Astros shake up coaching staff, front office

Astros shake up coaching staff, front office
Posted on October 19, 2012 | By Brian T. Smith

Jeff Luhnow and Bo Porter got the men they wanted, and the first phase of the Astros’ coaching and front office changes to the 2013 team is complete.

John Mallee was named hitting coach Friday, and former major league manager Dave Trembley was added as a coach. Doug Brocail was retained as pitching coach and Dave Clark will remain as a coach.

Roles for Trembley and Clark will be announced in the future.

One day after Porter was introduced as the new Astros manager, general manager Luhnow completed a series of deals that will surround Porter with a mix of veteran experts and enthusiastic teachers.

With Quinton McCracken added as director of player development, Allen Rowin promoted to assistant director of player development and two more coaching staff hires expected soon, Luhnow continued to move the Astros into a new era.

“What Bo and I have been working on since we hired him is really putting together the staff and making sure we have some different elements on the staff,” Luhnow said. “These four pieces are key, and we still have two pieces to go.
“We want to make sure that we cover all of the elements that we really aspire to have on the staff and a lot of them are covered by the four guys we (announced) are joining our staff.”

Potential to be elite

Luhnow acknowledged Brocail is developing as a pitching coach. But after taking over midseason in 2011 and quickly forming a bond with the young staff, Luhnow said the resident of Missouri City has the potential to become one of the elite pitching coaches.

“He knows our system, he knows our players. … He has a lot of energy and enthusiasm and brings the knowledge of having pitched 16 years in the big leagues,” Luhnow said.

Brocail will instruct a collection of young pitchers that features returning starters Lucas Harrell, Bud Norris and Jordan Lyles.

Trembley becomes a behind-the-scenes guru for Porter.

When Porter worked his way through the Cubs’ farm system, Trembley was helping call the shots for Chicago.

Now, the former Baltimore manager (2007-10) will aid Porter in his first year with the Astros, and Trembley’s American League experience didn’t go unnoticed.

“Bo and he go way back,” Luhnow said. “We felt very comfortable once we met Dave. He’s a guy that can help mentor Bo while working under him. The two of them have a great relationship, and I think Dave can really share some of the learnings he had as a manager with Bo in a very non-threatening, helpful way.”

A hit with his pupils

Mallee also has ties to the Astros. As a hitting coach for the Marlins in 2010-11, he guided the development of prospect Matt Dominguez — an early favorite to start at third base in 2013 — and Miami slugger Giancarlo Stanton.

Mallee also bonded with former Marlins veterans such as Wes Helms, Dan Uggla and Cody Ross, which will be key for a rebuilding Astros team expected to add veteran free agents for experience.

“All of those guys absolutely rave about (Mallee),” Porter said. “I’ve watched him work. He’s a tireless worker. When you talk about a major league hitting coach, he’s one that absolutely can’t cookie cut a hitter with a hitting philosophy. He’s able to look at a player and take their best qualities and help them be successful. He’s a great in-game tactician.  … He earns the players’ trust, because they see the amount of work that he puts into it.”

McCracken’s name also makes an impact. The new director of player development spent the past two seasons working with Arizona’s minor league players and collected 12 years in the majors playing for six teams.

Widely regarded as an intelligent and aggressive thinker, the Duke graduate could play a key role in the Astros’ long-term future.

“He got absolutely the maximum out of his tools and his capabilities, and th