LOS ANGELES — When the Dodgers announced their 2023 major league coaching staff on Wednesday, what stood out the most was Danny Lehmann getting promoted to bench coach and Bob Geren — the bench coach for the last seven seasons — stepping into the role of major league field coordinator.
But what exactly does a major league field coordinator do?
For starters, manager Dave Roberts sees Geren’s new title as an expansion of his previous duties as bench coach.
In total, nine of last year’s ten coaches on Roberts’ staff are back, with hitting coach Brant Brown leaving for a similar role with the Marlins. Aaron Bates got a promotion from assistant hitting coach to hitting coach, a title also held by Robert Van Scoyoc. Both Geren and Lehmann will pick up some of the slack there as an extra coach for the hitters. But it’s worth noting that Bates in his 2022 role also was minor league hitting coordinator, and spent part of his season at affiliate teams, so the Dodgers aren’t exactly going from three hitting coaches to two.
Geren, a former major league catcher, will also work with the Dodgers catchers, including preventing opposing runners. The team also gave Geren homework in a sense, playing to one of his great strengths as a rulebook expert.
“He’s been asked to dig into a lot of the new rules,” Roberts said. “He knows that rule book inside and out, which will also help the pitching coaches, the hitting guys, and the baserunning side of things.”
Among the new MLB rules implemented this season are restrictions on infield shifts, a pitch timer, limits on mound disengagements, and larger bases. If there’s something to potentially exploit into an advantage, there’s a good chance Geren will find it.
Both Geren and Lehmann will manage spring training, Roberts said, though it’s important to note that doesn’t necessarily mean managing games (except in the case of split-squad days, of which the Dodgers have two on the Cactus League schedule). It’s more keeping things in order on the back fields for workouts before the actual games.
In other words, major league field coordinator can mean whatever you want it to mean. Geren will have plenty on his plate, even if his title is different.
“He was certainly pretty much an extension of me anyway as bench coach,” Roberts said. “He’ll just continue to be more an extension of me.”
The title of major league field coordinator is also not new within the sport, with now 30 percent of MLB teams employing at least one such coach. The Marlins (old friend Rod Barajas), Angels (Benji Gil), Orioles (Tim Cossin), Red Sox (Andy Fox), Royals (Vance WIlson), Blue Jays (Gil Kim) and White Sox (Mike Tosar) also have major league field coordinators. The Rays have both a field coordinator (Tomas Francisco) and an assistant field coordinator (Blake Butera).
There are also offensive and/or pitching strategy coaches (Orioles, Mariners, Blue Jays, Royals), offensive coordinators (Padres, Rangers), quality assurance coordinators and/or quality control coaches (Yankees, Astros, Giants, Mariners, Marlins, Nationals, A’s), and even an associate manager (old friend Will Venable with the Rangers).
Jason Esposito is the Guardians’ run production coordinator, which sounds cool as hell.
“In the industry of baseball, the changing and transferring of job titles has reached new levels,” Roberts said.
Lehmann’s promotion from game planning and communications coach to bench coach will have him involved in several new things.
A lot of his previous duties involved run prevention, which will continue but just in a smaller capacity. Roberts said assistant pitching coach Connor McGuiness and bullpen coach Josh Bard will pick up some of the slack there.
In addition to working with the hitting coaches along with Geren, Lehmann will also coordinate with vice president of player performance Brandon McDaniel on workload management. Lehmann will also assist Roberts both in-game (finding favorable matchups both on the pitching and hitting side) and on day-to-day things as they come up.
“He’s going to be a part of more meetings with me and our front office, to get more of a peek behind the curtain, which he didn’t really do before,” Roberts said.
Now you have an at least some idea of what field coordinators and bench coaches do, but this age of expanding coaching staffs (and titles) is about a half-decade behind the trend of front offices in the 2010s adding multiple general manager types in tiered roles.
The questions back then were as simple as if another team calls to discuss a trade, which GM might answer the phone (we’ve really come a long way since these days, thank God). Now, for the coaches in uniform, the new hierarchy question is if a manager gets ejected, will the bench coach or field coordinator assume the helm?
“Don’t ask me if I get tossed, who will go out there,” Roberts said, laughing. “I don’t have that answer yet.”