Dave Clark (Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports)

The Astros Coaching Staff Will Look Different in 2014

Well that did not take long.

We wanted changes with our local nine, and so far the Astros have delivered. Granted today’s moves are not exactly what fans were looking for, but it is a start. But more importantly, they were necessary.

And they should not have come as much of a surprise.

It was announced today that first base coach Dave Clark, pitching coach Doug Brocail, and bullpen coach Dennis Martinez will not be returning for 2014.

Let’s start with the one coach, Brocail, who will be remaining in the organization. Brocail will now move to the front office and become a “senior pitching adviser”. Based on the performance of the Astros pitching staff this season, they had the worst ERA in the majors, this should not come as a surprise.

I’m not sure I can totally pin that failure on Brocail as it is not like he was working with the most talented pitchers in the league. But, we did see some progression out of some of the younger pitching prospects such as Jarred Cosart, Brad Peacock, and Brett Oberholtzer. For that, Brocail deserves some credit.

Brocail will be returning to a role that he was in prior to joining the coaching staff, and I feel this is a move that fits his skill set. He can now work with all of the young pitchers in the organization and impart the Astros’ philosophy.

Also, and now more importantly, Bo Porter can now choose his own pitching coach that aligns with his philosophies. The new pitching coach can be involved in the hiring process of the new bullpen coach who will be replacing Martinez.

For as good of a pitcher as Martinez was, he was a starter in his major league career. Again, it is not like Jeff Luhnow gave  Martinez much to work with in the bullpen, but it was a mess and perhaps the biggest liability for the Astros this season.

The one move that I feel had to happen, was the departure of Clark. Clark began his coaching career in 2005 as the Astros’ AA manager and then joined the major league coaching staff in 2009. But a change was needed.

Clark was in charge of the base running, and that was absolutely dreadful this season. This should not be a surprise, as Porter has already stated that he plans to take over those duties for 2014.

In Brian McTaggart’s article about the shakeup to the coaching staff, he notes that the Astros will be looking for Clark’s replacement to have experience working with middle infielders.

Additionally, Luhnow said he would like a first-base coach with a background working with middle infielders to help along the development of shortstop Jonathan Villar and second baseman Jose Altuve.

“That’s the one technical area we were missing this year, someone that has middle-infield experience,” he said.

I feel that this is a necessity. Altuve is an integral part of the team, and he clearly regressed this season. Villar also figures prominently in the Astros’ plans for 2014 and beyond. Both struggled this season, and having a coach focus on them should benefit their development.

I know this is just a shakeup to the coaching staff, but it is something. Let’s hope that this continues this off-season.

 

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