Angels fire pitching coach Butcher, hitting coach Baylor
Pitching coach Mike Butcher and hitting coach Don Baylor will not return to the Los Angeles Angels, who made major changes to manager Mike Scioscia’s coaching staff on Tuesday night.
New general manager Billy Eppler announced in a late-night statement that the team would not renew the coaches’ contracts. Scioscia, the longest-tenured manager in baseball, is expected to return for his 17th season.
"These are good baseball men and individuals who have a deep passion and focus towards their craft," Eppler said. "I am both respectful and appreciative of the many contributions Don and Mike have made to this organization during their careers here."
Eight days after he was hired, Eppler began putting his imprint on the Angels, who missed the playoffs and declined in several areas last season after leading the majors with 98 victories in 2014.
In the team’s statement, Butcher said he had talked at length with team president John Carpino and Eppler since the general manager’s hiring. The Angels had the AL’s sixth-best team ERA at 3.94 last season, with a largely solid rotation and bullpen.
"We mutually agreed this might be a good time for change," Butcher said. "Billy is an impressive individual with solid concepts for the future, and I wish him well."
Butcher joined the Angels as pitching coach in 2006. He replaced Bud Black, Scioscia’s pitching coach during the Angels’ 2002 World Series championship season. Black managed the San Diego Padres from 2007 until he was fired four months ago.
Baylor, who won the AL MVP award with the Angels in 1979, had been Scioscia’s hitting coach since 2014. Twice a big league manager, he has been coaching in the majors for 23 seasons. He even returned to the team midway through the 2014 season after breaking his leg while catching the ceremonial first pitch from Vladimir Guerrero on opening day.
But the Angels finished last in the AL with a .246 batting average and 12th with 661 runs scored this season. They were 20th in the majors in runs scored after leading the majors in 2014.
"Don’s career with the Angels is one that has embodied commitment, dedication and leadership," Eppler said. "From his MVP season in 1979, subsequent induction into the Angels Hall of Fame, and eventual return as hitting coach, Don will always remain synonymous with Angels baseball."
The Angels went 85-77 and missed the postseason by one game, doomed by an August swoon that left them playing catch-up throughout an excellent September.