NOVEMBER 24: Pittsburgh is promoting field coordinator Mike Rabelo to third base coach, Mackey reports (on Twitter). Rabelo also spent the 2020 season on staff as the Bucs’ assistant hitting coach. Previous third base coach Joey Cora was let go at the end of the season.
NOVEMBER 23: The Pirates are hiring Andy Haines to be their next hitting coach, reports Jason Mackey of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Pittsburgh fired previous hitting instructor Rick Eckstein in August.
Haines, 44, has spent the past three seasons as the Brewers’ hitting coach and previously logged one year on the Cubs’ staff as assistant hitting coach. Milwaukee’s offense was a touch below average over the course of Haines’ tenure on staff. Going back to the start of 2019, Brewers’ hitters (excluding pitchers) have a .243/.328/.425 cumulative line. By measure of wRC+, that checks in two percentage points below the league average, ranking 18th of the league’s 30 teams. Milwaukee ranked 19th in that category in 2021 alone.
The Bucs’ front office and manager Derek Shelton are taking far more than the Brewers’ results into account when deciding on additions to the staff, of course. Haines will be tasked with guiding a Pirates lineup that’ll likely have its share of growing pains over the next few seasons. Pittsburgh’s .243/.317/.376 line this past season was 12 points below league average according to wRC+, the third-worst mark leaguewide. Highly-touted young players like Ke’Bryan Hayes and Oneil Cruz are expected to have key roles on the 2022 club, and their respective developments could go a long way towards determining how quickly the Bucs can return to competitiveness.