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Nationals fire pitching coach Derek Lilliquist

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The Nats got a nice performance from starter Stephen Strasburg last night but that didn’t save their pitching coach: General Manager Mike Rizzo fired Derek Lilliquist after the game. Minor league pitching coordinator Paul Menhart was promoted to replace him.

The Nationals have disappointed so far this year, particularly on the mound. The club came into yesterday’s game with a 4.95 starter’s ERA which was 13th out of 15 NL teams. The relievers have been worse, ranking last in the NL with a 6.02 ERA. Rizzo’s statement about the move:

“We felt that both the rotation and the bullpen, we thought that we had some flaws in there. We thought that there [were] preparation issues in there, and we thought that we wanted to get a new message and a new voice.”

Often times a coach firing is the first step. If things don’t change, the manager tends to find himself in the crosshairs. Rizzo offered support for manager Dave Martinez, though, saying “I can’t find a lot of examples of malpractice by the manager,” and “The performance goes to the players, and the players are on the roster because I put them there.”

Washington is 13-17 and sits in fourth place in the NL East, four games behind the division-leading Phillies.

Red Sox employees “livid” over team pay cut plan

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Even Drellich of The Athletic reports that the Boston Red Sox are cutting the pay of team employees. Those cuts, which began to be communicated last night, apply to all employees making $50,000 or more. They are tiered cuts, with people making $50-99,000 seeing salary cut by 20%, those making $100k-$499,000 seeing $25% cuts and those making $500,000 or more getting 30% cuts.

Drellich reported that a Red Sox employee told him that “people are livid” over the fact that those making $100K are being treated the same way as those making $500K. And, yes, that does seem to be a pretty wide spread for similar pay cuts. One would think that a team with as many analytically-oriented people on staff could perhaps break things down a bit more granularly.

Notable in all of this that the same folks who own the Red Sox — Fenway Sports Group — own Liverpool FC of the English Premier League, and that just last month Liverpool’s pay cut/employee furlough policies proved so unpopular that they led to a backlash and a subsequent reversal by the club. That came after intense criticism from Liverpool fan groups and local politicians. Sox owner John Henry must be confident that no such backlash will happen in Boston.

As we noted yesterday, The Kansas City Royals, who are not as financially successful as the Boston Red Sox, have not furloughed employees or cut pay as a result of baseball’s shutdown in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Perhaps someone in Boston could call the Royals and ask them how they managed that.