Did you catch this little nugget at the end of John Lowe's story on the Tigers declining Edgar Renteria's contract option for next year?
Also, one day after pitching coach Chuck Hernandez and bullpen coach Jeff Jones were fired, Dombrowski said the other four coaches on manager Jim Leyland's staff have been asked to return for next season. He said three of the four had accepted; he didn't say which one hadn't.
So between third base coach Gene Lamont, hitting coach Lloyd McClendon, infield coach Rafael Belliard, and first base coach Andy Van Slyke (who also tutors the outfielders), which one either said "I have to think about it" or "Thanks, but I'm moving on"?
It's difficult to imagine that Lamont would be the holdout. He's Leyland's consigliere, always there as the right-hand man, unless he's had a managing job of his own. McClendon's been part of the gang too, serving as Lamont's hitting coach in Pittsburgh until he was promoted to manager when Lamont was fired. And Belliard was working as a coach in the Braves' organization before he joined the Tigers. The one guy who came to Leyland's staff outside of the game was Van Slyke. Before joining the Tigers, he was doing radio in St. Louis.
This is obviously total speculation, but maybe Van Slyke wants to watch two of his kids play in the minors, and the other in college football. Maybe he wants to dial it back a bit and go back to radio or TV. Or perhaps Van Slyke wants to stay in coaching, but sees something of a glass ceiling in Detroit. Maybe he wants to be a third base or bench coach elsewhere and doesn't see that opportunity within the Tigers' current staff.
Or I could be completely wrong about all of the above, and we'll just chalk it up to an active imagination.
If there is to be a third opening on Leyland's coaching staff, could one of the spots be filled by Matt Walbeck? Walbeck was just let go by the Rangers, who are apparently undergoing a staff overhaul. Before going to Texas, Walbeck managed in the Tigers' organization for four years, moving from Single-A West Michigan to Double-A Erie.
I'm among those who believe Walbeck will eventually be Leyland's successor as manager in Detroit, and the staff shake-up would seem to present an excellent opportunity to bring him back into the fold after he got some major league coaching experience elsewhere.
(Hat tip to Mike McClary, who first brought this to our attention last night.)