The Astros announced the addition of minor league hitting coordinator Jason Kanzler to the big league staff in an unspecified coaching role. The 31-year-old, who spent three seasons in the Twins system as a player, has spent the past three years coaching Astros minor leaguers.
Otherwise, the bulk of Dusty Baker’s staff remains the same. Houston announced the returns of bench coach Joe Espada, hitting coaches Alex Cintrón and Troy Snitker, base coaches Omar Lopez and Gary Pettis, and quality assurance coach Dan Firova in the same positions. Espada, who has spent the past four seasons on the Astros coaching staff, interviewed with the Mets and A’s for their managerial vacancies this offseason but will return to Houston after those respective jobs went to Buck Showalter and Mark Kotsay.
It seems the role of pitching coach will be filled jointly by Josh Miller and Bill Murphy, last season’s bullpen coach and assistant pitching coach, respectively. Longtime Houston pitching coach Brent Strom stepped down at the end of the season, eventually taking on the same role with the Diamondbacks. At the time, Strom suggested the club should turn to Miller and Murphy as his replacements, and that’s the course of action the team will take. It’s theoretically possible Houston adds some additional help for the pitching staff — the team’s announcement didn’t explicitly state that the staff had been finalized — but it seems more likely Miller and Murphy will just take on the responsibilities Strom left behind.
In addition to the tinkering on the coaching staff, Houston announced a few front office hires. The Astros confirmed the previously-reported hiring of Sara Goodrum as director of player development. They also hired a pair of new assistant general managers. Former Angels director of baseball operations Andrew Ball — who had once worked alongside Astros general manager James Click in the Rays front office — and former Dodgers director of quantitative analysis Scott Powers will both join Pete Putila as AGM’s in Houston. The club also announced a handful of promotions within the scouting and player development departments.