Larry Rothschild was the Cubs’ pitching coach when we woke up this morning. Now he’s the Yankees’ pitching coach. They just announced that he got the gig.
And when I say he was the Cubs’ pitching coach, that was only technically speaking. He was the incumbent. He was under contract and had just exercised his option to come back in 2011. But it was far from decided that he would actually come back, what with the Cubs’ hiring of Mike Quade as manager.
Rothschild has been around the block, serving as an instructor in the Reds and Braves organization before going on to become the Marlins’ pitching coach — where he snagged a World Series ring — and then went on to become the Devil Rays’ first ever manager. That tanked, with Rothschild becoming one of the many pitching coaches-turned-failed-managers in baseball history. He’s been the Cubs’ coach since 2002, serving under Dusty Baker and Lou Piniella.
It’s hard to get a handle on how good coaches are. Because really, with the exception of Dave Duncan and maybe Johnny Sain, pitching coaches tend to be hailed as geniuses when they have good pitchers working for them and bums when they coach palookas. Rothschild is no different in this regard, though he is certainly well-respected. There is at least some evidence that he has been effective in improving pitchers’ strikeout rates and in lowering their walk rates. He knows Girardi too, given that they spent 2002 together in Chicago.
I’m assuming his first task in New York will be in fixing A.J. Burnett. Good luck with that, Larry.
The Cardinals have officially signed outfielder Dexter Fowler to a five-year, $82.5 million contract. Fowler will also get a full no-trade clause.
The Cardinals gave Fowler a bigger deal than many speculated he’d get, as some reports predicted he’d get something in the $52-72 million range. His skills, however — he’s a fantastic leadoff hitter who plays a premium defensive position — definitely earned him some major dough. Fowler hit .276/.393/.447 with 13 homers, 48 RBI and 13 steals over 125 games in 2016 for the World Series champion Cubs.
For the Cardinals, this will allow Matt Carpenter to move down to the middle of the batting order and will shift Randal Grichuk to left field. It also takes a prime piece from the Cardinals’ biggest rival. For their part, earlier this offseason the Cubs signed former Cardinal center fielder Jon Jay. So that’s fun.
The Cardinals have always emphasized building from within. In the 2016-17 offseason, however, they may end up being one of the bigger free agent buyers. At least according to some informed speculation.
St. Louis is already in agreement with Dexter Fowler. But Derrick Goold and Ben Frederickson of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch write today that the Cardinals “could become more aggressive than previously believed,” with Mark Trumbo and Edwin Encarnacion as “possible pursuits.” Worth noting that separate reports alleged some interest on the part of the Cards front office in free agent third baseman Justin Turner.
The Cardinals are already losing their first round pick due to the Fowler signing, so any other top free agent won’t cost them more than the money he’s owed. And as far as money goes, the Cardinals have a great deal of it, despite being a small market team. They have a billion dollar TV deal coming online and Matt Holliday and Jaime Garcia are off the payroll now. Spending big on a free agent or three would not cripple them or anything.
Encarnacion or Trumbo would be first baseman, which wold fly in the face of the Cards’ move of Matt Carpenter to first base (and, at least as far as Encarnacion goes, would fly in the face of good defense). Getting either of them would push Carpenter back to second, displacing Kolten Wong, or over to third, displacing Jhonny Peralta. If you’re going to do that, I’d say that Turner would make more sense, but what do I know?
Either way, the Cardinals may be entering a pretty interesting phase of their offseason now. And an unfamiliar one as, quite possibly, the top free agent buyer on the market.