Friday, November 19, 2010
Updated: November 20, 4:09 AM ET
Yanks hire coach Larry Rothschild
By Wallace Matthews
In a surprise announcement, the New York Yankees hired Larry Rothschild, the Chicago Cubs pitching coach for the past nine seasons, to succeed Dave Eiland as pitching coach.
"Larry brings a wealth of invaluable experience to our team and to our pitching staff," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "He's a championship pitching coach, and I'm excited to add Larry's abilities to our staff. He is above all else an excellent teacher, who brings a professional attitude and a keen sense of preparation to his craft. I'm very much looking forward to working with him moving forward."
Rothschild, 56, has been in baseball for 37 years as a pitcher, coach and manager, but his name was not known to be on the list of candidates for the job compiled by GM Brian Cashman. He was the first manager of the Tampa Bay Rays, then the Devil Rays, from 1998 to April 2001, before joining the Cubs in 2002.
"I'd like to thank [Cubs GM] Jim Hendry, the Ricketts family, Crane Kenney and the entire Cubs organization for their outstanding support and allowing me to pursue this opportunity with the Yankees," Rothschild said in statement. "My reasons for pursuing and accepting this opportunity are personal and family-based, as the Yankees hold spring training in, and travel several times a year to, my hometown of Tampa. The chance to spend increased time with my family was something I wanted to explore and I am grateful for the opportunity to have done so.
"My nine years with the Cubs were tremendous and I'm proud of the pitching staff I leave behind. I wish [new manager] Mike Quade, the Cubs and their great fans the best and look forward to returning to Wrigley Field in June."
Rothschild signed a three-year deal for close to $2 million, and will make close to $650,000 this coming season in New York, as opposed to the $500,000 he would have made with the Cubs in 2011, a source told ESPNChicago.com.
Last week, Cashman interviewed Yankees bullpen coach Mike Harkey, who filled in for Eiland when he left the team for personal reasons in June, and Gil Patterson, a former Yankees employee who is currently serving as a roving pitching instructor in the Oakland A's organization.
Rothschild approached Cubs general manager Jim Hendry two weeks ago and conversed with him about the vacancy with the Yankees after the team let go of Eiland.
Hendry mulled it over and, in deference to Rothschild, called the Yankees and gave Cashman permission to talk to Rothschild.
Cashman left this week's GM meetings in Orlando abruptly on Wednesday morning to interview another candidate, which was presumed to be Scott Aldred, the pitching coach of the Yankees' Triple-A affiliate in Scranton.
Instead, he has hired Rothschild.
"Larry will be a welcome addition to our pitching staff. He comes with an impressive resume as a former Major League manager and a world champion pitching coach. He has a great reputation with his players, who know they can trust him and rely on him to put them in a position to succeed," Cashman said in a press release.
Two of Rothschild's main assignments will be to straighten out starter A.J. Burnett and reliever Joba Chamberlain, both of whom floundered this season. Burnett, who went 10-15, went into a downward spiral around the same time Eiland left the team for still-undisclosed personal reasons in early June.
Eiland was the only one of manager Joe Girardi's coaches dismissed after the Yankees were eliminated from the ALCS in six games by the Texas Rangers, capping a second half of the season in which the pitching staff, with the exception of CC Sabathia, badly underperformed.
Rothschild's Cubs pitching staff led the majors in strikeouts (11,604) over his nine-year tenure.
"The Cubs would like to thank Larry Rothschild for nine years of service to this organization," said Hendry. "We understand his reasons for pursuing the opportunity with the Yankees and agree he is making the right decision by his family.
"My baseball operations staff and Mike Quade have already begun identifying candidates to replace Larry and expect to have a major league pitching coach in place shortly after the Thanksgiving holiday weekend."
According to one source, the Cubs will stay within their organization to replace Rothschild for the Cubs' pitching coach position. Top candidates will include minor league pitching coordinator Mark Riggins, Cubs bullpen coach Lester Strode, Triple-A pitching coach Mark Mason and Double-A pitching coach Dennis Lewallyn.
Wallace Matthews covers the Yankees for ESPNNewYork.com. You can follow him on Twitter. ESPNChicago.com's Bruce Levine contributed to this report.