The offseason is in full swing now, with 101 long, dark days between today and the day that pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training. If that depresses you as much as it depresses me, fear not–there will be much to discuss over those 101 days. You can start with the Official Views from 314 Ft. Offseason Plan™, which you can read here.
We all contributed to the plan and debated it out over our Slack channel, but I personally want to give a shout out to Derek and Steven. They did most of the heavy lifting on this one and deserve gratitude for all of their hard work. That stuff’s not easy.
There’s a lot of news right here for when you come back from checking out our plan. Just as a general programming note, we plan to post one of these “News and Notes” style posts pretty much every single day moving forward. Or at least when there’s relevant news, which I expect to be a daily occurrence moving forward. Let’s get right to it.
Pitching Coach SearchEmbed from Getty Images
The search for a new coach is on now that the Yankees have fired longtime pitching coach Larry Rothschild. Early on in the process, it’s pretty clear that the Yankees are targeting young college coaches. Here are some of the early names we know have interviewed (or, in some cases, turned down an interview):
- Chris Fetter, University of Michigan Pitching Coach (Interviewed; Pictured above, right)
- Matt Hobbs, University of Arkansas Pitching Coach (Interviewed)
- Nate Yeskie, University of Arizona Pitching Coach (Declined interview)
- Christian Kirk Saarloos, University of Texas Pitching Coach (Declined interview)
Seems a bit surprising to me that Saarloos and Yeskie would decline even to interview with the New York Yankees for this role, but hey–to each their own. In any case, here’s what we know about Fetter and Hobbs, both of whom are considered to be rising stars in the industry.
Fetter is 33-years-old and has some Minor League experience as a 9th round draft pick in 2009. Though he never made the bigs, he has coached in the Padres’ system, as a scout with the Angels, and as a pitching coordinator with the Dodgers. In college, he’s been pitching coach at Ball State and most recently as pitching coach at Michigan, where his staff guided the Wolverines to the College World Series in 2019. The team yielded several draft picks this year. (Courtesy MLB Trade Rumors)
Hobbs replaced Wes Johnson at Arkansas. Johnson, of course, is pitching coach now for the Twins–the first-ever college-to-pro coach–and Arkansas is considered a forward-thinking organization. Here’s a relevant passage about Hobbs, via WholeHogSports:
At Wake Forest, Hobbs had developed what he called a “hardcore biomechanics lab” for his pitchers. The setup included 24 cameras – 20 in an indoor facility and four in the outdoor bullpen – an indoor and outdoor TrackMan machine, a Rapsodo machine and a full-time biomechanist to help analyze data. The cameras gave “3-D kinematics of everybody’s delivery,” Hobbs said, “so it’s incredibly special.”
The article added that “if there is a tool that can potentially help pitchers, Hobbs makes it readily available to his players, whether it is a weighted baseball or machines like TrackMan or Rapsodo.” Sounds about right.
So while we don’t know who the coach will be, we now have confirmation of the sort of person the team wants: young, progressive, and extremely analytical. No surprises there, especially not after the Sam Briend hire or the Dillon Lawson/Desi Druschel hires last year. More to come.
Aroldis Chapman Opt-Out DecisionEmbed from Getty Images
If the Yankees and Aroldis Chapman don’t reach an agreement by midnight tonight, the star closer is expected to opt-out of his contract. It has two years and $30 million left on the deal. If he does opt-out, the Yankees are expected to extend the qualifying offer to him. He almost certainly will not accept.
Chapman, per Jon Heyman, would like a contract extension. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him get one, honestly, to the tune of an additional year at the same value ($15 million). That would essentially mean that his contract would be 3 years and $45 million, which, in my opinion at least, is probably better than what he can do on the open market. The market is wild these days. Just ask Craig Kimbrel.
John Sterling SnubEmbed from Getty Images
The Hall of Fame announced eight current broadcasters for the 2020 Ford C. Frick Award for excellence in broadcasting, and somehow, John Sterling is not one of them. I, along with Pete Caldera, find this outrageous.
I’ve done a total 180 on Sterling in the past decade or so and now find him to be one of the best radio broadcasters in the business. His home run calls are gimmicky, sure, but I think that obscures the fact that he’s a generally objective broadcaster who keeps you abreast of the happenings on the field. He sometimes gets overexcited for non-home runs, but that’s a function of the gimmicks. And seriously–he gets excited for big moments the other team delivers (I won’t make you but if you’re curious, listen to the call of the Altuve homer for proof) and is extremely enthusiastic about baseball as a product. Sterling is one of the best in the biz, no question about it. If you disagree, listen to another team’s broadcast sometime. I think you’ll be surprised.
Japanese Stars in the Bronx
Tsutsugo visited Yankee Stadium for one of the ALCS games against the Astros, for what its worth. He’s an outfielder who can moonlight as a DH, so I don’t really expect the Yankees to be in the market for him, but it’s always good to read up on players who will make the journey across the ocean anyway. In pinstripes or not, Tsutsugo will be in the bigs next year.
Domingo AcevedoEmbed from Getty Images
Here’s a sad one. NJ.com’s Randy Miller profiled busted prospect Domingo Acevedo recently. You should check it out if you can stomach it. It’s a great read filled with insight, but it just makes me sad. Acevedo was one of those pitching prospects I loved to follow and it bums me out that he never panned out.
Let this be another reminder to the prospect huggers: There Is No Such Thing As A Pitching Prospect (TINSTAAPS). It’s a time-tested baseball rule that almost never lets you down. Anyway, in other news, time for me to go watch some Deivi Garcia highlights.
The Yankees and The Bronx vs. MLB
Finally, the Yankees and the Borough of the Bronx are in a bit of a spat right now. Thanks to a new partnership with Nike, the same one that will place a Nike swoosh on the Yankee jersey next season, only locations authorized by Nike as “premium distribution points” will be able to sell licensed merchandise.
As Bronx Borough President Reubén Díaz Jr. pointed out in a letter to the Yankees, those do not include longtime businesses with shops on 161st Street or River Avenue outside the Stadium. As anyone who has been to even a single Yankee game knows, those businesses rely on merchandise to stay in business and, without it, would almost certainly shutter. That’s bad news.
The good news is that the Yankees responded yesterday and said that they agree with Díaz, per Crain’s New York Business. The team argued that they’ve already reached out to MLB with those very same concerns and are confident that they can get the local shops grandfathered into the agreement, because “the magnitude of the problem is extreme.”
I would very much agree with this, and really hope that the Yankees and Díaz can work together to solve this problem. It is a serious one.