The Bernie may have been the dance of choice in Oakland this season, but on Thursday the Athletics were doing the shuffle. More specifically, the Minor League coaching staff shuffle.
With the departure of the esteemed Minor League roving pitching instructor Gil Patterson, and the promotion of former Sacramento manager Darren Bush to the Athletics staff, changes were in order down on the farm. The loss of Patterson to the Yankees organization, is especially glaring due to his impressive body of work developing some of Oakland’s finest young pitchers since taking over the position before the 2008 season. Credited largely for the transition of Andrew Bailey to the bullpen, and the development of Bailey’s bread and butter pitch, the cut fastball. He may be a significant loss to the organization.
Replacing Patterson, will be former River Cats pitching coach and long-time Minor League instructor Scott Emerson. Having just completed his tenth year in the Athletics organization, Emerson had the duty of nurturing a Sacramento staff that featured such luminaries as A.J Griffin, Dan Straily, and Sean Doolittle at different intervals in 2012.
With Darren Bush being rewarded for his excellent work in Sacramento, Rick Rodriguez will be the odd-man out of the Athletics coaching staff returning to his prior position as the River Cats pitching coach in ’13. Rodriguez will team up with newly promoted manager Steve Scarsone who moves up a level, after skippering Midland last season. Scarsone, of course may be a familiar name in the Bay Area due to his time spent as a San Francisco Giant backing up Robby Thompson in the mid-90’s. Replacing Scarsone in Midland as manager will be former minor league catcher Aaron Nieckula who also moves up after managing in Single-A last season. Whew…deep breath. Is your head spinning yet?
With all the coming and goings, switching and swapping let us not forget that the A’s will welcome a new addition to the farm next season. The Single-A Beloit Snappers are now the brand new affiliate of your Oakland Athletics, and their new manager is both a fresh and familiar face. Former Oakland Athletics outfielder and 1998 runner-up to Brady Anderson for best sideburns in baseball…Ryan Christenson will be rejoining the A’s and molding the next generation of Athletics. The former Pepperdine walk-on, did very little of significance on the field as his .222/.303/.329 lifetime line will attest to, yet I remember him fondly just the same. His constant hustle and flashy defense stood out, and he forever endeared himself to me with an offensive showcase leading the A’s to a sweep of the Angels right before the 1998 All-Star break. Settling into a reserve role, he even contributed an RBI single off of Dwight Gooden in Game 4 of the 2000 ALDS which would stand to be his last hit in an Oakland uniform. Joining him in Wisconsin will be former A’s pitcher John “Way Back” Wasdin, whom I don’t share any positive memories of.