Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Meet a Coach: Mike Harkey

If you thought the Yankees pitching staff was good in 2017, wait until you see the 2018 version. With another year of experience under the belt of the likes of Luis Severino, Jordan Montgomery and others the team should be just as good, if not better here in 2018 for a plethora of reasons. A full season of Sonny Gray, a more productive season by Masahiro Tanaka, and another great bullpen behind their starters should only help New York grow and achieve their goals here in 2018. The man in charge of that bullpen is a holdover from the Joe Girardi era and the current bullpen coach Mike Harkey. Let’s meet him. This is Meet a Coach: The Mike Harkey Edition.

Michael Anthony Harkey was born on October 25, 1966 and is a former starting pitcher in Major League Baseball. Before Harkey made it to the Show he was a Titan, a California State University Fullerton Titan. Harkey played college baseball at CSU Fullerton where he caught the eye of the Chicago Cubs who made him their first-round pick in the 1987 MLB First Year Players Draft. Harkey was not long for the Minor Leagues as he made his Major League debut with Chicago during the 1988 season.

When all was said and done Harkey appeared in 131 Major League games with the Chicago Cubs, the Colorado Rockies, the Oakland Athletics, the California Angels and the Los Angeles Dodgers. Harkey played in the Major Leagues during the 1988 season, the 1990 through the 1995 seasons, and finally the 1997 season before his eventual retirement. During his early years with the Cubs the current Yankees bullpen coach was plagued by shoulder and arm injuries as well as a knee injury in 1992 that occurred during a cartwheel attempt at Wrigley Field.

Harkey played through the 1997 season at the Major League level before taking a couple years away from the game after his retirement. Harkey returned to the game in 2000 when he accepted a position as a pitching coach in the Minor Leagues with the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes. Harkey served in the same position with the Fort Wayne Wizards in 2001 and 2003, the Lake Elsinore Storm in 2002 and 2004, the Mobile BayBears in 2005, and the Iowa Cubs in 2007. Harkey did get a shot at the Major League level with the Florida Marlins in 2006, although the team struggled under new manager Joe Girardi.

Harkey would follow manager Joe Girardi to the New York Yankees for the 2008 season, once again as a pitching coach, after the Bronx Bombers hired Girardi to replace long-tenured manager Joe Torre. While the Yankees missed the playoffs for the first time in nearly two decades under Girardi’s and Harkey’s watch in 2008, the team bounced back in 2009 to win the World Series and get both men their first World Series ring as coaches and managers. Harkey stayed with the Yankees as the bullpen coach for six seasons through the 2013 season until the Arizona Diamondbacks came calling with an offer for Harkey to be the team’s pitching coach.

Harkey has minimal success with the Diamondbacks from 2013-2015 and was eventually fired by the club after the 2015 season. Harkey would return to the New York Yankees for the 2016 season and remains their today, still as the team’s bullpen coach. There was much speculation as to whether Harkey would return to the Yankees this season given his close friendship and presumable loyalty to the recently fired Joe Girardi, but Harkey will remain with the organization at least through the 2018 season under new manager Aaron Boone. Whether Harkey follows Girardi in 2019, assuming the former Yankees manager finds a new managerial job after the season, remains to be seen, but for now Harkey wears the Pinstripes and that is good enough for me.

Good luck on another season Harkey, do us proud. You have a lot of weapons to work with down there, it should be a fun season for you here in 2018. 

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