Shhhh! I'm still on vacation, so let's not tell the bosses. I'll be back in action Monday, but switching on the old computer from afar today really brought a shocker: No, not the Cubs adding pitchers Chris Archer, Kyle Smit, Alberto Cabrera to the 40-man roster along with outfielder Brandon Guyer. But the big news was pitching coach Larry Rothschild leaving to become the pitching coach of the New York Yankees.
Larry was set to come back to the Cubs under new manager Mike Quade, but his stated needs to be closer to his family in Florida certainly are understandable. And going to the Yankees ain't chopped liver, either.
Believe it when I tell you Larry is one of the most respected pitching coaches in the game. Other baseball people speak as highly of him as they do Dave Duncan. Larry took some heat over the years and was "credited" with that silly-looking towel drill. I did a story with Larry during the season from St. Louis, and he debunked that one, saying it came with Mark Prior through pitching guru Tom House. Other pitchers on other teams do the towel drill, too.
On a personal note, I'll miss Larry. He's a standup guy. He always said he appreciated the fairness with which I tried to treat him and his pitchers. I'll take that.
Larry was always good at explaining things, from mechanics to whatever mood a pitcher might be in that day. And he certainly deserved combat pay for all the ups and downs with Prior, Kerry Wood and Carlos Zambrano.
Like most pitching coaches, Larry looked grumpy on a lot of days. (I upgraded him from "morose" to "dour" one year). But I also can tell you the job of big-league pitching coach will drive anybody nuts.
I'll miss him a lot.
We'll see what's what when I get back about the Cubs finding a new guy. On a postive note, it will be a chance for some pitchers perhaps to benefit from a new, fresh voice. Larry had been with the Cubs since 2002, working under managers Don Baylor, interim manager Bruce Kimm, Dusty Baker, Lou Piniella and Quade. Dave Righetti with the Giants is the other guy I can think of right now who's had a similar situation.
On the other stuff, and you guys can have at all of this, the Cubs' major-league roster stands at 39, with Micah Hoffpauir having cleared waivers and being free to sign with the Nippon Ham Fighters in Japan.
Archer is the big name among those added. He'll get a chance to compete for a rotation job in the spring. Guyer was the Cubs' minor-league player of the year, just as Archer was pitcher of the year for 2010. Smit came over from the Dodgers in the Ted Lilly-Ryan Theriot trade. The Cubs have liked Cabrera for some time. I'm not really surprised the Cubs didn't add third baseman Marquez Smith to the roster. They debated that one long and hard at the org meetings. The Cubs could lose Smith in the Rule 5 draft, but it's much more difficult for position players to stick with claiming teams than it is for pitchers. So we'll see how this plays out.
That's it for now. My Daily Herald colleague Mike Spellman will have the full newspaper and online story on the pitching-coach situation.
Talk to you next week.