His old tricks are (1) vastly improving the pitching staffs he coaches and (2) providing sportswriters with colorful material. His success with the Texas Rangers is profiled here by Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News. Grant writes:
In his first job as a major league pitching coach, with the Chicago Cubs, Acosta oversaw the single-biggest staff ERA improvement in the NL from 2000 to 2001. The Cubs’ ERA fell from 5.25, which ranked 14th of 16 teams in the league, to 4.03, which ranked fourth.
He seems to be doing the same thing with the Rangers. The team began the final day of April with a staff ERA of 4.69, more than two runs better than their 6.72 ERA for the first month of 2001.
In particular, the starters, who usually spend more time with a pitching coach than do relievers, have a seen a drastic drop. They took a 4.28 ERA into Tuesday’s game, the fourth-best rotation ERA in the league.
Indeed, the reason for the Rangers’ poor start hasn’t been pitching, but some untimely injuries. The line on Texas at the beginning of the year was they’d score a lot of runs, but give up just as many. Acosta is working the same magic he did with the Cubs to give them a chance to win these ballgames.
Of course, Don Baylor was too stupid to realize that, pressuring Larry MacPhail to fire Acosta because he badmouthed exercise guru Mack Newton. While new pitching coach Larry Rothchild has a lot of experience, I wonder how much better the Cubs’ relievers would be doing with Acosta barking at them every day.