For a while, a few years ago, there were some people who talked about Leo Mazzone being the first pitching coach to be elected to the Hall of Fame. The fever broke after he left Atlanta to take the Orioles’ job after the 2005 season and found little success. Most folks realize now that, while he was a good pitching coach, having the best pitching staff in the past 30 years or so helps a lot too. Dave Duncan is now your Hall of Fame candidate in that world.
Mazzone hasn’t worked as a pitching coach since the end of the 2007 season. It’s not clear why. Maybe he hasn’t been offered anything that sounds good to him. Maybe people in the game don’t like him or give Bobby Cox more credit for whatever the Braves staff did than Mazzone. There are a million possible explanations.
One other explanation: Mazzone is not too plugged-in to the network of major league baseball and thus doesn’t have anyone advocating for him. I mean, why else would he approach the Phillies like this:
You don’t get jobs in baseball based on public pleas. You get them because you’re either a hot property or because you know someone who will go to bat for you. I get the feeling that neither of those descriptions fit Mazzone at this point in his career.
A report from the Baltimore Sun’s Dan Connolly suggests that free agent catcher Welington Castillo currently tops the Orioles’ list of potential backstop targets for the 2017 season. With Matt Wieters on the market, the Orioles lack a suitable platoon partner for Caleb Joseph behind the dish, and Connolly adds that the club has been discussing a multi-year deal with Castillo’s representatives since the Winter Meetings.
Castillo batted .264/.322/.423 with the Diamondbacks in 2016, racking up 14 home runs and driving in a career-high 68 RBI in 457 PA. His bat provides much of his upside, and Connolly quoted an anonymous National League scout who believes that the 29-year-old’s defensive profile has fallen short of his potential in recent years.
For better or worse, both the Orioles and Castillo appear far from locking in a deal for 2017. Both the Rays and Braves have expressed interest in the veteran catcher during the past week, while the Orioles are reportedly considering Wieters, Nick Hundley and Chris Iannetta as alternatives behind the plate.
The Phillies reportedly signed veteran outfielder Daniel Nava to a minor league contract, according to Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Nava began the season on a one-year contract with the Angels, during which he slashed .235/.309/.303 through 136 PA in the first half of 2016. He was flipped to the Royals in late August for a player to be named later and saw the remainder of his year go down the drain on an .091 average through 12 PA in Anaheim. After getting the boot from the Angels’ 40-man roster in November, the 33-year-old outfielder elected free agency.
Nava is expected to compete for a bench role on the Phillies’ roster in the spring. As it currently stands, the club’s projected 2017 outfield features Howie Kendrick and Odubel Herrera, with precious little depth behind them. Nava’s bat is underwhelming, but at the very least he offers the Phillies a warm body in left field and a potential platoon partner for one of their younger options, a la Tyler Goeddel or Roman Quinn.