Greetings from my least favorite airport. Took me about 90 minutes to get from dropoff to setup here. Unreal.
Anyway, more information than we anticipated from the Joe Girardi and Brian Cashman news confrences at the Stadium:
--The Yankees fired Dave Eiland, a mild surprise but not a shocker. Believe Brian Cashman when he says this had nothing to do with the Yankees' postseason performance and everything to do with the fact that the two sides never fully recovered from Eiland's midseason absence.
It's unfortunate, as Eiland grew up in the Yankees' organization - as first a pitcher and then a coach - largely because of George Steinbrenner's affection for Tampa-area natives. He reached his final rung, as Yankees pitching coach, because Cashman respected his work. But that leave of absence ultimately changed everything.
The Yankees don't have an obvious replacement for Eiland. Bullpen coach Mike Harkey will probably retain that role. Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre pitching coach Scott Eldred could receive consideration, but he's not a rising start in the way Eiland was when he coached at Scranton.
All of the "superstar" pitching coaches _ Mike Maddux (Texas), Rick Peterson (Milwaukee) and Dave Righetti (San Francisco), to name three of many _ are employed. Dave Duncan just signed a two-year deal to stay with St. Louis.
As for Eiland, he hired Burton Rocks as his agent today, as soon as he received the news from the Yankees. Two obvious places he can try are Boston - can't see the Red Sox hiring the guy the Yankees just let go - and Oakland, a much better likelihood, since Eiland knows A's manager Bob Geren from their time as Yankees teammates.
--Joe Girardi revealed that Andy Pettitte was banged up during the playoffs with back and hamstring issues. That, Girardi explained, is why the Yankees opted to start Phil Hughes in ALCS Game 2 and Pettitte in Game 3. They felt that Pettitte needed the extra two days of rest.
Pettitte was in so much pain/disomfort, Girardi said, that it's not clear he could have started ALDS Game 5 against the Twins, had that game been necessary.
So that means you're now dealing with a pitcher who will turn 39 next June, and who can still pitch quite well, but whose body began to betray him some this year. If Pettitte decides to come back, the Yankees have to factor the injuries into the negotiations. Maybe give Pettitte a lower base salary (how about $8 million?) with incentives based on games started or innings pitched.
--As for Girardi, his agent Steve Mandell will meet tomorrow with Cashman, for what figures to be an extremely easy negotiation of a new deal.
I'd co-sign Joel Sherman's column today on Girardi. I'm not sure you can make a direct correlation between Girardi's dour look and the Yankees' ALCS defeat, but what good is the dour look doing? He's never going to be Joe Torre in the smooth department or Ron Washington in the bright and cheery department. Nevertheless, he needs to find a way to loosen up both in his conduct and in his decision-making during games.
--The Blue Jays introduced John Farrell as their manager, a most interesting hire. Farrell has an excellent reputation throughout the industry, yet we are talking about a former pitcher who has never managed, two risky paths to success.
--All right, off to San Francisco tonight. Take care.