According to Steve Kornacki of MLive.com, the Tigers have whittled their search to replace the ousted Andy Van Slyke on the 2010 coaching staff down to three.
Mike Rojas, Gene Roof, and Tom Brookens are the apparent finalists for the job which was vacated when Van Slyke was not offered a contract for next season. MLB.com’s Jason Beck had previously named Roof as a top candidate for the position.
Roof has been in the organization for 24 years including spending the 1992-95 seasons as the Tigers first base coach. For the past several seasons he has served as the minor league outfield and baserunning coordinator, a job Van Slyke handled at the big league level.
Brookens has been a manager at three different spots within the Tigers’ minor league system, most recently at Double-A Erie. The former utility man was a key member of the last Tigers’ championship team in 1984 and has been regarded as a possible, if not likely, successor to Jim Leyland as the Tigers’ field boss. I’m not sure how his experience would help him handle baserunning and outfielders, but the Tigers see a bright future for Brookens either way.
Rojas is the son of Cookie Rojas, a long time major league coach. Including the Tigers, Mike has managed minor league clubs for four different organizations. He was the fielding and catching coordinator last season.
Whichever man they choose, Leyland said in phone interview on Tuesday that the team wants to hire from within, but added that they were not close to naming the new coach. My best guess is that Rojas would be the longshot here, with Roof likely to be the frontrunner.
Unless the Tigers move hitting coach Llyod McClendon to the first base job, as he is the only member of the coaching staff with experience as an outfielder, Roof would be the logical choice. Before you get excited about having a new hitting coach, however, read Lynn Henning’s article concerning that topic. The gist: not gonna happen, my friend.
Strictly speaking in terms of sentiment, I would love to see Brookens with the big club, but in terms of expertise, it appears the Roof should be the man to get the job. Brookens’ day will come for the Tigers, but this team, with all the baserunning blunders and shaky outfield defense, needs a coach that can call upon his experience and help the players to improve. That coach should be Gene Roof.