Friday, November 19, 2010

New Yankees' Pitching Coach Comes With Scary Numbers

Larry Rothschild was named the new Yankees' pitching coach today replacing the departed Dave Eiland. Rothschild had been the Cubs' pitching coach from 2002-2010. "Domenic" over at Sliding Into Home: A Yankees Blog had a great observation that Rothschild's staffs in Chicago threw a ton of strikeouts and a ton of walks. The Fan took Domenic's observation and went to look at the numbers. He was spot on:

Year  - K's in League (NL) - BB's in League (NL)
2002 - 1 - 14  (remember that there are sixteen teams in the NL)
2003 - 1 - 16
2004 - 1 - 13
2005 - 1 - 13
2006 - 1 - 16
2007 - 1 - 13
2008 - 1 - 7
2009 - 2 - 11
2010 - 4 - 16

Now it is easy to say that a pitching coach can only do so much with the arms that he is given. And there has been a pitcher or two that have bucked this trend. Ted Lilly's walk rate came down during his time with the Cubs while maintaining his strikeout rate. It can also be said that Rothschild inherited pitchers that had already had instruction in the minor leagues. But, yeah, it's hard to argue with the numbers listed above.

Domenic contrasted Rothschild's numbers with that of Dave Duncan and Leo Mazzone who pitch to the corners and try to limit walks. Again, that's a good call. It also contrasts with what the Twins do on a yearly basis. The Fan has talked about how the Twins have a unified goal in their organization and all work toward the same goal. The pitching coach on the major league level would have a lot to do with setting those goals.

It's also a bit of a concern that Rothschild was the pitching coach when Dusty Baker is most famously cited for the damage done to Prior, Wood and Clement on the 2003 Cubs when all those pitchers had a major jump in innings pitched from the years before. If Baker is indeed guilty of that charge, then Rothschild was a co-conspirator.

Many believe that two of the few things that a pitcher can control is the strikeout and the walk. One is good and the other is bad. Rothschild's teams had an overriding series of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde seasons under his watch. Do we credit him with one and fault him for the other? The Fan doesn't know.

The one positive on this is that Joe Girardi worked with Rothschild in Chicago. Girardi was still catching then and worked with Rothschild. That should be a smoother relationship than with Eiland.

The one other thing that is nagging at the Fan is Rothschild's reason for taking the job. The news reports indicated that he wanted to go to the Yankees because his home is right next to the Yankees' Spring Training complex. Thus, he called it a family move. Cubs' GM, Jim Hendry stated that this was a good move for Rothschild's family. The reason those thoughts nag the Fan is wondering if a pitching coach should be talking about everything other than helping the Yankees win. The Yankees number one goal this winter is to improve their pitching. Wouldn't it sound better if the guy they hired had at least talked about that?

The Fan prefers to defer judgement on this move until the season plays out. But the numbers are scary and the move doesn't exactly instill a great deal of confidence in the man leading the pitching staff.

1 comment:

Josh Borenstein said...

Seems like a lateral move to me. Not really an upgrade over Dave Eiland.