Yankees pitching coach Matt Blake has a powerful enemy, and it’s some scout across the MLB landscape.
When the Yankees hired Matt Blake out of the clutches of the Cleveland Indians to be their analytically-driven pitching coach last offseason, many in the industry thought they’d pulled off a coup. In fact, the clock was ticking: When would the Yanks have their very own Shane Bieber and Zac Plesac?
A year out from that hire, though, and things aren’t looking quite so rosy.
The Yankees’ pitching staff didn’t make any grand progress in 2020, and much of Gerrit Cole’s strengthening as the season went on felt either circumstantial, or was attributed to Kyle Higashioka. No gems were created out of the rubble. Jonathan Loaisiga kept doing Jonathan Loaisiga things.
How much of that can really be blamed on Blake, though, instead of the shortened season, abrupt Spring Training ending, and general talent in the room? According to one anonymous MLB scout … a lot!
Yes, in a piece published on NJ.com, our source laid quite a bit of blame at Blake’s shuffling feet.
Come for, “No gravitas as a person,” stay for a “lack of respect or attention” paid to Blake by his pitchers!
Sure, this was supposed to be an outside-the-box hire and a change of pace from Larry Rothschild, who many felt was deleterious to the staff’s success (remember what Sonny Gray said?!). Blake was a high school coach in the not-so-distant past. But if the disrespect for his innovation in the locker room really is real, as this scout projects, then the team needs to consider another assignment for Blake, as well as the hire of a veteran pitching coach who emphasizes innovation and collaboration like recently-dismissed White Sox voice Don Cooper or Houston’s Brent Strom.
Of course, this could all change if one of the loudest voices in any locker room vouches for Blake this offseason.
Yes, Trevor Bauer came out of the same Cleveland system that Blake pioneered, and whether it’s a fair target or not, the righty will be discussed plenty when it comes to assessing the Yankees’ intentions this winter.
Analytics are not the problem with the Yankees, or with any MLB team. But if the voices in charge of executing analytical decisions aren’t respected, then what are we doing here? How are we the only team in baseball that can’t seem to strike that balance?