Mac Engel

Doug Brocail’s job is to continue what Maddux did with Rangers

New Rangers pitching coach Doug Brocail plans to build on the success established by Mike Maddux.
New Rangers pitching coach Doug Brocail plans to build on the success established by Mike Maddux. mfaulkner@star-telegram.com

For an organization once renowned for horrid pitching to let Mike Maddux walk out the door is either brave or stupid and undeniably cheap.

Since Ray Davis and Bob Simpson have assumed ownership of the club they have not scrimped on player salaries — this pair have consistently approved payroll increases, and the Rangers will again be a top-10 payroll team.

Everybody else, however, is simply not as important.

Maddux is no longer the pitching coach with the Rangers because of money and the team’s attitude that it can find his equal replacement for less.

Godspeed, Doug Brocail.

Of all the changes the Rangers made in the off-season, bringing in Brocail is fraught with worry, and not because he is not good at his job. The issue is that the man he replaced is regarded as one of the best in his profession.

If this alteration doesn’t work, don’t blame general manager Jon Daniels or manager Jeff Banister. This move is entirely on the ownership tandem of “Ray Simpson.”

Of all the moves that management has made, not retaining Maddux and letting him leave in November for the Washington Nationals over cash is the most brazen example that only players matter.

All Brocail has to do is maintain what Maddux helped build, which was the most successful run of pitching in the history of the franchise.

“The nice thing is I inherited everything he was awesome at,” Brocail told me. “I don’t know what his negatives were and I don’t want to know. He’s a great pitching coach. In saying that, I know all the good things that he did, because it carried over. I try to build on that.”

Brocail said he has not spoken with Maddux since he was hired by the Rangers.

A handful of Rangers staffers was upset with Maddux because they felt he was dragging his feet on a decision; don’t blame Mike. He was trying to get more money. He knew what he was worth, and the Rangers had no interest in matching.

If this were nearly any other organization, you would feel confident that his replacement would be more than adequate. This is the Rangers.

Before the Colorado Rockies redefined what it was like to have a bad pitching staff, the Rangers built an entire organization around subpar throwers.

It was not until Nolan Ryan convinced Mike Maddux after the 2008 season to leave Milwaukee and join the Rangers as their pitching coach that the reputation of Rangers pitchers shift to something other than batting-practice throwers.

There was that nice little run in the late 1990s with guys such as Ken Hill and Aaron Sele, but not the top-to-bottom pitching that endured under Maddux.

In the first 15 years of the Ballpark, the Rangers’ collective home ERA was 5.00. In Maddux’s seven years with the Rangers, the home ERA was 4.16. Under Maddux, team ERA was under 4.00 from 2010-13.

This run was not all Maddux’s doing by any stretch, but the Rangers’ most effective pitching in its history came on his watch. As a result, he earns some of the credit.

When Daniels and Banister set out to find his replacement, they were clearly given financial parameters. They had to dip into Double A to find their guy, but that does not mean Brocail is a cheap bum who is a big league pitching coach in name only.

Brocail is affable, sincere and an intense former big league pitcher who takes competing seriously. With 626 big league games in a 15-year career, he’s been there. As a pitcher, he was a survivor.

When Maddux was hired, he had a résumé as a solid big league pitching coach with the Brewers.

Brocail’s résumé is incomplete — he needs to have success at this job.

Brocail served as the pitching coach with the Astros from 2011-13 and was an adviser in ’15. He was the pitching coach in Double A Corpus Christi last season.

He should be a decent pitching coach if his pitchers are any good. The ones he had in Houston were too young to have the type of staff ERA that makes pitching coaches.

Brocail is not going to be evaluated based on Cole Hamels or Yu Darvish, but he will with Derek Holland, Martin Perez and Chi Chi Gonzalez.

He will be evaluated on whether he can convince his pitchers not to be afraid, to trust their ability and their willingness to compete.

Maddux was good because he could mold talent and foster an attitude of professionalism. Under Maddux, Rangers pitchers were adults.

The Rangers should not have let go of Maddux, but he’s gone. Both he and his pitchers established the standard for pitching at the Ballpark.

Listen to Mac Engel every Tuesday and Thursday on Shan & RJ from 5:30-10 a.m. on 105.3 The Fan.

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