Monday, November 3, 2008

Replacing Mike Maddux

Mike Maddux informed the Brewers that he will be leaving the team for greener pastures... GREENer pastures, taking the pitching coach position with the Texas Rangers. Mike has been credited with many reclamation projects over the years including the likes of Dan Kolb, Derrick Turnbow and Matt Wise. The thing I will remember most about Maddux? His mustache, and the joy I got in watching him work that thing during a visit to the mound (do teams really still hire lip readers? I can tell you what is said in those meetings, "Throw strikes, get guys out") But in all seriousness, Mike has always been a stand up guy putting the players' achievements above his own accolades and I wish him the best in Texas. Now the Brewers need to look into a replacement. I'm going to throw a few names out there that you may or may not have already heard and what merits them getting a look.

Everyone seems to believe that Chuck Hernandez is the clear frontrunner. While Hernandez has had some great success developing young pitchers like Justin Verlander, Jeremy Bonderman and Nate Robertson, he hit a bit of a rough patch this year. The Detroit Tigers finish 12th in the AL in team ERA in a terribly disappointing 2008 campaign which ended up costing Hernandez his job. The lone bright spot: Armando Galarraga who went 13-7 with a 3.73 ERA.

Doug Melvin also stated that he will give a chance to Bill Castro as well. A mainstay in the Brewers organization, Bill Castro has been very successful in working with the guys in the bullpen, getting them to understand the situations they're in and prepare them for the hitters they will face. The team knows Castro, which is a big plus, and he has built a great rapport with the team's Latin American players, but due to his lack of experience (which seems to be the buzz word in the Brewers front office) at the pitching coach position, this "interview" seems to be a mere formality.

I'm going to throw a couple other less talked about names: Leo Mazzone and Rick Peterson. Peterson has worked with Macha in Oakland which would seemingly give him the inside track. He has a history developing good pitchers into great pitchers: see Barry Zito, Mark Mulder, Tim Hudson and John Maine. It was the Mets bullpen that was Peterson's undoing. After blowing more saves and big leads than Derrick Turnbow, Peterson paid the price alongside Willie Randolph. Given Melvin's track record for piecing together solid bullpens and Castro's ability to own the player's performance out there, Peterson would seemingly thrive in Milwaukee.

And finally, my favorite, Leo Mazzone. The fact that this man does not have a job is a crime against the game of baseball. Alongside Bobby Cox, Mazzone mentored three Hall-of-Famers in Smoltz, Maddux and Glavine. I've been comparing these three to Gallardo, Villanueva and Parra for some time now to anyone who would listen and I generally get laughed at, but if you compare their numbers at this point in their career and you look at their approach and stuff, this isn't so far fetched. Under the tutelage of Mazzone, this young pitching staff could be something special. Time will tell, but I like the fact that new blood is being injected into the Brewers coaching staff, regardless of who is chosen.


JD said...

I totally believe this move by Maddux was all about the money. It wouldn't make sense to go to Texas for any other reason.

Justin said...

Unless Mike was upset with the franchise for how they handled the Yost firing and really had no desire to come back. But only Mike really knows why.

JD said...

I will miss Mike as much for his mustache as his coaching of pitching.