Yankees Pitching Coach Dave Eiland Had to Go

In the fallout of the Yankees firing their pitching coach Dave Eiland there seems to be a fair amount of people who have labeled him a scapegoat as if he somehow deserved to stay.

That isn’t the case, in some ways Eiland was the biggest problem the 2010 Yankees faced.

Eiland joined the team at the end of the 2007 season in order to help some of the younger pitchers. By 2008 he replaced Ron Guidry as the regular pitching coach because Joba Chamberlain, Phil Hughes, and Ian Kennedy were all expected to play big roles on the team and he had coached all of them in the minors.

Since that time Hughes has been by far the most successful of the three, but struggled in both the 2009 and 2010 playoffs. Joba has become a middle reliever prone to giving up big innings and Kennedy was shipped out of town. So the three young pitchers Eiland was brought here to teach haven’t exactly flourished.

His role in handling Joba is perhaps the most egregious of them all. He was not able to help Joba turn into a major league pitcher. Unable to help him develop either his curveball or his changeup and failed to teach him to properly mix his pitches. In the end it was his voice that played a big role when Eiland lost faith in him as a starter and joined the “Joba belongs in the bullpen crowd.”

Beyond that there is A.J. Burnett. Burnett played a big role in the Yankees championship season of 2009 and got off to a hot start in 2010. Through May 30 he was 6-2 with a 3.28 ERA. That’s when Eiland took an unexplained month long leave of absence. While Eiland was gone Burnett went 0-5 with a 11.35 ERA.

Now the two things, Eiland leaving and Burnett shitting the bed, might not have been related, but as the pitching coach Eiland should have been expected to right the ship. Instead Burnett went 4-8 with a 5.26 ERA the rest of the way and hurt the Yankees in the playoffs as well.

There is also the case of Javier Vazquez. Vazquez went from coming in fourth during the 2009 NL Cy Young to left off the playoff roster in 2010. Vazquez had some things going against him, it took him time to adjust to pitching in New York again and suffered a loss of velocity.

He did have a pretty good stretch in there after he was able to adjust to both problems going 6-4 with a 2.75 ERA over 12 games. However most of that success came while Eiland was gone and when he came back he couldn’t help Vazquez keep his form as he went 3-3 with a 6.64 ERA the rest of the way.

Finally, and perhaps the biggest problems that Eiland has had, is his inability to help pitchers develop pitches. I already mentioned his inability to work with Joba, but a lot was made of Hughes’ and Burnett’s changeups in spring training this year. Supposedly they were keys to their seasons, but neither really ever showed off their changeups during the season. Sure, they did occasionally surface here and there, but it seemed as if it was more to keep reporters off their backs than to get batters out.

In the end Eiland was ineffective with the young pitchers, not being able to help them to develop their pitches or to keep them from becoming throwers instead of pitchers. Hughes and Burnett both watched their changeups fail to materialize. And he did not get the most he could out of veteran starters.

For all of these cases there is almost nothing out there that you can point to and say at least Eiland did this or this. There was Kerry Wood at the end of this season, but Wood had a long history of success whose biggest problem was staying healthy. Even if he did help Wood, it was too little too late.

Perhaps Mike Mussina‘s 20 wins in 2008 could be attributed to Eiland, but it’s hard to say how much of that can really be attributed to him. At the same time I have to wonder if more could have been done to help Chien-Ming Wang.

In the end the biggest problem that the Yankees had with Eiland likely could be something we never hear about. We don’t know why he left for most of the month of June this season. It could be some unresolved issue that Cashman has the right to think could take him away from the team again in the future. It could be a combination of things. In the end, Eiland is gone and the Yankees will start the search for a new replacement.

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4 Responses to Yankees Pitching Coach Dave Eiland Had to Go

  1. "unexplained month long leave of absence."

    It seems odd to me that in present day, especially in the NY media market, there is no information, or a hint, of what that was about???

    A sick family member with a recurring illness???

  2. The Yankees or he wouldn't say. Sports journalists aren't exactly investigative reporters. They aren't going to follow a guy around trying to figure it out.

  3. Russ C. says:

    Mo teaching the cutter to Hughes & Wood had a bigger impact than anything Eiland did this year.

  4. Larry says:

    Indeed, he didn't do his job good, you might see Joba, A.J… what they unsteady performed, he should spend more time and really help them find out where those problems are and to make things settled, seemed that there're just nothing happen with picthers…