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View Full Version : Leo Mazzone wants a job!



Joseph
05-10-2008, 08:17 PM
BALTIMORE (AP)—He’s got plenty of free time and still is being paid handsomely by the Baltimore Orioles, so there’s really no limit to what Leo Mazzone can do this spring.

He’s played golf, visited a few nice restaurants with his wife and planted strawberries, blueberries, onions and tomatoes in the backyard of their lavish new home in Roswell, Ga. Yet, Mazzone can’t remember ever feeling so useless, exasperated and miserable.

The esteemed pitching coach is out of a job, and he can’t stand it. The 59-year-old Mazzone usually spends this time of the year rocking back and forth in the dugout, watching one of his pupils try to work out of a jam. What he’s doing now is more suitable for the rocking chair on his porch.

“What I’m doing is sitting here dying to get back into baseball again,” Mazzone said. “When spring training hit, it was the first time in 40 years I wasn’t on the baseball field. It affected me pretty good.”
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After the Orioles fired him last October with one season left on a $1.5 million, three-year deal, Mazzone was guaranteed a salary in 2008 without having to leave his house. He has since learned that playing golf and gardening isn’t as challenging as grooming pitchers in the big leagues. Heck, it’s not even close.

“Everybody says, ‘Just relax and enjoy your time, your contract runs through Oct. 31,”’ he said. “But that’s not the point. The point is that I enjoy myself when I’m down in that bullpen working with pitchers, and I miss the whole love affair with the major leagues I’ve had since I was 9 years old.”

After a highly successful run with the Atlanta Braves, Mazzone left for Baltimore after the 2005 season. He received a hefty raise and got to work with his best friend, Sam Perlozzo. But if he had it to do over, Mazzone would accept whatever Atlanta offered and assume his customary place in the dugout next to Braves manager Bobby Cox.

“At the time it was a great move, but now I regret it. You see the difference in organizations and how things are run and, believe me, the Atlanta Braves are about as good as it gets,” Mazzone said.

“I got a chance to go back to my home state. My dad’s 86 and my mother’s 81, and they got to see me more in two years than they had in the last 16. Then I have three boys that live up in western Maryland. So we were able to get a lot closer. That part of it was good. But now, as I sit here on my back porch, I second-guess it.”

He’s out of the game and desperate to get back in. He has no expectations of matching his salary with the Orioles, and won’t subject a would-be employer to dealing with an agent. If you want Leo Mazzone to be your pitching coach, just dial him up and make an offer.

“I’ve let it be known to general managers in the big leagues that money is not an issue. I don’t want them thinking it is,” he said. “I’m ready to bounce whenever somebody calls. I’ll have my bags packed in 10 minutes.”

Born in West Virginia and raised in Maryland, Mazzone made his professional debut in 1967 as a 19-year-old pitcher with Double-A Amarillo. After nine lackluster seasons, he abandoned hope of playing in the majors and became a coach. He was a minor league manager from 1976-79 and served as a coach in the Braves system before being named pitching coach of the big league club on June 22, 1990, the same day Cox took over as manager.

Over the next 15 1/2 years, Mazzone established himself as one of the foremost authorities on pitching. The Braves finished first or second in the NL in ERA in 12 of his final 14 seasons, and he helped develop six Cy Young Award winners. Mazzone had 10 different pitchers selected to an All-Star team, including Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and John Smoltz.

During that time, he literally wrote the book(s) on being a successful pitching coach—“Tales From The Mound” and “Pitch Like a Pro.”

Mazzone loved Atlanta, but couldn’t resist the chance to work with Perlozzo, then manager of the Orioles. Mazzone served as best man at Perlozzo’s wedding, and the two often spoke of collaborating at the major league level.

But little went right for Mazzone or the Orioles in 2006 and 2007. In his first season, Baltimore ranked 13th in the 14-team AL with a 5.35 ERA. In June of the following season, Perlozzo was fired. Mazzone stayed on, but four months later he was released after Baltimore finished with a 5.17 ERA and a major league high 696 walks.

He intended to latch on with another team in 2008, but none came calling. And now it’s May, and Mazzone is still out of a job.

“Yeah, I am surprised,” Cox said. “But I think he was terminated at a late time, too, that year. Everybody else had people.”

Two years earlier, Mazzone would have been a welcome addition to any big league staff. But the poor performance of Baltimore’s pitching staff under his direction seemingly took a toll on his once-pristine reputation.

“I don’t believe that,” Perlozzo said. “Good baseball people know that Leo didn’t have much to work with there, and we had plenty of injuries on top of that. He’s still one of the best out there. I am very confident he will get a job, maybe even this year.”

After being fired by the Orioles, Perlozzo spent last summer squirming through an unwanted vacation. Now third base coach of the Seattle Mariners, Perlozzo knows just what Mazzone is going through.

“Leo really enjoys being on the field. It’s kind of like all he’s ever done,” Perlozzo said. “I wish he was happy and doing what he loves.”

Mazzone occasionally serves as an analyst for FOX, but that only whets his appetite for his former job. Being in the broadcast booth is interesting, but it doesn’t compare to rocking in the dugout or teaching in the bullpen, trying to mold a thrower into a pitcher.

“The broadcasting thing has been enjoyable. That can be a second career down the road,” Mazzone said. “In the meantime, I need to get back on the baseball field. I’m a pitching coach, and that’s where I belong.”

Would you fire Pole and bring him in?

I'd fire Mark Berry [no reason really]. Move Spier to our 3B coach. Pole to our bench coach. Leo as our pitching coach.

Tom Servo
05-10-2008, 08:22 PM
I'd do it. Nothing to lose.

sonny
05-10-2008, 08:23 PM
Gee, the guy who developed with one of the best starting rotations in MLB in the last 20 years,

or

Dick Pole.


I gotta be honest, I'd go with Leo.

Matt700wlw
05-10-2008, 08:28 PM
I'll go pick him up, my car gets good gas mileage!

Chip R
05-10-2008, 08:37 PM
I'll go pick him up, my car gets good gas mileage!


He'd drive you crazy rocking back and forth in the passenger seat. ;)

Spring~Fields
05-10-2008, 09:01 PM
Sign him, make him the general pitching specialist over Pole and the bullpen coach, do something different but make him the boss of pitching at the MLB level.

Matt700wlw
05-10-2008, 09:05 PM
Special advisor to Bob Castellini....:p:

BCubb2003
05-10-2008, 09:42 PM
Director of pitching operations?

savafan
05-10-2008, 09:49 PM
He didn't really work wonders in Baltimore though, did he?

Chip R
05-10-2008, 09:51 PM
You can't make chicken salad out of chicken ....

cumberlandreds
05-11-2008, 01:03 AM
Director of pitching operations?

That one sounds good. I sign him and put him somewhere. He's too good not to be with an MLB club.

reds44
05-11-2008, 01:04 AM
You can't make chicken salad out of chicken ....
Add some lettuce and you can.

:D

Spring~Fields
05-11-2008, 02:25 AM
Director of pitching operations?


Yes something just like that since pitching is gold in baseball today. A team that has pitching can fill their staff and trade to get just about whatever they need. Have one like Mazzone director of pitching and have the very best instructors and coaches beneath them developing talent and being the top man at the mlb level to over see the field pitching coach and bullpen coach along with specialist like Soto coming in etc. Build toward becoming the premiere organization for pitching. When they get to pricey do like Bean does, ship them out and bring in the next set of quality pitchers.

If nothing else hire Mazzone and stick Pole in the bullpen if one has to. When Duncan becomes available target him too, acquire the very best talent in the country, if a GM can have specialist and assistant gms etc for other things, the GM could have a “director of pitching“.

Screwball
05-11-2008, 02:27 AM
He'd drive you crazy rocking back and forth in the passenger seat. ;)

:laugh:

KronoRed
05-11-2008, 02:47 AM
Wonder what Dusty would think.

Spring~Fields
05-11-2008, 02:50 AM
Wonder what Dusty would think.

I didn't know that he did :D

Reds4Life
05-11-2008, 11:03 AM
Somebody should fax that article to Walt.

KronoRed
05-11-2008, 02:04 PM
You can't make chicken salad out of chicken ....

Or old moldy spam

Vada Pinson Fan
05-11-2008, 04:11 PM
For a long time all I heard was Mazzone and Gullett being the best two pitching coaches in the major leagues. What's apparent is when Mazzone and Gullett didn't have the talent to work with, their "pristine" reputations suffered. Same thing is happening to Dick Pole. The success Volquez is having and Cueto to a lesser extent is due more to Mario Soto's instruction than Dick Pole's. Of course Soto speaks Spanish and that helps greatly with getting the message across but Pole and his message isn't getting through to Arroyo and Belisle.

Just like any manager or Head Coach in football, if you have a great team you're considered a genius but put that genius with a team that has no chance to win and what happens? The genius isn't so smart anymore. The perception works both ways. The same applies to the hitting coach. The knowledge from coaches is helpful and useful but as Mazzone found out in Baltimore it didn't translate into wins and so he finds himself at home.

GADawg
05-11-2008, 07:33 PM
Mr. Pinson hits the nail on the head....I don't know squat about pitching but if I have Maddux, Glavine, and Smoltz in the rotation and sitting in the dugout sharing info with the rest of the staff on their off days then I think I could rock my way to genius status

Spring~Fields
05-11-2008, 08:08 PM
It's always possible for coach to mess them up. Even the good ones have to have a decent coach, I am not so sure that the good ones run on auto pilot.

REDREAD
05-12-2008, 11:32 AM
Mr. Pinson hits the nail on the head....I don't know squat about pitching but if I have Maddux, Glavine, and Smoltz in the rotation and sitting in the dugout sharing info with the rest of the staff on their off days then I think I could rock my way to genius status

In all fairness. Smoltz was a bit of a project when he first arrived. He struggled, had to go to the sports phsycologist, etc.. He could've easily become a Rob Bell.

The Braves did a pretty good job of piecing together a bullpen out of scraps during Mazzone's reign as well. I don't know how much credit he gets for that, but it's pretty good.

I agree that Maddux arrived as a finished product. I'm not so sure how much of Glavine's success was due to the Braves' system vs natural talent.

Spring~Fields
05-12-2008, 12:09 PM
I just have to ask myself and others, looking back now, would we have trusted those quality Braves pitchers to what we have seen the Reds have had (managers and pitching coaches) to have worked with them?

I am not so sure that the Reds would have achieved the same excellent results with those pitchers.

Chip R
05-12-2008, 12:59 PM
I just have to ask myself and others, looking back now, would we have trusted those quality Braves pitchers to what we have seen the Reds have had (managers and pitching coaches) to have worked with them?

I am not so sure that the Reds would have achieved the same excellent results with those pitchers.


Maddux was going to be great no matter who he was with. He came up with the Cubs, for crying out loud and was one of the best pitchers in baseball when he went to the Braves. Smoltz came up with DET but he was a highly thought of prospect. As REDREAD mentioned, he had to get with a sports psychologist to work out some problems but it wasn't like he stunk beforehand and was great afterwards. Glavine was a product of their system and he took his lumps when he started out (as did Maddux and Hershisher) - against pretty much everyone but the Reds, surprise, surprise - but he turned out to be a HOFer. Steve Avery was a homegrown prospect and had more hype than Homer did. He was a large part of their success but never put up the kind of numbers people thought he would and then he got injured. So was Mazzone responsible for his initial success and his subsequent failure? Was Mazzone able to get the most out of him?

When you watched games during the late 90s early 00s with the Reds or Braves the announcers would always say that Gullett and Mazzone would always be able to find a job if they ever wound up unemployed. Doesn't look like that the conventional wisdom was true in both cases.

Spring~Fields
05-12-2008, 01:37 PM
Maddux was going to be great no matter who he was with. He came up with the Cubs, for crying out loud and was one of the best pitchers in baseball when he went to the Braves.

You're right, I wasn't focused on him. Didn't I read somewhere, where Maddux credited Dick Pole for being one of the best coaches that he ever had? Perhaps the coach truly was for Maddux and other certain types.



Smoltz came up with DET but he was a highly thought of prospect. As REDREAD mentioned, he had to get with a sports psychologist to work out some problems but it wasn't like he stunk beforehand and was great afterwards. Glavine was a product of their system and he took his lumps when he started out (as did Maddux and Hershisher) - against pretty much everyone but the Reds, surprise, surprise - but he turned out to be a HOFer. Steve Avery was a homegrown prospect and had more hype than Homer did. He was a large part of their success but never put up the kind of numbers people thought he would and then he got injured. So was Mazzone responsible for his initial success and his subsequent failure? Was Mazzone able to get the most out of him?

I don't think that we can answer that one way or the other for certain, though, wouldn't it be safe to assume that Mazzone made contributions to their success or continued success? Another coach might have made contributions that would have led to the story ending differently than success. You did make a good point that he had no magic or unique wisdom to cast over the Baltimore pitchers and neither did Gullet with the Reds if the quality to work with was just not there. Also it makes me wonder if the Reds would have the presence of mind to try something like a sports psychologist for a Coffee, or a Bailey who really don't stink either. I don't think that the Reds do enough to help their project pitching to become sucess stories.


When you watched games during the late 90s early 00s with the Reds or Braves the announcers would always say that Gullett and Mazzone would always be able to find a job if they ever wound up unemployed. Doesn't look like that the conventional wisdom was true in both cases.

I don't know, perhaps a Gullet has niche and a expertise for working with a Harnish, and others whose names escape me right now, and perhaps a Mazzone has niche for working with the young and talented in devloping them and bringing them forward. Different coaches have different skills that they can bring to an organization, that is where I am getting this "director of pitching" thought and outstanding staff under them, a diverse staff with various and diverse proven expertise to devlop, enhance or improve the pitching.

Spring~Fields
05-12-2008, 01:53 PM
Psst Psst, Hey Chip,

You know that the Reds need to send Dusty and Corey to a sports psychologist so that they can gain closure on their relationship issues, and Dustys fetish for Corey, don't you agree? :)

Sorry I just couldn't resist. :D

Caveat Emperor
05-12-2008, 02:00 PM
If you were a small market team, wouldn't you want your BEST pitching coaches to be in the low/mid minors (A/A+ - AA) to try and teach these kids how to pitch and, in the process, identify who is destined for greatness and who is destined for PTBNL status?

Spring~Fields
05-12-2008, 02:08 PM
If you were a small market team, wouldn't you want your BEST pitching coaches to be in the low/mid minors (A/A+ - AA) to try and teach these kids how to pitch and, in the process, identify who is destined for greatness and who is destined for PTBNL status?

Very much so, yes, with a very concerted effort and continous plans to acquire the best talented staff to achieve what you're stating, top to bottom.

I feel that with pitching being gold for teams that the traditional approach of having some sort of pitching coach and bullpen coach, with medicore skills filling the spots in the minors and even at the MLB level needs serious changes to a more dynamic staff or team of quality pitching experts to work throughout.

Team Clark
05-12-2008, 02:12 PM
Since money is not the obstacle he'll fit right into the Reds' budget. Easy replacement for Mac Jenkins. Hands down.

Spring~Fields
05-12-2008, 02:44 PM
Since money is not the obstacle he'll fit right into the Reds' budget. Easy replacement for Mac Jenkins. Hands down.

TC
Correct me right away if I am wrong.

I thought that I interpreted in some of your writings that those writings seemed to indicate that teams will allow the old boys network to lead to filling some positions in the minors whether those gentleman are truly skilled and qualified enough to achieve the best results like Caveat Emperor
is speaking to above?

Is it low pay, a lack of truly qualified people to assume the roles in developing the pitching or combinations or is it just short sightedness on organizations part in your opinion?

I am of the opinion that teams should do more than stock pile potential pitching talent, that they should stock pile talented pitching coaches throughout with the expertise to build an organization known for pitching development.

Team Clark
05-13-2008, 11:56 AM
TC
Correct me right away if I am wrong.

I thought that I interpreted in some of your writings that those writings seemed to indicate that teams will allow the old boys network to lead to filling some positions in the minors whether those gentleman are truly skilled and qualified enough to achieve the best results like Caveat Emperor
is speaking to above?

Is it low pay, a lack of truly qualified people to assume the roles in developing the pitching or combinations or is it just short sightedness on organizations part in your opinion?

I am of the opinion that teams should do more than stock pile potential pitching talent, that they should stock pile talented pitching coaches throughout with the expertise to build an organization known for pitching development.

You are correct. If I had to put a percentage on the actual number of coaches who are QUALIFIED to hold their positions across the minor leagues I would say that number is no higher than 50%. I am not even joking.

The majority of those guys hired are friends or someone who is owed a favor. That's just the way it works. Probably will always be that way. You take a system like the Braves where I can honestly say that at least 90% of their staff IS qualified AND gets results. (The 10% will be replaced without a doubt) Some of it is pay and some of it is the network.

You look at the Reds for example and the number QUALIFIED is closer to 30%. Just because you were a big leaguer doesn't mean you can coach. The Nationals are about 20-30%. These are my judgements. I hear a lot of people talk but I'll stand behind my assessments. If you stand around the batting cage or listen in on a bullpen session it can become apparent rather quickly who should be there and who shouldn't. I literally could go on and on and on. The players will tell you too. They know. They don't hide much when given the opportunity to speak up.