Brian Cashman met with the media on Monday to do some postmortem on the Yankee season. Most of what he said wasn't surprising -- Joe Girardi, Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera will be back, Cashman didn't have a great winter in terms of acquiring impact players and the Rangers dominated the Yankees -- but he did drop one bombshell.
Dave Eiland is out as the Yankees pitching coach. It's not a firing because Eiland doesn't have a contract for 2011, but it is a move shrouded in a lot of secrecy. Cashman said only that it was his decision and that the reasons were private.
"He's not being blamed for what took place," Cashman said. "I hope you believe me on that. ... He’s a terrific pitching coach and he should have no problem getting a job."
At first glance, it's not that easy to swallow what Cashman is pouring. Terrific pitching coaches are commodities that you want to hold onto at almost any cost. Assuming Eiland wasn't using Babe Ruth's jersey as a bib on rib night, there really leaves us with two thoughts about what contributed to the decision.
The first is that it is related to whatever caused him to miss nearly a month on a personal leave in June. No reason for that absence has been given nor are we entitled to one, but it does seem plausible that the Yankees felt something might crop up down the road and/or that Eiland wasn't able to focus entirely on the task at hand.
The second is that Eiland might not be blamed for what took place while also not being credited for things he wasn't able to do. A.J. Burnett's collapse this season can't be attributed to Eiland any more than his 2009 success was all about Eiland. But Eiland can be faulted for not helping him find a way to be more successful or for not being able to communicate a better approach for him once it was clear things weren't heading in the right direction.
There are similar nitpicks to be had with pitchers like Joba Chamberlain and Javier Vazquez, while the failure of Phil Hughes to develop a consistent out pitch with two strikes is another black mark. Burnett is the big enchilada, however, and if there's any one player who contributed to Eiland's departure it would be the guy they expected to be their number two starter this season. It's all speculation and the reason doesn't much matter as much as who's up next and whether they can solve this enigma.
We're less than 72 hours into the offseason and we've already got a new look for the Yankees. It's just a matter of time before the picture changes again.