October 2009

Peterson interested in Marlins, too

The Brewers want to wrap-up their search for a pitching coach very soon and all indications have been that former A’s and Mets coach Rick Peterson is the leading candidate. But the Brewers are looking at other coaches, and Peterson is reportedly looking at other teams.

Here’s what Peterson told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel about the Marlins:

“I’m definitely interested,” Peterson said. “No question about it. I think they can win and I think they can win very soon. With their young pitching, obviously you have to keep them healthy and get a little more production out of them. That’s pretty much been my track record in my career.”

As that story points out, Peterson saw a lot of the Marlins during parts of five seasons as the pitching coach in New York. Florida might also be alluring because Peterson is from the East Coast

I also mentioned the Reds as a possibility for Peterson, and heard that he had indeed called that club expressing interest but as of late last week had not formally interviewed.

Yost still a bit defiant about sudden Brewers end

yost480.jpgFormer Brewers manager Ned Yost has had 13 months to mull what went wrong in Milwaukee, and he broke a long period of relative silence Thursday after interviewing to be the next skipper of the Houston Astros. 

Here’s what Yost learned from the sudden end to his Brewers tenure: 

“Don’t lose 10 out of 13 games is the best thing I can figure,” he told reporters in Houston, “and hope your offense stays on track so you don’t struggle to score runs.” 

The Brewers failed on both fronts during Yost’s last two weeks as Brewers manager in 2008, and a four-game Phillies sweep that left Philadelphia and Milwaukee tied atop the National League Wild Card standings was the last straw. Yost was dismissed with 12 regular-season games to play.

Now, after a year spent at home near Atlanta, Yost is looking to get back into baseball. He is among 10 candidates already identified by the Astros, who are searching for a replacement for the departed Cecil Cooper. 

Like the Brewers did back in Fall 2002, when Yost got his first big league managerial job after 12 years on Atlanta’s coaching staff, the Astros are conducting their search in public. Yost interviewed with Astros officials at 10 a.m. CT on Thursday, then met with reporters. 

“It’s six years of experiences that you learn [from],” Yost said of his Milwaukee managerial tenure, “and I think more than anything else the ability to sit at home for the first time in 35 years like I did this summer to review where you’ve been and where you’ve gone and think of all the aspects of your leadership and where you can become better was really, really beneficial for me. There’s a lot of areas where I think I can get better. It was beneficial to sit and take account of all those.” 

Yost is one of the most experienced of Houston’s candidates. He stressed that in his media session.

“I don’t think there’s any substitute for experience,” Yost said. “I think I learned a ton of great lessons being 12 years with Bobby Cox, and I learned a ton of great lessons the last six years with the Milwaukee Brewers. I think that it only helps.” 

Yost has remained mostly out of the spotlight since his Brewers dismissal. He graciously agreed to take part in a conference call with Milwaukee reporters the next day but then dropped off the grid except for one brief newspaper interview during one of the Brewers’ road series against the Braves. He drew a salary from the Brewers all summer and made one trip to Milwaukee to return a leased car, but did so while the team was on the road and did not visit with any club officials. 

Yost to interview today in Houston

yost.jpgFormer Brewers manager Ned Yost and former Brewers player Randy Ready will interview for Houston’s vacant managerial post today and then will meet with the media as part of the team’s open search.

Yost’s interview, in fact, was scheduled to begin just as I write this at 10 a.m. CT.

My colleague Brian McTaggart spoke to Yost earlier this week, and here’s part of that story:

Yost went 457-502 in six years as manager of the Brewers and was let go with about two weeks left in the 2008 season, a year in which Milwaukee clinched the NL Wild Card on the season’s final day. Yost worked as a bullpen coach (1991-98) and third-base coach (1999-2002) under Bobby Cox in the Braves organization for 12 years.

“I think there’s a lot of plusses that make [the Astros job] attractive to me,” Yost said. “I’m very fond of the city, very fond of the ballpark. You look at their team, and I think they’re just a player or two away from being a really, really good club again. There are a lot of things I can bring to the table that I can use to help make the organization better.”

One thing that struck me on the field as the Brewers celebrated their 2008 Wild Card clinch was how many people gave thanks to Yost. Interim manager (and now hitting coach) Dale Sveum was among them, and so was general manager Doug Melvin, who spoke again about Yost’s role in the team’s building process earlier this year:

“He’s a good man,” Melvin said. “I don’t want people to forget that we don’t win last year without Ned Yost. He put us in that position as the manager … and whenever we talk about last season and going to the postseason, I don’t want fans to forget what Ned Yost did to contribute to this organization. He allowed our young players to play. I remember him making the statement to me, ‘I’ll put losses on my back today for wins in the future for the Brewers.’ He did that.”

The Brewers figure to have more turnover this offseason than they did last year, but they will still return in 2010 with much of their core intact. If Yost gets the Astros job, do you think would that give him any kind of strategic advantage in his 15 matchups with Milwaukee next season?

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Burns removed from roster

The Brewers cleared a spot on their 40-man roster late Wednesday by outrighting right-hander Mike Burns to Triple-A Nashville.

Burns yo-yoed between Triple-A Nashville’s starting rotation and a utility role in Milwaukee, where he was 3-5 with a 5.75 ERA in eight games, including four starts, for the Brewers. At Nashville, he was 8-3 with a 2.62 ERA in 14 starts.

After the Brewers’ final home game, Burns revealed that he was fighting pain in his right shoulder. A subsequent MRI scan revealed “pathology,” but the Brewers never announced whether Burns needed surgery.

With Wednesday’s move, the Brewers have 39 players on the 40-man roster and three more — pitchers Mark DiFelice and David Riske and infielder Rickie Weeks — on the 60-day disabled list.
 

Counsell, Looper undergo surgery

Brewers infielder Craig Counsell and right-hander Braden Looper each underwent arthroscopic surgeries on Tuesday to repair the meniscus in their respective right knees. The procedures, performed by Dr. William Raasch, were “routine,” per a team spokesperson.

Both Counsell, who is a free agent, and Looper, whose contract includes a mutual option for 2010, played through knee pain all season. Counsell mulled surgery at the end of Spring Training but ultimately decided against it. Looper surrendered a Major League-worst 39 home runs this season and wondered aloud during the season’s final weekend whether his persistent knee pain played a role.

The Brewers have until 10 days after the World Series to decide on their half of Looper’s $6.5 million option. If they decline, he gets a $1 million buyout. If the team exercises its half, Looper has three days to decide whether to accept.

Tuesday’s procedures brought to four the number of “clean up” surgeries performed by Raasch since the end of the season. Raasch also removed loose bodies from third baseman Casey McGehee’s right knee, and repaired the AC joint in pitcher Manny Parra’s left shoulder.

For more on all four players, see my story about the pending surgeries from Oct. 5.

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Happy Birthday, Hoffy

hoffman.jpgHappy birthday to Trevor Hoffman, who blew out his candles on Tuesday and will become the Brewers’ first 42-year-old pitcher when he steps on the mound next season.

In fact, he’ll be Milwaukee’s second-oldest player, period. Hoffman, who last week agreed to a one-year contract to return, will be 42 years, five months and 24 days old when the Brewers play their 2010 opener on April 5. The only member of the Crew with more gray hairs was Hall of Famer Hank Aaron, who was 42 years, seven months and 28 days old when he played his final game in 1976.

The only other 42-year-old Brewer was catcher Rick Dempsey, who celebrated on Sept. 13, 1991, and played 10 more games that season, his last on Oct. 5 when he was 42 years, 21 days old.

The way Hoffman pitched in 2009, it looks like he could go on forever.

“I just go one day at a time,” Hoffman said during the season. “I was fortunate to catch some breaks when I did and was able to weather some ‘activity’ with some low pitch counts.”

For more on Hoffman’s place among the game’s most “experienced” players, see my story on Brewers.com.
 

Randolph not on Astros' interview list

The Houston Astros are once again conducting their managerial search in the light of day and released a list of candidates on Monday afternoon. Former Brewers managers Ned Yost and Phil Garner are on it, but current bench coach Willie Randolph, who wants to get back into managing, is not.

The Astros will interview their candidates, then make him available to the press afterward. Here’s the schedule:

Wednesday, October 14: 10 a.m.-Dave Clark; 1:30 p.m.-Al Pedrique
Thursday, October 15: 10 a.m.-Ned Yost; 1:30 p.m.-Randy Ready
Friday, October 16: 10 a.m.-Bob Melvin; 1:30 p.m.-Manny Acta
Saturday, October 17: 10 a.m.-Phil Garner
Monday, October 19: 10 a.m.-Brad Mills; 1:30 p.m.-Tim Bogar

Lots of Brewers ties there. Besides former Milwaukee managers Garner and Yost, Randy Ready began his playing career with the Brewers and Melvin was once the team’s bench coach under Garner. Melvin was one of the Brewers’ managerial candidates before the team hired Yost in Fall 2002.
 

Candidate list grows for pitching post

Brewers general manager Doug Melvin has interviewed a third candidate for the team’s pitching coach vacancy, according to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.

In addition to former A’s and Mets coach Rick Peterson, who interviewed last Monday on the East Coast, and former D-backs coach Bryan Price, who interviewed in Arizona on Thursday or Friday, Melvin has met, according to the newspaper, with Chuck Hernandez, who spent 2009 as Cleveland’s bullpen coach.

Hernandez, 48, has been a big-league pitching coach for the Angels (where he served alongside Brewers manager Ken Macha from 1992-94), Rays and Tigers, and was rumored to be a Brewers candidate last year when the team was searching for a replacement for Mike Maddux. But Melvin urged Macha to pick longtime Brewers bullpen coach Bill Castro

The move didn’t work. Castro was dismissed on Aug. 12, and Melvin opted not to offer his interim replacement, Chris Bosio, or bullpen coach Stan Kyles, a contract for 2010.

Price, 47, has been the pitching coach for the Mariners and D-backs. He was with Arizona from 2006-2009 but resigned in June after Arizona fired manager Bob Melvin and has been working as a consultant with the Phillies. He’s also been mentioned as a candidate for an opening on Florida’s staff.

Peterson may be the strongest candidate because of his ties to Macha and third base coach Brad Fischer from Oakland, plus bench coach Willie Randolph from New York, and last week he confirmed his strong interest in the Milwaukee job to MLB.com.

Fall League set to start

afl-javelinas.jpgThe prestigious Arizona Fall League begins its 18th season on Tuesday with a trio of games, including a matchup between the Surprise Rafters and Peoria Javelinas that includes the Brewers’ contingent of prospects.

Eight players will suit up for the Javelinas this season including pitchers Omar Aguilar, Josh Butler, Mark Rogers and Robert Wooten plus catcher Jonathan Lucroy, infielder Taylor Green and outfielder Lorenzo Cain.

In addition, left-hander Zach Braddock is a member of the Javelina’s taxi squad, available on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Class A Brevard County pitching coach Fred Dabney will serve in that role for the Javelinas.

That’s a pretty impressive list of Brewers prospects. Keep an especially close eye on Aguilar, Butler and Rogers because they are on Milwaukee’s 40-man roster, plus Cain and Lucroy, who have pretty clear paths to the big leagues if they can continue to develop. Cain lost part of the 2009 season to a knee injury, so his AFL stint is particularly important.

The AFL distributed a PDF packed with everything you could possibly want to know about the league, so I’ll attach it here for those who are interested. The AFL’s regular season ends Nov. 21 with the championship game slated for Nov. 21.
Javelina.jpg
AFL Opening Day.pdf

Here’s something you won’t find in that PDF: A javelina, according to the Arizona Game and Fish Department, is also known as a peccary, a medium-sized mammal that looks a bit like a pig. A terrifying, crazed pig.

Peterson confirms interest in Brewers job

Rick Peterson honored the code of silence imposed by Brewers general manager Doug Melvin
and declined to say whether he had interviewed to be Milwaukee’s next
pitching coach. But Peterson didn’t hide his strong interest in the
job. 

“After taking this year off to recharge my batteries a
little bit, my passion to get back on the field is unbelievable,”
Peterson said via telephone Friday from outside Yankee Stadium, where
he was part of the broadcast of Game 2 of the American League Division
Series between the Yankees and Twins. 

“It’s what I’ve done my
whole life, and Milwaukee is at the very top of my list,” he said.
“It’s a very intriguing place to be because I think Milwaukee could win
if the pitching gets turned around. That’s pretty much what I do best.
I think it’s a place that would be a mutual fit.” 

Peterson,
54, is the only candidate so far linked to the Brewers in published
reports, including one on FoxSports.com early Friday that said he had
already formally interviewed. Melvin has already spoken to at least two
candidates but declined this week to name them. 

The search
will likely be brief. Melvin said he wants to hire a pitching coach
before the end of the month so that person could participate in
offseason planning. 

Peterson is an obvious candidate because of his ties to Brewers manager Ken Macha and third base coach Brad Fischer
from Oakland, where Macha was the bench coach and then the manager and
Fischer worked extensively with Peterson as the A’s bullpen coach.
Peterson’s working relationship with Macha actually dates back to 1997,
when Macha managed Double-A Trenton in the Red Sox chain and Peterson
was his pitching coach for a half-season. 

willie-randolph-rick-peterson-180sm.jpgAfter the 2003 season, Peterson was hired away from Oakland by the Mets. He remained as pitching coach when Willie Randolph was hired to manage the team for 2005. Randolph is now the Brewers’ bench coach. 

Peterson said he had “strong relationships” with all three men.   

“He
might be the most thorough coach I’ve ever been around,” said Macha,
who will be back for a second season as Brewers manager. “He’s prepared
in all aspects of the game. He watches more film. He does more computer
study. He has a program for these pitchers for long toss, balance,
biomechanics. He’s done it all. He’s as prepared as anybody. I normally
let my coaches go do their thing, and I let him do his thing.” 

Peterson spent his year out of the coaching ranks launching a business, 3pSports.com, with noted surgeon Dr. James Andrews and former pitchers Al Leiter and Tom Glavine,
among others. The company offers biomechanical analysis and workout
programs to pitchers designed to improve performance and limit the
chance of injury. 

Peterson was introduced to the science of
biomechanics in 1989, when he was the first coach to walk through the
doors of Andrews’ now-famous American Sports Medicine Institute in
Birmingham, Ala. He would return at least 80 times with professional
pitchers, a list that eventually grew to include Oakland’s “Big Three”
of Tim Hudson, Mark Mulder and Barry Zito. Andrews broke-down deliveries and looked for ways to avoid injury. 

Peterson became a believer. So much so, that his 3pSports now offers the same program to Little Leaguers. 

“I’m
looking for a home that embraces this philosophy and wants to implement
it throughout the organization,” Peterson said. “Milwaukee, from what I
can gather, is a forward-looking organization. To me, it’s really
exciting because I think the philosophies fit.” 

Asked earlier this week whether he had interviewed Peterson, Melvin declined to answer. 

“We
don’t want to say who we’re talking to at this point, because there are
a lot of other teams out there looking for coaches,” Melvin said. “We
don’t want to advertise who we’re looking at. The cat’s out of the bag
on one guy. I interviewed him on Monday and another team interviewed
him the next day. That kind of thing happens, so you don’t have to let
the world know.” 

If Peterson was in fact Melvin’s interview
subject on Monday, the Tuesday team might have been the Cincinnati
Reds, who dismissed pitching coach Dick Pole on Oct. 2. A
number of other teams could be in the market for a new pitching coach
this winter but will likely complete managerial searches first.  

Macha’s opinion will count in Melvin’s choice. 

“Ken
will have a say in it,” Melvin said. “That’s very important. Coaches
and the manager live together for 200 days, so it’s important that the
manager has a comfort level and a say.” 

The Brewers are looking for full-time replacements for interim pitching coach Chris Bosio and bullpen coach Stan Kyles. Neither were offered contracts to return for 2010 but Melvin said they would remain candidates for the vacancies. 

Peterson wasn’t completely out of baseball in 2009. He was called upon by then-Rays left-hander Scott Kazmir
to help escape a midseason slump, and Kazmir, who worked with Peterson
in New York, posted a 1.73 ERA in six starts after a trade to the
Angels. A few weeks later, Peterson got a call from Mulder, who was
looking to rebuild his mechanics following shoulder surgery. 

“There’s no doubt he has a track record,” Macha said.
 

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