May 15, 2013; Phoenix, AZ, USA: Atlanta Braves pitching coachRoger McDowell
against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
"[Braves’ Pitching Coach, Roger] McDowell has been invited to return to Atlanta manager Fredi Gonzalez’s coaching staff next year. But before signing his contract, McDowell will likely talk to the Phillies about their vacant pitching coach position. Over the past week, it has become even more evident that McDowell is high on Philadelphia general manager Ruben Amaro’s wish list. But the Phillies are not permitted to have any formal discussions with McDowell until his current contract with the Braves expires at midnight tonight (Oct. 31). McDowell met with Braves general manager Frank Wren this week to discuss the possibility of remaining in Atlanta. But the meeting did not lead to an immediate resolution."
Our own Alan Carpenter asked why McDowell might consider such a move…
"You might have wondered – and rightly so – why Roger might even considering taking the same position at another club – much less a rival. Well, if you work at UPS and then FedEx came along to offer you triple your current salary… need I say more?"
Another question in my mind at the time was, why would the Atlanta Braves not do absolutely everything in their power to keep a pitching coach who is, arguably, the best pitching coach in baseball? After all, since McDowell was hired in October of 2005 to replace Leo Mazzone who departed to become the Baltimore Orioles pitching coach, McDowell has become one of the most respected pitching coaches in baseball, and was instrumental in honing to a fine edge the pitching prowess of such hurlers as John Smoltz, Tim Hudson, Tom Glavine, Kris Medlen, Jonny Venters, Craig Kimbrel, and many others.
Well thankfully, while I’m not sure the Braves would have done just anything to keep McDowell, apparently they did enough, because this afternoon we saw a tweet from Atlanta Braves’ MLB reporter, Mark Bowman, letting us all know that the Braves’ and McDowell have agreed not to part ways, just yet anyway.
What we do know is that the Atlanta Braves had initially offered McDowell just a one year contract, but apparently, according to a tweet from the Atlanta Journal Constitution’s David O’Brien, the Braves extended that to a two-year deal instead.
Thankfully, that was enough to keep McDowell’s services as pitching coach, and a wiser move has rarely been made by Frank Wren and company, at least in my humble opinion. There are some who put little stock in “coaches”, suggesting that at the major league level, coaching is not something that makes a team effective one way or another, but I have to completely disagree with that philosophy. I believe that the right coach, whether it’s anything from a bench coach, to a base coach, to the head manager himself, can make a huge difference. McDowell has been good for the Atlanta Braves, and their pitching, season-in and season-out, is a direct result, I believe, of Roger McDowell.
I’m pleased as punch to see McDowell stay. He’s so good at what he does, that beyond the next two years we’re not likely to see him in Atlanta. He’s well respected, not only as a pitching coach, but as a coach in general, and the chances that he could end up stepping to a role as a full-fledged manager in the years to come are pretty good. For the time being at least, the Atlanta Braves, in my opinion, just dodged a bullet with this 2 year deal. Go Braves!