The Brewers were looking for experience in their bench coach, and they found it in one of their managerial candidates.
Former Mets' manager Willie Randolph, one of three finalists for the managerial vacancy eventually filled by Ken Macha, was named Milwaukee's bench coach Saturday. It was the team's second coaching appointment in as many days—Bill Castro was elevated to pitching coach on Friday, and it left the bullpen coach as Milwaukee's only vacancy.
Randolph, 54, played for the Brewers in 1991, ranking second in the American League that season with a .424 on-base percentage, and twice has interviewed to manage the team. He was among five candidates for the job that went to Ned Yost in October 2002, then interviewed again this year, along with Macha and former D-backs skipper Bob Brenly. Macha got the job on Oct. 30.
Macha told the Brewers' flagship radio station several days ago that he was close to naming his bench coach. Macha previewed his pick as a successful former skipper with knowledge of the National League.
Randolph was a six-time All-Star during an 18-year Major League playing career and was a Yankees base and bench coach for 11 seasons before he managed the Mets for parts of four seasons beginning in 2005. New York was the winningest team in the NL during that span, but Randolph was dismissed on June 17, 2008, a few hours after a Mets loss to the Angels. The team was off to a disappointing 34-35 start.
Randolph also was reportedly offered a coaching position with the Washington Nationals this offseason, but he declined. He replaces as Brewers bench coach Dale Sveum, who finished last season as Milwaukee's interim manager and will return in 2009 as the hitting coach.
As for Castro, the Brewers' bullpen coach for the past 17 seasons, said it's a "dream come true" to be the team's pitching coach.
Castro, 56, will be serving under his seventh different full-time or interim manager in 2009, his 18th season on the Major League coaching staff and his 35th season in some capacity with the Brewers as a player, scout, or coach. He will replace Mike Maddux, who had an offer from the Brewers to return for a seventh season as pitching coach, but instead took a richer offer from the Texas Rangers.
Castro was the only candidate interviewed for the Brewers' opening.
"I think he's earned the opportunity do this," Brewers general manager Doug Melvin said. "In the end, the familiarity he has with our team and the rest of our league came into play. I didn't necessarily want someone who was going to come in who was going to change our pitchers' mechanics."
"Ken and I talked at length about a number of other people. There weren't really candidates out there that we both really agreed upon. The other thing is that if we would have gone out and hired a Triple-A coach or a roving coach," he continued. "I don't think that would have been fair to Billy and I also don't think they would have had the experience that Billy has."
Castro had already signed a contract to return as bullpen coach. Now he will work with Melvin on a new deal, probably for one season. The Brewers are also bringing back first base coach Ed Sedar.
Macha went outside the organization for third-base coach Brad Fischer, who he coached with in Oakland. The Brewers still need to hire a new bullpen coach to replace Castro.
Castro traveled to Pittsburgh on Wednesday for a lunch meeting with Macha. Two days later, he had the job.
"It's especially nice to get it here in Milwaukee, the organization that signed me," Castro said. "I came through the ranks of the Minor Leagues and got to the big leagues for seven years, then left for three years, came back and never left. Now I'm the pitching coach, so I'm really pleased with that."
Bolstered by the midseason addition of CC Sabathia, the Brewers finished the year ranked second in the National League with a 3.85 staff ERA.
Top starters Sabathia and Ben Sheets are both free agents, and while the Brewers have extended an initial offer to Sabathia, it is very possible that both will depart. That would leave the Brewers with a rotation of Yovani Gallardo, Manny Parra, Dave Bush, Jeff Suppan and Seth McClung, barring other moves by Melvin.