Monday, November 24, 2014

Neil Allen, pitching coach

Neil Allen's 1987 baseball
card. Allen went 58-70,
3.88 with 75 saves
in 11 MLB seasons.
The Twins haven't made a formal announcement, but it was widely reported during the weekend that Neil Allen has been hired as the pitching coach.

Allen pitched in the majors for 11 years for five teams, seeing time both as a starter and as a reliever. He has no previous connection to the Twins and was never a teammate of Paul Molitor's. He's about as much an outside hire as you can get.

What I remember of Allen from his pitching days in the 1980s is that he was the major piece the St. Louis Cardinals got from the New York Mets when Whitey Herzog decided Keith Hernandez was too coked-up and had to go. As I remember it, Allen wanted to be a reliever, Herzog wanted him to be a starter, and the fans wanted him to be Keith Hernandez. It didn't go well.

The Twins hired him out of the Tampa Bay organization, where he's been the pitching coach at Triple A Durham and helped shepherd a string of pitchers to the major leagues.  He's also worked in the Toronto and Yankee organizations, with one season (2005) as the Yankees bullpen coach.

Hiring Allen probably doesn't mean a conscious effort to move away from the throw-strikes-and-let-the-defense-get-the-outs approach. No pitching coach advocates walking hitters. But I expect that the Twins will walk more hitters going forward. The team has been uncommonly low on walks throughout Rick Anderson's tenure as pitching coach, and practically every significant pitcher on his staffs had higher walk rates with other organizations. I have absolutely no doubt that Anderson is part of that. The question is whether Twins pitchers will have higher strikeout rates under a different coach.

For what it's worth, Durham last year was middle of the pack in the International League in walks allowed.

At this point the Twins have filled five of the seven coaching slots:

Pitching coach: Allen
Bench coach: (Vacant)
Third base coach: Gene Glynn
First base coach: (Vacant)
Hitting coach: Tom Brunansky
Asst. hitting coach: Rudy Hernandez
Bullpen coach: Eddie Guardado

1 comment:

  1. In retrospect, Rick Anderson, had some fine attributes. We may miss him. To make chicken salad you need a chicken.