Who has the best job in the entire Los Angeles Dodgers organization, including the minor league affiliates? Is it Ned Colletti now with purse strings he perhaps could not have hoped for in his wildest dreams? Is it Don Mattingly with a stable of thoroughbreds? How about Logan White directing his staff to uncover baseball nuggets around the planet? Perhaps Rick Honeycutt with a starting staff that includes Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke , Hyun-jin Ryu and Ricky Nolasco, plus a bevy of super arms in the bullpen.
I expect each of them and others would claim to have not only the Dodger organization’s best job but the best job in the world, and it would be difficult to argue with that. Given that I have no skills for any position in the Dodger organization and financial remuneration therefore would not be a consideration, I can dream of the spot I would most love to have within the organization. That position is now filled by Bill Simas, the pitching coach with the Great Lakes Loons.
Some may recall that Bill Simas pitched as a relief pitcher with the Chicago White Sox in the mid to late nineties. During a career ended by an arm injury in 2000, Simas pitched quite well for the Sox having a career ERA of 3.83 and recording 18 saves in 1998. Following surgery for ligament damage Simas missed the entire 2001 season. He worked briefly in the minor league systems of the Tigers, Mariners and Dodgers but never again pitched at the MLB level. With the Las Vegas 51’s in 2003 he went 4-0 with a 1.96 ERA and allowing only 9 walks in 46 IP.
Pitching in Mexico in 2005 Simas had a 4-6 record with 21 saves and a 2.82 ERA. He led the Mexican League with 50 games finished and was third in saves. After his season in the Mexican League he was out of baseball until 2009 when he returned to pitch for the Long Island Ducks in the Atlantic Independent League where he had pitched in 2004. The California native earned Atlantic League Closer of the Year honors with the Ducks in 2009 after leading the league in saves with 27. Following that season he became the Ducks pitching coach in 2010 thus beginning his coaching career. In 2011 he was signed by the Dodgers as the pitching coach for the Ogden Raptors of the Pioneer Rookie League. In 2013 he was promoted to pitching coach for the Class-A Great Lakes Loons.
Why would I want Bill Simas’ job? It’s simply the nature of his pitching staff. Perhaps it’s because of my years of experience working with teenagers. There was never a dull day and always something to learn. I can imagine what his day must be like. The old man among his starters is Brandon Martinez at the ripe old age of 22. The Dodgers two top draft selections in 2013 were immediately assigned to the Loons. Chris Anderson and Tom Windle, a righty-lefty duo, both drafted out of college are still only 21. Jonathan Martinez is 19 as is Zachary Bird – both of them beginning the season as 18 year olds. Julio Urias recently turned 17 is the youngest player in the entire league. Another 19 year old, Miguel Sulbaran, was traded to the Minnesota Twins for Drew Butera.
Bill Simas must be the man for the job, promoted from Ogden and being entrusted with all of those young arms. Everyday must be an adventure, some disappointments but lots of laughs and endless rewards. Simas serves as a coach and mentor to the kids honing their baseball skills and helping them to adjust to the demands of professional baseball and living away from home as youngsters. He has a 13 year old son so he has experience to impart and much to learn that he can apply to his own parenting skills. He admits it is a challenge, one he loves, but a challenge. “I try to treat them like any other player or pitcher, but they’re 16, 19 years old. I have caught myself talking differently or phrasing things differently because I’ve become aware of what I would want someone saying to my 13-year-old son.”
Simas acknowledges he has also learned form the Loon youngsters. “I’ve learned how to talk to or coach my own son a little. He’s starting to play more competitive baseball, so this is the first year where my advice to him has become a little more in-depth than usual.”
Simas’s pitching staff in 2013 had a collective 3.66 ERA, led the league in strikeouts (1124) and hit the fewest batters (42) by any team in the league even though Simas stresses pitching inside, a challenging skill for young pitchers. All of his Loons kids were on an innings limit so he was tasked with protecting their golden arms, a job he apparently has done very well.
Why would I want Bill Simas’s job? This pretty much sums it up: “I do feel like their father at times,” Simas said. “They’ll be goofy and try to mess with me, just like my son does.” What a special responsibility he has and what a special relationship.