The Mariners have filled one of their coaching vacancies, hiring former Cubs minor league pitching coordinator Jim Brower as assistant coach. The hire disrupts the previous coaching balance, as in the past Seattle’s assistant coach position has been occupied by a hitting coach. Brower, 44, is a former pitcher.
“We wanted to balance out the coach-to-player relationship a little bit,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said in a phone interview, “so bringing in an extra pitching guy was our focus going through the interview process with a bunch of different guys. I think Jim is a really nice fit for us.”
Since finishing a 17-year playing career, which included nine years in the MLB and stops in Japan, Venezuela, Italy and the independent Atlantic League, Brower was a minor league pitching coach in the Royals organization before spending the past two seasons as the Cubs’ minor league pitching coordinator. Experience gained at all stops will come into play in his duties with the Mariners.
“What we were looking for was someone who could assist and help out in our game planning as far as how we are going to attack the opposition, someone who is going to be in tune analytically when you start talking about TrackMan, PITCHf/x and some of the other tools our analytical groups use upstairs,” said Servais, who was in town recently to interview candidates. “He is pretty well versed in that stuff in what he has done with the Cubs as a coordinator the last couple of years. He’s got a pretty good eye for mechanics, but having a good feel for the analytical side is going to be key for us as well.”
With the seemingly never-ending wealth of information that could be beneficial to the players available – not to mention the ratio of pitcher to pitching coach last year being 40:1 in the majors – it makes sense that help would be added on the pitching side. Brower, who will be in uniform on the bench during games, will not be limited to assisting with game prep and analytics, however, as Servais values what new eyes and experience can bring to a staff.
“When you are putting together a team or a coaching staff, you don’t want everybody thinking the same or having the same background, so I have always tried to be as diverse as possible and have guys that bring different things to the table so if I have got deficiencies in an area hopefully one of my coaches will pick me up in that area,” Servais explained. “The same thing as we look to still find a bullpen coach. The way I look at it is we have three pitching minds and all those guys will be involved in all aspects whether it’s mechanical, game planning, different things. One guy may be stronger in one area than another, but they work together. That’s what we are shooting for.”
In addition to spending time in Seattle putting his coaching staff together, Servais has made trips to Arizona to watch the Arizona Fall League. He has kept in contact with a number of Mariners players this offseason and indicated that the postseason was tough to watch for many.
“Guys are disappointed by the season, how things played out, so they are very anxious to get into their workouts and their programs getting ready for next year.”
Updated Mariners 2018 coaching staff
• Bench coach: Manny Acta (first year as bench coach, third on staff)
• Hitting coach: Edgar Martinez (fourth year as hitting coach)
• Pitching coach: Mel Stottlemyre (third year as pitching coach)
• Third base coach: Scott Brosius (first year at third base, second on staff)
• First base coach: Chris Prieto (first year as first base coach, fifth on staff)
• Bullpen coach: TBA
• Assistant coach: Jim Brower (first year as assistant coach)
In addition, 2017 interim bullpen coach Nasusel Cabrera will remain with the big league staff in a to-be-determined position.