Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Mazzone Could Replace Guidry

Leo Mazzone is the Mick Jagger of pitching coaches. Spit out the word "Mazzone," and the image of a figgety mustached Atlanta Braves uniform sitting in a dugout quickly comes to mind. Then names like Maddux, Glavine, Smoltz and Avery inevitably follow.

However, the real accomplishments involve names like Jaret Wright or Jorge Sosa, who had career years under Mazzone but returned to mediocrity after moving on to another team. Such pitching acumen would undoubtedly become a valuable resource for the growing stable of young, talented pitchers in the Yankees system.

Unfortunately for Ron Guidry, the current Yankees pitching coach, Mazzone reacted to his firing from the Baltimore Orioles by expressing an interest to join a winning organization's coaching staff. He explained that he still holds a burning competitive desire and revealed interest in the team he followed as a boy.
Mazzone, who turns 59 on Tuesday, will begin looking for a new job, said Brad Steele, Mazzone's business manager, who answered Mazzone's cell phone yesterday.

"His mind-set is that he wants another shot, and he wants to be part of an organization that is going to be committed to winning," Steele said. "He still has the fire in his belly." Unless Mazzone signs with another organization, the Orioles will have to pay his remaining salary - approximately $500,000.

One possibility is for him to stay in the American League East and join the New York Yankees, who would have an opening if Joe Torre's staff is fired. Mazzone rooted for the Yankees as a kid and considered going to New York in 2005 before signing with the Orioles.

"Yes, I think that is a team we are interested in," Steele said. "He grew up being a Yankees fan, and it is the type of organization he would be happy to be a part of."
Not that Gator didn't do the job, but Leo would be an enticing possibility for Yankees management. He would also serve as a safety valve should the organizational heads decide for a change and acquire Joe Girardi, who is already labeled as an abuser of starting pitchers.

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