Why did the Yankees fire pitching coach Dave Eiland if it had nothing to do with their pitching?

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There’s some mystery surrounding the Yankees parting ways with pitching coach Dave Eiland.

Last week Andrew Marchand of ESPNNewYork.com reported that he was fired due to a falling out with Joe Girardi, but Eiland called that “absolutely ridiculous and simply not true” while being effusive in his praise of the Yankees’ manager.

At the same time Eiland declined to comment on the reasons behind his firing and general manager Brian Cashman has merely said that it’s a “private” matter.

Eiland took a 25-day leave of absence for personal reasons in June and Murray Chass–who was once a columnist for the New York Times and is now a schlub blogger like the rest of us–suggests that has everything to do with the move:

Cashman refused to say why he fired Eiland, but he apparently was being honest when he said it had nothing to do with the team’s pitching. The dismissal, as it turns out, stemmed from the 25-day leave of absence Eiland was granted in June. Neither the coach nor the Yankees said why Eiland took the leave other than to say it was to take care of a personal matter.

The matter was serious enough that the Yankees told him he could return to his job as long as he didn’t resume any of the activities that led to his leave of absence. He didn’t adhere to the agreement and was fired. No one has spelled out those activities, and I will refrain from speculating.

Chass has done the whole “I will refrain from speculating” thing before, like all the times he’s blogged about Mike Piazza’s back acne and accused the catcher of steroid use without actually accusing him … all years after he failed to ever mention it in the New York Times.

In this case it’s equally easy to read between the lines and figure out what Chass is saying about Eiland, which is why his “I will refrain from speculating” claim is so silly. If you know something, either say it or don’t say it. Saying it in such a way that allows you to claim you didn’t say it … well, that’s just bad blogging.

Mike Rizzo and Shawn Kelley almost got into a physical confrontation

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A few weeks back the Washington Nationals designated reliever Shawn Kelley for assignment the morning after he threw his glove into the ground and glared at the Nats dugout in frustration after giving up a homer in a blowout win against the Mets. He was later traded to the Athletics. Nats GM Mike Rizzo said at that time that he thought Kelley was trying to show up his manager and that there was no room for that sort of thing on the team, offering an “either you’re with us or you’re working against us” sentiment in the process.

Today the Washington Post talks about all of the Nationals’ bullpen woes of late, and touches on the departure of Kelley as being part of the problem. In so doing, we learn that, on the night of Kelley’s mound tantrum, he and Rizzo almost got into a physical confrontation:

Rizzo headed down to the clubhouse and confronted Kelley, according to people familiar with the situation. The argument became heated, including raised voices, and eventually it almost became physical, according to people familiar with the exchange. Adam Eaton got between the two of them and separated them before things could advance further . . .

Might I point out that, the fact of this emerging now helps to vindicate Brandon Kintzler who, the day before, was traded away, some say, for being the source for negative reports from inside the Nats’ clubhouse?

That aside, the article does not make anyone look good, really. Rizzo had the backing of his team with the Kelley incident, but the overall story — how did the Nats’ bullpen, which was once a strength — get so bad? — does no favors for Rizzo. Mostly because he seems to have thought that they had so much extra bullpen depth that they could afford to deal away Kintzler, which he says was a financial move, not a punitive trade for being a media source.

Question: when was the last time you heard a baseball man say he had too much relief pitching? Especially today, in which the bullpen has assumed such a prominent role? Seems rather unreasonable to cut relievers when you’re trying mightily to come back from a sizable deficit in the standings, yes?