Add another opening to the Texas Rangers’ coaching staff, and this one comes as a shocker.
Pitching coach Mike Maddux, who helped overhaul the mindset of Rangers pitchers en route to two World Series and four playoff appearances the past six seasons, was told Thursday morning that he would not be retained.
General manager Jon Daniels announced the club’s decision in a conference call, praising Maddux for his preparation and work ethic while also saying that a new voice might lead to more mound success.
The Rangers interviewed three internal candidates, after Maddux passed on their initial contract offer for 2016, and they will also look outside the organization to fill the vacancy. All the new pitching coach will have to do is match one of the best pitching runs in club history.
“He’s as hard-working and conscientious a coach as I’ve been around and was a huge part of our success over the years,” Daniels said. “I have only positive things to say about him from a professional and personal standpoint.
“We have not made the decision on who the pitching coach will be. But as we’ve gone through the process and talked it through, we felt there were some interesting candidates.”
Triple A pitching coach Brad Holman, Double A pitching coach Jeff Andrews and minor league pitching coordinator Danny Clark have interviewed to replace Maddux and also bullpen coach Andy Hawkins. Steve McCatty and Mike Harkey, fired by Washington and Arizona after the season, could also be on the Rangers’ list.
Neither Maddux nor the Rangers expected this day to come, even though Maddux balked at the club’s offer shortly after an unexpected postseason appearance and asked to speak with other clubs. The Rangers started to compile a list of candidates, but both sides initially anticipated that Maddux would be back.
“As he took a little time to look around and as we took the same time to talk internally about what was best, we did an internal review at that point,” Daniels said. “As we talked it through, we felt like there was an opportunity for us to get better with a new voice in that role.”
Maddux said that he was surprised and disappointed by the news Daniels delivered Thursday morning at Globe Life Park. Maddux’s younger brother, Greg, the Hall of Fame pitcher who had served as a special assistant since 2011, also will not return.
“My time in Texas was great. I’ll miss it,” said Mike Maddux, who lives in Westlake. “I made a lot of good friends and helped develop a winning culture. I’ll miss the people at the ballpark from security guards to ushers, clubhouse kids, trainers, strength coaches. I’ve made a lot of good friends in that clubhouse throughout the years.”
The Rangers had a baseball-worst 5.37 ERA in 2008, and Maddux was hired away from Milwaukee after the season in part to convince Rangers pitchers that they could thrive in their hitter-friendly home ballpark.
In the first 15 seasons at Globe Life Park, the Rangers posted a 5.00 home ERA and a .549 winning percentage. In the next seven seasons, under Maddux, Rangers pitchers produced a 4.15 home ERA and a .569 winning percentage.
The Rangers had posted an overall ERA of 5.04 and never had an ERA under 4.00 in the Globe Life Era. Under Maddux, the Rangers posted 4.07 ERA and four consecutive seasons of sub-4.00 ERAs from 2010-13.
Daniels is hopeful that the foundation Maddux put down will hold under the new regime.
“Mike did a lot of good in that regard in helping us change the mindset,” Daniels said. “Mike worked hard at creating a confidence level in the staff and the organization that if you go out, put your work in and execute your pitches, you’re going to have success.”
The Rangers also must replace hitting coach Dave Magadan and have interviewed Triple A hitting coach Justin Mashore and minor league assistant hitting coordinator Dwayne Murphy, a former hitting coach with Toronto and Arizona.
Banister called replacing the pitching coach and hitting coach in the same off-season a challenge, but he isn’t concerned that two new voices might disrupt the Rangers in 2016 as they defend their American League West title.
“The first message is the collective message we all send,” Banister said. “We created a message last year. I think it has been a strong message, but the follow-up message is that we will continue to move forward, and we will find the best way we can find where we want to go.”