The Cleveland Indians announced their coaching staff for the 2013 season today and there are a lot of new faces. Starting with the returning coaches;
Sandy Alomar, Jr. will remain with the team as bench coach. He was interviewed for the manager position but beaten out by Terry Francona. He is the only coach returning in his position from 2011 and has been on the Tribe coaching staff since 2010.
Mike Sarbaugh received a promotion and will be the first base coach this year after spending the last three seasons with the Columbus Clippers as their manager and winning two championships. He has been a coach in the Indians farm system since 1995 when he was a hitting coach for Kinston. Before managing the Clippers he managed the Mahoning Valley Scrappers (SS), Lake County Captains (A) and Kinston Indians (A+) and won the Carolina League championship in 2006. After Manny Acta was fired, Sarbaugh took over for Alomar as bench coach on the Major League team. This promotion is a long time coming and should help him on his way even further up the Major League ladder.
As expected close collegue of new manager Terry Francona, Brad Mills will be coming to Cleveland and his role has been announced as third base coach. This is a slight drop off after being manager of the Houston Astros. Before being a manager, Mills was a bench coach from 1997-2000 with the Phillies and manager Francona and then in 2003 (with the Montreal Expos) and from 2004-2007 with the Red Sox with Francona again.
The Indians were looking for something rare in their new pitching coach and they found a Unicorn. A Hyundai Unicorn from the Korean Baseball Organization. New Indians pitching coach Mickey Callaway was a two time all-star during his three year (2005-2007) international career. Since 2010, Callaway has been in the Indians organization as the pitching coach for the Midwest League Champion 2010 Lake County Captains and Kinston Indians. In 2012 Callaway served as the Minor League pitching coordinator for the entire organization, so the jump to the big league club should not be a huge stretch. Callaway has seen most of the Indians staff at some point during his tenure with the Tribe and should be familiar with all the pitchers. This should help him next season as he does his best to get the most out of the staff, especially the starting rotation.
There were also some surprises on Francona's new staff. Kevin Cash recently retired from a nine year baseball career where he was an unsuccessful back up catcher when he was able to make it to the majors. He has served as a scout for the Chicago Cubs since 2012 and will now be the Indians bullpen coach. Since Luis Isaac is still alive I have no clue why he wasn't a shoe-in for the job. Either way it shouldn't really matter who takes this spot as the Indians bullpen is the most dominant part of the team. All Cash will have to do is keep the peace and make sure not to mess up a good thing.
In another shocking decision, Ty Van Burkleo was picked as the teams new hitting coach. Burkleo had been the hitting coach for the Oakland Athletics from 2007-2008 (and every one knows how amazing those teams were offensively), before moving to be the bench coach for the Mariners the next season. From 2010 until 2012 he served as minor league hitting coordinator for the Houston Astros and was chosen as their interim hitting coach after the Astros fired old hitting coach Mike Barnett (as part of the cleaning house along with manager Brad Mills.
Overall this staff looks pretty good as it combines a large amount of experience and allows people to work together who already know they can successfully work as a team. The use of internal options like Alomar, Sarbaugh and Callaway will also help the players have some sense of familiarity with the staff while still improving the overall staff. The additions of Francona and Mills are the most important and will bring years of experience, not just in the game of baseball, but in winning on the Major League level, something individuals from inside the Indians organization can have no firsthand experience with.