Thoughts on Orioles' coaching staff and another week of awards

The Baltimore Sun

The Orioles will officially complete their coaching staff early this week by announcing the hire of Braves special assistant Dom Chiti as the club’s new bullpen coach.

With the hiring of Chiti and new pitching coach Dave Wallace, who was Braves minor league pitching coordinator the past four seasons, the Orioles have to be pleased how their coaching search panned out. They signed two well-respected, experienced coaches.

Braves general manager Frank Wren, who within two weeks lost two of his most trusted assistants, is probably less pleased.

Chiti has worked across so many levels – coaching, scouting, player development, Latin American operations – that he brings vast and valuable experience to the Orioles' staff. And don’t expect him to be a bullpen coach who simply picks up the phone and gets relievers up. He will work closely with Showalter and Wallace in developing the Orioles’ pitching.

Wallace and Chiti are two coaches who might not have left their high-level jobs within the Braves organization two years ago to come to Baltimore. But now that the Orioles have emerged as contenders in the AL East, joining the Orioles staff is much more popular than it once was.

Just like on-field success leads to being able to bring in good players, it does the same with coaches.

I wouldn’t be surprised if the Orioles actually tried to get Wallace and Chiti a few years ago but couldn’t. And even now, Orioles ownership likely had to pony up a little extra money to induce the two to leave good jobs within the Braves organization and join the Orioles' uniformed staff.

There won’t really be any transition process for Wallace and Chiti. They worked closely together to help develop some of the Braves’ young pitchers over the past two years.

Coaches don’t get much attention unless they make a mistake, but if the Orioles' pitchers make significant strides next season – and they need to in order to sustain success – the club’s addition of Wallace and Chiti will receive high marks.

I’ve heard that Wallace has already hit the ground running, reaching out to 20-some pitchers in the organization. He appears to be a coach who values deep relationships with his players. In fact, the one thing that made coming to the Orioles difficult was leaving the young pitchers he formed a bond with over the years in the Atlanta system.

The unfortunate part of it all is that it left bullpen-turned-pitching coach Bill Castro off the field staff. Castro did a good job filling in at pitching coach when Rick Adair went on a personal leave of absence in August. He’s a well-respected baseball man, and the Orioles will try to keep him in the fold.

It also looks like Scott McGregor will remain the Orioles’ pitching rehab coordinator based in Sarasota. He’s still under contract until the end of the calendar year.

The annual BBWAA award announcements will begin today with the Rookie of the Year honors. I don’t think there will be much suspense there. Tampa Bay outfielder Wil Myers and Miami pitcher Jose Fernandez are good bets to win.

On Thursday, the MVP awards will get announced and Orioles first baseman Chris Davis is a finalist. Few people outside the 410 area code believe Davis can beat Tigers third baseman Miguel Cabrera. And you could probably argue the true meaning of what makes a player truly the “Most Valuable” all day long, but at the end of the day, Davis’ remarkable, history-making season probably doesn’t mount up against the best hitter in the game in the eyes of the BBWAA voters.

After Thursday, I believe all the postseason awards will be handed out ... finally.  

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