With the New York Yankees and manager Joe Girardi having ironed out a new three year deal, general manager Brian Cashman can focus on finding a pitching coach. After firing Dave Eiland, the Yankees priority will be to find his replacement.
It appears Cashman and Girardi will have options as they begin their search. A handful of names have been mentioned as possibilities, some with ties to Girardi and others with plenty of experience.
Three in house options will likely be considered.
Mike Harkey could be promoted from his current role as bullpen coach. Harkey was a member of Girardi’s coaching staff in Florida in 2006 and came with him to the Yankees in 2008. In between those jobs, Harkey was the pitching coach for the Iowa Cubs, a minor league team. The former major league pitcher filled in for former Yankees pitching coach Dave Eiland this year when Eiland left the team for personal reasons.
Harkey appeared in 131 games and ended his injury riddled career with an even 36-36 record and 4.49 ERA. A former first round pick, Harkey pitched for the Cubs, Rockies, A’s, Angels, and Dodgers throughout his career.
Triple-A pitching coach Scott Aldred is another option. Aldred has been coaching in the Yankees minor league system since 2007. He was the Trenton Thunder pitching coach in 2007 and 2008 before being moved up to Triple-A in 2009.
During his playing career, Aldred pitched for the Tigers, Rockies, Expos, Twins and Devil Rays before ending his major league career with the Phillies in 2000. After that he pitched a bit in the minors as well as the Somerset Patriots of the Atlantic League before retiring in 2004 with elbow trouble. Aldred had a career major league record of 20-39 with a 6.02 ERA.
The last in house option could be 59 year old Nardi Contreras. This veteran coach has been with the Yankees as organizational pitching coordinator since 2005. Contreras is the man responsible for developing the “Joba Rules.” Always known as a pitching guy, after a bried playing career, he went into coaching.
Contreras was the Yankees pitching coach back in 1995. He moved on to Seattle where we had the same role from 1997-1998. After the 1998 season, Contreras moved on to be the pitching coach for the Chicago White Sox where he would remain until 2002.
The in house options would be nice additions to Girardi’s staff, but a couple outside names have surfaced as potential candidates; Rick Kranitz and Leo Mazzone.
Kranitz and Girardi have a history. Currently with the Orioles, Kranitz was the pitching coach under Girardi for the Florida Marlins in 2006. Baseball America named Kranitz the 2006 Major League Coach of the Year. He remained with the Marlins in 2007 before resigning before the season ended.
Prior to 2006, Kranitz worked for the Chicago Cubs where he was the minor league pitching coordinator and assistant coach through 2001. He served as bullpen coach in 2002.
Kranitz has been the pitching coach in Baltimore since 2008 but there have been questions whether or not he will be retained by new Orioles manager Buck Showalter.
Mazzone’s name just recently came up when he was on a Sirius radio program and stated his interest in coaching for the Yankees or Mets. He is currently a commentator for FOX and co-hosts a morning show for an Atlanta radio station.
Mazzone became the Atlanta Braves pitching coach in 1979 and through the years gained a reputation as the best pitching coach of the modern era. He coached John Smoltz, Greg Maddux, and Tom Glavine, who each enjoyed their best years under him.
Many people believe Mazzone deserves Hall of Fame consideration as a coach. At one point it was shown that Mazzone was able to lower pitchers ERA’s by an average of 0.64. ESPN’s list of the Top 10 Assistant Coaches of All Time has Mazzone at #1.
He has been able to take pitchers that have otherwise been known as mediocre and had excellent seasons. Some examples are Denny Neagle, John Burkett, Jaret Wright, and Russ Ortiz.
Mazzone is one of the few pitching coaches that believes pitchers should throw more between starts, having two bullpen sessions instead of one. He believes in utilizing the outside corner and using the fastball to set up the breaking pitches.
Would you stay in house or do you think a coach with the reputation of Mazzone would be better for the Yankees pitching staff?