The Oakland A’s have hired Matt Williams to be their new 3rd base coach, the team announced Friday. He will replace Chip Hale, who was slotted to take that role before leaving to become the Nationals bench coach.
Williams has spent the last several years coaching for two different teams: Arizona and Washington. He spent 2010-13 with the D’Backs, initially as 1B coach but later as 3B coach, then left to be the Nationals manager from 2014-15. After a quick boot from that job, he returned to Arizona for another year at 3B before making the lateral move to Oakland.
The highlight of that resume is Williams’ managerial experience, which brought mixed results. His debut 2014 season resulted in 96 wins, a division title, and a Manager Of The Year award. However, he followed that up with a disappointing 83-win campaign and was dismissed. Our Nats blog, Federal Baseball, was not a fan of his work, both as an in-game tactician and clubhouse leader. (Sample headline: “Matt Williams is out of excuses”) One specific complaint was his over-reliance on reliever Blake Treinen, who now happens to be on the A’s.
That said, Williams won’t be skippering the A’s, so perhaps more relevant is his history coaching at the hot corner. Here’s a comment thread from AZ Snake Pit, our D’Backs blog, referring to him as “The Windmill” due to his aggressiveness in sending runners. That said, they also mention that he’s similar to Chip Hale in that regard, for what that’s worth.
Building on that last sentence, Williams and Hale seem to be following each other around the league. Hale had coached in Arizona until 2009 but left when Williams arrived. A year after Williams left the D’Backs to manage Washington, Hale returned and took Arizona’s managerial job. Williams finally worked under Hale for most of 2016 before Hale was let go and returned to Oakland. Now Hale is gone to Washington, where Williams recently left, and Williams has Hale’s old job in Oakland. Aaaand breathe.
|2010||NYM 3B||ARZ 1B|
|2011||NYM 3B||ARZ 3B|
|2012||OAK Bench||ARZ 3B|
|2013||OAK Bench||ARZ 3B|
|2014||OAK Bench||WAS Manager|
|2015||ARZ Manager||WAS Manager|
|2016||ARZ Manager||ARZ 3B|
|2018||WAS Bench||OAK 3B|
As a player, Williams spent a decade starring at 3B for the Giants, then netted them an up-and-coming Jeff Kent in a trade with Cleveland. After one year with the Indians, he joined the expansion D’Backs for their inaugural season in 1998 and was their starting 3B for their first and only World Series title in 2001. After his retirement, he admitted to PED use (specifically HGH).
The A’s 2018 coaching staff now looks like this:
Manager: Bob Melvin
Bench: Ryan Christenson
1st base: Mike Aldrete
3rd base: Matt Williams
Pitching: Scott Emerson
Bullpen: vacant for now
Hitting: Darren Bush
Asst Hitting: Marcus Jensen
Quality Control?: Mark Kotsay
Oakland still needs a bullpen coach, after losing Garvin Alston to Minnesota (now Twins pitching coach).
Hot takes: I don’t have a lot of insight in how to judge coaches, but honestly I’m not stoked on this hiring. First off he’s a longtime high-profile Giant, which, gross. Second, fans of his previous teams seem generally disappointed with his work in most areas.
All that said, Williams did win four Gold Gloves at the hot corner, and the 3B coach often doubles as the infield coach (as did Wash, Gallego, Hale, etc.). If this means he’s going to work with Matt Chapman, then that could be a plus and a task within his true wheelhouse of expertise. And above that, I generally trust Bob Melvin when it comes to filling out his staff. Melvin coached Williams when the latter played for Arizona in 2001-02, and the two were teammates in San Francisco in the late-80s, so I’ll assume Bob knows what he’s doing here.
From the fan perspective, it’s tough to know much about the coaches except for their names and backstories. Adding a former All-Star player is fun in and of itself, so there’s that.
Welcome, Matt! Make sure to use your last initial when putting your name in your gear because Matt has become the new Brandon around here.