Hall-of-Fame pitcher Greg Maddux and former All-Star outfielder Raul Ibanez are joining the Los Angeles Dodgers as special assistants to the Baseball Operations department, the team announced on Tuesday. Their role, according to Jon Weisman of Dodger Insider, will be “to assist in all aspects of baseball operations, including scouting, player development, and working with the club’s players, both at the Major and minor league levels.”
— Dodger Insider (@DodgerInsider) February 2, 2016
It’s familiar territory for Maddux, who has served similar roles with the Cubs and Rangers since his retirement. Interestingly enough, Maddux’s last appearance in the Major Leagues came as a Dodger in Game 5 of the 2008 NLCS. The fading star pitched two innings in relief before getting lifted for another starter who had been struggling in the middle of the rotation. That pitcher was 20-year-old rookie Clayton Kershaw.
Although Maddux’s best days were well behind him when he donned Dodger blue in 2006 and 2008, he is only one of several pitching greats to return to Chavez Ravine after his retirement. In addition to Maddux, the Dodgers currently employ Sandy Koufax (special advisor to ownership chairman Mark Walter), who is often seen working with pitchers at Spring Training, as well as Fernando Valenzuela and Orel Hershiser (Spanish and English broadcasters on team-owned SportsNet LA, respectively). Don Drysdale, another legendary Dodgers pitcher, also worked as a broadcaster with the team until his death in 1993.
Maddux has often been described as a ‘pitching genius’. He built a reputation during his playing days of being able to confuse hitters without having overpowering stuff. The many talented young hurlers in the organization should be thrilled that they can now call on the four-time Cy Young winner — along with Koufax, Valenzuela, Hershiser, and even Kershaw — for guidance on the mound.
Ibanez last played in 2014 with the Kansas City Royals, serving as a clubhouse leader and mentor to the young team during their surprising World Series run. Current L.A. Times writer Andy McCullough, who at the time was covering the Royals for the Kansas City Star, called him “maybe the best chemistry guy of all time.” He spent the 2015 season, his first in retirement, as a FOX Sports MLB analyst. This marks the second straight offseason the Dodgers have hired a former FOX guy; Gabe Kapler also left the network last year to become director of the Dodgers’ minor league system. His work in that role was met with such high praise from Andrew Friedman and his staff that he was a finalist for the Dodgers’ managerial job that eventually went to Dave Roberts.
Despite the scrutiny Friedman faces from fans for apparently prioritizing additions to the front office over additions to the actual team, he’s now surrounded himself with a number of bright minds to help him determine the best course for the Dodgers in the future. Maddux and Ibanez represent the latest — and, as former players, possibly most important — additions to that think tank.