Lynn Henning wrote in the Detroit News today that minor league pitching coordinator Jon Matlack was fired this past week in Toledo. Matlack had been with the organization for 15 years, but a reported "difference in philosophy" spelled the end to his career with the organization. Last year, director of player development Glenn Ezell was fired as well.
"Apparently, there was a change in philosophy that no longer includes me. I would like to feel I did a credible job. I had a very enjoyable tenure with the ballclub. I enjoyed immensely the guys I worked with. I don't regret any of that. I simply don't understand how it relates to me that this had to happen."
Assisant GM Al Avila said little other than to agree the Tigers wanted to change directions at the position.
(With the job opening, you have to wonder what Rick Knapp is up to! I hear he has some minor league pitcher coordinating experience with a club known for throwing strikes ... )
Matlack told Henning:
"Admittedly, I spoke my mind when asked. I wasn't looking to stick it down anybody's throat, but I spoke my mind and tried to look out at things from the perspective of the players, first, and their interests. If there was a move or a decision that raised a question in my mind, I was going to say something against it."
Henning notes Matlack was opposed to bringing Andy Oliver to the big leagues so early in 2010, when the lefthander did not even have a full season of professional baseball under his belt. As you know, after a good start to his MLB career Oliver faltered and was sent back to the minors. Again this year, Oliver was called up to Detroit only to be sent back down when he struggled. In Toledo this year, he has a 4.72 ERA. Although he strikes out more than a batter per inning, he also walks one about every two innings. Matlack did say Oliver wasn't the reason for the firing, just one area of disagreement. Likely among many.
Its possible the Tigers have not been happy with the progress pitchers make once they enter the organization. Actually, it's hard to find any theme or organizational philosophy when you look at the big picture. Of course that starts at the top, too. It's easy to say the Tigers pitchers don't throw strikes but often times they are drafted with that deficit in their game. As well, the Tigers have used quite a few pitchers at trade chips, too.
In any case, it's an interesting development to follow.