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McClendon Sets Coaching Staff

I thought about rolling discussion of the coaching staff into the Chuck Armstrong post, but decided Check deserved a post of his own. The Mariners announced their 2014 coaching staff mere hours before they announced that Chuck Armstrong would retire. Both of these news items continue the Mariners crusade to make news without doing anything to the roster.

Here's the coaching staff:

Bench coach - Trent Jewett (already announced a few weeks ago)
Hitting coach - Howard Johnson
Pitching coach - Rick Waits
First base coach - Andy Van Slyke
Third base coach - John Stearns
Bullpen coach - Mike Rojas
Infield coach - Chris Woodward

The staff is surprising, mostly because McClendon blew up the staff (as expected) but not in the way most new managers do. He ended up promoting lots of coaches already in the organization. Both Johnson and Stearns were in AAA Tacoma, while both Woodward and Waits were roving minor league instructors. Rojas was the Tigers bullpen coach while McClendon was there, and Van Slyke has been out of coaching for a few years but is another McClendon connection from Detroit. Jewett and McClendon know each other from their time together over a decade ago in Pittsburgh.

If nothing else, McClendon clearly went into the staffing process with an open mind. The Mariners fired Carl Willis, seemingly to give McClendon the last bit of freedom he needed to hire whomever he wanted. Maybe the staff is a sign that McClendon has few connections across baseball, or that he couldn't lure anyone else to join him in Seattle. I hope neither is the case but they are possibilities.

Regardless, I kind of like the mix, in particular since so many coaches got promoted. The minor league coaches know the Mariners on the roster better than anyone else, given that most of the current Mariners are so young and inexperienced. They've simply spent more of their pro careers in the minors at this point. Perhaps this coaching staff has the right balance of familiar faces and new ones to develop guys like Dustin Ackley, Brad Miller, and Nick Franklin in ways that previous coaching staffs have not.

The Mariners, I think, have run out of moves they can make without acquiring different players. At the very least they have surprised me by finding a manager outside the organization willing to take the job, and surprised me again by promoting so many minor league coaches to the majors. Here's hoping for some more surprises over the winter.