06/16/07 3:59 PM ET
Notes: Mueller is new breed of coach
Dodgers new hitting coach retired just seven months ago
By Ken Gurnick / MLB.com
Bill Mueller is a good test case.
He's been fast-tracked onto a Major League staff, handed Eddie Murray's job as Dodgers interim hitting coach seven months after retiring, with no coaching experience at any level.
Yet, as relatively easy as it's been for Mueller to get the job, he's not sure he wants it and he admits the financial security of nearly $25 million in career salary is a big reason why.
"Oh yeah, that's part of the equation and I'd be dishonest to say it isn't," said Mueller, who can afford to say he wants to spend time watching his kids grow up because, as lucrative as a coach's income (roughly $100,000-$300,000) might sound to the average worker, Mueller and many from his generation of players can easily live without it and can definitely live without the grind of a full baseball season that comes with it.
So the pool of accomplished Major League players that in the past would be natural candidates for second careers as coaches and managers is likely to shrink in coming years because of economics.
"It has changed over the last 30 to 40 years, because so many players that in your heart of hearts would be naturals as a Major League manager or coach, are financially independent," said general manager Ned Colletti.
"We have to hope there will be enough players with a passion for the game that they'll want to remain in it, in spite of their independence. And in some way, maybe there will be a reverse benefit. Because they have the security, it might make it easier for them to take this job rather than an even higher paying one."
Although, Colletti said that's only a hope. He already has seen a more likely scenario with Mueller, who was forced to retire as a player because of a knee injury. When Colletti approached him last year about joining the front office, the caveat for Mueller was that it had to be part-time, so he could also spend large blocks of time at home with his family. It's a demand someone without financial independence wouldn't likely make and almost surely wouldn't receive.
Colletti said he also suspects, as in Mueller's case, the only way to keep accomplished players in the game is to allow them to forgo Minor League internship and bring them straight to the Major Leagues.
Part-time players: For Saturday's day game following a night game, manager Grady Little had second baseman Jeff Kent and first baseman Nomar Garciaparra on the bench, replaced by Tony Abreu and James Loney.
In the last six games, Kent and Garciaparra have started three each. Meanwhile, 39-year-old Luis Gonzalez has started each of the last 11 games, so it's not about age. An obvious difference among the three is bat life. Gonzalez's slugging percentage in June is .545, compared to .333 for Kent and .227 for Garciaparra.
Russell and Roseboro: Russell Martin's next stolen base will be his 12th, tying him with the late John Roseboro for the most in a season by a Dodgers catcher, set in 1962.
What kind of a baserunner was Roseboro?
"He was fast," said his teammate and Dodgers legendary base stealer Maury Wills. "He could steal a base when you needed one. He wasn't a basestealer, like Juan Pierre or Rafael Furcal, and neither is Martin. You don't want a catcher to steal 50 bases, it's too hard on their legs and body. But in a crucial situation, Martin is athletic and agile enough to do it.
"Martin is better at it than Roseboro. And Martin is doing it against better throwing catchers. Until I came along, catchers were heavy hitters and didn't throw as good. Players like me forced a change, with all the stolen bases, so catchers had to be able to throw."
Injury update: Ramon Martinez, disabled after injuring his back on the last road trip, suffered a setback and has been shut down from all baseball activity. Martinez, diagnosed with a strained muscle, had briefly resumed throwing.
Mota happy: Coach Manny Mota hasn't lasted this long by being controversial.
"I'm glad to be back doing what I did before," said Mota, reinstated to the travel squad in the wake of the dismissal of hitting coach Eddie Murray and naming of Bill Mueller as his replacement. "I'll do whatever I can to help Bill Mueller and help the team."
Mota's role was cut back this year when Major League Baseball cracked down on limiting the amount of coaches that could suit up for a game.
Coming up: In Sunday's homestand finale, Randy Wolf (8-4, 4.06) opposes Kelvim Escobar (7-3, 2.89) in a 1:10 p.m. PT start.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.