One of the most important things that is seperating the Rays from competing right now is the pitching staff that we put together. There is not a shadow of a doubt that we have talented pitchers on our staff, but it's been obvious that you can't win on talent alone. One of the key positions of Joe Maddon's staff is Pitching Coach and he selected a guy that he knows like pretty well(almost like a younger brother). That pitching coach would be former Angels reliever Mike Butcher.
Mike Butcher was a big league reliever for 3 years, playing for the California Angels(1992-1995) and amassing a career 11-4 record with a 4.47 ERA(with an ERA+ of 102). He was a reliever when Maddon was brought in as an assistant coach for the California Angels. In 2000, Mike began coaching and the friendship between Mike and Joe grew from there.
Mike's job as Rays Pitching Coach is to turn the Rays very young and talented group of starting pitchers into dominant pitchers that can consistantly get hitters out. If Butcher can instill this philosphy into the Rays staff, the sky is the limit for the Rays rotation.
The workload for this 1st year Pitching Coach is a heavy one. When he's not figuring out how to get the most of his young starters, he's also gotta figure out the Rays bullpen situation. With last weekend's trade of 2 former Rays closers Lance Carter and Danys Baez, the Rays do not currently have an experienced closer in the bullpen. Chad Orvella, Japanese Rookie Reliever Shinji Mori and newly acquired relievers Dan Miceli and Chad Harville all have some closing experience, however not enough on a consistent basis.
Let's hope the best for "The Butcher" in trying to turn these "prime slabs of meat" into nice a nice assortment of "cutlets, porterhouses and filet mignons".