Along with the recent hirings of Omar Vizquel and Wally Joyner, the Tigers announced today veteran minor league coach Matt Martin would join manager Brad Ausmus' staff in the newly created position of defensive coordinator.
The description of Martin's role of defensive coordinator includes more than helping with on-field positioning assignments. Martin will also coordinate advanced scouting information for Ausmus and his staff.
Martin joins the Tigers after one season as the minor league infield instructor in the Baltimore organization, marking his second stint (other, 2004) in that capacity for the Orioles. In his role as the defensive coordinator for the Tigers, Martin will assist Brad Ausmus and his staff with all on-field arrangements as well as with the coordination of all advanced scouting information for the Tigers. He has spent 18 years as a minor league coach, manager or instructor. His coaching career began in the Tigers organization (1998-2003) where he served as Double-A hitting coach, roving instructor and manager. After the Tigers, he spent two seasons in the Yankees organization as Gulf Coast League hitting coach (2005) and GCL manager (2006). He then joined the Dodgers organization as the roving infield instructor (2007-11). Prior to his coaching career, he played four seasons in the Reds minor league system after being drafted by the organization in the 36th round of the 1991 draft.
Gabe Kapler, former Tigers outfielder and current analyst for Fox Sports 1, believes the Martin hire is huge step forward for the franchise.
No disrespect to Omar Vizquel but the difference maker on defense for the #Tigers will be Matt Martin. Incredibly bold and innovative hire.— gabe kapler (@gabekapler) November 18, 2013
Kapler made a case for Martin's coaching abilities in a piece he wrote for Baseball Prospectus earlier this year:
Every infielder I poll tells me the same thing: Matt’s knowledge and understanding of infield mechanics is second to none.
So why is Matt Martin not helping your big-league club this season? Partially because he’s different and opinionated, and because baseball is notorious for disliking both attributes. His appearance and teaching style are drastically divergent from the MLB cultural norm.
In a world where conformity feels safe, Matt can come off as threatening—not in the least to players, but certainly to other staff members.
Ausmus and the Tigers are taking steps toward addressing their defensive deficiencies by bringing on Martin and Vizquel. Going by Kapler's description of Martin, Ausmus is also not afraid to shake up baseball norms. He's looking more and more like an outside-the-box manager who is bringing a new and unique perspective to the game and his staff, something many Tigers fans believe the organization has long lacked.
The Tigers also announced Mick Billmeyer will serve as bullpen coach. He spent the last season coaching catchers with the Philadelphia Phillies.
Via Detroit Tigers PR:
Billmeyer joins the Tigers after one season as the Philadelphia Phillies catching coach. He originally joined the Phillies organization as the minor league catching coordinator in 2000, a position he held until 2003. He was then promoted to major league catching instructor (2004-2008) and was later named the bullpen coach (2009-12). His coaching career began as the Angels bullpen/workout coordinator from 1994-1999. Prior to coaching, he played in the Orioles (1985-88, 93), Rangers (1988-89) and Angels (1990-92) organizations after being selected by Baltimore in the 2nd round of the 1985 draft.
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