Category Archives: Managers and Coaches

Boone AL All-Star Game Mgr.?and Yanks make a minor deal.

Yankee Stadium Frieze

OK, with Hinch, last year’s pennant winning manager gone, and same with Cora, does this mean Aaron Boone, who lost last year’s ALCS, now is the AL All-Star game manager?


The Yanks made a minor deal. When Gardner’s contract was finalized last week, LHP Stephen Tarpley was DFA’d. Today they traded him to Miami for a prospect, James Nelson, 3B. Nelson will most likely be with A+ Tampa.

From MLB.com:

Nelson, 22, spent his 2019 season with Class A Advanced Jupiter, batting .228 (98-for-429) with 36 runs, 13 doubles, two triples, four homers and 36 RBIs in 121 games. Over four Minor League seasons, the right-handed hitter has hit .259 with 14 homers and 147 RBIs in 328 games, playing exclusively at third base.

Tarpley, 26, made 31 Major League appearances (one start) for the Yankees from 2018-19, going 1-0 with two saves and a 5.88 ERA (22 earned runs in 33 2/3 innings).

 

MLB hammers Astros; Cora and Red Sox next.

Yankee Stadium Frieze

Worked OT, and am watching the College Football National Championship game, so I’ll do a lot of cut and pasting here.

From MLB.com (edited) Bold is from me :

Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow and manager AJ Hinch were each suspended without pay for the 2020 season by Major League Baseball, which on Monday released the findings from its investigation of Houston’s sign-stealing allegations.

Approximately one hour after the penalties were issued, Astros owner Jim Crane announced in a news conference at Minute Maid Park in Houston that Luhnow and Hinch had both been dismissed by the organization.

As part of the penalties, Houston also forfeits its first- and second-round picks in the 2020 and 2021 MLB Drafts. In addition, the Astros were fined $5 million, which is the highest allowable fine under the Major League Constitution.

Former Astros assistant GM Brandon Taubman, who was dismissed by the club in October after he made offensive and insensitive comments directed at a group of female reporters at the conclusion of the American League Championship Series on Oct. 19, 2019, was also suspended for one year for his inappropriate conduct in the clubhouse. Taubman “shall be ineligible to perform services on behalf of any Major League club, either as an employee or independent contractor.”

The suspensions of Luhnow and Hinch are to begin immediately, ending on the day following the completion of the 2020 World Series. Taubman, who is currently not employed by a Major League club, will be eligible to apply for reinstatement at that same end time as well.

Should either Luhnow or Hinch be found to engage in “any future material violations” of Major League rules, the offender will be placed on the permanently ineligible list.

The report says the illegal sign-stealing was mostly player-driven, but it states that former bench coach Alex Cora, who is now the manager of the Red Sox, was involved in setting it up. Cora was not disciplined as part of this investigation, but the report states that he could face penalties at the conclusion of the ongoing investigation into allegations of illegal sign-stealing by the Red Sox during the 2018 season.

There were no penalties given to any Astros players as part of the investigation, though Mets manager Carlos Beltrán — who was a DH/outfielder on the 2017 Astros — was mentioned in the report as one of the players involved in the illegal sign-stealing. In explaining why no players would face any discipline, Commissioner Manfred wrote the following:

“Assessing discipline of players for this type of conduct is both difficult and impractical. It is difficult, because virtually all of the Astros’ players had some involvement or knowledge of the scheme, and I am not in a position based on the investigative record to determine with any degree of certainty every player who should be held accountable, or their relative degree of culpability.

“It is impractical given the large number of players involved, and the fact that many of those players now play for other clubs.”

Now the Astros need to find a new GM and manager. MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand reports that Astros bench coach Joe Espada (a one-time Yankees coach) is the favorite to become interim manager

As for Cora and Boston, be afraid. Be very, very afraid.  They may need a new manager soon as well.

Once again, from MLB.Com, once again, edited :

Red Sox manager Alex Cora was named by MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred as a primary participant in the Astros’ sign-stealing scheme of 2017 and may face future discipline for his role upon the completion of an ongoing investigation into a similar scheme allegedly used by the Red Sox during Boston’s World Series championship season of 2018.

The Red Sox organization also could receive penalties when that investigation is concluded.

“Cora was involved in developing both the banging scheme and utilizing the replay review room to decode and transmit signs,” wrote Manfred. “Cora participated in both schemes, and through his active participation, implicitly condoned the players’ conduct. I will withhold determining the appropriate level of discipline for Cora until after the [Department of Investigations] completes its investigation of the allegations that the Red Sox engaged in impermissible electronic sign stealing in 2018 while Cora was the manager.”

The two teams hurt the most are the Yankees, who lost the ALCS to Houston in a series where the home team won every game, and the Dodgers, who lost the WS to Houston in 2017 and to Boston in 2018. 

One last thing: with Hinch out, don’t be surprised if Aaron Boone is now the manager of the 2020 AL All-Star team.

 

Yanks sign utility player, and more MLB investigations

Yankee Stadium Frieze

The Bleeding Yankee Blue blog states that Baseball America is reporting that the Yankees have signed Rosell Herrera to a deal. Herrera is a 27 year old switch-hitter who has played in 149 MLB games, hitting .225-3-31 with an OPS+ of 64. He was with Cincinnati and KC in 2018, and Miami last year.

He’ll most likely start at AAA and be ready in case of injury. One thing about him, he is versatile. He’s played 44 MLB games in RF, 37 in CF, 19 at 2B, 15 in LF, 6 at 3B and 1 game at SS.


Hmmm…. while MLB is investigating the WS Champion 2017 Houston Astros for cheating, using video technology to steal signs, now they are ALSO investigating the WS Champion Boston Red Sox for the same type of infraction. What do both teams have in common? Alex Cora, who was the bench coach for the Astros and who became the Red Sox’ manager.


Ex-Yankee Ronald Torreyes “The Toe” has signed with the Phillies, teaming up once again with manager Joe Girardi.


A Passing: Andy Hassler, age 68. Hassler, a lefty pitcher, pitched for the Angels (1971, 1973-1976), KC Royals (1976-1978), Red Sox (1978-1979), the Mets (1979), Pirates (1980), back with the Angels again (1980-1983) and Cardinals (1984-1985). Hassler was 44-71, 3.83, with 29 saves in his MLB career, ERA+ 97. He pitched in five postseason games, and three were against the Yankees. His postseason record was 0-2, 4.60. He started Game 3 of the 1976 ALCS against the Yankees, taking the loss in a 5-3 Yankees win. In 1977, he started Game 2 of the ALCS against the Yankees, taking the loss in a 6-2 Yankees’ win. He also pitched for the Angels in the 1982 ALCS against the Brewers.

 

German suspended until June.

Yankee Stadium Frieze

MLB has levied an 81 game suspension against Domingo German for domestic abuse. It is retroactive to last year’s last 9 games of the regular season and 9 postseason games, so it is for the first 63 games of the 2020 season.

The earliest German could rejoin the Yankees will be in early June.


In other sports news:

Sam Wyche, who coached the Bengals to Super Bowl XXIII, where they lost 20-16 to the SF 49ers when Joe Montana threw a TD pass with just 34 seconds left in the game died at the age of 74.

From ESPN.COM: Wyche coached the Bengals for eight seasons from 1984 to 1991 and also was the head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for four seasons from 1992 to 1995. He was 61-66 with the Bengals, and 23-41 with Tampa Bay.

 

Yanks fire a coach, get catching depth.

Yankee Stadium Frieze

From the NY Post (edited):

The Post has learned Matt Krause, the Yankees’ director of strength and conditioning, has been relieved of his duties after six years with the club.

It is believed Krause had two years remaining on his contract. He follows pitching coach Larry Rothschild, who had a year left on his contract, and bench coach Josh Bard out the door.

Krause’s ouster follows a season in which 30 Yankees made a total of 39 appearances on the injured list. That is believed to be the most in major league history. Twenty Yankees made a total of 23 trips to the IL in 2018.

Even so, the Yankees won the AL East for the first time since 2012, beat the Twins in the ALDS and lost to the Astros in six ALCS games.

How much the injuries played a role in Krause’s dismissal hasn’t been revealed. But the fact that high-profile players missed major chunks of the season because of injuries couldn’t be ignored, even if some of the injuries surfaced when pitchers Luis Severino (inflamed right rotator cuff and lat strain) and Dellin Betances (right shoulder impingement and lat strain) were in Tampa rehabbing other ailments suffered during spring training. Severino appeared in three games in September and made two postseason starts. Betances pitched two-thirds of an inning in September and suffered a left Achilles tendon injury.

They weren’t the only high-profile Yankees to go on the IL.

Giancarlo Stanton played in 18 games due to a strained left biceps and a sprained right knee. Aaron Judge missed 54 games from April 21 to June 20 with a strained left oblique. Gary Sanchez was on the IL twice with lower-body injuries. Aaron Hicks played in 59 games due to a lower back issue and a flexor tendon injury in his right elbow that required surgery after the season and will keep him out until at least June. Miguel Andujar played in 12 games at the start of the season and underwent season-ending right shoulder surgery. Luke Voit wasn’t the same after suffering an abdominal strain in late June that was later called a sports hernia.


It looks like the Yanks will be going with Kyle Higashioka as the backup C to Gary Sanchez. Higashioka is out of options. While he does have some pop (20 HR in 70 AAA games last year, and 6 in 146 MLB at bats) he has hit only .164 in those MLB at bats with 48 strikeouts. You do wonder if he can hit at the MLB level. We’ll find out. Higashioka isn’t young. The righty hitter is 29.

Remember the character Crash Davis (played by Kevin Costner) in the movie Bull Durham? A career minor leaguer who had a touch of the majors but late in his career is in the minors to teach pitchers? Maybe Erik Kratz, age 40, is like Crash Davis. The Yanks signed him to a minor league deal.

From MLBTR.com: Kratz [hit]  .299/.375/.500 slash in 176 plate appearances with the Yankees’ Triple-A affiliate in Scranton last year. Given that Kratz and his family live close to the Scranton area, he’ll have the opportunity to continue playing close to home even if he doesn’t break camp with the Yankees’ Major League club.

He provides catching depth behind Sanchez and Higashioka. He went 2 for 2 as a Yankee in 2017. For his career, he is a .205 hitter.

So there is the worry. With Romine gone, can Higashioka and/or Kratz hit enough, especially if Sanchez (who has had injuries the last two seasons) goes down?

UPDATE: Martin Maldanado re-upped with Houston, killing those Maldonado to the Yankees to team with with Cole rumors.

Free (agent) as a Bird

Yankee Stadium Frieze

When the Yankees DFA’d Greg Bird 10 days ago in order to set their 40-man roster, they had that time to do various things.

Bird cleared waivers and refused an outright assignment to AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

He is now a free agent.

He filled in nicely for Mark Teixeira at the end of 2015, hitting .261-11-31 in 46 games (OPS+ 135) but since then has been injury prone, playing in just 140 games in the last 4 seasons, going .194-21-67, OPS+ 80. He didn’t play at all in 2016 and in just 10 games in 2019.

When he was healthy, in the 2015 and 2017 postseasons, he hit .250 with 3 HR and 6 RBI in 14 games.


Update: Pittsburgh named Derek Shelton as their new manager. He was bench coach for the Twins the past two seasons and once managed in the Yankees’ farm system.

 

 

Yankees hire a female hitting coach; Ellsbury departure could be ugly.

Yankee Stadium Frieze

From Bryan Hoch at MLB.com:

The Yankees are preparing to make history with the addition of Rachel Balkovec, who will become one of the first female full-time hitting coaches hired by a big league organization, The New York Times reported on Friday evening.

The 32-year-old Balkovec signed her contract on Nov. 8, according to the Times, and is slated to report to the Yankees’ Spring Training complex in Tampa, Fla., on Feb. 1. Balkovec is expected to be based in Tampa and will serve as a roving instructor throughout the organization.

Yankees hitting coordinator Dillon Lawson told the Times that the club hired Balkovec based on her qualifications, which include two master’s degrees in the science of human movement and experience at several Minor League clubs.

“It’s an easy answer to why we chose Rachel for this role,” Lawson told the newspaper. “She’s a good hitting coach, and a good coach, period.”

A product of Omaha, Neb., Balkovec earned recognition as a part-time strength and conditioning coach in the Cardinals’ organization in 2012, prompting her appointment as the Minor League strength and conditioning coordinator for the Cardinals from 2014-15. As such, she became the first woman to hold a full-time strength and conditioning position in affiliated baseball.

Since August, Balkovec has been researching eye tracking for hitters and hip movement for pitchers at Driveline Baseball, a data-driven performance training center in Washington state. The Yankees tabbed Driveline’s Sam Briend this past summer to head their organizational pitching blueprint, and Balkovec hopes to apply her expertise to the club’s hitters.


No, it wasn’t an April Fool’s joke. The Yankees signed Zack Granite to a minor league deal.

At first, when you read it, you thought you saw Zack Greinke, didn’t you? Like many others, you did a double take.

Nope, it is not the top-flight pitcher (who isn’t a free agent anyway), but an OF named Zack Granite, 27, lefty hitter who had 93 MLB at bats with the Twins in 2017. Of his 22 hits (.237), 19 were singles. OPS+ 66. 1 HR, 13 RBI. OF depth. Especially in CF.

Granite is from Staten Island and went to Seton Hall. He hit .290-3-37 at AAA (119 games, Rangers organization) in 2019. 25 SB. So has some speed, no power.


From the NY Post, the Ellsbury departure could get ugly:

On Friday, multiple sources told The Post, right after Ellsbury cleared release waivers, the Yankees sent a letter to the Players Association notifying them of their intention to convert Ellsbury’s contract from guaranteed to non-guaranteed, thereby liberating them from the outfielder’s $21 million salary for 2020 as well as a $5 million buyout of the $21 million team option for 2021. The basis of the effort is the Yankees’ contention Ellsbury, who missed the entire 2018 and 2019 seasons due to multiple injuries, received medical treatment at Progressive Medical Center in Atlanta for multiple years without the Yankees’ authorization. The exact time period is in question, hence the uncertainty about how much, if any, of the $127 million the Yankees already have paid Ellsbury will be in play.

The union, livid with the Yankees’ maneuver, made it clear it would challenge the team on Ellsbury’s behalf and hinted at a willingness to play offense as well as defense.

If Ellsbury, who is represented by agent Scott Boras, files a grievance against the Yankees, an independent arbitrator would resolve the matter unless the two sides can come to a settlement. Baseball’s Basic Agreement mandates a hearing take place within one year of the grievance filing.

The Basic Agreement, most importantly, asserts, on page 59: “Any treatment a Player receives for a Work-Related Injury by a health care provider who is not affiliated with the Club must be authorized by the Club in advance of the treatment in accordance with Regulation 2 of the [Uniform Player Contract].”

That’s the edict the Yankees allege Ellsbury violated. In order to prove that, the Yankees — who didn’t have insurance on Ellsbury’s 2020 contract, after getting reimbursed at a 75-percent rate for the $42 million he earned over the prior two seasons — must display that he received treatment there related to his work, rather than a personal-health issue.

As for the PA’s mention of potential contract violations by the Yankees, the union could investigate whether the team was responsible for a media report implying Ellsbury might have used illegal performance-enhancing drugs at Progressive Medical Center, an insinuation that could be viewed as breaking the rules of the game’s Joint Drug Agreement. Ironically, if baseball did discover Ellsbury used illegal PEDs, his contract would be protected, as per the Basic Agreement, and he’d serve a suspension, during which he wouldn’t get paid.


Lastly, stay tuned. The Houston cheating scandal could wind up with one hell of a punishment.