Success of Diamondbacks Coaching Staff Makes Me Wonder What If


Imagine walking into

work and seeing (one time Pittsburgh Pirate) Kirk Gibson, Don Baylor, Matt Williams, Eric Young, Alan Trammel, Glenn Sherlock and Charles Nagy.  Sweating.

Yeh, imagine seeing them all with their sweat on, fresh off a morning workout.  It’s a ritual that the Diamondbacks star powered coaching staff did each day last season.

We think it’s intimidating enough to be around such successful men, but catching them after a workout–as you are walking in to start your day–might make a player rethink their focus.  The numbers were listed in this ESPN article.  It’s mind boggling to even comprehend:

"9,662 career hits, 5,445 runs, 4,910 RBIs, 1,235 home runs, 1,323 stolen bases, 509 times hit by pitches, eight Gold Gloves, 127 wins, 1,242 strikeouts, two MVP awards, two MVP runner-ups, a fourth-place Cy Young finish, 16 All-Star appearances, 11 World Series appearances and an Olympic gold medal"

There isn’t a coaching staff like it in Major League Baseball.  Not many coaching staffs have taken a team from worst to first either.  After the Diamondbacks remarkable turnaround, it seems only a matter of time until more GM’s start making star powered coaching staffs.  We can definently see an owner in some of the medium to larger markets with some money to spend for a quick fix really jumping on the idea.

The Pirates do it in spring training to some degree with bringing Bill Mazeroski, Kent Tekulve, and Bill Virdon to Bradenton.  But we’ve watched those interactions.  Most of the time it’s Tekulve leaning against a pitching machine.  Once in a while something cool happens like Maz talks to Neil Walker or Virdon is seen showing something to a Pirates outfielder.

Listen, the “I did it this way,” approach can only go so far.  We get it.

The amount of difference a coaching staff can make to a team is still arguable.  We don’t think it can add that much.  But it has to be great for the Diamondbacks players when a question pops up, when they are struggling, or just when they need some big league advice.  The Diamondbacks simply didn’t become great overnight.  Snakes GM Kevin Towers is someone we have a great deal of respect for in baseball.  But look there was some serious coaching involved in the 2011 turnaround.

We are greedy by nature.  So our only thought when watching the Diamondbacks play is why can’t the Pirates do what they did?  It would be great for the Bucs to have such a turnaround.  Hell, we will even take it this year.

The DBacks players talked about the respect the team has for the staff.  It’s easy to listen when a respect level is in place.

We’re curious.  Would a Pirates player struggling for their major league life listen to a hitting coach like Gregg Ritchie?  Would the player change his swing and add a toe tap only to scrap it all and start all over again in order to “simplify things.”  We don’t know all the ins and outs of the player coach relationships on the Pirates.  Only the coaches and players know how that is working.  If anything, when we spoke to a small number of players last season it seemed at least stable and in some cases it seemed downright strong.

We think Clint Hurdle and Jeff Banister seem to be pushing a lot of right buttons once again this year, just like they did to begin the 2011 season.

But the one button Hurdle needs to push…..the biggest button the Pirates organization needs to push right now, the Pedro Alvarez button, still seems stuck in the off position.  Maybe it will happen.  No.  It has to happen if the Pirates want to get this turned around in 2012.