The offseason is under way and that’s a time for player movement. But don’t discount the carousel that is coaching. At this time of year, the amount of churn among coaches, managers and coordinators in the majors and minors is enough to make your head spin. So Baseball America will attempt to keep you in the loop on the changes each week with our coaching roundup.
Stability for Cubs
The Cubs announced on Wednesday that all of their minor league managers will return next season, including Marty Pevey for his second season at Triple-A Iowa.
Buddy Bailey will start his third season at Double-A Tennessee; Dave Keller, returns for a third season with high Class A Daytona after leading the club to a Florida State League title and Baseball America Minor League Team of the Year honors; Mark Johnson will begin his second season in low Class A Kane County, and Gary Van Tol is back for a second year at short-season Boise.
The stability at the managerial ranks does not translate to pitching coaches. Bruce Walton, who was the Blue Jays’ major league pitching coach from 2010-12, will work with Pevey at Triple-A. Walton replaces Mike Mason, who was promoted to work under Derek Johnson in Chicago.
At Double-A, former major leaguer Storm Davis will serve as pitching coach under Bailey. Davis, who won 113 games with the Orioles among other teams, was at Daytona in 2013. Another former big leaguer, Ron Villone, will assume pitching coach duties at Daytona after serving with Class A Kane County.
And former Cubs pitcher Angel Guzman re-joined the organization as pitching coach of the Rookie-level Venezuelan League team. Guzman, rated among the Top 100 prospects from 2003-05, had his career curtailed by injuries, including Tommy John surgery in 2007.
Mariners’ Shakeup Continues
It shouldn’t be surprising that with Lloyd McClendon replacing Eric Wedge as manager, the Mariners’ coaching staff is undergoing some change. That continued Friday with the firing of pitching coach Carl Willis. According to Geoff Baker of The Seattle Times, general manager Jack Zduriencik told Willis it would be “too awkward” for him to return after Wedge departed. Willis had a year remaining on his contract. The team gave him permission to interview for pitching coach jobs in Baltimore and with the Philadelphia Phillies, but he got neither job and when he phoned Zduriencik to see if he still had a place in the organization, he was told no. The Mariners also reassigned bullpen coach Jaime Navarro, while first base coach Mike Brumley left to become assistant hitting coach for the Cubs.
Phillies Hire McClure
The Philadelphia pitching coach job that did not go to Willis went to former major leaguer Bob McClure instead. According to Baseball America contributor Jim Salisbury, the Phillies interviewed 12 candidates before deciding upon McClure, who was the pitching coach for the Kansas City Royals from 2006-11 and for the Red Sox in 2012. He was fired during the disastrous 2012 season in Boston, during which he reportedly had a dispute with manager Bobby Valentine.
Angels Name Eckstein As Information Coach
Rick Eckstein, the former hitting coach for the Nationals, was named the Angels’ information coach, which the team said will including scouting and on-field coaching.
In a news release, manager Mike Scioscia said Eckstein “will integrate scouting reports and have input on the defensive side of our team.”
Eckstein, 40, is the brother of former major league SS David Eckstein. He was let go by the Nats in July as the team slumped.
Nats Promote Henley
Former Expos player Bob Henley, a part of the Nats organization for the past 11 years, was promoted to third base coach on manager Matt Williams’ staff, the team announced.
Henley had been minor league field coordinator.
Are You Ready For Some Baseball?
Detroit has named a new defensive coordinator . . . the Tigers, that is.
New manager Brad Ausmus is filling out his staff and part of it is Matt Martin, who’s described as a defensive coordinator. According to the Detroit Free-Press, Martin’s duties include coordinating video and advance scouting reports and working with the infielders and outfielders on defensive positioning.
“It’s an extra set of baseball eyes,” Ausmus told the Free-Press. “The plan right now during games, and this may change, is that he’ll be upstairs with more of a bird’s-eye (view).
Sensitive, perhaps, to the potential backlash over the new title, Ausmus stressed that Martin has a long baseball background. “He’s a baseball guy,” Ausmus said. “He’s not a number-crunching guy. His background is playing and coaching in the minor leagues. He’s not a sabermetrician.”
The Tigers also said long-time major league shortstop Omar Vizquel will be Ausmus’ first-base coach, and former Angels first baseman Wally Joyner will be hitting coach.
Vizquel, 46, who played 24 seasons in the bigs, spent 2013 as a roving instructor for the Angels. Los Angeles hired former Pawtucket manager Gary DiSarcina as its third-base coach and reportedly did not interview Vizquel.
Joyner left his job as the Phillies’ assistant hitting coach to join Ausmus, who was a teammate with the Padres in 1996-97.
With Jay Bell going to the Reds to be manager Bryan Price’s bench coach, the Pirates promoted Jeff Branson to hitting coach.
Branson was the assistant hitting coach to Bell last season. He has spent the past 12 years in the Pirates organization as a minor league manager and hitting coach at Triple-A Indianapolis from 2009-12. The former big league infielder played for the Reds, Indians and Dodgers from 1992-2001 and hit .246.
The Buccos also named former minor league hitting coordinator Jeff Livesey as a major league coach.
The Padres have selected Dave Roberts to be their bench coach, replacing Rick Renteria, whom the Cubs hired as their new manager.
Roberts had been San Diego’s first-base coach the past three seasons. Former major league shortstop Jose Valentin, who had managed the Padres’ Midwest League affiliate at Fort Wayne the past two seasons, replaces Roberts at first.
Former big league catcher Bengie Molina, who won two Gold Gloves in the early 2000s, will be a catching instructor and first-base coach for the Rangers in 2014. The 39-year-old finished his career as catcher for Texas’ 2010 World Series team. Molina served as assistant hitting coach for the Cardinals in 2013.
The Rangers also chose former Triple-A Round Rock manager Bobby Jones as major league assistant hitting coach. Former big leaguer Dave Magadan is the hitting coach.
Meanwhile, the Orioles have hired former Rangers first base coach Dave Anderson as minor league field instructor, according to The Baltimore Sun. Anderson replaces Matt Martin, who was not retained after one season.
The Athletics named former major league outfielder Ryan Christenson their manager at high Class A Stockton in the California League. He played six years in the bigs after being drafted in the 10th round by Oakland in 1995.
Christenson, 39, managed the Athletics’ low Class A Beloit affiliate last season and went 77-62, winning the first-half title. Beloit lost to Quad Cities in the second round of the Midwest League playoffs.
Former major league righthander John Wasdin, who was also with Beloit last season, will be the Ports’ pitching coach.
Also, according to Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle, former major leaguer David Newhan is the new manager of the Lake Monsters, the A’s short-season New York-Penn League team in Vermont. Newhan is the son of famed Los Angeles Times sportswriter Ross Newhan, and also, according to Slusser, best pals with Christenson.
The Braves are about to lose another coach.
According to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, hitting coordinator Don Long will be hired as the Reds’ new hitting coach. Long had been with the Braves since 2011 after serving as Pirates hitting coach for three seasons through 2010.
“It’s a credit to our organization that we have the kind of people that other organizations are looking at to improve their major league clubs,” general manager Frank Wren told the newspaper. “It’s a credit to our guys and it’s something we’re proud of, but at the same time we feel like it’s really important to have great instruction at the minor league level. And we’ve had that, so now the challenge is to hire new people that can continue to help us develop players.”
Long’s departure comes two weeks after the Orioles hired Braves minor league pitching coordinator Dave Wallace as their big league pitching coach.
Dave Miley, who managed the Reds from 2003-05 and has managed the Yankees’ Triple-A affiliate since 2006, was dismissed as manager of Los Toros Del Este of the Dominican League after a 1-9 start, the Scranton Times-Tribune reported.
According to a statement from the team to the newspaper, Los Toros officials said they felt they needed a change. Evaristo Lantigua, Miley’s bench coach, succeeds him as manager.