It was believed the hitting coaches would be the only positions that would turn over on the Brewers coaching staff for 2022, but that apparently is not the case.
According to Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, Brewers bullpen coach Steve Karsay is stepping down from his role due to “family considerations”.
Karsay has been the Brewers bullpen coach since the 2019 season. By all reports he was doing an excellent job and worked well with pitching coach Chris Hook. The pitching staff has flourished under Hook’s and Karsay’s leadership in the last few years and the bullpen has always been excellent the last three years.
2021 was Karsay’s toughest task yet as the Crew was short on reliable bullpen arms for most of the season. Still, he managed and the group performed admirably down the stretch.
However, it’s hard to blame Karsay for his desire to spend more time with family as the long grind of a baseball season can wear on a person. The Brewers will need to replace him, but who are the top candidates?
Here are the top Brewers bullpen coach candidates to replace Steve Karsay, who’s stepping down.
Brewers bullpen coach candidate #1: Jim Henderson
Former Brewers closer Jim Henderson retired a few years ago and took a role in the Brewers farm system as a pitching coach starting in 2018. He’s worked his way through the ranks, being a pitching coach in rookie ball to his most recent post as the pitching coach for the Triple-A Nashville Sounds.
Henderson has a great relationship with the Brewers staff and his experience as a player in the organization is invaluable. Haudricourt listed Henderson as a leading candidate for the job.
It would make a lot of sense to promote Henderson given the reasons Haudricourt mentioned and the fact that he’s already in the organization and knows the team’s philosophy. Poaching a coach from a different organization at this stage in the offseason would be a very difficult task.
Brewers bullpen coach candidate #2: Hiram Burgos
Another former big league Brewer that’s in the organization as a pitching coach is Hiram Burgos. Burgos was once one of the Crew’s bigger prospects, but he only made six starts for the Brewers in 2013, and that was his entire big league career.
Burgos was the pitching coach for the High-A Wisconsin Timber Rattlers in 2021 and he’s another internal candidate to the fill the job vacated by Karsay.
Burgos has been a coach in the Brewers system since 2018 as well, but his experience has primarily been in the lower levels.
Of these two candidates, Henderson seems the most likely to step into the bullpen coach role since he has more experience coaching at the higher levels of the minors. Still, there could be other internal candidates, such as Walker McKinven, the Brewers associate pitching and strategy coach. There’s a chance they could bring in an external candidate, but they would likely have to be already on the open market and not under contract with another team.
Haudricourt also mentioned that Timber Rattlers manager Matt Erickson is being considered for a spot on the coaching staff, but as a former infielder, Erickson doesn’t fit the bill as a potential bullpen coach. The Brewers have stated they want to hire an assistant hitting coach as well and have not announced a hire for that position yet. That could be a way to get Erickson on staff if they so desire.
Whatever happens, it seems there’s still going to be some changes made to the coaching staff in the near future.