Yankees need to shake things up beginning with Larry Rothschild

BOSTON, MA - APRIL 12: New York Yankees pitching coach Larry Rothschild talks to Sonny Gray
BOSTON, MA - APRIL 12: New York Yankees pitching coach Larry Rothschild talks to Sonny Gray /

Following another down performance from Sonny Gray, it’s tough to see an immediate turnaround from the pitching staff unless the Yankees seriously consider making a change, beginning with Larry Rothschild.

I’m sure Larry Rothschild is a fantastic guy. He’s been in baseball a very long time; first as a relief pitcher from 1975-85; then as a manager and coach, which began in 1986 with the Reds. Grandpa Rothschild has been in his current stead as Yankees pitching coach since 2011 when he replaced Dave Eiland.

However, I never understood why the organization decided to keep Rothschild following the departure of Joe Girardi and most of his staff (bullpen coach Mike Harkey also remains).

We’ve heard general manager Brian Cashman’s reasoning, that he wanted someone with experience to make Aaron Boone’s transition from color analyst to manager that much easier.

But Boone has made some questionable decisions with his ‘pen just 18 games into his tenure. So either Boone isn’t asking his veteran coach for advice or Rothschild isn’t offering any.

Following Friday night’s 8-5 loss to the Blue Jays, one where Sonny Gray was slated to unveil his new windup, blame for the Yankees’ 9-9 start appears to lye heavily on the arms that make up the pitching staff.

Many on Twitter would have you believe that the Yankees’ biggest blunder came during the offseason when they failed to make a trade for a top of the rotation-type starter.

There was initial interest in Diamondbacks lefty Patrick Corbin, then Tigers right-hander Michael Fulmer — and of course, former Pirates ace Gerrit Cole. None came to fruition because of their price tags, although Corbin would have cost the least heading into his free agent walk year.

As we’ve learned with Sonny Gray, pitching in New York is an entirely different animal than doing so anywhere else.

However, imagining Corbin’s 3-0, 1.65 ERA and 37:5 K:BB ratio in pinstripes, or Cole’s 2-0 record, minuscule 0.96 ERA and electric 41:6 K:BB ratio falling in-line behind Luis Severino could have drastically altered the results of the first three weeks of the season.

To some extent, I understood the organization standing pat with what they had from a season ago. Getting within one game of a World Series appearance was monumental. And for the most part, the starters were a gigantic reason why the club overachieved in a big way.

Perhaps this is why Rothschild was brought back; to build off the momentum he made with Luis Severino, a redefined CC Sabathia, and the impressive rookie campaign of Jordan Montgomery.

Unfortunately, looking at the collective numbers of the pitching staff, momentum has left the building in a hurry. As of April 21, the Yankees rank:

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  • 15th in BAA: .240
  • 17th in walks: 66
  • 22nd in ERA: 4.66
  • 22nd in saves: 3
  • 26th in quality starts: 6
  • Tied for last with zero shutouts and complete games

I’m well aware the season is still in its infancy (I can’t wait for someone to tell me, “But it’s only July”), however, if the Yanks stand still and merely hope that a lightbulb goes off, they could find themselves fighting for a Wild Card spot before long.

The Red Sox’s 17-2 start already has the Yankees pitted at 7.5 games out of first place.

The idea of making Austin Romine, Sonny Gray’s personal catcher was quickly shot down; Masahiro Tanaka looks to be stuck in last season’s struggles, and Montgomery is still iffy at times.

Whatever Rothschild is or isn’t saying to the staff clearly is not working.

Since 2016, on this very blog, I’ve been advocating for the Yankees to make David Cone their next pitching coach. Listening to Cone analyze games for the YES Network, you get a sense of what a brilliant baseball mind the man has.

In my opinion, Cone’s ability to transform pitchers is being wasted up in the booth. He deserves a chance to motivate and mold — and now more than ever the Yanks need him to do that for them.

Some say the organization wouldn’t want Cone and his strong convictions involved in an on-field role, pointing to the hiring of Boone as evidence of putting pieces in place that will listen first, and act second.

I’m not so sure I believe that to be true, but even still, there are other former players like Al Leiter, John Flaherty and Andy Pettitte that can bring a fresh philosophy to the table, to inspire players and fans alike.

As much good as Pedro Martinez did for Severino during the winter of 2016; there’s no way the Yankees would hire “Who’s your daddy,” so let’s not even waste our time vetting that possibility.

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In all my years as a fan, I’ve never seen such a premium selection of talent be so unmotivated. Although I’m sure each man on the 25-man roster is doing their best to fight the funk, it’s time for a stark message to be sent.

And since you can’t trade or release the majority of the 13 men that make up the pitching staff, it begins with the pitching coach. It may not be entirely fair for Larry to shoulder the load, but them’s the breaks.