It hasn't been officially announced, but news outlets (including the Twins MLB beat reporter, Rhett Bollinger) are reporting that the Twins have hired former-Twins closer Eddie Guardado as their new Bullpen Coach. Eddie has served as a special instructor during Twins spring training over the past few years, but other than that, he doesn't have any official coaching experience.
You know what? Screw MLB coaching experience. Eddie is going to be great.
Eddie has coached during Spring Training, mentored many pitchers while in the big leagues, and even mentored kids not even in the big leagues yet (and no, I'm not just talking little league, but he has done that too in case you were wondering).
"There isn't anybody who did more with a career with stuff that really didn't equate to the position he held. I want to put that correctly," Terry Ryan told the Pioneer Press a couple years ago when Eddie was first invited to be a special instructor during spring training. "For a closer, to have the success he had, with the type of stuff that he presented, was impressive. So we think he's going to be a good influence on our pitchers."
In fact, Guardado has already influenced Twins pitchers, especially top prospect Alex Meyer. Eddie is not even known for coaching a lot about mechanics, but he worked with Meyer a lot last spring. Last February, Jim Souhan reported:
Eddie Guardado pulled me aside and mimicked Meyer's motion. He said when Meyer leads toward home plate with a firm left (non-throwing) arm, his mechanics fall into place and he pitches with a downward angle that makes his fastball sizzle and his breaking pitches dive. When he gets lazy with his front arm, he tends to sling the ball three-quarters, losing velocity and downward movement.
Guardado, who is not always easy to please, says he 'loves' Meyer, meaning Meyer can listen and implement advice.
The list of major league pitchers who have cited Guardado as a key veteran mentor is impressive: Felix Hernandez, J.J. Putz, and Derek Holland, to name a few. Hernandez also said Guardado was the funniest teammate he's ever had, and J.J. Putz called him "probably the biggest clown I've ever met in my life." Guardado's penchant for mentoring other players was so recognizable a Seattle newspaper referred positively to a new veteran as "a Guardado-like mentor."
Guardado made quite the impression on former Twins pitcher Tyler Robertson as well. From 2011:
"He keeps it so simple, and he preaches that," said Tyler Robertson, 10-3 with a 3.63 ERA for Class AA New Britain last season. Robertson has known Guardado for a long time - his father, Jay, scouted Guardado when Guardado was a pitcher at Delta College in his native California - and has had many occasions to pick his brain.
"I talked to him with the whole group, but I've got to spend a whole lot of one-on-one time with him," said Robertson, 24. "He's great to talk to. When you talk to him about pitching, it's never about mechanics, it's all the mind-set. He really helps with that side of the game. He talks about attacking hitters, going at them, how to pitch when you don't have your good stuff.
"He's just real good on that side of it, and he's just so fun to have around, because he knows so much, and he's been through so much stuff. He's got 17 years, so he's seen it all. People light up when they see him."
Guardado went out of his way last year to help a new, young, high school prospect named Gabriel Gonzales. Guardado gave Gonzales a place to stay during the "Area Code Games" tournament, and offered him advice along the way. "Stay with your game," Gonzalez said when asked what Guardado taught him. "If something is working, don't change it."
Some may complain that Guardado is just another member of the Twins' "old boys club" or that he doesn't have enough experience. That's dumb. His knowledge will be a great addition to the team, and his exuberance will be an even more welcome addition.
Besides, he's the bullpen coach. His most important duty is to just pick up a phone.
As Twinkie Town member MNWildCat put it:
I bet Eddie will let it go to the last ring, though.