Randy St. Claire has experience both as a big league pitcher and as a pitching coach. He has spent 7 years with the Montreal Expos/Washington Nationals. The Marlins pegged him as their man for getting this young pitching staff to rise to the next level as they finished 10th in the NL for staff ERA.
With young talent like Josh Johnson, Andrew Miller, Chris Volstad, and Sean West all standing over 6’7″, there is a high ceiling for these pitchers. Mark Wiley has been a steady hand – he was able to reshape Dontrelle Willis’ career and it was evident that his touch was needed for this Marlins’ staff after the Joe Girardi era ended with dumping Rick Kranitz on our hands for another year. So, Wiley came back and the Marlins pitching staff took some steps forward. This season, however, it seemed that Wiley had run his course despite the Marlins finishing 2nd in the NL East (87-75) with the lowest payroll in baseball. Wiley was shocked seeing as the team had performed well, but he did leave a clue about why he may have been dismissed:
“I felt like I did what I could do. I felt like I didn’t want to put too much pressure on young kids early in their career.”
Perhaps there wasn’t enough accountability on the young pitchers? Volstad did allow far too many home runs despite having a strong start to the season, it just was an unbearable problem and he was sent down.
Don’t get upset for Wiley though, he has accepted that special assitant position within the front office staff and will stay employed by the Marlins. This is a classy move for the Fish as they retain a guy who has helped their rotation out immensley over the years. The question remains, what will Randy St. Claire bring to the position? What kind of things will he do in order to help this young staff?
“I just think it’s communicating, whether working with young or old pitchers, and being open to what they feel,” he said. “It’s trying to get them comfortable and confident.”
That doesn’t sound a whole lot different than the laidback approach Mark Wiley prefers. The question has to be, why was Wiley let go? St. Claire did work with this current ownership group when they were working in Montreal together, so they know what to expect from him. He was sacked by the Nationals earlier in the year when the pitching staff was not showing much progress. It would have been nice, however, to have some talent on that staff to see what could be done. Should Marlins fans be alarmed?
It seems that worst case, we have a younger version of Wiley in house now with St. Claire. It also should be noted that St. Claire was not necessarily the top choice of the Marlins brass as other candidates were snatched up. Wiley also gets to linger as he takes a cushy job upstairs. St. Claire will now have to find a way to tap the potential of the forest of pitchers that is Josh Johnson, Chris Volstad, Sean West and Andrew Miller. If his tenure this year in Washington is any indication of what is to come, we may be in for more misses than hits.