Tigers look to Twins for pitching coach

The Tigers are interviewing 4 candidates this week, and one of them has been confirmed. Minnesota Twins minor league pitching coordinator Rich Knapp interviewed for the position today.

I have no idea if Knapp is a good coach, but the Twins continue to produce pitchers who throw strikes. In 2008 the Twins led the AL with only 2.5 walks per game. In 2007 they were second in the same measure behind the Indians. In 2006 they led the AL by nearly a half a walk per game. The story was the same in 2005. And in 2004 they led. I got tired of looking back at that point but you get the idea. As for Knapp’s tenure, this past season marked his 12th in the same role.

For a team with a bunch of pitchers who seemed to have difficulty harnessing their control, I like seeing Knapp as a candidate.

Other candidates haven’t been announced, but it is a safe bet that A.J. Sager will also get an interview. Sager served as pitching coach for the Mud Hens. Beyond that I’m not sure where the Tigers are looking. One candidate isn’t Leo Mazzone. He hasn’t been contacted by the Tigers, though he is interested.


  1. David

    October 15, 2008 at 11:26 pm

    One guy I’ll begin rooting for them to get is Brian Roberts

    Think of a fast Polanco

    ~He is year in year out rated as one of the best second basemen – fielding and offensively (thanks tangotiger fan fielding reports)

    ~Next year he’d probably get 40 steals

    ~He is a switch hitter

    ~Would hit lead off

    ~Would most likely be a all-star with us

    Which would slide Granderson to 3, Ordonez back to 4 and Cabrera back to 5

    You put him and Inge on the same side of the infield and nothing would get through

    He is a free agent after this year so why not try and go after him, plus he is in his prime

    find a few decent minor leaguers or Hessman or Thames or whoever and package them

    then take the $$ and go after pitching and find a cheap backup catcher

    SS Roberts S
    2B Polanco R
    CF Granderson L
    RF Ordonez R
    1B Cabrera R
    LF?Guillen S
    DH?Sheffield R
    C??Ryan R
    3B Inge R

    Or go after Furcal who is a free agent, fast like Roberts a switch hitter and the same age- but hope he adjusts to AL pitching faster than Rentaria or Cabrera

    And he seems to have a very strong arm, but not nearly as good accuracy as Roberts or walk as often then again he normally plays SS, I duno

  2. Eddie

    October 16, 2008 at 12:02 am

    Interesting. I had a thought that they should look to the twins, as they perenially sport home grown control artists out there. Knapp could be a nice fit.

  3. Mike R

    October 16, 2008 at 12:04 am

    I’m not sure that Brian Roberts is a quality pitching coach, David. He’s pretty unproven in that regard. 😉

  4. Coleman

    October 16, 2008 at 12:20 am

    That was frightening for a moment: reading that Roberts was considered one of the best 2nd basemen (this I knew), and then reading just think of Roberts and Inge on the same side of the infield; ever so briefly that left me with the impression of Inge playing 1B, which could never happen, except on a team with Leyland as manager, and thinking of what would follow, the possibility of Cabrera becoming the Everyday Left Fielder…wow, cold sweat time. Luckily I saw the “3B Inge R” in the lineup card in time,…

    This got me thinking though, facetiously, about the possibility of Inge at 3rd/SS and Roberts at 2nd/SS, which could give you -a 4th outfielder -a 2nd catcher, specialty chasing passed balls -or going way outside the box: Kenny playing Pitcher. Not pitching, I mean standing on the mound with glove on the ready. Just TRY hittting one up the middle on us. (This also takes a bit of pressure of the 3B/SS and 2B/SS guys).

    ESPECIALLY (and this brings it back on topic) if we also make Kenny the new pitching coach. Just think about that, having coach right there by the pitcher the ENTIRE game, and also picking off line drives and ground balls and bunts like nobody’s business. (I almost can’t believe I’m not a GM yet).

  5. Eric Cioe

    October 16, 2008 at 1:51 am

    I wonder if Kenny Rogers might get offered a job as bullpen coach.

    Anything new and different is good for pitching coaches. Chuck did a good job in 2006 but it’s time for new ideas and new approaches, I think. More fastballs. More fastballs in breaking ball counts. Better changeups. More strikeouts. Fewer walks.

  6. Jeff Molby

    October 16, 2008 at 8:44 am

    I’m surprised and disappointed that Mazzone isn’t on the list.

  7. Mark in Chicago

    October 16, 2008 at 9:32 am

    at least it seems they have identified the problem. that is a good first step.

  8. Deryl G

    October 16, 2008 at 11:36 am

    Is there any data out there in regards to pitchers having control issues being able to get it fixed? Is this really a correctable problem or is it really more about the make up of the pitcher?

  9. Mark in Chicago

    October 16, 2008 at 12:22 pm

    counterpoint: does a guy like Knapp actually have more value as a roving instructor where he can work with guys when they are younger to get them to throw strikes, instead of trying to fix ML pitchers who haven’t been able to do so?

  10. Chris in Dallas

    October 16, 2008 at 12:29 pm

    Deryl: Just to cherrypick one example of what you’re referring to, Ryan Dempster. His last season as a starter was with the 2003 Reds, where he walked 5.45 batters per 9 innings. This year as a starter with the Cubs he walked only 3.31 per 9. Of course there’s guys like Daniel Cabrera who can’t ever seem to throw strikes. My guess is that command/control problems are correctible in many cases but not all. I’d like to see an organization-wide philosophy of pounding the strike zone. I want to see a team of Andy Sonnanstine’s.

  11. Chris in Dallas

    October 16, 2008 at 12:34 pm

    I’m not sure if Roberts can play SS, given he’s only played 2 games there since 2003. And as we’ve seen with Sheffield, you don’t want the juicers when they’re off the juice. I kid, I kid. I want the Tigers to switch infields with Tampa, though. That would work for me.

  12. Smoking Loon

    October 16, 2008 at 12:43 pm

    “counterpoint: does a guy like Knapp actually have more value as a roving instructor”

    Just getting him away from the Twins might have value for the Tigers.

  13. David

    October 16, 2008 at 5:13 pm

    I really hope they get Mazzone

    I’ve read quite a bit on him, here is a little quick snippet from Wiki

    In his book The Baseball Economist, J.C. Bradbury titles a chapter, “How Good is Leo Mazzone?” Using statistical analysis, he analyzes whether Mazzone had a significant impact upon the pitchers that he coached. The sample is all pitchers who have pitched at least one year under Mazzone and one year under a different pitching coach. Bradbury found that Mazzone lowered the ERA of pitchers by an average of .64 points, and that after leaving Mazzone, pitchers’ ERA increased by an average of .78 points. Bradbury believes that such an impact is deserving of Hall of Fame consideration.

  14. greg

    October 16, 2008 at 5:50 pm

    David – ditto on Mazzone.

    I also think they need to sign Derek Lower or the functional equivalent. Any chance of that?

    If they don’t, they’ll just have to get lucky and hope that 1 or 2 more Galarragas come out of nowhere.

  15. Dr Dre in Chicago

    October 16, 2008 at 5:58 pm


    i know that a lot of people think we can’t afford not to hire Mazzone…but given that, unless he lives forever or the Tigers or myself cease to exist before he does, we’re looking at the pitchers having one hell of a hang over with that .78 ERA increase. therefore, i think we can’t afford not to not hire Mazzone.

  16. greg

    October 16, 2008 at 6:04 pm

    Dr. Dre, but can we afford to think we can’t afford not to not hire Mazzone?

  17. Ken in Las Vegas

    October 16, 2008 at 8:18 pm

    All this talk of Mazzones is making my mouth water. I say we pick him up…..carry out. Extra sausage.