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Yankees hire Matt Blake as their pitching coach

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The New York Yankees’ search for a pitching coach — which had them speak with David Cone and a couple of college coaches — is now over. And the new coach is neither Cone nor the college coaches. It’s Matt Blake, the pitching coordinator of the Cleveland Indians.

Blake actually had the title “Director of Pitching” bestowed on him by Cleveland the other day. Guess that wasn’t fancy enough to keep him from heading to the big city.

Blake had been a Yankees area scout before working for the Indians.  He also worked for a time with Cressey Sports Performance, which is a company that trains and helps develops ballplayers using biometrics and all manner of fancy stuff that is now in vogue.

Blake’s work with Cressy may be every bit as important as his experience with Cleveland or as a Yankees scout. He will be inheriting a pitching staff in which durability has been an issue and in which some pitchers have plateaued in their development. In hiring him, and in interviewing college coaches for that matter, the Yankees seem to be focused on a more granular and scientific approach geared toward developing young arms as opposed to an old school pitching coach’s approach.

Rays’ Erik Neander named Executive of the Year

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At the GM meetings in Scottsdale, Arizona on Monday, Rays GM Erik Neander was named the recipient of Major League Baseball’s Executive of the Year Award for the 2019 season. The Yankees’ Brian Cashman was the runner-up while the Athletics’ Billy Beane and the Twins’ Derek Falvey tied for third place.

Neander has worked for the Rays since 2017 but has operated in his current role since November 2016, taking over for Matthew Silverman who was promoted to president of the Rays alongside Brian Auld.

The Rays had, by far, the lowest payroll in baseball at $53.5 million, according to USA TODAY. Neander’s peers voting him Executive of the Year on the same today the league had to curtail its awarding of a prize belt to the team that suppressed salaries the most in arbitration is… certainly interesting timing.

At any rate, Neander’s Rays went 96-66 in 2019, finishing in second place in the AL East behind the 103-59 Yankees. The Rays claimed the second AL Wild Card and defeated the A’s to earn entry into the ALDS where they lost in five games to the Astros. It was the Rays’ first playoff appearance since 2013 and their regular season win total was second-most in franchise history behind the 2008 team (97).