When we hired Leo Mazzone, I said that it was great news and to argue otherwise would be stretching for an argument. I stand by that, as it occured, for the time.
However, we're a season in, and there are two things Leo Mazzone has done.
- Coached the second-worst pitching staff in baseball, ahead of only the Royals (5.35 team ERA, 1.54 team WHIP).
- Repeatedly led to the acquisitions of crap pitchers that he's coached in the past.
Cabrera regressed in 2006. So did Kris Benson. So did Rodrigo Lopez and Bruce Chen, who both imploded under Leo's watch.
Are we stuck in a position with a legendary pitching coach whose staffs usually contained Maddux, Glavine and Smoltz, and who isn't going to have much success without them?
It's no secret that those guys helped those teams, but Leo's reputation was heavy, and I've never been one to argue with it. He got some good years out of retreads and nobodies. But his first season in Baltimore was an unquestionable disaster. His pitching staff was an almost complete failure.
The talent wasn't there, but Atlanta staffs weren't always stocked with great pitchers beyond the big three, and they usually got along just fine.
Can he again rejuvenate Jaret Wright? Can he be the guy to straighten Cabrera out? Will he be able to piece together a bullpen? Are you really going to use the "Leo will have a full spring with the entire staff!" argument?
I don't know, man. The inexplicable usage of Jim Brower early last year, followed by Russ Ortiz continuing to exist through the end of the season, and now the acquisition of Jaret Wright, leads me to believe that Leo just might not be a great fit here.
Do not get me wrong right now: I want Leo to succeed. I want Jaret Wright to prove me wrong. He's an Oriole now, and I'll root for him. But this is something to consider.