The Arizona Diamondbacks have announced that they’re firing pitching coach (and former Indians player and minor league coach) Charlie Nagy, as one of several changes to manager Kirk Gibson’s coaching staff this offseason. After the D-Backs fell below expectations this season (some expected them to win the NL West) at 81-81, it was likely that someone was going to take the fall for the team’s subpar performance in 2013. The staff’s ERA was 3.92, which ranked tenth out of fifteen National League teams this season. Opposing batters hit .257 off of their staff and with a .731 OPS; both figures placed them thirteenth out of fifteen NL teams. The 2013 D-Backs also surrendered the most home runs of any team in the NL, with 176.
Nagy broke into coaching in the Indians organization, taking a job as the pitching coach of the Columbus Clippers in 2009. He was with the team for the 2009 and 2010 seasons, before taking the major league job with Arizona. He received praise for his work with the young pitchers on the staff, as the team won the Triple-A national championship in 2010 (and again in 2011, after Nagy departed for Arizona).
In his other seasons with Arizona, the 2012 D-Backs staff had a 3.93 ERA (9th out of 16 NL teams) while opposing hitters batted .261 with a .732 OPS (13th out of 16 and 12th out of 16th, respectively) as they surrendered 155 home runs (8th most out of 16). In 2011, Arizona pitchers had a 3.80 ERA (9th out of 16) while batters hit .257 with a .725 OPS (both figures ranking 10 of 16) as they surrendered 159 home runs (5th most of 16). As a comparison, in the season before Nagy’s arrival, the D-Backs staff had an ERA of 4.81 (2nd worst in the NL), while batters hit .271 with a .788 OPS (both ranking 2nd worst in the NL) as the staff gave up the most home runs in the NL with 210. So even though the staff saw considerable improvement under Nagy’s first season with the team, the numbers remained pretty steady/stagnant throughout his tenure. That may not be due to the coaching of Nagy though, and more to do with the talent on the pitching staff.
Obviously this is a situation where emotion (I like Nagy) may be ruling over reasoned judgment, but I’d like to see the Indians welcome him back in some capacity. I love the job Mickey Callaway has done with the staff this season and do not want to see him leave his post, but perhaps Nagy could go back to working with young pitchers in the minors. However, he may be hesitant to take a step back after working in the majors for three seasons. With several teams looking for managers (and likely other coaching vacancies around the league) it’s entirely plausible that Nagy will land with another team. It’s tough to say whether or not a different pitching coach could make a notable difference with Arizona’s staff, but in disappointing seasons it’s always the pitching and/or hitting coaches that seem to be the first on the chopping block.