The Angels announced last night that they’ve fired pitching coach Mike Butcher and hitting coach Don Baylor. Via MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez (links to Twitter), new GM Billy Eppler had this to say of Butcher: “I got to know Mike once I took this spot here. We had a very good and constructive conversation. He’s articulate, he’s got passion, he’s got presence, he’s got vision. Ultimately, we arrived at the conclusion that we would mutually part ways after our discussions.” Eppler offered a similar take on Baylor, explaining to the media: “It was an organizational decision that, through discussions, we felt like it was the proper course of action for what we wanted to do. I’ve spoken with Don at length, and I’ve asked him to stay on in an advisory role within our baseball operations group and our efforts moving forward.” Despite the fact that Butcher is parting ways with the organization, he offered nothing but praise for Eppler when speaking to Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register. Butcher said he likes Eppler and considers him a leader with a plan.
A bit more on the Angels and the rest of their division…
- Mike DiGiovanna of the L.A. Times tweets that Dave Hansen is a strong candidate to become the Angels’ new hitting coach. Bud Black is a candidate to become the club’s pitching coach if he doesn’t land a managerial job elsewhere, DiGiovanna adds. Hansen is currently the team’s assistant hitting coach — a role he’s filled over the past two seasons. Black, of course, managed the Padres from 2007-15 and was on Scioscia’s coaching staff from 2000-06 prior to that.
- There’s been some turnover in the Mariners’ front office since Jerry Dipoto took over as general manager, but as MLB.com’s Greg Johns writes, Dipoto isn’t cleaning house. The Mariners will retain assistant GM Jeff Kingston, amateur scouting director Tom McNamara and pro scouting director Tom Allison. Special assistants Roger Hansen and Ken Madeja will be retained, too, as will international operations director Tim Kissner.
- Athletics GM David Forst told SportsTalk Live host Jim Kozimor that the team had some chemistry issues early this year (CSN Bay Area’s Joe Stiglich has multiple highlights from the interview). “We brought in a bunch of new guys, no doubt, and I thought (manager) Bob (Melvin) did a fantastic job during the spring of preparing these guys and getting them together as a group,” said Forst. “What we couldn’t plan for was getting off to the start we did, and anytime you don’t play well, particularly early in the season in April, guys are going to start questioning their role, what other guys are doing, and over the course of the season, it snowballed a little bit.” Forst also addressed the difficulty of making the trades of Josh Donaldson and Yoenis Cespedes over the past 15 months. He also hinted that there could be more tough decisions this winter: “…at the time we made those, and when we make deals this offseason, we feel like it’s in the best interests of the club.”
- Sticking with the A’s, John Hickey of the Oakland Tribune reports that the team has fired first base coach Tye Waller. A member of the team’s coaching staff since 2007, Waller was the longest-tenured member of the Oakland coaching staff. MLB.com’s Jane Lee reports that the A’s are expected to retain the rest of their coaching staff for the 2016 season.
- Billy Witz of the New York Times profiles Astros outfielder Colby Rasmus, who enjoyed a monstrous postseason performance and will soon return to the free agenct market. Witz notes that Rasmus, whom he describes as a “free spirit,” struggled to adapt to life in a veteran-filled Cardinals clubhouse as a rookie and had difficulty adjusting to the culture in Toronto. The Georgia-born Rasmus, though, has thrived in a return to the South and in a lower-key Astros clubhouse. “I’d say this has been the best place for me,” said Rasmus. “The environment’s been good — a lot of young guys with a lot of life to them, and not a lot of big egos in the room. I just like to play baseball. I don’t like having too many people put their pressure down on me. I just like to play. That’s helped me.” Witz notes that Houston GM Jeff Luhnow drafted Rasmus when he was the scouting director in St. Louis. Luhnow explained that he always thought Rasmus would be able to thrive in the right environment,