Every once in a while, an organization makes a coaching hire that makes you scratch your head and shrug your shoulders.
The Philadelphia Phillies are the latest to earn this distinction with the recent acquisition of pitching coach Bob McClure. GM Ruben Amaro Jr. struck out with his first two choices, Roger McDowell of the Atlanta Braves and Jim Benedict of the Pittsburgh Pirates, who listened to Amaro’s pitches and decided not to coach Amaro’s pitchers.
Now that the Phillies have hired McClure, the operative word appears to be “settled” because that’s just what they did. McClure is a guy who was let go by then-Boston Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine in 2012 because of vehement differences in opinion. He was said to have leaked clubhouse information as well.
The terrific sports cartoonist of the Philadelphia Inquirer, Rob Tornoe, captured the town’s enthusiasm over the recent hire with this pretty funny cartoon in the Sunday paper:
— Rob Tornoe (@RobTornoe) November 24, 2013
It has not been a good month for Amaro, who signed a catcher that will be 35-years old when the season starts in Carlos Ruiz, and an outfielder, Marlon Byrd, who is 36. All but one of his projected starting infielders are in their mid-30s. In McClure, he is getting a 61-year-old with a checkered past, and his most recent claim to fame was being fired in consecutive years by the Kansas City Royals and Red Sox.
Maybe he will be able to work with manager Ryne Sandberg and maybe he won’t, but that doesn’t ease the head-scratching and the shoulder-shrugging over this latest move.