The Chicago White Sox hired a new manager in Pedro Grifol to take over for longtime manager Tony La Russa. Grifol will be tasked with building a new coaching staff and he has done some of the heavy lifting already as former Toronto Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo was brought on to be the team's bench coach. Another key role has been filled as Grifol decided to retain former SF Giants assistant pitching coach Ethan Katz as the pitching coach.
Former SF Giants coach to remain on the Chicago White Sox coaching staff
When La Russa was hired by the White Sox after the 2020 season, he tried to put together a staff that mixed old-school baseball with new-age analytics. He carried decades of managing experience but needed someone with a more analytic approach to all facets of the game.
Katz was light on professional coaching experience but he was well-respected in his brief time as a coach. It helps that White Sox starter Lucas Giolito vouched for him when the position became vacant. Giolito pitched for Katz along with future major leaguers Jack Flaherty and Max Fried as part of an absurdly talented rotation for Harvard-Westlake High School in North Hollywood, California.
The former high school pitching coach made brief stops as a coach and coordinator in the Los Angeles Angels and Seattle Mariners organizations. He was hired by the Giants in 2019 to serve as a minor-league pitching coordinator.
The Giants were very much in a transition phase around that time. Farhan Zaidi was hired as the team president of baseball operations, taking over for longtime Giants executives Brian Sabean and Bobby Evans.
Katz was one of the first key additions that Zaidi made. The minor league coordinator was promoted to assistant pitching coach after just one season. In his lone season as an assistant pitching coach, the Giants' pitching staff posted a 4.38 ERA. However, the bullpen was one of the better units in baseball as they recorded a 3.85 ERA.
It is hard to identify exactly what a coach's impact is, but Katz was well-regarded and he was hired away by the White Sox when Tony La Russa took over. La Russa's tenure did not go as planned as he was forced intio retirement due to health concerns.
When a manager departs, the incoming manager typically likes to bring in an entirely new staff. That was not the case with Pedro Grifol as Katz was retained. The White Sox will have a new face in the dugout, but there will be some level of continuity with Katz.