees. Wow, feels like it’s been fewer but then you remember him working with big Bart in 2011 and others in the early 2010s. For the most part, Rothschild doesn’t have a new pitcher to work with this season. There are three veterans returning to the rotation, most of the bullpen was there at some point last season and even the guys fighting for the last rotation spot have big league experience (except Jordan Montgomery).

Rothschild will be judged on his ability to coax some solid seasons out of those back-end starters. Whether it’s Bryan Mitchell and Luis Severino or Chad Green and Montgomery, there’s a lot of work ahead for the Yankees’ pitching guru. Rothschild has been known to get pitchers to increase strikeout totals, but getting a guy like Severino or Mitchell to improve their command will be much tougher. It isn’t even necessarily on Rothschild if they fail. Sometimes, that’s just the way it goes with young pitchers.

And the rest

What can you really say about the rest of the staff? If you have a hard time accessing the performances of the hitting and pitching coaches, it’s even tougher with the bench or bullpen coach. Harkey begins the second season of his second stint with the Yankees. Seems like he never left for the desert, eh?

Meanwhile, Thomson has been with the Yankees since Girardi came aboard and has been the bench coach in two stints sandwiched around his time as the third-base coach. The bench coach seems like both another person for the manager to bounce ideas off of and another voice to work with the 25 personalities populating the Yankees’ clubhouse. Either way, Thomson has been solid enough in his role to stick around for 10 years.

Tony Pena has been here even longer. This will be his 12th season as a Yankees coach, now the first base coach after fulfilling other roles under Girardi and Joe Torre. Pena seemed to do a solid job as the Dominican Republic’s manager during the WBC and one has to wonder if he’ll be in consideration for another managerial gig (previously with the Royals) in the near future. Pena has a new full-time guy in Sanchez to work with behind the plate, which surely has him excited.

And then there’s Espada. He’s been perfectly fine as the third base coach. Like anyone in that position, he gets a ton of notice when he makes a bad send but otherwise has been left alone. He served a similar role for Puerto Rico at the WBC. If anything has changed for him, it’s that there are fewer base-clogging veterans like McCann or Teixeira and maybe a little more speed in the Yankees’ everyday lineup. Not much, but some. May be to Espada’s advantage in sending runners.