During a radio interview this morning longtime Braves pitching coach Leo Mazzone said that he’d be interested in taking the same position with the Yankees or Mets, calling both openings “a great job.”
Mazzone had an incredible amount of success in Atlanta and much of that was obviously due to the three Hall of Famers on the staff, but he also seemed to have a knack for plucking guys off the scrap heap and turning them into valuable pieces to go alongside Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, and John Smoltz.
J.C. Bradbury studied Mazzone’s track record back in 2004 and found that, on average, he shaved about a half-run off a pitcher’s ERA when they joined the Braves, which is obviously amazing. ESPN.com named him the best “assistant coach” in sports history and there was even some Hall of Fame buzz.
However, after leaving Atlanta following the 2005 season Mazzone found little success as the Orioles’ pitching coach. He lasted just two seasons in Baltimore and was fired after the Orioles’ staff ranked second-worst in ERA and led baseball in walks in 2007. Mazzone has been working as a television analyst since being let go by the Orioles in October of 2007 and his lack of another opportunity during that time is certainly surprising.
At age 62 he’s unlikely to be a long-term solution anywhere and my guess is that the Yankees and Mets aren’t the type of teams Mazzone should be targeting for a comeback opportunity. Either the baseball world is convinced that he wasn’t as big a factor in the Braves’ amazing pitching as Bradbury’s study suggests or Mazzone really rubbed a lot of people the wrong way over the years, because the way pitching coaches are recycled it’s hard to imagine him not getting a third chance somewhere along the line.