The Washington Nationals announced today the hiring of Jim Riggleman's 2010 field staff. Some of the names we knew. Others? Not so much. But the new names certainly aren't new to the skipper, each having extensive experience working alongside Riggleman at various points in their careers.
Returning are Rick Eckstein (hitting coach), Steve McCatty (pitching coach) and Pat Listach (infield/third base coach).
The new hires are John McLaren (bench coach), Dan Radison (first base coach) and Jim Lett (bullpen coach).
What's apparent (and important) is that the organization allowed Riggleman the opportunity to bring in folks he was familiar and comfortable with. Radison worked with Riggleman in Chicago and San Diego, and Eckstein in St. Louis, while Lett was with the Dodgers when Riggleman was Jim Tracy's bench coach there.
And of course, Riggleman was MacLaren's bench coach in Seattle, and took over for him when he was dismissed in mid-season of 2008.
Press Release after the jump.
Eckstein returns for a second season in Washington, as his offense showed significant gains in 2009 in runs per game (+0.40 per game), home runs (+39), batting average (+.007), on-base percentage (+.014), slugging percentage (+.033) and OPS (+.047) compared to the previous season.
McCatty was named Nationals pitching coach on June 2. The Nationals’ Triple-A pitching coach for four seasons before being summoned to Washington, McCatty employed numerous pre-existing relationships with Nationals pitchers to help his staff post an ERA exactly one run better than that recorded in the season’s first two months (5.69 ERA from Opening Day-May 31, 4.69 ERA from June 2 through season’s end).
Listach will return for a second season as Nationals third base coach. Last season, Listach’s judgment saw only 11 Nationals thrown out at home plate on non force-outs, a figure bettered by only the Cardinals (eight) in MLB. With added responsibilities as the Nationals infield instructor, Listach had a hand in Ryan Zimmerman earning his first career Rawlings Gold Glove.
McLaren, 58, will draw on 22 seasons of big league coaching experience, including a stint as Mariners manager for portions of the 2007 and 2008 seasons. He replaced Mike Hargrove as Seattle’s manager on July 2, 2007. While skippering the Mariners, McLaren hired Riggleman as his bench coach in 2008.
McLaren has worked on Lou Piniella’s staff for 15 seasons, and also enjoyed stewardships under Mike Hargrove, Cito Gaston, Jimy Williams and Joe Morgan. He has experienced five post-seasons, including four division titles (Toronto in 1989, Seattle ‘95, ‘97, 2001). McLaren spent the 2009 campaign as a Rays special assignment scout. He also served as Team USA bench coach during the inaugural World Baseball Classic in 2006.
Selected by Houston in the 1970 Draft, McLaren caught for seven professional seasons before beginning his coaching career in Toronto’s system in 1977. After serving the Blue Jays for nine seasons as a minor-league coach, manager and scout, McLaren joined Toronto’s big league staff as third base coach in 1986.
Lett, 58, will draw on 15 seasons of Major League coaching experience, 11 spent as a bench coach with the Reds, Blue Jays, Dodgers and Pirates. He served as Dodgers bullpen coach from 2001-04, where he worked alongside Riggleman, who was Jim Tracy’s bench coach at the time.
Lett joins the Nationals after spending the previous two years coaching in Milwaukee’s minor-league system. Lett has worked in professional baseball for each of the last 35 seasons as a player, coach, manager or front-office executive. Lett is also a highly respected catching instructor.
The 59 year-old Radison begins his third tour with Riggleman, as the two worked together during Riggleman’s managerial stays in San Diego and Chicago (NL). Outside of his stints with the Cubs and Padres, Radison has managed, coached or scouted for the Yankees, Cardinals and Mets organizations from 1984-2006.
He spent the previous three seasons as the Cardinals Minor League Hitting Instructor. While there, Radison worked closely with Eckstein, and helped Rick Ankiel (as a hitter), Skip Schumaker and Colby Rasmus graduate to St. Louis.
Radison was drafted by the Cardinals in 1972 and played professionally for three seasons. He commenced his career in coaching at the college level, serving as an associate or assistant coach at Broward (FL) Community College, the University of Georgia and Old Dominion (VA) University.