When the Yankees “reassigned” Nardi Contreras as the head honcho of minor league pitching, the first reaction would be to write a negative piece about the Yankees’ recent history of developing young pitchers. But as Brien mentioned in his post today, such thoughts are merely speculation and it is hard to pin down how much of any success or failure is due to bad luck such as injuries, etc. But instead of writing such a piece, it seems more fitting on an Election Day to look ahead and not backwards. The Yankees might have already made their best off-season move by hiring Gil Patterson as their Director of Pitching. Forget the past and welcome to the now and the future. Patterson is a wonderful choice.
Again, we can talk about good fortune and the like, but look what the Oakland Athletics did in 2012 and as far as they went thanks to their young pitching. That young pitching has been developed in their own system and who was the head of that system’s pitching? Gil Patterson.
Before that, he was the pitching coach in Toronto between 2002 and 2006. None other than the great Roy Halladay gives a lot of the credit for his career success to Gil Patterson. Here’s a quote from Halladay found on this site:
“Gil Patterson’s encouragement, knowledge, teaching, drills and mental approach have helped make me successful in my major league career.”
The site also lists a similar endorsement from Al Leiter. Leiter is also part of an important story from Gil Patterson’s first coaching opportunity, which came in 1984 with the Yankees. Patterson was hired and assisted Mark Connor in Columbus (Triple-A) for half that season and then spent the other half with the Single-A club which played in Oneonta. As the story goes, Gabe Paul instructed Patterson to pitch an 18 year old Leiter at Oneonta and Patterson refused because Leiter’s arm was sore. It ended up costing Patterson his job. Isn’t that the kind of guy you want to care that much for his young charges?
There is a lot more that can be said about Patterson, who at one time was one of the best pitching prospects in the country. But you would probably get just as much from reading this old piece from Tyler Kepner in the 2006 New York Times. The story said a lot about the guy as a man and as a coach. It may be six years old, but it is very instructive as to who the Yankees have hired here. So go read it.
If you do, you might become as excited as I am about this move the Yankees have made. If all their off-season moves are as good as this one, it’s going to be a great winter.