Looking For an Edge When Building a Championship Team

By William Coppola

What happens when the Major League Baseball season ends in November? Well, it never really ends. The people, who put together each team, continue to do their thing all year trying to find that perfect mix of players and staff. There really is no start to a season, it just continues with a neverending search for the right mix of talent that will win a championship.

Just keep in mind, it is not just players that make up a winning team.

This Friday may be a day both the Yankees and the Mets should look at, as it could impact  them: good and bad over the next few years. When the Baltimore Orioles did not offer bullpen pitching coach Dom Chiti a contract, it set off a chain of events, that I believe, will impact the future of both New York teams.

Hearing of Chiti’s availability, John Hart of the Atlanta Braves swooped in, and hired him on the spot. Chiti will become the Braves new director of pitching for the entire organization. Both Chiti and Hart go back a long way. From their days in Baltimore, to Cleveland and Texas. Along the way, Chiti became an amazing pitching coach.

Atlanta also hired Chiti’s partner from his days with both the Braves and the Orioles, pitching coach, Dave Wallace who had announced he would be stepping down from the rigors of his job on the major league level. A major Mets rival is getting strong again: the Braves have stockpiled a boatload of really good young arms in their minor league system.

Hiring Chiti and Wallace will be huge for those young players. Chiti, along with Wallace as special assistant to pitching, will be working to develop these highly touted prospects into big league pitchers.

That is not good for the Mets, as the Braves are building a completely new powerful young team. Chiti and Wallace have a good track record and these young arms will develop into very good big league pitchers. The Braves, have one of the best group of player development staffs in baseball. It just got even better. Again, not good for the Mets.

On the other hand, the Yankees will benefit from a disruption within one of its eastern division rivals, the Baltimore Orioles. The loss of Chiti and Wallace will affect the O’s pitching staff. Sure, they’ll be replaced, but will the O’s pitchers feel comfortable and confident with their new coaches?

The Yankees benefit also with the Red Sox losing bench coach Tory Louvullo, who was just hired as the Arizona Diamondbacks new Manager. Tory was an extremely important part of Red Sox Manager John Farrell’s staff. He kept the clubhouse loose and was Farrell’s closest adviser when they worked together in Toronto.

Granted these are unnoticed non-roster moves, but they could be the reason for a few more wins or losses benefiting the Yankees or hurting the Mets. A few wins or losses sometimes are the difference in making the playoffs or not.

The Mets should be concerned, as both the Braves and Phillies minor league teams have been dominating at all levels recently. The National League East will soon be very competitive.

Editor’s Note:  William Coppola just completed his 40th year in the game of baseball. He has been a coach, instructor and completed his third season as an associate advanced scout with the Atlanta Braves organization.   


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