The first big move new GM Billy Eppler pulled off was the firing of pitching coach Mike Butcher; a move that quickly gained him hero status in the eyes of many a Halos fan. With the proverbial kicking to the curb over and done with, now the front office turns it's focus towards actually filling the large, shaved-headed space that Butcher once filled. One name of interest to fill Mike Butcher's shoes and that will most likely garner some attention from the Angels is another pitching coach named Mike. Mike Maddux, to be exact, of the Texas Rangers.
The hottest free agent on the market these days is pitching guru Mike Maddux, #Rangers pitching coach, whose contract expires this month.— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) October 19, 2015
Mike Maddux pitched 15 seasons in MLB, and had his first MLB coaching stint with Milwaukee from 2003 to 2008. In 2009, he got the gig as the Rangers' pitching coach, and to say he had his work cut out for him would be an understatement. When he arrived, Texas hadn't produced a team ERA under 4.00 since 1990, and in his first four seasons as pitching coach, he led them to four straight seasons of sub-4.00 ERA. A handful of injuries the past two seasons would help to end that nice little streak, but the team itself still managed to barely walk away with a division title.
Even with 2014 and 2015 team pitching numbers that don't exactly leap off the page, they weren't terrible, and the extent of which he turned around the team's pitching in his first four years there are not to be ignored. Again, there were injuries to contend with(and like last year, the second half really showed a large swath of improvement from the team's hurlers), and when judged against his peers over the same stretch of time that he's occupied the pitching coach job, his Rangers club is one of the better team ERAs in the AL.
The more attractive pick to replace Mike Butcher, according to most Angels fans you ask right now, wouldn't be a Mike. It'd be a Bud...as in Bud Black. Obviously this choice would give us those warm, cozy 2002-2006 Angels glory days feels, but the main monkey wrench in that pipe dream is that Black is seeking a managerial job. Black hasn't been relegated to pitching coach since '06, and would understandably want to make a lateral move, or jump up a level to a front office gig. A pitching coach position, back in Anaheim after all these years, and getting weird and/or perturbed looks from Mike Scioscia 162 times or more per year may not be that enticing. At least that's my line of thought, if I'm putting myself in Black's shoes.
So if no Bud Black, there can't be anything possibly wrong with stealing a pitching guru like Mike Maddux away from a division rival, is there? Alden Gonzalez noted that the Angels will be looking to go outside the organization for their future pitching coach, but maybe they wont have to look further than the AL West.