Brewers tab Randolph as bench coach
Former Mets skipper was finalist for managerial opening
MILWAUKEE -- The Brewers were looking for experience -- preferably National League experience -- in their search for a bench coach. They found it in one of their managerial candidates.
Former Mets manager Willie Randolph, one of three finalists for the managerial vacancy eventually filled by Ken Macha on Oct. 30, was named Macha's bench coach on Saturday. The news of Randolph's hiring came a day after Bill Castro was elevated to pitching coach, and it left the bullpen coach as Milwaukee's only vacancy.
Randolph said he spoke with Macha, a former teammate in the Pirates' Minor League chain, the morning after the Brewers made their managerial choice to offer congratulations. Four hours later, Macha called with the bench-coach offer.
"It surprised me, too," Randolph said. "He had what you call a brainstorm, I guess."
Randolph still has a desire to manage, and Brewers general manager Doug Melvin told Randolph he will be free to interview for openings as they become available. Randolph has already been mentioned as a possibility in Seattle, where the Mariners recently hired former Brewers scouting director Jack Zduriencik as GM.
Because Melvin had previously interviewed Randolph in 2002 for the Brewers' managerial job, he asked Zduriencik to conduct the interview last month and Randolph apparently did very well. But one baseball source with knowledge of Zduriencik's thinking said the Mariners were likely to hire someone with more recent experience in the American League.
Randolph has been in the National League since taking over the Mets job in 2005. He made two things clear on Saturday: He is excited about the new challenge in Milwaukee, but he still wants to return to managing.
"I didn't really want to wait around," Randolph said. "If I get a job that will put me in the manager's seat any time in my tenure, I could do that. It was nice that Doug left that as an option."
Randolph, 54, played for the Brewers in 1991, ranking second in the American League that season with a .424 on-base percentage, and twice has interviewed to manage the team. He was among five candidates for the job that went to Ned Yost in October 2002, then interviewed again this year, along with Macha and former D-backs skipper Bob Brenly.
Randolph was a six-time All-Star during an 18-year Major League playing career and was a Yankees base and bench coach for 11 seasons before he managed the Mets for parts of four seasons beginning in 2005. New York was the winningest team in the NL during that span, but Randolph was dismissed in June 2008 with his team off to a disappointing 34-35 start.
Randolph also was reportedly considered for a coaching position with the Washington Nationals this offseason, but he chose to keep his managerial options open. He replaces as Brewers bench coach Ted Simmons, who was reassigned when then-manager Ned Yost was dismissed by the Brewers on Sept. 15 and replaced by interim skipper Dale Sveum.
"I was impressed with him when he interviewed with us," Melvin said of Randolph. "I remember him talking about his belief that a player has a lot of ways to help his team other than getting a hit, whether that is working a walk, playing defense, being smart on the bases. That made an impression on me."
Randolph is expected to work closely with Brewers second baseman Rickie Weeks, who has been somewhat slow to reach the lofty expectations set for him when the Brewers used the second overall pick in the 2003 Draft on the Southern University product. Weeks was charged with 15 errors in 2008, most among NL second baseman.
"I love young talent," said Randolph, who will work to "soften" Weeks' hands. "I know the Milwaukee team has a lot of young talent."
The Brewers' staff is now nearly set and will be led by Macha and Randolph. Sveum will be back in 2009 as hitting coach, joining Castro and first-base coach Ed Sedar as returning members of the staff. Brad Fischer was brought in to be Macha's third-base coach.
Melvin offered few clues about a timetable for hiring a new bullpen coach, but said Macha had conversations with two internal candidates: Triple-A pitching coach Stan Kyles and Minor League roving pitching instructor Jim Rooney.
Melvin would not characterize those conversations as formal interviews, and left open the possibility that the team will choose another outside candidate for that post, hoping for a fresh look at a Brewers team that won 90 games and the NL Wild Card in 2008.
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.