As the St. Louis Cardinals initially planned and then began their search for a new pitching coach, Mike Maddux, the man they ultimately hired for the position, was not someone they anticipated being available.
“No, I did not,” shared team President of Baseball Operations John Mozeliak. “That was definitely a surprise. Matter of fact, I was sitting in my home office that Saturday morning and when I saw Dusty was not being brought back as the manager for the Nationals, it got my sort of antennas up right away. Probably within a few hours, I was in touch with Mr. Maddux.”
Prior to his last two seasons with Washington, Maddux spent seven seasons as the pitching coach in Texas and spent 15 years as a pitcher in the big leagues. He comes highly regarded for his ability to communicate with his pitchers–and also ability to apply the more modern analytics of today’s game.
“I think we’ve sort of beat up that term ‘analytics’ or ‘sabermetrics’ and I don’t want it to be like people where view this as a negative or a positive, pending on what side of the fence they are,” said Mozeliak. “What I like to try to articulate with people on this is, it’s a tool. And these tools can help give you better probabilities for success, can help you maybe have a better understanding of how to improve a pitch, can maybe help you understand how to improve your strategy–not everybody needs everything that is out there. Really, what you want from your coaching staff–whether it’s Mr. Maddux or Mr. Eversgerd, is that they have the ability to communicate with whichever pitcher they’re dealing with on what tools they should be grabbing out of the tool box. In other words, what can help them improve so we can maximize performance.
“Ultimately, that’s what they need to translate. They’re not writing the algorithims, they’re not the ones who are determining what spin rates are good versus bad. We have a lot of bright people upstairs that can cut those numbers, but ultimately we want to give them the right resources to make the right decisions.”
Besides the addition of Maddux, the Cardinals promoted Bryan Eversgerd from pitching coach at Memphis (AAA) to serve as their bullpen coach. Like Maddux, he brings a combination of abilities to the role.
“It’s about results and it’s about his ability to communicate,” said Mozeliak. “It’s his understanding of some of those more modern tools that we just discussed. It’s his understanding or familiarity with some of these young players. I’ve always been a huge advocate of trying to promote from within whenever possible, this was an opportunity that we could check a lot of boxes, so very excited for him and well-deserved.”
Eversgerd was recognized by the Cardinals as the recipient of the George Kissell Award in 2012 – an award that honors excellence in player development.
photo credit: Steve Mitchell, Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports