Tigers hire Rick Knapp, Pass Up on Leo Mazzone

Posted by Bob Biscigliano in , ,

This morning, I was listening to the Leo Mazzone show here in Atlanta on my way to school. In case you don't know, Leo is famous for grooming one of the greatest pitching staffs ever, perennial all-stars Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, and John Smoltz. For a very long time, Mazzone was known as the best pitching coach in baseball.

In 2005, Mazzone was signed to a three year deal with the woeful Baltimore Orioles, but over two years those pitchers failed to yield even close to the same results. As a result, he was fired before his contract was up, and naturally, was left with a sour taste in his mouth.

Now I only caught part of the show this morning, but Leo was speaking with Christopher Rude, Perry Laurentino and Matt Chernoff about how he wanted to get back on the baseball field and help young pitchers. After that he was going through a list of the teams that need, or needed, pitching coaches that he would have definitely taken jobs with. Of those teams, Mazzone listed Detroit first. Although he didn't talk much about it, there was a bit of resentment in his voice when he said, "but they went with a younger guy from Minnesota."

That younger guy he speaks of is Rick Knapp. Rick Knapp was hired by the Tigers October 17 to inherit the pitching staff after Chuck Hernandez was fired. Knapp spent 12 seasons with the Minnesota Twins organization, where he helped develop the young pitchers that combined for 52 victories last year in the bigs.

Now I can't say I'm not a fan of Rick Knapp. I barely know the guy. It will certainly be interesting to see how he does to help Dontrelle Willis and Justin Verlander. But I want to know why the Tigers didn't go with the high profile name that is in Mazzone.

Mazzone said on the radio show that he's probably not landing a job because of his high profile. He thinks that coaches are intimidated by it and don't want that extra pressure to succeed that a guy like Mazzone would add when he is on the staff. Also, if that team fails no one is going to point the finger at Mazzone because they know he can get the job done since he did for so many years in Atlanta.

Take it easy Ma-z-z. I think this is pretty arrogant, and wrong, considering he apparently didn't get the job done in Baltimore. In addition to that, he's now 60 years old and not getting any younger. I don't think his high profile is losing him any job opportunities, although those are very interesting takes on the situation. Also, I wouldn't put too much weight on what he did in Baltimore. His time spent in Atlanta is a far greater sample size and we all know how that turned out.

At any rate, it appears that Leyland really likes Knapp, and if the Tigers pitching improves, I could very easily buy into him as well. I just want to know: why wasn't Mazzone a better option?

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