MILWAUKEE -- There is much work ahead for new Brewers hitting coach Andy Haines and pitching coach Chris Hook, both of whom were named to their posts Monday. For both men, at least there will be some familiar faces.
Haines managed Christian Yelich in the early years of Yelich's professional career and Hook spent the past 11 seasons as a coach in Milwaukee's Minor League chain, most recently as the system's pitching coordinator. They were named to their jobs alongside new bullpen coach Steve Karsay on Monday, when the Brewers also announced that Jason Lane would return as assistant hitting coach.
With that, the team finalized manager Craig Counsell's coaching staff for 2019.
Haines, 41, officially replaces hitting coach Darnell Coles, who resigned after the season and took the same job with the D-backs. Hook, 50, replaces pitching coach Derek Johnson, who left the Brewers before they could renew his contract, and took the pitching post with the Reds.
Johnson's departure left a significant void, since the Brewers pushed hard to convince him to stay, according to general manager David Stearns. In hiring Hook, they chose a coach who is familiar with many of the young arms expected to play significant roles next season and beyond; he was a Class A and Double-A pitching coach in Milwaukee's system for 10 years from 2008-17, before being elevated to Minor League pitching coordinator last year. Up-and-coming pitchers Corbin Burnes, Adrian Houser, Freddy Peralta, Taylor Williams and Brandon Woodruff all worked under Hook, as did Jimmy Nelson before them.
"I think when you know players and you know how they think, you can move them quicker," said Hook. "That's the way I feel. Even though I don't know all of these pitchers, I know a good bit of them, and I feel like they trust me. If we trust each other, you can do good things with people."
He said he's aligned philosophically with Counsell and Stearns on pitcher usage, which got creative for the Brewers late in September and into the postseason. Many of the Brewers' decisions hinged on their young arms, particularly Woodruff, who was their surprise starter for Game 1 of the National League Division Series against the Rockies before three appearances out of the bullpen in the NL Championship Series against the Dodgers.
"The young guys came up and did a tremendous job. I think they're in a good spot to continue to grow," Hook said. "This is not a 'beginning' thing. They're in a really good, solid position as big leaguers. [Their postseason success] didn't surprise me. Those guys have been showing those attributes for a long time now.
"I think Woody and Burnes, they're of the same ilk. Freddy, obviously. They're all similar in the way they go about their work and the way they go out and perform on the mound. I think that will only get better. But you saw who they are. They have not changed a bit, and I never did feel that they would change once they got to the big league level. It was just going to continue on."
Haines was a catcher for Eastern Illinois University before beginning a career in coaching in his mid-20s. His first pro managerial job was in the independent Northern League in 2007 before an eight-year stint in the Marlins' Minor League system coaching and managing, beginning in '08.
In 2010, Miami's first-round Draft pick reported to Haines at Class A Greensboro. The kid's name was Yelich.
"I've known him a long time," said Haines. "I talked to him and he did nothing but rave about the group and how special it is. You don't make a run like that without it being a connected group. You could sense it across the field. I'm flattered to get this opportunity to be a part of it."
The Cubs hired Haines to be their Minor League hitting instructor before the start of the 2016 season and promoted him to the Major League staff in 2018 to work alongside hitting coach Chili Davis. The Cubs dismissed Davis last month and passed over Haines to hire Anthony Iapoce as a replacement.
The Brewers hired Haines earlier this month, but held the announcement until they had the entire staff completed. Along the way, Yelich won the NL MVP Award.
"And now people will say, 'Good luck now. That's as good as he can be,'" Haines said. "But, believe it or not, I think he can be better. I know he's capable of more. That might sound optimistic, but that's how good a player he is."
Haines added, "I'm excited for what the future holds and what we're capable of doing. After the interview, I felt good about it. I was just flattered they wanted to talk to me. I wasn't expecting it. I did a lot of studying on the players in their system and felt prepared. It seemed like we were like-minded and believed in the same things. I was just impressed with the whole process. I thought I sold who I was, and when they called and offered me the job, it was great. I think it's a good fit. I can't wait to get started."
Karsay, 46, pitched 11 seasons in the Majors for the A's, Indians, Braves, Yankees and Rangers through 2006 before getting into coaching. For the past three years, he served as Cleveland's Triple-A pitching coach.
The Brewers also hired a new head athletic trainer Monday in Scott Barringer, who was the Astros' assistant athletic trainer for the past two years.