Charles LeClaire-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire
The team announced this afternoon that first-base coach Eric Young will not be returning to the team in 2013. [Hat-tip GuruB] Major league coach Wilson Valera will also not be back.
The news was first broken by Steve Gilbert on Twitter:
Young had just completed his second season with the Diamondbacks, having previously been the outfield/base-running coordinator for the Houston Astros. He played in the majors from 1992-2006, and over that time, only Kenny Lofton had more stolen-bases than EY's 465. He was a National League All-Star with the Rockies in 1996, and after his career ended, became an analyst on ESPN's Baseball Tonight for three seasons. We saw quite a bit of his son, Eric Young, Jr., this season, as he played for the Rockies. There's some suggestion Young could end up back with Colorado.
One has to wonder whether the slump in the team's fortune on the base-paths is connected to Young's departure. In his first season, the team were virtually at league average in SB success-rate (71% vs. 72%), and were better than most at taking the extra base (43% vs. 41%). But in 2012, the Diamondbacks ranked 29th in the majors for SB%, at 65%, and their extra base rate also dropped, back to league average at 41%. Arizona were also picked off 24 times, 7th-most in the majors, though that number was actually a little better than that from the previous year.
In the conference call with Kirk Gibson and Kevin Towers this afternoon, according to Nick Piecoro, both men said "They didn't want it to sound like they were putting all the blame on Young," but Towers thought that outfield defense and base-running - the two areas overseen by Young - were fields in which the team had room for improvement. The running was discussed above; on defense. our outfield UZR/150 dropped from a best in the NL 8.8 in 2011 to 4.9 last year. That may be partly a change in personnel (Kubel < Parra), but it's worth noting that Upton's numbers were awful in 2012, his UZR/150 dropping from 6.8 to -2.1.
Wilson Valera is... Wait, hands up if you even knew who Wilson Valera was, let alone that he was a coach with the Diamondbacks. However, according to the media guide, Valera's duties were to "support the staff and players in all facets, including effectively communicating with Latin players, serving as a working coach with infielders, assisting with all pre-game and batting practice duties and charting and tracking information during the game." Hmm. Seems like Mrs. SnakePit could do most of that, thanks to her Cuban heritage. Guess Miggy will now be doing the whole communications thing.
Nick Piecoro says the team will look to hire a second hitting coach instead. If they can find one specializing in "late and close" situations - or possibly just a guru wise in the ways of Jobu, if you don't believe in "clutch." We'll see who they get to replace Young, but it seems to be the case that base-stealing is one of those things where the ability to do it, doesn't necessarily mean that you can teach it...