Category Archives: Managers and Coaches

#30. Mel Stottlemyre. 1941-2019.

Yankee Stadium Frieze

Who knows. If he was born 10 years earlier, and if his career wouldn’t have ended at the age of 32 due to a rotator cuff injury, maybe Mel Stottlemyre would be in the Hall of Fame.

He was that good.

But #30 as a player (and #34 as a coach, because fellow #30, Willie Randolph, was a coach at the same time as Mel), had the misfortune to join a Yankees team as the dynasty was ending.

Mel, 22 and 13-3 at Richmond, was brought up to the Yanks in the middle of August 1964. In his first major league game, vs. Chicago at home, Mickey Mantle hit a HR over the 461 ft. sign and also the 23 ft. high fence/screen for a 502 ft hr.

As for Stottlemyre, he won that game and went 9-3, 2.06 down the stretch. The Yanks needed it, for they won the pennant by just one game. In one game at the end of that season, Mel not only pitched a two-hit shutout, but also went 5 for 5 as a hitter.

Because of an injury to Whitey Ford in game 1 of that 1964 WS, Mel had to start Games 2, 5 and 7. He won Game 2, had a ND in Game 5 and lost Game 7. Each time, his opponent was Hall-of-Famer Bob Gibson.

You thought an ace was on the way and coming off of their fifth straight pennant, that more pennants were forthcoming. You were half right.

Ace yes, but …

In 1965, the dynasty collapsed. Mel never pitched in another postseason game. He did win 20 games in 1965, 21 in 1968 and 20 in 1969. He would be a 5x All-Star. He would pitch in 250 or more innings every year from 1965-1973, leading the AL once, and pitching in 303 innings in 1969. He led the AL in 1965 with 291 IP.

In 1968, he won 21 games for a team that hit .214. He finished 10th in the MVP balloting that year.

He hit an inside-the-park grand slam in 1965.

He went 164-139, ERA 2.97, ERA+ 112 from 1964 to 1974. Had he pitched for the Yogi/Maris/Mantle Yankees instead of the Horace Clarke Yankees, who knows what he could have done.

In comparing pitchers like Catfish Hunter and Jim Palmer to Mel Stottlemyre, Dick Howser mentioned that Mel was better, but he didn’t have the support behind him. Palmer and Hunter, of course are in the HOF. Stottlemyre not.

Mel’s 162 g. average was 16-13, 2.97. Often for teams that couldn’t hit and outside of Murcer and White, had no one strong in those lineups.

He threw 40 shutouts. He led the league in CG twice, and in losses twice. 12-20 in 1966 and 14-18 in 1972. The ERAs were 3.80 and 3.22 in those years. ERA+ of 87 and 92.

From 1965-1973, the seasons where he pitched full-time, he was 17-14, ERA 2.98. 2.98! and an ERA+ of 111. No run support. Players like Maris, Mantle, Howard were aging. Pepitone didn’t become what he should have been. Neither did Ronnie Blomberg. Munson got there in 1970, and for years, all he had were White and Murcer.

At the age of 32 it was all over. Torn rotator cuff. Medical know-how wasn’t what it is today. Career over.

He became a pitching coach and helped the 1986 Mets to a WS title. He went to Houston for a couple of years.

And in 1996, came home. I will say, I was more excited in 1996 for Mel coming back home as pitching coach than I was with Joe Torre being hired as manager.

Mel won 4 WS rings as pitching coach for the Yanks from 1996-2005. He later went to Seattle to work with them.

In 1999, Mel was diagnosed with myeloma, a cancer of the bone marrow. It’s amazing that he lasted this long and it is a testament to the fighter he was.

It is too bad that Mel pitched in the dark ages of Yankees’ history in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

For had he pitched in the golden era, he’d be remembered as a pitcher as great as Ruffing, Hoyt, Ford, Gomez and Ruffing. And a pitcher he would develop .. Andy Pettite.

And others…

 

Rest in peace, Mel.

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Ex-Yanks’ coach Down dies at 68.

Yankee Stadium Frieze

One-time Yanks’ hitting coach Rick Down passed away Saturday Jan. 5th at the age of 68.

Seahawks’ QB Russell Wilson will once again visit and work out with the Yanks in spring training. It’s expected he’ll get an at bat in an exhibition game. It’s more a publicity thing than anything else.

The Phillies hired a former mentor of Manny Machado in an effort to lure the slugger to Philadelphia.

Rumors are that Machado wants Stanton-like money or more. If that is the case, good luck with that, because the Yanks won’t go there. If Machado really wants to come to NY, it’s going to be on the Yankees’ terms.

Update: The Yanks and Greg Bird agreed to a 1 yr., $1.2 MM deal. A raise from $582K, but you can’t really say he deserved it.

 

What will Yanks infield look like in 2019?

Yankee Stadium Frieze

The NY Post reports that if Troy Tulowitzki proves himself capable, and even if the Yanks do land Manny Machado, that Tulo would be at SS (and what happens when Didi comes back?) and that Machado would be at 3B (meaning what happens with Andujar?)

Would Andujar move to 1B (meaning what happens to Voit and Bird?) or would he DH (meaning Stanton to LF and Gardner joins Ellsbury as backup outfielders, with Clint Frazier apparently headed to AAA since Frazier missed most of last year with an injury.)

Now I’ve also heard that if Tulo is the SS, and they land Machado and Machado is at 3B, that Andujar could be traded for a starter (Corey Kluber?). But with a rotation currently set as Severino, Paxton, Tanaka, Happ and CC, who would go? And remember, Sonny Gray is still on this team as of now, too.

From the NY Post and Joel Sherman (who also is with the MLB Network):

The Yankees reached an agreement with Tulowitzki with the plan, if healthy, to play him at shortstop even if they end up signing Manny Machado…

Tulowitzki had looked so good in a workout — athletic and lively in the Yankees’ estimation — about half the major league teams were looking to sign him for the low-risk, high-reward possibilities.

That Tulowitzki picked the Yankees without the assurance of 500-plus plate appearances exemplifies just how motivated he is to play for them. Tulowitzki wore No. 2 with the Rockies and Blue Jays as an homage to his idol, Derek Jeter, and — at 34 — decided if not now, when would he ever be a Yankee?

Both ex-Toronto Manager John Gibbons and MLB Network’s Dan O’Dowd said they believe Tulowitzki is healthy now. Their concerns were if he could maintain his health and how quickly and to what level his offense would return. As far as defense, both said they thought it would still be special. Gibbons said Tulowitzki took infield during batting practice while the Blue Jays were in Oakland in the second half and “he looked great. I have no doubt about his defense if he is healthy.

“If he gets to it, you are freaking out. He will make the backhand play as well as anyone I’ve ever seen. His off-balanced throws will be on the money. I can’t say enough good things about him.”

As far as offense, O’Dowd said because Tulowitzki’s power is to right-center, Yankee Stadium plays to his strengths.

“It is as good a move as you can make,” Gibbons said of the Yankees’ signing of Tulowitzki. “You have almost nothing to lose and if he stays healthy, you have one of the best shortstops of all time.”

Stay tuned. What happens with the infield is bound to be interesting.

 

 

Yanks sign Tulowitzki

Yankee Stadium Frieze

The Yanks signed a SS, but not the one you were waiting on. It doesn’t mean the Yankees WON’T sign Manny Machado, but just in case…

With Didi Gregorius going to miss at least half of the 2019 season, the Yanks did go out and sign former All-Star Troy Tulowitzki. Tulowitzki grew up admiring Derek Jeter and wore #2 as a tribute to Jeter.

Tulo, 34, a 5x All-Star and 2x Gold Glove and 2x Silver Slugger winner, will only cost the Yankees the league minimum. Toronto is on hook for the rest of his $20MM salary for 2019. They are also on the hook for 2020.

He missed all of 2018 due to injury and played in only 66 games in 2017, hitting .249-7-26, OPS+ 80. So it is a low-risk, high-reward situation.

HIs former Toronto manager, John Gibbons, assessed Tulo as still being strong defensively, but offensively it’s gone downhill.

Since 2011, Tulo has had only three seasons in which he played in 100 games or more, and none over 131.

Three times has he finished in the Top 10 for MVP voting, 2009-2011. His 162 g. average is .290-28-98, OPS+ 118, but he has not had a great offensive season since 2014 in Colorado—a season in which he only played in 91 games, hitting .340-21-52. He helped the Rockies to the 2007 WS, where they lost to Boston.

Tulowitzki has only played SS in his career, so there’s that, but if the Yanks do sign Machado, and Tulo proves he can play big league ball again, you wonder if the Yanks might use him as they did Neil Walker (currently a free agent) last year—as a utility infielder playing all infield positions. If so, then Tulo could be an upgrade over Walker, Tyler Wade, or (now with the Twins) Ronald Torreyes.

Now to see what’s up with Machado.

 

O’s get new manager, and waiting on Yankees’ deals.

Yankee Stadium Frieze

Brandon Hyde, who was Joe Maddon’s bench coach with the Cubs last year, has been tapped to be the new Orioles manager.

Nothing new on the Yankees’ front. I won’t comment on rumors, for if I did, I’d be here forever. But when something happens, I’ll comment on that.

Andrew McCutchen wasn’t expected to return to the Yanks, and he isn’t. The free agent signed a 3 yr., $50MM deal with the Phillies.

One thing I am concerned about…. will the Yanks lose out on Happ as well? With Corbin and Eovaldi off the board, and if Happ goes elsewhere (Phillies?), there still may be pitchers available, but are the Yanks losing out on who they really would want to fill out that rotation? Hoping to hear something on that end soon.

Toronto released Troy Tulowitzki. Injuries cost him most of 2017 and all of 2018. I don’t have interest in him, sadly, even with Didi out for at least half of next year. The once great SS for the Rockies is 34 and hasn’t been the same in a number of years now.

Harold Baines and Lee Smith elected to HOF. Piniella just short, no Boss.

Yankee Stadium Frieze

George Steinbrenner didn’t come close to making the HOF, as he got less than 5 of the 16 votes from the “Today’s Era” panel.

Making the hall through this method were OF/DH Harold Baines, and relief pitcher Lee Smith. Lou Piniella, who was being considered as a manager, not a player, missed out by one vote.

Baines played for the White Sox (1980-1989), Rangers (1989-1990), A’s (1990-1992), Orioles (1993-1995), White Sox again (1996-1997), Orioles again (1997-1999) Indians (1999) Orioles yet again (2000) and finished with yet another tour with the White Sox (2000-2001). His #3 was retired by the White Sox in 1989…. when he was still playing.

Baines never got more than 6.1% from the writers while on the ballot. He had 2866 hits in his career, 384 HR. He was a 6x All-Star who finished in the top 10 for MVP voting twice. His 162 g. average was .289-22-93, OPS+ 121. He hit .324-5-16 in 31 postseason games.

Smith is third on the all-time saves list with 478 saves. He pitched for the Cubs (1980-1987), Red Sox (1988-1990), Cardinals (1990-1993), Yankees (1993), Orioles (1994), Angels (1995-1996), Reds (1996) and Expos (1997). He was a 7x All-Star who never got more than 50.6% on the writer’s ballot. He was 71-92, 3.03 in his MLB career, and his 162 g. average was 5-6, 3.03, 32 saves, ERA+ 132. In four postseason games, he was 0-2, 8.44 with one save.

Piniella, who missed by one vote, managed the Yankees (1986-1988), Reds (1990-1992), Mariners (1993-2002), Devil Rays (2003-2005), and Cubs (2007-2010), winning the WS with the Reds in 1990. He managed seven teams to the postseason. He was 1835-1713 as manager, winning pct. .517. His 2001 Mariners went 116-46 before losing to the Yankees in the ALCS. Eight of his teams won 90 or more games in a season.

 

Boone 5th for AL MOY. Melvin wins. Snitker wins in NL. CYA winners announced today.

Yankee Stadium Frieze

Bob Melvin of the A’s won the AL Manager of the Year Award. It’s the third time he has won the award. Alex Cora of the WS Champion Red Sox was the runnerup.

Aaron Boone of the Yankees got two third-place votes and finished fifth in the AL voting.

The NL MOY was Brian Snitker of the Atlanta Braves.

Winning a lot of games, as Boone did (100) or Cora (108) doesn’t necessarily get you the award. Usually it goes to a manager whose team did far better than expected. The Braves improved by 18 games, from 72 to 90 wins to win the NL East. The A’s improved by 22 games, from 75 to 97 wins, to gain the second wild card slot this year.

Tonight, the CYA winners will be announced.