Mar 7, 2013; Mesa, AZ, USA; Chicago Cubs first base coach Dave McKay (39) during the second inning against the Chicago White Sox at HoHoKam Park. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports
There are many question marks surrounding the Diamondbacks as we head into the new year but if there is one thing I know about this team that is guaranteed, it is the impact of new coaches Dave McKay and Dave Duncan. Last November the Diamondbacks completed their coaching staff after firing pitching coach Charles Nagy and first base coach Steve Sax and losing hitting coach Don Baylor to the Los Angeles Angels and third base coach Matt Williams after he signed as manager of the Washington Nationals. The Diamondbacks have had one of the best coaching staff in the majors over the years and after so many changes this offseason there were questions about whether the team’s coaching staff was a strength of the team coming into the new season. I don’t know about the coaching staff as a whole but the D’backs brought in two fine veteran coaches with a lot of experience and a lot of success to help the team reach their goals.
In early November the Diamondbacks were still in the market for a first base coach and an outfield instructor after firing Sax. Arizona soon announced the hiring of veteran Dave McKay to coach first base and the outfield. There aren’t too many coaches better than Dave and this was probably the best coaching decision the Snakes could have made for the vacancy. McKay has a reputation around the league of being a great first base coach and outfield instructor and most recently was with the Cubs for the 2012 and 2013 seasons. Previously he was with the Cardinals for 1996-2011 and before that with the A’s from 1984-1995. For all the time with the Cards and the majority of the time with Oakland he was under the direction of legendary manager Tony Larussa. The D’backs hired him after hearing from Cubs President and G.M Theo Epstien about how much of an impact he made on outfielder Alfonso Soriano and General Manager Kevin Towers knew he would be the perfect fit to help the outfield improve.
Ironically the organization hired McKay more than a month before the 2013 Winter Meetings not knowing they would acquire slugger Mark Trumbo in a three team deal with the Angels and the Chicago White Sox. Trumbo has always been known for his power bat and that is what the D’backs were looking for. They wanted a player that could protect Paul Goldschmidt in the batting order. However, Trumbo has always been criticized for his defensive shortcomings and that is partly due to the number of positions he played with the Halos in the three years he was there. Now with Arizona he will only play one position, which will most likely be left field and that will allow him to work on his outfield skills. The addition of McKay only helps Trumbo more and hopefully he will be able to help him just as he helped Soriano in Chicago. Everybody needs to remember that Goldschmidt was a below average defender last year and he turned into a Gold Glove caliber first baseman this year.
The addition of Dave Duncan as a pitching assistant should provide huge improvement to the Diamondbacks pitching staff in more ways than one. When he was the pitching coach for the Cardinals under Larussa, he turned pitchers like Adam Wainwright and Shelby Miller from mediocre to stars making them instant Cy Young candidates almost every season. He should definitely make an impact on Patrick Corbin‘s development and confidence and also help Trevor Cahill and Brandon McCarthy regain the form they had a few years ago. Wade Miley is also a young pitcher who should heed the advice given by Dunc. If Archie Bradley gets called up this year Duncan will be a perfect teacher for him. One thing people aren’t talking about is his potential impact on the bullpen which struggled last season. He should be able to get pitchers like David Hernandez regain their form. Duncan is known for making huge impacts changing the little things and that is what this team needs.
In my opinion both of this coaches were great hires and should make a huge impact on the team more than most people realize. What do you think?