The Seattle Mariners announced the rest of new manager Lloyd McClendon’s field staff Monday — bench coach Trent Jewett was announced last week — and among them are promotions for Howard Johnson, Rick Waits and Chris Woodward.
Johnson served as the hitting coach in Triple-A Tacoma in 2013. Waits was the club’s minor league pitching coordinator for the past three seasons and Woodward was the team’s roving minor league infield coordinator a year ago. He’ll coach the Mariners’ infielders. It’s worth noting that Woodward, a former shortstop, was instrumental in Dustin Ackley’s successful transition to second base.
As I tweeted last week, Andy Van Slyke was named as the first base coach. He will also coach the outfielders. John Stearns, who managed Tacoma for most of last season when Daren Brown was brought up to coach third base after Jeff Datz underwent cancer treatment.
Stearns, a former All-Star catcher, is undoubtedly most valuable working with the catchers — Mike Zunino in particular — and the pitchers. He will also coach third base.
Mike Rojas, son of former big-league right-hander Cookie Rojas, replaces Jaime Navarro as the bullpen coach.
I’m all for Waits and Johnson, have heard nothing but good things about them, and got the chance to talk with Waits last summer. I have nothing negative to say about any of the others, either — I wouldn’t know, much like the hire of McClendon — since I don’t know them and have never worked with them in the game.
On the surface and from afar, I love the Woodward addition and I love the idea that Stearns will be around to guide Zunino. The one aspect I specifically do not like is Brown not being part of the major-league coaching staff.
He’s a better third-base coach then is Stearns, from what I have seen, and if anyone knows the young players on the 40-man roster it’s Brown. Hopefully he at least returns as the skipper in Tacoma, but that is yet to be determined, or at least announced.
In the end, none of this matters if the roster itself isn’t vastly improved. If it’s not, we won’t find the answers to the questions about these coaches. As my father once told me: “You can be the best in the world at fixing cars, but if you don’t have the parts, someone worse than you who does will get better results.”
Jason A. Churchill
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