It has taken a while, but this news today could finally end the pursuit of a pitching coach… at least for now.
There is a report this afternoon from TheAthletic‘s David O’Brien that the Atlanta Braves may be about to hire former Phillies pitching coach Rick Kranitz to take the same position with Atlanta.
This would mark the end of a long saga that began back in the middle of October when Atlanta opted to relieve then-coach Chuck Hernandez of his duties — effectively making him the scapegoat for the woes of the bullpen this season.
While it became apparent after a while that the Braves intended to take their time with a new hire in this role, the fact that it has dragged on for this long seems a bit odd. Whether that has been due to a lack of consensus for the candidates interviewed to this point or something else, it almost feels like Kranitz is getting the job now simply because he’s available.
An Unexpected Availability
Of course the way this story came about is that the Braves were at least partly responsible for Kranitz being relieved of his duties in Philadelphia.
We noted this story a couple of weeks ago: that the Braves, Rangers, and Brewers (at least) had all requested permission to speak with Kranitz’ assistant coach about their teams’ openings for the primary pitching coach post.
But rather than allow Chris Young to speak with other clubs, the Phils opted to fire Kranitz and then promote Young.
At least now, it seems that Kranitz will have a new post to fall back on… and perhaps some added motivation for his new pitching staff whenever they face Philadelphia.
Who is Kranitz anyway?
At 60 years old, Rick Kranitz has been around the block a few times. His coaching career began in 2001 with minor league affiliates for the Cubs.
He got the top job for the Marlins in 2006, staying just 2 seasons, then moved on to the Orioles from 2008-10.
After a short stint back in the minors for Houston, he replaced Rick Peterson as the Brewers’ pitching coach for the 2011 season – sticking around through 2015. It was then that he got the Phillies’ job, which lasted until a month ago.
It is difficult to evaluate pitching coaches since they are mostly compromised by the talent they have at their disposal. While Kranitz seems to have received solid reviews from his Miami work, he also took criticism for a lack of success in Baltimore… yet he’s still the same coach.
One could make very similar statements about Chuck Hernandez, for that matter.
We had expected that the Braves would hire someone for this position with perhaps an overt indication that they were embracing advanced metrics. Indeed, Kranitz would have been immersed in them while under the sometimes odd helm of Gabe Kapler. On the surface, that doesn’t appear to be the case.
It’s hard to know from a single year of that whether Kranitz was fully committed to what Kapler was selling, but reports from Philadelphia suggest that – as a minimum – Chris Young would be much more analytically-minded than his predecessor.
As a direct result, one would have to wonder how well – or how long – Rick Kranitz might fit in Atlanta, given this organization’s very strong commitment to the numeric arts of baseball as well.
But for 2019: Rick Kranitz is the veteran choice to lead our crop of young guns.