The LoHud Yankees Blog

A New York Yankees blog by Chad Jennings and the staff of The Journal News

“Pretty shocked,” Eiland moves on12.23.10

ALCS Yankees Rangers BaseballMore or less echoing Joe Girardi’s comments at the end of the season, former Yankees pitching coach Dave Eiland said he fully expected to be back in pinstripes until a call from Brian Cashman telling him he was not being re-hired.

Eiland told ESPNNewYork he was “pretty shocked” by the decision. Cashman said, “He knows why” the decision was made.

“There’s no bad blood, no hard feelings, no animosity at all,” Eiland said. “I don’t necessarily agree with the decision they made, but I respect it. There’s a lot of great people there. I wish them the best, but when we go up against those guys I’m gonna give everything I have to beat them.”

Eiland’s version of events pretty much fits with Girardi, who said he expected to have his staff back until Cashman said the team would go in another direction. Once again, neither Cashman nor Eiland elaborated on the reasons for the change or the reasons for Eiland’s month-long absence.

“Can Phil Hughes repeat his 18 win season? Can Ivan Nova or Sergio Mitre step into that fourth or fifth spot? There’s a lot of questions,” Eiland said. “They got a bit of work to do if they want to catch up to Boston’s starting staff or match up with the Rays’ starting staff as well. They didn’t get the big fish they wanted in Cliff Lee, but obviously, the Yankees have the resources to get what they need when they need it. I’m sure Brian Cashman and his staff will do what they have to do.”

Associated Press photo

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Yankees beginning Girardi conversations this week10.25.10

Yankees Wrapup BaseballBrian Cashman met with Hal Steinbrenner this morning, and he’ll meet with Joe Girardi’s agent tomorrow. Girardi wants to come back, the Yankees want him back and the negotiations are going to happen quickly.

“It doesn’t mean we’ll have anything to announce tomorrow, but there’s an interest level on both parties to keep moving forward together,” Cashman said. “We’ll let that work its way out. When we have something to discuss publicly, we will. Prior to that, I’m not going to give a debriefing on how my conversation went yesterday. The meetings will start tomorrow. Will it go long? Will it go days? Will it be quick? I can’t tell you.”

Barring some sort of surprise snag in the negotiations, it sounds like a deal is only a matter of time.

“Those discussions will probably take place fairly quickly here,” Girardi said. “I said after we lost on Friday that I love being here. I’ve loved working here. It’s a great work environment, great relationship with the front office and everyone involved, the players, coaches. So i want to be back. I hope it gets done quickly.??”

For whatever it’s worth, Girardi was told — not necessarily asked — about the decision to get rid of pitching coach Dave Eiland. Cashman said it was a general manager decision. If Girardi had objected?

“It didn’t matter,” Cashman said.

UPDATE, 2:43 p.m.: The Yankees just released this statement from Girardi about Eiland: “Dave spent his entire coaching career with the Yankees organization, and there is little doubt the impact he had on a great number of pitchers during his tenure. He was a passionate and knowledgeable pitching coach on the Major League level, and he played a valuable role in our team’s achievements in recent years. I wish him continued success moving forward as his baseball career continues to evolve.”

UPDATE, 2:49 p.m.: It would have been a long-shot anyway given his relationship to Tony La Russa, but Dave Duncan has signed a two-year deal to stay in St. Louis as the Cardinals pitching coach. Scratch him off the list.

Associated Press photo

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Eiland: Hughes is “well on his way”10.10.10

ALDS Twins Yankees BaseballDave Eiland coached Phil Hughes in Double-A. He coached him in Triple-A. Now Eiland is coaching Hughes in the big leagues, and last night he saw perhaps the finest – and certainly the biggest – start of Hughes’ career.

“It’s very gratifying,” Eiland said. “I’m very proud of him, and that was the first thing I told him. It’s a team game and he stepped up. He’s well on his way to being what we all thought he was going to be.”

Eiland seems to have a good relationship with all of his pitchers. He turned A.J. Burnett around for a while, he helped Boone Logan become a reliable lefty specialist and just last month he found a slight mechanical flaw in the greatest closer of all time.

But Eiland has seen Hughes for the better part of his career. Hughes was a premier prospect from the day he was drafted, and much has been expected of him for more than six years. The Yankees have gone out of their way to protect Hughes’ arm in the minor leagues, and this year in the big leagues.

In so many ways, it was all leading up to last night.

“We saw how strong he was, and in his last couple of starts in the regular season,” Eiland said. “I’ve been saying it for years, he’s mature beyond his years, and I think a lot of it goes back to his upbringing, his parents and the way they brought him up. He’s a just a consummate professional. He’s only 24 but I have a lot of respect for him and look up to him by the way he handles himself and goes about his business.”

“…He challenged hitters. Here it is, hit it. That’s what he has to do. That’s who he is. That’s what I saw.”

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith 327 Comments →

Wrapping up another division series workout10.08.10

ALDS Twins Yankees Baseball

Not a lot of news came out of this afternoon’s workout at Yankee Stadium, just a recurring theme of taking nothing for granted with a two-games-to-none lead in a best-of-five series.

“Our situation, the way we look at it is, tomorrow’s a must-win,” Derek Jere* said. “If you have that approach every game that you play, then nothing changes.”
* Who? Pretty sure that should say Derek Jeter. Worth keeping in because it’s one of my most absurd typos ever.

It’s not hard to make a connection between this and the 2001 division series. The Yankees have seen first-hand that a team can go on the road and still come back from a two-game deficit. The Yankees did it nine year ago.

The 2001 Oakland Athletics were a lot like these Yankees. They had two of the most productive corner infielders in the game. They had a 21-game winner and an 18-game winner in the rotation. This was back when Jason Isringhausen was a pretty reliable closer. That A’s team had the second-best record in the league, but settled for the wild card because it had the misfortune of playing in the same division as the 116-win Mariners.

The biggest difference between that Oakland team and this Yankees team might be experience. The A’s were very good, but also very young. Oakland had been to the playoffs once in the previous eight years. Their best players were in their late 20s.

“We have a lot of experience in here,” Joe Girardi said. “Guys that have accomplished a lot in their careers, and they’ve been through winning series (and) losing series. They understand that when you play in New York, the expectations here, and I think they’ve been through it so many times that they understand what it’s about. There’s nothing that necessarily surprises them when you go on the road. Tickets. Rooms. They understand it. And they understand the magnitude of the games.”

ALDS Twins Yankees Baseball• Girardi said the rotation has not changed. If the Yankees lose tomorrow, CC Sabathia will start Game 4.

• Speaking of the rotation, Phil Hughes gets the ball tomorrow. “Last year (in the playoffs) I kind of viewed it as me struggling in the wrong time,” Hughes said. “I really didn’t think that the playoff sort of atmosphere or anything like that factored in. I just wasn’t making good pitches. I feel like I’m in a good spot now coming into the playoffs. I had a couple of good starts leading into this. I don’t think about that at all.”

• Hughes has better numbers at home than on the road this season, but Girardi said he lined up his rotation so that his two lefty starters would face the Twins twice apiece. Home-road splits took a back seat. “I don’t pay too much attention to that at all,” pitching coach Dave Eiland said. “If you make pitches you’re going to get hitters out. You’re going to get them out here or any ballpark. I think sometimes that gets to be more of a mental thing. Let’s face it, a lot of routine fly balls leave this ballpark.”

• Hughes has thrown one inning since September 26. “He’s thrown a couple of extra side sessions,” Eiland said. “That’s all you really can do.”

• Andy Pettitte feels good the day after his Game 2 win. “Normal soreness in all the right places the day after a start,” Eiland said. “All systems go with him.”

• Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said he’s considering a lineup change for tomorrow. “I’ve been running a lot of thoughts through, whether we go with speed. Maybe Alexi Cassila in the lineup against a right-hander. Who knows? I’m going to look at it tomorrow, see some numbers and see if we need to move somebody around or not.”

• Girardi did not comment on his lineup. Twins starter Brian Duensing is a lefty, which at least leaves open the option of starting Austin Kearns, though Girardi chose not to use Kearns against lefty Francisco Liriano in Game 1.

• Playing in the AL Central with the Tigers, Marcus Thames and Curtis Granderson have the most regular-season at-bats against Duensing. It’s not much of a scouting report, but here’s what Thames said about him: “Fastball, changeup, slider. Typical guy. Pretty good stuff.”

• The West Point Glee Club will sing the national anthem tomorrow.

• Girardi on whether he felt the need to talk to Hughes to make sure he’s not too anxious or nervous about tomorrow’s start: “It’s not something I’ve had to do the whole year,” Girardi said. “And I think about the experience that he gained last year pitching in important games. You can look at the game where we moved him up to pitch against Boston. He seemed relaxed and he seemed to be himself. I have not been given any indications I’m going to have to talk to him. I’ll look at him tomorrow.”

Associated Press photos of Girardi and Hughes

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How much does A.J. Burnett miss Dave Eiland?06.22.10

Yankees Diamondbacks Baseball

From the outside, the impact of a hitting coach or a pitching coach is always vague at best. Clearly coaches play a role, but how much of a player’s success comes from his own talent and how much comes from outside perspective and understanding? How much of A.J. Burnett’s early season success and recent struggles are because of Dave Eiland?

“I’m not going to lie,” Burnett said. “Dave is a big part of what we do here, and who I am and who our starters are. On the other hand, I’ve been pitching for 11 years now. I think I’d be able to make the adjustment on my own out there.”

Eiland left the team for personal reasons on June 4. Burnett pitched that day and began a string of four straight losses.

“I don’t discount that,” Joe Girardi said. “I wish I knew what exactly it was because we would try to straighten it out. Yeah, Dave has an impact on all of the pitchers. Could it (be part of the problem)? Yeah, but I can’t tell you that’s exactly what it is.”

Now the burden falls on Mike Harkey — who would have been involved to some extent whether Eiland were here or not — to lead the fixing process.

“I don’t think it’s any tougher than it’s always been,” Harkey said. “As a coach period we’re going to go through ups and downs. You’re going to have guys that struggle, and everybody’s going to sit there and put their heads together and try to find answers to it.”

Ultimately, Burnett and Girardi seem to agree that the bulk of the responsibility falls to the pitcher himself. Burnett said has “an idea” of what he needs to fix — he hasn’t felt comfortable out of the windup, which might be a place to start — and he’ll get every opportunity to straighten himself out. Girardi said skipping Burnett’s turn is not in the plans.

“(Eiland) not here is a big loss for all of us,” Burnett said. “I’m not going to point fingers and make excuses at all. I’m out there throwing pitches whether Dave’s in the dugout or not. He’s corrected me enough where I should have it in my memory what Dave says. I’m a man. I’m a professional athlete who’s got a big contract, who’s here for a reason, and there’s no reason you shouldn’t be able to do that on your own.”

Here’s Burnett speaking after last night’s game.

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Pregame notes: Thames out for about two weeks06.13.10

Yankees Blue Jays BaseballMarcus Thames has been dealing with some mild hamstring soreness for a while now. It was playable until yesterday’s double into the left-field corner. “When I first took off, that’s when I felt it,” Thames said.

He felt like he had a chance to cut off the ball, but the hamstring forced him to play it off the wall. When he went popped up later in the game, he couldn’t run to first base.

“I felt like I was running in slow motion,” he said. “I know I’m not that slow.”

Thames has been placed on the disabled list and was told he’ll be shutdown for 10 to 12 days. To fill his spot, the team has called up Chad Huffman from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Huffman was claimed off waivers from the Padres earlier this season. He can play both outfield corners and first base, plus he has some power from the right side. He had a .279 average with five home runs in Triple-A.

Huffman is from the Houston area, and most of his family — mother, father, brother, cousins, uncle — flew to New York at the last minute to be here for his debut. The Scranton team flew from Charlotte to Allentown yesterday morning, then drove from Allentown to Scranton.

“Got about two hours of sleep,” Huffman said. “Got to the field and then (manager Dave) Miley called me into his office as soon as I got there and had some good news… I packed up and drove here as fast as I could.”

• I must admit, I showed up today fully expecting Derek Jeter to be the designated hitter. Joe Girardi had a different idea. “Swish has played every game and every inning in this stretch,” Girardi said. “I thought it would be a way to kind of give him a day and a half off.”

• Girardi said there’s no update on Dave Eiland’s status. “When I have word I’ll give it to you,” Girardi said. “There is no word right now.”

• Jorge Posada will be back behind the plate for the first time since mid-May. “As far as the injury, I don’t really have much (concern) there,” Girardi said. “It’s more the fatigue level.”

• The Yankees will have to monitor how many days Posada catches in a row. “Would be play him three days in a row? More than three days in a row? That was a question,” Girardi said. “That can adjust all the time. He’s going to DH some, but he’s going to catch too. He’s not going to DH everyday. He’s going to catch and we want him to catch because of the flexibility that he gives us, and the experience.”

• For this series finale, the Yankees are once again giving the ball to Phil Hughes, who’s going after his ninth win. “He’s been able to limit damage in innings,” Girardi said. “When he’s not had his best command or his best stuff, he’s still be able to go deep into games for us, just finding a way to get it done. To me, that’s a sign of maturity, and to be a big winner during the course of the season you have to be able to do that.”

UPDATE, 12:25 p.m.: Astros lineup.

Michael Bourn CF
Jeff Keppinger 2B
Hunter Pence RF
Carlos Lee DH
Cory Sullivan LF
Pedro Feliz 3B
Geoff Blum 1B
Tommy Manzella SS
Kevin Cash C

Associated Press photo of Thames.

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Noteswith 168 Comments →

Postgame notes: Burnett limits the damage04.11.10

Yankees Rays Baseball

Pick your inning for A.J. Burnett. Was the first inning the key, when he kept a rocky start from becoming a terrible start? Or was the sixth inning the key, when he stranded the bases loaded after a bizarre infield single off the Tropicana Field catwalk?

After two singles, two stolen bases, a sacrifice bunt and a walk in the first inning, pitching coach Dave Eiland went to the mound with a simple message.

“He’s got good stuff,” Eiland said. “We’re still in the game. Continue to attack. Don’t pick. Take charge.”

Burnett said he didn’t think his stuff was very good today, but Eiland and Jorge Posada told him otherwise and he trusted them. When Burnett attacked with his fastball, he got out of trouble. That included the sixth inning when Evan Longoria singled off the catwalk and Carlos Pena walked to load the bases. It was a two-run game at the time, and Burnett got B.J. Upton to pop up to end the threat.

“He didn’t turn (the first) into a huge inning, that gave us a chance to come back,” Joe Girardi said. “He made his pitches when he had to in that (sixth inning) situation. The interesting thing is, when Longoria hits that ball, you think you’re out of the inning. And then you’ve got to turn it back on again.”

Here’s Burnett talking about his outing, and talking a little bit about getting home for Tuesday’s ring ceremony.

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And here’s Girardi talking about the game and the road trip as a whole.

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Yankees Rays Baseball

• When Longoria’s ball hit the catwalk, Girardi argued that it hit in foul territory and should be ruled foul. The stadium ground rules say that particular catwalk is in play, making Longoria’s ball live. “It’s not a baseball stadium,” Jorge Posada said. “You can’t have balls going all over the place. It’s sad.”

• Posada said he remembered five changeups from Burnett, and he expects even more as Burnett continues to get used to the pitch. “It’s a swing-and-miss pitch, it really is,” Posada said.

• Someone asked Burnett whether he wears his Marlins World Series ring. “No,” he said. Will he wear his Yankees ring? “Absolutely.”

• A loss today would have meant a split of the opening road trip. Instead, the Yankees took four of six against their top competition in the division. “You try to win every series,” Girardi said “That’s our goal going in. I don’t think you can be satisfied being even. Some people might say you hung in on a tough road trip, but our goal was to win both series.”

• Joba Chamberlain had a bit of a rocky inning. I believe the scoreboard here had him at 93 mph — that’s the fastest I noticed, anyway — and he allowed a run on two hits and a walk. Girardi said some of that can be attributed to Chamberlain haven’t not pitched in a while.

• “They outplayed us once again,” Rays manager Joe Maddon said.

• Brett Gardner and Curtis Granderson are tied for the league lead with three stolen bases apiece.

• Tomorrow’s an off day, with the Yankees working out at the Stadium in the afternoon.

Those are Associated Press photos. The first is obviously Burnett. The smaller photo is Girardi talking to crew chief Wally Bell after the Longoria single.

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Notes, Podcastwith 123 Comments →

Pettitte no-hits the Phillies03.12.10

Andy Pettitte wasn’t going through the motions this afternoon. He was going through the Philadelphia Phillies. During his three-inning simulated game in the indoor cage at Steinbrenner Field, pitching coach Dave Eiland called balls and strikes while Pettitte acted as if he were facing the Phillies lineup.

“I didn’t give up a hit in three innings,” Pettitte said. “Unfortunately, this is what we had to do. I got my normal warm-up in, and then I got all of my throws in. And I’m tired. That was the biggest thing, I just wanted to make sure I’m good and fatigued. Obviously I would have loved to have faced hitters, but the way the weather’s been, I just had to get my work in here today.”

Eiland forced Pettitte into various game situations, occasionally calling a foul ball instead of a strike three. When Pettitte finished with his 50 pitches, he was sweating. Maybe he wasn’t exhausted, but he’d certainly been working.

“You’re trying to challenge him,” Eiland said. “You’re also trying to get his pitch count up. You don’t want to just call balls and strikes, you want to make it kind of game-like. He may throw a pitch in a certain count that might get a swing, but I’m not going to give it to him. You have to make it a challenge. It can’t be a go-through-the-motions thing.”

Pettitte chose the Phillies because that’s who he’ll face on Wednesday in his spring training debut. Twelve years ago, such a late spring training debut might have worried him, but not today.

“I’m just at a stage where, emotionally, I’m not going to get overwhelmed when I’m in a regular game,” Pettitte said. “It’s not going to change that much.”

Here’s Pettitte speaking roughly 60 seconds after his final pitch.

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Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Podcastwith 308 Comments →

A little deja vu for CC03.09.10

In his second start of last year’s spring training, CC Sabathia got knocked around by the Tigers over in Lakeland. The line was ugly: 1 2/3 innings, six hits, five runs, one day that Sabathia would have liked to forget.

This afternoon – in his second start of this year’s spring training – Sabathia had a similar experience. This time it was the Pirates roughing him up, torching him for five runs and seven hits in 2 1/3 innings. Afterward, Sabathia was realistic – this is spring training after all – but also not particularly happy.

“Everything was up – belt-high and above. It’s pretty easy to hit when it’s like that,” Sabathia said. “I always say results don’t matter until I give up eight runs in two innings to the Pirates.”

But wait, one writer said, you only gave up five runs. “It should have been eight,” Sabathia replied.

The problem, Dave Eiland told Sabathia, is that he was collapsing on his back leg during his delivery, which flattens out his pitches and really affects his off-speed and breaking balls. Considering how Sabathia reacted to last year’s Lakeland disaster – his regular-season was pretty good, no? – Joe Girardi isn’t particularly concerned.

“Every once in a while, you’re going to have a bad day,” Girardi said.

Sabathia’s audio is pretty interesting. Take a listen below.

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Posted by: Sam Borden - Posted in Misc, Podcastwith 112 Comments →

Hughes and Chamberlain throwing today02.19.10

In keeping with the Yankees plan to rest their starters for the first few days of spring training, Andy Pettitte will not throw a bullpen this morning. But Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain will.

Hughes, Chamberlain, Chris Garcia and Edwar Ramirez will be the first group in the bullpen when the Yankees begin their workout in a few minutes. Pitching coach Dave Eiland said that when the exhibition games start, Hughes and Chamberlain will pitch both out of the rotation and out of the bullpen, because there aren’t enough games for every potential starter to work strictly out of the rotation.

Other than Pettitte, the only Group 2* pitchers who will not throw a bullpen this morning are Mariano Rivera and Damaso Marte. Rivera always moves at a slower pace than the other pitchers, and Eiland said the Yankees want to take things slowly with Marte because he only needs 10 innings or so to be ready for the season, and because he’s coming off some shoulder problems last season.

“We’ll just ensure that he’s sound,” Eiland said. “There’s no sense getting him on a mound yet.”


* The Yankees pitchers are divided into two groups. Group 1 threw bullpen sessions yesterday. Group 2 will throw bullpen sessions today. After today, every pitcher in camp — except Sabathia, Burnett, Vazquez, Pettitte, Rivera and Marte — will have thrown one official bullpen.

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith 369 Comments →

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