Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Indians new coaching staff emerges

Finally, the Cleveland Indians braintrust has sent out some white smoke from the reservation. As noted here at B3 on Sunday, Mark Shapiro and the the Indians front office were being fairly methodical in choosing their coaching staff. After weeks of searching, the Indians have finally begun to fill in Manny Acta's support staff. Tim Tolman was hired as the new bench coach, Steve Smith as the new third base/infield coach and Scott Radinsky as the new bullpen coach.

There's no surprise with regards to the promotion of Columbus Clippers coach Scott Radinsky. Radinsky has been with the organization since 2004, and has progressed steadily through the system as a pitching coach. Radinsky has been the pitching coach in Columbus since 2007, and has done yeoman's work finetuning several Tribe hurlers over the years. Radinsky was a leading candidate for the pitching coach job that went to Tim Belcher earlier this offseason.

Radinsky is a good hire. He had a solid career in the bullpen as a player, seemed to understand how to fix players in the minors who were broke in the majors, and developed several young hurlers that brought a lot of promise to the big league club. I believe Radinsky to be the type of coach that can work kinks out quickly, and this should translate well to his role in the bullpen. Radinsky should have been the pitching coach, but he's up, so I can get behind that. Perhaps Belcher and Radinsky can create a staff that can fix issues at the big league level, and stop the revolving door over the years between triple A and the Tribe.

Tim Tolman was hired as the Indians bench coach, and I actually love this hire. As I mentioned earlier, my belief was that the Indians would hire a guy with some experience in this role. Internally, the thought was that this was a front office hire that would give the Indians some security in case Acta bombed. Enter a guy like Mike Hargrove or Clint Hurdle. Instead, the Indians hired Tim Tolman, who was recently the Seattle Mariners Minor League Coordinator of Instruction. Prior to that job, Tolman served as Acta's third base coach in Washington. He's really the only substantial connection to the Tribe related to Acta's past. Tolman was the Minor League Field Coordinator from 2003-06 for the Indians.

Why do I like this hire? Simple. I think Acta was able to make this hire on his own. Sure, the Indians and Shapiro likely had some input, but Acta likely chose Tolman on his own based on past work. Shapiro likely saw his past experience as a plus, which made this hire a no-brainer. The most important part of a bench coach is to be a sounding board for the boss (unless you are there to take your bosses job), and Tolman is that guy. Combine that with a general knowledge of the system from his tenure in Cleveland, and you have a perfect storm for the job. In the grand scheme of things, it's likely a bit part of the puzzle, but you still need the part.

The most interesting hire may be Steve Smith, most recently the third base coach for the Philadelphia Phillies. He was out of the league last season after former Tribe boss Charlie Manuel fired him last year after winning the World Series. Prior to the Phillies job, he had held the same position with the Mariners from 1996-1999 and the Texas Rangers from 2000-2006.

Smith was a lightning rod in Philadelphia, making several controversial calls in his two years that had the media in a frenzy. He had also been suspended a few times for arguing and bumping into umpires. It's also interesting to note that after the Phillies parade, the crowd booed once, for Steve Smith. So why does that make me happy? He's exactly what the Indians haven't had in years. He's a guy who will go after an umpire if there's a bad call. Sure, I'm concerned about the controversial calls, but in Philadelphia, isn't everything controversial?

He's a good coach who helped developed Michael Young as an infielder at several positions in Texas, and can bring some heat when Acta needs it. Look for Smith to add some panache to the Tribe's dugout in 2010, even if the team isn't that good.

I did think that Smith's job was going to go to Torey Lovullo, but there's still the first base job, as well as the hitting coach to go. Perhaps Lovullo will get the nod there. I'm not sure if he's the right fit, but he is a step or two away of becoming a manager. Still, you'd think that third base job was his.

Hopefully, more hires to mention in the near-future.

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