|1985 Leaf Donruss||1986 Topps Chewing Gum Company|
Thanks to New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner and the Montreal Expos, Tom Filer is back where he started his dream 1985 season.
The Toronto Blue Jays on Monday hired Filer as the pitching coach of the Triple-A Syracuse SkyChiefs. Filer, who went a combined 14-2 for the Syracuse Chiefs and Blue Jays in 1985, replaces Randy St. Claire as the Triple-A SkyChiefs' pitching coach. Last week, the Expos hired St. Claire as their pitching coach 16 days after he had been named the SkyChiefs' pitching coach.
Steinbrenner, meanwhile, was not happy with the Triple-A Columbus Clippers' 59-83 record in 2002 and cleaned out the entire Columbus coaching staff. Filer, the Clippers' pitching coach, was demoted to Single-A Greensboro. Filer contacted several teams, including the Blue Jays, about possible jobs. The Blue Jays' minor-league staffs were filled, until the Expos hired St. Claire. Toronto then moved quickly to hire Filer.
"In Tom we have a guy who played in the (Blue Jays') organization, was a part of the Blue Jays when they were strong, and he has experience working with the Yankees in Triple-A," Blue Jays farm director Dick Scott said. "To get a guy of his caliber at this time of year, we feel pretty fortunate." Filer, who turned 46 on 1 December, had been a pitching coach in the Yankees' organization since 1994. He spent two years at Single-A Oneonta, three years at Greensboro, three years at Double-AA Norwich and last season at Columbus.
"I'm looking forward to this opportunity," said Filer, who lives in the Philadelphia suburb of Langhorne. "It didn't look like my career was going to move forward with the Yankees, so it was time to move on." Filer, a pitcher who started his professional career in 1978, went 22-17 with a 4.25 earned run average in parts of six years in the major leagues with the Chicago Cubs (1982), Toronto (1985), Milwaukee (1988-90) and New York Mets (1992).
In 1985, Filer went 7-2 with a 2.53 ERA for Syracuse. Promoted to Toronto in July, Filer was 7-0 with a 3.88 ERA for the Blue Jays. While the Chiefs won the International League pennant that season, the Blue Jays captured their first American League East Division title.In Syracuse, Filer will join a coaching staff that includes third-year manager Omar Malave, batting coach Ken Landreaux and trainer Jon Woodworth. Filer said he knows Malave from the minor leagues, and Woodworth was the Chiefs' trainer when Filer played in Syracuse in 1985 and 1987.
Last season, the Clippers ranked last in the 14-team IL with a 4.69 ERA. The SkyChiefs, under pitching coach Rick Langford, ranked 11th with a 4.50 ERA. Langford, who had been the Syracuse pitching coach for most of the past four years, was named the pitching coach for the Blue Jays' Single-A team at Dunedin, Fla., because he wanted to be closer to his Florida home.
The 2003 SkyChiefs pitching staff is expected to be a mix of young prospects (Mike Smith and Vinny Chulk), youngsters with major-league experience (Brian Bowles and Bob File), and veterans signed as minor-league free agents (former Chief Doug Linton and Josh Towers). "I'm just hoping some of the veteran guys help nurture the younger guys," Filer said. "I think in Doug's case, he knows what he's doing, he's very competitive on the mound, and if some of the younger players watch him as he goes about his business, that will be a great help to me."
© 2002 The Post-Standard. Used with permission.
Special to Canadian Baseball News 10 December 2002