Friday, Nov. 19, 2010Updated 6:45 PM
By Patrick Mooney
Larry Rothschild started out with a Cubs team that had a veteran catcher in Joe Girardi and a young rotation filled with the promise of Kerry Wood and Mark Prior.
It seemed like Rothschild enjoyed the job security of a Supreme Court appointment. Since 2002, hes worked with Don Baylor, Dusty Baker and Lou Piniella as well as a few more interim managers and survived each change in the dugout.
Rothschild exercised his 2011 option last month before the Cubs reintroduced Mike Quade as their manager and appeared ready to return for his 10th season as pitching coach.
A long relationship ended quickly as the Yankees announced Friday that Rothschild has agreed to a three-year-deal and will join Girardis staff in New York.
Rothschild spent several hours on Tuesday watching video of three Yankee pitchers CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett and Phil Hughes and formally interviewed for the job the next day.
By Friday afternoon, the 56-year-old pitching coach who doesnt go out of his way to talk to the media and get his name in print was on a teleconference explaining to some 50 reporters the lure of training near his home in Tampa, Fla., and spending more time with his wife and three children.
I didnt feel like it was time to leave the Cubs, Rothschild said. Its hard because Im very close with Mike Quade and have a lot of respect for him as a baseball person and I think hell do a great job for them. But it was time family-wise when this opportunity came along (and) the decision became relatively easy.
It has less to do with where the Cubs are than what I needed to do personally.
In recent years, Rothschild had informed Cubs general manager Jim Hendry that if possible he would like to explore options with a team that has a Florida presence. The Yankees facility is located a mile or two from Rothschilds house. Rothschild once managed the Tampa Bay Devil Rays for three-plus seasons.
Hendry expects to make a new hire shortly after the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. Greg Maddux the future Hall of Famer and front-office assistant to Hendry is said to be reluctant to take on a full-time job in uniform right now because of similar family concerns.
Mark Riggins the Cubs minor-league pitching coordinator and one-time St. Louis Cardinals pitching coach is well-regarded for his work with the organizations young arms.
The Cubs led the National League with 96 quality starts last season. Whoever replaces Rothschild will have to connect with Carlos Zambrano, who may or may not have had a breakthrough near the end, finishing 8-0 with a 1.41 ERA in his final 11 starts.
Rothschild finally convinced Zambrano to worry more about location and movement instead of pure velocity. The Yankees have been intrigued by Zambrano, though he has a no-trade clause and is owed more than 35 million over the next two seasons.
Rothschilds first major project figures to be Burnett, who went 10-15 with a 5.26 ERA last season and isnt even halfway through a five-year, 82.5 million deal.
I think you grow to care about people, and when they know that, it becomes a better working relationship, Rothschild said. If you have kids, its not always smooth sailing. (Sometimes) you do different things to try to get them where you need to get them.
It will be easier if the Yankees sign free agent Cliff Lee to a nine-figure contract and add another Cy Young Award winner to the staff. Rothschild who grew up in Chicagos suburbs and graduated from Homewood-Flossmoor High School said his father is a big Yankees fan. They used to go watch the team at Comiskey Park. Its hard to turn down those pinstripes.
Its unique, Rothschild said, because it is the Yankees and everyone knows what that means.
Patrick Mooney is CSNChicago.com's Cubs beat writer. Follow Patrick on Twitter @CSNMooney for up-to-the-minute Cubs news and views.