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.