Earlier this offseason, the Detroit Tigers announced that Brad Ausmus' entire coaching staff would return for the 2016 season. Unfortunately, that will not include pitching coach Jeff Jones, who announced his retirement on Monday.
Jones' departure leaves the Tigers in search of a new pitching coach. Unlike BYB's scientific examination of potential managerial candidates in 2013, we aren't as well versed in what the Tigers will be looking for in their next pitching coach. While they may promote a new coach from within -- they did with Jones, after all -- they have gone outside the organization for help before. Here are some candidates with experience as pitching coaches in the major leagues.
Mick Billmeyer is the Tigers' current bullpen coach, having served in that capacity the past two seasons. He was the bullpen coach for the Philadelphia Phillies four seasons prior to his time in Detroit. He was an Ausmus selection for the coaching position in Detroit. Billmeyer and former bullpen coach Mike Rojas are both former catchers.
Mike Rojas was the Tigers' bullpen coach through from 2011 to 2013, taking the job after Jones was promoted to pitching coach. Rojas left in 2014 for the Seattle Mariners after 10 seasons in the Tigers' organization when Lloyd McLendon was hired as Seattle's manager. Now that McLendon has been dismissed, Rojas is probably also out of a job. He had previously worked as the Tigers' director of player development, field coordinator of instruction, roving minor league catching instructor, and minor league manager.
Mike Maddux is the Texas Rangers' pitching coach and older brother of four-time Cy Young winner Greg Maddux. Mike is currently a free agent since his contract expired at season's end. After pitching in the major leagues for 15 seasons, Maddux coached the Milwaukee Brewers for six seasons and has been the pitching coach in Texas for the past five years. He is credited for helping to get the Rangers' team ERA below the 4.00 mark for four seasons when it had been above that mark regularly before his arrival. He interviewed for the Chicago Cubs' managerial job in 2011.
Bud Black was a pitching coach for the Anaheim Angels under Mike Scoscia, but more recently managed the San Diego Padres from 2007 to 2015, until he was fired mid-season. Black is well-respected and interviewing for managerial openings, but if he doesn't fill one of those vacancies, he may take a job as pitching coach once again.
Mike Butcher was fired by new Angels general manager Billy Eppler as one of his first moves as GM. Butcher replaced Bud Black as the Angels' pitching coach in 2007. Prior to that, Butcher was the pitching coach for the Tampa Bay Rays, where he replaced Chuck Hernandez. Butcher has worked with young pitchers such as Jered Weaver, Garrett Richards, and Eastern Michigan's Matt Shoemaker.
Rick Kranitz was recently fired as pitching coach for the Brewers, who fired Ron Roenicke during the 2015 season and installed Craig Counsell as manager. Counsell is going to be back in Milwaukee, and wants to pick his own guy to be the pitching coach. Kranitz was let go after the 2015 season.
Rick Peterson was a long-time pitching coach for the Oakland Athletics, New York Mets and Brewers from 1998 through 2010. He helped develop young starters like Barry Zito, Mark Mulder and Tim Hudson. Peterson was the pitching coach in Milwaukee prior to Kranitz, and is currently director of pitcher development for the Baltimore Orioles. Nicknamed "The Professor," Peterson is credited for his use of biomechanical research and psychological principles to help pitchers improve their pitching motions.
Darren Balsley has been the Padres' pitching coach since 2003. The team is looking for a new manager after firing Bud Black during the season, and Balsley's status is up in the air. Balsley grew up in the San Diego area and is comfortable with his pitchers throwing in spacious Petco Park, but a job offer may be enticing enough to uproot him.
Steve McCatty is the pitching coach for the Washington Nationals, who are also looking for a new manager. McCatty was infamously quoted saying "strikeouts are bulls***" in his attempt to promote his pitch-to-contact theory. McCatty was born in Detroit and attended Macomb Community College in Warren before being signed by the A's, where he pitched for nine seasons. His situation in Washington is tenuous at best with the current managerial vacancy.
Chuck Hernandez is currently the pitching coach for the Miami Marlins, who have announced that former general manager Dan Jennings will not return as their field manager in 2016. Hernandez was the Tigers' pitching coach from 2006 to 2008, but was terminated when the club hired Rick Knapp. Hernandez coached Justin Verlander in his first three seasons in the major leagues.
Jim Hickey is the current pitching coach for the Tampa Bay Rays. He has developed a host of young pitchers in the major leagues. He spent 14 seasons in the Houston Astros' minor league system, and worked with Roger Clemens, Andy Pettitte, Brad Lidge, and Roy Oswalt en route to the Astros' only World Series appearance. Hickey was hired by the Rays in 2006 and has worked with many more young stars, including David Price and Chris Archer. Hickey is one of the most respected coaches in the game. He has experience working in a sabermetrically inclined environment and has had success developing young pitchers.
Ray Searage is the current pitching coach for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Deemed a "miracle worker" by some, Searage has a long list of successful reclamation projects on his résumé, most recently lefthander J.A. Happ. Searage's contract status is unknown, but if he can be bought for money, spend it.
Leo Mazzone was a legendary pitching coach for the Atlanta Braves under manager Bobby Cox throughout the 1990s, when the Braves annually won their division. Mazzone left for Baltimore in 2007 to be with his friend, Sam Perlozzo. When Perlozzo was fired, Mazzone was not far behind. After coaching pitchers like Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and John Smoltz, Mazzone has made it known that he is not a fan of pitch counts or arbitrary limits on developing pitchers. He is a professor of command rather than obsessing with velocity. It is a wonder that he has not been hired since being let go by Baltimore, and he may have given up, but he surely has much to offer the game.
Dave Duncan was Tony LaRussa's long-time pitching coach with the White Sox, A's and Cardinals. In 26 years, LaRussa and Duncan won four World Series titles and coached four Cy Young winners. Duncan left the Cardinals in 2012 after 13 seasons when his wife became ill with cancer. Now 70, he is a consultant with the Arizona Diamondbacks, setting his own schedule. He's an unlikely candidate, but worth a mention.