Rick Down, who was let go as the Yankees hitting coach at the end of the 2003 season (and subsequently replaced by Don Mattingly), was hired as the Bombers' coordinator of minor league instruction yesterday. This continues a time-honored tradition under George Stienbrenner's watch of placating fired employees by re-hiring them (or merely throwing money in their bank accounts). That's Yankee loyalty, Yankee pride at work for you.
Life with George often feels like Stienbrenner's version of Crime and Punishment. For instance, David Cone is in Yankee-limbo after walking away from a TV deal with the YES Network last season to attempt a comeback with the Mets. The Boss isn't ready to invite him back yet. Roger Clemens will certainly join Cone in Siberia should he choose to pitch for the Houston Astros in 2004. Nobody will be terribly surprised if the Rocket pitches again, right? If he does, he can count on waltzing into the Hall of Fame in a Red Sox cap. While that would be fitting, Clemens might be having drinks with friends and family elsewhere during his induction ceremony.
Finally, while Erick Almonte cleared waivers, third-string catcher Michel Hernandez (who defected from Cuba in 1996 and signed with the Yankees in 1998), was claimed by the Red Sox. As Bob Hohler notes in The Globe today, it is "the first major league movement between the archrivals since 1997."