We weren’t expecting this: Brian Cashman is having his season-in-review press conference at Yankee Stadium, and he just announced that pitching coach Dave Eiland won’t be returning in 2011. Cashman said that the reason for the firing is “private,” but that it’s not a result of the Yankees’ poor pitching performance in the ALCS.
The reason behind any given move in the Yankee Universe is hard to suss out these days. Unlike back when The Boss was running things, you can’t assume that things are done out of anger or emotion, though of course that could be possible. Unless my old reliable for any unexplained firing — the pilfering of office supplies — is revealed as the reason, my guess is that there were just fundamental disagreements between Eiland ans Girardi about how best to use the staff, how best to figure out A.J. Burnett (Eiland: shock therapy, Girardi: a sound beating) or whatever other pedestrian matters come between a manager and one of his coaches.
And I would guess that Girardi is on board here. All emanations from the Yankees are that they have full confidence in him and Girardi is clear on saying he wants to come back. Indeed, right after announcing the firing of Eiland, Cashman made a point to say that he would be meeting with Girardi’s agent tomorrow to discuss a contract extension.
The Arizona Fall League competition came to a close on Saturday, concluding with the Peoria Javelinas’ 8-2 win over the Mesa Solar Sox for the championship title. No one stood out more than Braves’ no. 1 prospect Ronald Acuna, who took home honors as the AFL MVP after slashing .325/.414/.639 with a league-leading seven home runs and second-best 1.053 OPS in 83 at-bats.
At just 19 years old, Acuna is the youngest prospect to receive the award. He made his presence felt even before he suited up for the AFL, earning promotions to the Braves’ Double-A Mississippi and Triple-A Gwinnett and batting a remarkable .325/.374/.522 with 21 home runs across three levels in 2017.
Acuna was also a major factor in the Javelinas’ win on Saturday, but he wasn’t the first to make some noise. The Solar Sox got to right-hander T.J. Zeuch in the first inning, leading off with three singles and a run-scoring sac fly to get a 2-0 edge over the Javelinas. It was the only lead they’d get all afternoon and it lasted just two innings. Luis Urias snapped the shutout with a sac fly in the bottom of the second inning, and the Javelinas took the lead with a game-tying RBI single from Acuna and two-run base hit from Braves’ no. 16 prospect Alex Jackson in the third.
From then on, it was smooth sailing for Peoria. Andrew Case, Andres Munoz and Art Warren combined for 3 1/3 scoreless innings in relief, while the offense tacked on another handful of runs with Acuna’s fourth-inning two-RBI single and Michael Chavis’ eighth-inning triple. With runners at the corners and one out, the Solar Sox lifted right-hander Dakota Bacus for fellow righty Nolan Blackwood. Even he was flummoxed by Acuna, however, who grabbed hold of the first pitch he saw and returned another sac fly to center field for the Javelinas’ eighth and final run of the game.
Only 131 days left until Opening Day, folks.