The Houston Astros didn’t waste any time making their first offseason moves following a franchise record season of futility. No one can deny that the Astros’ coaching staff was facing a very tough situation this season. That being said, the coaching staff was the area affected by the first Astros’ move.
Pitching coach Doug Brocail has been removed from the pitching coach position and named special assistant to GM Jeff Luhnow. According to reports, Brocail will help with different pitchers throughout the organization. The Astros ranked last in MLB in ERA, but they did improve towards the end.
Luhnow explained his logic behind the move, saying that the organization needed “several new voices” in their primary areas of concern. One of the most notable aspects of the move is that Luhnow consulted with manager Bo Porter and they made the move together. That bodes well for the Astros and for Porter, who is clearly a part of this team for the long haul and will have a big say in what route the team goes.
Brocail had made two stops in Houston in his pitching career, and had very little coaching experience prior to being hired on in Houston. As such, this move isn’t terribly surprising and seeing as how Luhnow wasn’t the guy who hired Brocail, it was probably the right move. Luhnow wants to build a team from the ground up, coaches included, and all the guys from the previous regime are being rooted out.
Along with Brocail being moved, bullpen coach Dennis Martinez and first base coach Dave Clark will not be returning.
Martinez wasn’t renewed because Luhnow is looking for a one-two punch in his pitching coach and bullpen coach. Essentially, he wants to bring in two guys that have worked together and can continue to work together, much like Clark and hitting coach John Mallee.
Clark had previously been the third base coach and was known for his conservative baserunning calls. He was removed on the grounds that Luhnow wanted someone with middle-infield expertise. Rumors are already circulating that Adam Everett could be the front-runner for the first base coach position.
Surprisingly, Mallee remains. In all likelihood it’s because of his past experience working alongside Porter. While the Astros’ strikeout count was painful, Mallee may not be the main cause of the problem.
It’s good to see that the Astros aren’t taking the Chicago Cubs approach of firing manager after manager in the hopes that someone will finally click. Instead, they are putting faith in the guys they invested in to meld together with the team and produce a competitive team sooner rather than later.