Mel On Balls

After the inaugural 1998 season, management made a decision that they needed to change their plans to take an aggressive approach to building a winning baseball franchise in Phoenix. During that off-season they began to stock pile players who were proven winners. It was immediately clear that Jerry Colangelo was not just looking for hired guns; he was looking for players with character and a winning tradition. Much has been made about the Randy Johnson signing that year as has the signing of Steve Finley and the trade for Luis Gonzalez. What is somewhat lost in the mix is the addition of Todd Stottlemyre. Some of this may be the fact that Stottlemyre had a series of bad luck befall him and his availability was somewhat limited due to injuries. What a lot of fans don’t understand is the intangibles that Todd brought to the Diamondbacks. His clubhouse attitude and willingness to play through pain were a huge part to the success that Arizona saw in 1999. And while he had a partially torn rotator cuff, Stottlemyre still was able to contribute and was rewarded as the pitcher who won the first play-off game in franchise history. Unfortunately this would be his crowning moment in a Diamondbacks uniform and the injuries would pile up making his stay seem less valuable than it truly was. The Diamondbacks connection with Todd Stottlemyre has had additional benefits that may or may not have occurred otherwise.

For one, Todd’s brother Mel Stottlemyre Jr. became associated with the Diamondbacks and has become an important of the organization. Mel Jr. began as a minor league pitching coach and last October he was awarded with a promotion to become the pitching coordinator for all of the minor league affiliates. Mel Jr. is a hard working individual who is quickly becoming known through baseball as a great teacher for young pitchers. The dedication, hard work, and pitching philosophy that Mel Jr. teaches and Todd displayed during his career came naturally from watching their father Mel Stottlemyre play and then coach at the major league level. Mel Sr. was of course the pitching coach for the New York Yankees during their resurgence and domination in the 1990’s. Mel Sr. retired from active coaching after the 2005 season but spent Spring Training 2006 with the Yankees assisting their pitching staff. This season Mel Sr. was looking for a change where he could continue to teach and mold pitchers. The Diamondbacks connection again was raised with Mel Jr. and Todd suggesting he work in Arizona. Today the Diamondbacks announced that Mel Sr. has been hired as a pitching advisor to assist during Spring Training and potentially through the season. I believe this will have a profound impact on the young pitchers coming up through the system and those who are on the major league roster. A family tradition of great pitching and a tough attitude may just be the missing piece some of these pitchers need. So while Todd may have struggled on the field, his professional attitude and approach to the game coupled with the caring and family values of the franchise have become a partnership that continues to pay dividends for the team long after a player’s contract is forgotten.

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