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Leo Mazzone moving, and the Rangers fallout

A story that seems to have slipped under the radar with all the playoff buzz is that Leo Mazzone has been given permission to talk to the Yankees about their pitching coach job.

Pretty big are talking about a guy considered by some to be the greatest pitching coach ever. A guy who has done a remarkable job year-in and year-out in getting quality performances from journeyman pitchers, particularly out of the pen. A guy who resurrected the careers of pitchers as disparate as Jaret Wright, Chris Hammond, and John Burkett.

But still, it couldn't have an impact on the Rangers, right?


In a sign the Braves take Mazzone's interest in the Yankees seriously -- despite his long tenure with the Atlanta organization -- they have asked permission to interview Texas bullpen coach Mark Connor as a replacement. Connor has been a pitching coach with the Yankees, Arizona Diamondbacks and Toronto Blue Jays.

This is a problem. Connors has gotten a lot of credit for his work with the Rangers staff -- the pen, in particular -- and losing him would be a significant blow.

And what makes this situation more complicated is the Orel Hershiser situation. Hershiser, of course, has, by most accounts, done a great job as the Rangers' pitching coach. But he was also on the A's list of possible managerial candidates, and is going to be interviewed by the Dodgers for their vacant manager's job. Hershiser is ambitious, and while he's apparently willing to come back and resume his role as pitching coach for the Rangers in 2006, despite being passed over for the G.M. job here in Texas, I don't see him being here much longer. If he does return in 2006, I'd be willing to be it is his last season as the pitching coach in Texas.

And if Hershiser gets hired elsewhere, who is the organization's first choice to take over as pitching coach in Texas? Mark Connors, of course.

Connors going to Atlanta, followed by Hershiser getting hired as the manager elsewhere, would be a big blow to the Rangers this offseason, as it means filling two pretty significant spots on the coaching staff. But even if Hershiser stays around for another year, should Connors take the Braves' job, the Rangers are likely to be searching for a new pitching coach at this point next season.

So, you have to wonder...if Hershiser is a short-timer, would the Rangers be better served by going ahead and promoting Connors to pitching coach now, with, say, John Wetteland taking over as the bullpen coach? Would the stability and continuity you get, the certainty, outweigh the benefits of Hershiser maybe being here another year, before he heads out to greener pastures?

Something to think about...