Tigers announce minor league staffs

Here we are only a week and a half into the offseason, and already the team has generated 3 news items – and we haven’t even gotten to trade season or tendering contracts yet. Today, the Tigers announced their minor league staff assignments and things are all shook up.


So things at Toledo are pretty stable. Larry Parrish is back at the helm. Jeff Jones is pitching coach, and Leon Durham remains as hitting coach. With the departure of Don Slaught, Toledo could still lose a member of their staff.


Erie’s entire staff from last year was let go. Matt Walbeck was promoted from West Michigan to lead the Seawolves. He brings along pitching coach A.J. Sager who filled the same role with the Whitecaps last year. Hitting coach Glenn Adams spent the last 6 years as the Mariners minor league hitting coordinator before being let go in August.


Larry Herndon returns as hitting coach, and Britt Burns is pack as pitching coach. But Mike Rojas, the manager for the last 2 years, is now the organizational catching coordinator. Kevin Bradshaw, who was the GCL Tiger manager last year, assumes the same role for the L-Tigers.

West Michigan

Another former Tiger earns a promotion as Tom Brookens jumps from Oneonta to the Whitecaps. Ray Burris was a first year pitching coach for Oneonta last year, and will move with Brookens. Benny Distefano was promoted for the GCL Tigers to become the hitting coach.

The Tigers also announced new staffs at Oneonta (Man-Andy Barkett, Pit-Mark Johnson), the GCL Tigers (Man-Benny Castillo, Pit-Greg Sabat, Hit-Basilio Cabrera) and the VSL (Man-Josman Robles, Pit-JorgeCordova,Hit-Jesus Laya) and DSL (Man-Andres Thomas, Pit-Marcos Aquasvivas, Hit-Francisco Cabrera) teams.

Given some of the desire to change the Tigers approach at the plate, it was little surprise that on the top 5 teams, only 2 hitting coaches returned (Durham and Herndon). Toby Harrah will return as hitting coordinator, and he certainly had a track record of patience as a player. (for more on Harrah’s philosophies check out this article)

And a scout

The Tigers also announced that they hired Murray Cook as East Coast Crosschecker. Cook is a former colleague of David Chadd and spent the last 5 years with the Red Sox scouting department. Prior to that he was a colleague of Dave Dombrowski spending 10 years with the Marlins scouting department.


  1. Brian Dukeman

    November 7, 2006 at 10:22 am

    Walbeck deserves it. I was able to watch him a couple of times with the Whitecaps. Of course, I don’t know what I am going to do now with no minor league team in Battle Creek.

  2. Sam

    November 7, 2006 at 1:36 pm

    Are the Whitecaps moving???


  3. Coach Jim

    November 8, 2006 at 12:53 pm

    Coaching and managing is by far the hardest aspect of baseball to measure or quantify. Players, by contrast, are very easy to measure. Brandon Inge got a hit in 25% of his at-bats and Carlos Guillen was successful 32% of the time. Like we discussed a few days ago, fielding is likewise stat-measured. There are no statistics that measure a manager or coach’s success though. To folks watching TV it seems easy to make a lineup and change pitchers when they loose effectiveness, but that is just the tip of the iceberg. How do we know if a coach did a good job teaching technique? Also, it seems minor-league coaching is different than major-league coaching, and success at one doesn’t indicate success at another. Minor league coaches are mostly about instruction. “Here’s how to throw a changeup; here’s how to hit an inside fastball.” Whereas major league coaches are mostly about scouting. “This pitcher always throws a slider in a 1-2 count.” That’s why we may not see Leon Durham as the hitting coach in Detroit. He seems to have great success getting guys on track with their swing, but major-league hitters should already be on track. What we need at the major league level is someone that can get Marcus and Magglio to lay off the low-outside slider with 2 strikes.