Angels’ coaching staff will have a very Yankees look to it next season
On Monday, the beginning of this year’s GM meetings at the Conrad hotel, the Angels announced they hired Marcus Thames as their new hitting coach, along with assistant hitting coach Phil Plantier and assistant pitching coach in Bill Hezel.
Thames and Plantier replace Jeremy Reed and John Mallee, who were fired after the end of the Angels’ 2022 season. The Angels this last season ranked 24th and 22nd in batting average and on-base-plus-slugging rate, respectively.
The Angels also said that Mike Gallego, Dom Chiti and Paul Sorrento would be reassigned within the organization. Gallego will likely work on developing infielders in the minor leagues, Minasian said. Sorrento has not yet decided what area he would like to work, though he’s told Minasian he would like to remain with the organization.
The rest of the coaching staff from 2022 will carry over to the next season.
Nevin, who signed a one-year deal on the last day of the season to remain manager, worked with Thames when the two were with the New York Yankees. Both were fired by the Yankees following the 2021 season.
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Thames is a former major leaguer who played left field, first base and designated hitter. He spent most of his career with the Detroit Tigers and also played for the Dodgers, Yankees and Texas Rangers. He spent last season as the Miami Marlins hitting coach, joining that team while his former Yankees teammate, Derek Jeter, was still the chief executive of the Marlins.
Thames worked for four years as the Yankees hitting coach and as an assistant hitting coach in New York two seasons before that.
“We did a ton of homework on Marcus. Obviously, Nev’s got history with him. Phil, same thing,” Minasian said. “And in the recommendations and the people he’s worked with and the lives he’s changed, it showed through the work and a lot of people had a lot of really good things to say about him.
“The biggest thing too is he’s a really good human being and I think he fits in the room really well,” Minasian said. “There’s just a respect level there that I think will go a long way as he’s in our room.”
The 2022 Marlins ranked 27th in OPS and batting average. The 2021 Yankees ranked 13th in OPS and 23rd in batting average, but were top five in OPS in 2020, top five in both those categories in 2019 and had the second-best OPS in 2018.
Although having worked with the team nicknamed the “Bronx Bombers,” it’s still relevant to point out that with Thames as hitting coach, the Yankees were first, second, fifth and sixth in total home runs hit from 2018 to 2021.
The Angels in 2021 had the 16th-most strikeouts in the majors and 17th-worst OPS. They were 10th in batting average. This last season they accumulated the most strikeouts (1,539) in the majors. They were tied for 22nd in OPS (.687); 24th in batting average (.233); 25th in runs (623); 25th in walks (449); 22nd in hits (1,265); and 25th in RBIs (600).
The Angels finished 77-85 in 2021 and 73-89 in 2022.
“Obviously we did not perform offensively in ’22. There’s no secrets there,” Minasian said. “We had a lot of injuries and we had a lot of players get at-bats that we weren’t necessarily planning on giving at-bats to in April.
“I think from where we’re at, changing the room was important,” he added. “And I think these guys bring a fresh new look.”
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Plantier — another former player whose career was spent with the Boston Red Sox, San Diego Padres, Houston Astros and St. Louis Cardinals — is also a former Yankees coach, having spent the 2018-19 seasons with their minor league affiliate in Scranton Wilkes-Barre. He spent last season with the Marlins’ minor league affiliate in Jacksonville, Fla.
Hezel was the director of pitching at Driveline Baseball, the popular offseason training facility for players, including Angels two-way star Shohei Ohtani.
“Couldn’t be more excited about joining the @Angels organization! Looking forward to getting to work and honored to be a part of the big league staff,” Hezel tweeted Monday.
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