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Finally: Nats coaching staff retained

So there has been some concern, given that Manny Acta said the coaches would know their fate right after the season, about what their fate would be. All my reporting showed that they would all be back, but it made me nervous that the team hadn't announced it yet. I was told they were just working on contracts, etc. Nothing with this team seems to come quickly.

Anyway, the club just announced that they'll all be back. A refresher on who they are, what their positions are:

Lenny Harris, hitting coach: Perhaps the most interesting re-hire. Not everyone in the organization favored retaining Harris, who was thrust into the position in mid-May when Mitchell Page left to deal with some personal issues, on which I've reported before. Harris is very close to his playing career, and he admitted late in the year that he had no idea how much work being a hitting coach is. On the last day of the season, Acta said the club was willing to let Harris "grow into the job." He was a Jim Bowden hire; Bowden knows him from his playing days, some of which were spent in Cincinnati.

Randy St. Claire, pitching coach: A no-brainer. Both Bowden and Acta have credited St. Claire with helping out a young pitching staff. The guy works his tail off, always available to whatever pitcher for extra throwing, video work, etc. Not sure what his reputation is thorughout the game, but in Washington it's outstanding.

Pat Corrales, bench coach: Had a two-year deal, so there was no doubt about this one. A former manager himself, he was largely responsible for all the outfield positioning the Nationals do now, which (save for those times when they play "no doubles" with their backs to the wall) has really helped.

Tim Tolman, third base coach: The other controversial returnee, though Acta certainly would fight for him. He hadn't coached third in something like six years, and at times early in the season, it showed. But I think he had a very strong second half of the year, and he'll only get better next season. And don't dismiss his role as the spring training coordinator. Last year, with those 37 pitchers in camp, it was a tough job, and Tolman pulled it off without a problem.

Jerry Morales, first base coach: Another Acta hire from his days in Montreal, where he was on Frank Robinson's staff. I can never really tell how to judge a first base coach. Is your chief responsibility to yell, "Back!"??

Ricardo Aponte, bullpen coach: One of Acta's mentors and confidantes, the relievers seemed to like working with him. He keeps them in the game. But again, a tough position to judge.

There you have it, the non-news.

By Barry Svrluga  |  October 18, 2007; 11:28 AM ET
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Thanks, Barry.

Posted by: natsfan1a | October 18, 2007 11:34 AM | Report abuse

Yayyyy! Nats news!

Posted by: NatsNut | October 18, 2007 11:43 AM | Report abuse

Hey Barry-

Is there a way to get email updates when you post to Nats Journal? It will certainly make it easier in the off season.

We love you!

Posted by: roman1735 | October 18, 2007 11:47 AM | Report abuse

The Mitchell Page Marching and Chowder Society would love an update anytime you can.

Posted by: Sam | October 18, 2007 11:47 AM | Report abuse

"I can never really tell how to judge a first base coach."

Metric: How well does he collect the batting gloves, shin guards and elbow guards, and get them back to the dugout?

Posted by: Sec 224 | October 18, 2007 11:48 AM | Report abuse

Like great home run hitters, I think the wrist is key to the first base coach.

The aforementioned picking up of equipment

The quick flip of the ball to a little kid in the stands

The swat on the rear after a man reaches first

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | October 18, 2007 11:58 AM | Report abuse

"Metric: How well does he collect the batting gloves, shin guards and elbow guards, and get them back to the dugout?"

I always thought it had to do with the solidity of his fist-bump, making sure the knuckles meet correctly, etc.... :-)

Posted by: Juan-John | October 18, 2007 11:59 AM | Report abuse

Go to the main Nationals page:

Down at the bottom right hand side of the page is a box for RSS Feeds. Hit the Nationals button and subscribe. this will get you an email when a new post comes up.

I still haven't done it myself, but that's just because I haven't weened myself yet from keeping the page up and hitting refresh all day!

Posted by: NatsNut | October 18, 2007 12:00 PM | Report abuse

roman1735 -

You could subscribe to the RSS feed... dunno if that helps.

Posted by: Cy | October 18, 2007 12:01 PM | Report abuse

The Nats have met some important organizational objectives in the first full year of non-MLB ownership: aced the draft; building up the scouting staff nicely; and now have their coaching staff all set.

Certainly takes away some distractions, and sets a nice foundation on which to build the on-field product.

Now we'll start to see how wise and lucky the FO is at check-writing. (The wisdom this offseason may be in how few they write.)

Posted by: Hendo | October 18, 2007 12:02 PM | Report abuse

Actually, the Nationals RSS subscription button appears to have a glitch. Barry?

Posted by: NatsNut | October 18, 2007 12:02 PM | Report abuse

"Acta said the club was willing to let Harris 'grow into the job.'" -- In return Harris agreed to 'work cheap'.

Posted by: PowerBoater69 | October 18, 2007 12:34 PM | Report abuse

Perhaps the first base coach helps the runners, in part, by studying the pitcher's pick off moves.

Posted by: 1st base coach | October 18, 2007 1:07 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | October 18, 2007 1:12 PM | Report abuse

I'm glad poor Tim Tolman got re-hired, despite the fact that he cost the Nats a few runs by sending Bergman and not sending somebody else (I forget). With so few men on base, Tim's shoulder probably froze up. And you can't blame him for sending a runner, any runner, in Philadelphia, and hoping for the best. He's Manny's main man, and manny deserved the re-hire.

Posted by: flynnie | October 18, 2007 1:37 PM | Report abuse

Notice that Manny is still hitting. He's not the one all tightened up and pressing. Preston Wilson said that, "Pep talks don't work in baseball." Not caring can make a hitter better. Caring too much can hurt performance in any job, especially one as instinctive as hitting.

Posted by: Manny being Nietzsche | October 18, 2007 1:40 PM | Report abuse

I think that a first base coach has about as much to do as a third base coach, if not more (not that either one has a particularly full plate). First, he has to make sure the batter's head is in the game when he gets to first, e.g., reminding him how many outs there are, that a particular pitcher has or does not have a good pickoff move, or is fast or slow to the plate; that a catcher can or cannot make a strong throw to second on a steal; that a rightfielder has or doesn't have a strong enough arm to prevent him from going first to third on a single, etc. He can also read the signs given to a batter and tell the runner what might happen as a result, and can help judge whether a ball is likely/unlikely to fall in for a hit. The third base coach gets to give the signs and has the high profile job of deciding whether to send guys home, but there are a lot of little things that a first base coach can do as well. Now, whether they actually do any of those things, I have no idea.

Posted by: Bob L. Head | October 18, 2007 1:54 PM | Report abuse

Hendo - on the previous topic, 2 reactions to posts of yours. After 5 years for Gary Matthews and Drew and Soriano's huge contract, wouldn't you expect Hunter and Rowand to get 5+ year, $14+ million contracts from anyone looking for a CF? Perhaps Jones signs short years, hoping for a bounce back and another run at the market. Also, on the Red Sox being stacked with high price FAs - actually, I think there are 5 acquired that way (Drew, Lugo, Manny, Dice-K, Clement). Technically, Dice-K wasn't a free agent, but it was literally a bidding war. Lowell, Beckett, and Schilling were in deals that were salary-driven, but at least the Lowell / Beckett deal was fair in terms of baseball talent (HRamirez and ASanchez plus 2 more arms). Wild guess here, but I don't think Ortiz is in the top 20 salaries in baseball (he makes less than Drew) and was signed, of course, as a minor league FA after being released by the Twins. Tek makes $10+ million but was acquired as a minor leaguer in a trade. I don't think anyone else on that roster is under contract for much more than Dmitri Young, Austin Kearns, Nick Johnson, or Brian Schneider ($5 million or so). Big money all tolled, for sure, but not so much through big FA signings.

Posted by: jon | October 18, 2007 1:55 PM | Report abuse

A first base coach has to remind Manny (R., not A.)which direction to run next on those rare occasions when he only hits a single...otherwise Sawx fans would see him heading back to home from 1st.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 18, 2007 1:56 PM | Report abuse

"Posted by: | October 18, 2007 01:56 PM "

oops, sorry...that was me. (one of Barry's Babes...and perpetual Sawx fan, suddenly overcome by the usual fall spasm of choking)

Posted by: one of Barry's Babes | October 18, 2007 1:59 PM | Report abuse

Or into the Green Monster

...otherwise Sawx fans would see him heading back to home from 1st.

Posted by: Manny being Manny | October 18, 2007 2:16 PM | Report abuse

Y'know, Nietzsche says, "Out of chaos comes order."

Posted by: Howard Johnson being Nietzsche | October 18, 2007 2:21 PM | Report abuse

First base coach also carries a stopwatch. He times how long it takes for the pitch to get to the catchers glove and, I believe, he also times how long it took the batter to get to first. Gives him a better read for the steal.

Posted by: NatsNut | October 18, 2007 2:50 PM | Report abuse

Nietzche also called John Stuart Mill a "maggot man"

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | October 18, 2007 3:00 PM | Report abuse

Re Nietzsche, if you ever have a day that leaves you feeling really twisted, try this site:

Posted by: Hendo | October 18, 2007 3:06 PM | Report abuse

Nietzche is dead.

Posted by: God | October 18, 2007 3:16 PM | Report abuse

My favorite part of the "God is dead" quotation was always the oft-forgotten second half: "...and we have killed him"

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | October 18, 2007 3:35 PM | Report abuse

My greatest Nietzsche-tized Nationals Journal fear:

"And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you."

Keep the content coming evermore!

Posted by: faNATic | October 18, 2007 4:29 PM | Report abuse

J-Max got off the schneid in Peoria this afternoon. In his first trip today he's logged a walk, a steal and a run scored.

Garrett Mock's on the hill for the Javelinas. He's given up two unearned runs over three innings in 49 pitches. Hayden Penn is hoeing a harder row for the opposition: 50 pitches, four runs, three earned in two innings.

Posted by: Hendo | October 18, 2007 4:30 PM | Report abuse

I know some people are tired of the Torre watch, but it was just announced that he was offered a one-year contract to return to the Yankees and turned it down. The Torre Era is over in New York.

Posted by: Bob L. Head | October 18, 2007 4:36 PM | Report abuse

I'll tell you what, Tim Tolman is not a good third base coach. He got more people thrown out at the plate than I've ever seen in a single season.

I also think the Nats should can Jerry Morales and try to pry Davey Lopes from the Phils. He was truly a great first base coach. I look at first base coaches as baserunning coaches. And Lopes was one of the best base stealers in baseball in his day.

Posted by: ZRunner | October 18, 2007 5:00 PM | Report abuse

Good for you, Joe. Leave Steinbrenner in the rearview mirror.

Posted by: natsfan1a | October 18, 2007 5:03 PM | Report abuse

I doubt Nietzsche has been quoted on any Phillies or Mets board. Or John Stuart Mill.

Posted by: Annandale | October 18, 2007 10:43 PM | Report abuse

When is Barry going to actually talk to the coaches and find out what their duties are? The idea that the only thing the first base coach does is stand in the coaching box is ridiculous. I think Svulgra is a good reporter but his lack of interest in this subject is fascinating for me.

Posted by: grf15 | October 18, 2007 11:40 PM | Report abuse

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