10/14/09 4:48 PM ET
Astros' Robinson leaving for Rays role
Former first-base coach Cruz offered another post
By Brian McTaggart / MLB.com
Robinson, who served as pitching coach for two seasons in Houston, will be the co-Minor League pitching coordinator for the Rays, who have nine domestic and foreign Minor League teams. Robinson served as the Astros' director of pitching development for two years before becoming pitching coach.
"It's a very comfortable position for me and a real good organization," Robinson said. "They're a small-market team and have to do everything through Latin America and the Draft, and they have produced big league players through the system. It has to come from within [the organization], and it's exciting for me to get back into that."
Robinson, 54, will also be closer to his home in Sarasota, Fla., which is a 35-minute drive from the Rays' Spring Training home of Port Charlotte, Fla.
"It's a real good fit for me," he said.
Robinson was offered a job within the Astros' developmental system after manager Cecil Cooper was dismissed on Sept. 21 but chose to leave the organization. Houston general manager Ed Wade addressed the media Wednesday afternoon and further discussed the coaching changes he revealed late Tuesday.
The entire coaching staff was offered positions within the organization, and the majority accepted. Sean Berry will return as hitting coach, but bench coach Ed Romero will manage at rookie league Greeneville and bullpen coach Mark Bailey will be hitting coach at Double-A Corpus Christi.
Dave Clark, who spent most of the season as third-base coach before taking over as interim manager when Cooper was let go, has been promised a spot on the Major League staff if he doesn't get the permanent managerial post. Clark interviewed Wednesday.
While Robinson isn't returning, popular first-base coach Jose Cruz is mulling his future.
Cruz was offered a position as an administrative coach for home games, which would allow him to be in uniform during batting practice and sit in the general manger's box during the game. When the club is on the road, "Cheo" would work as a community outreach executive in a role similar to what Larry Dierker and Jimmy Wynn occupy. Cruz would also be on-the-field staff for all of Spring Training.
"All of our coaches, we have great respect for all of them," Wade said. "Obviously, the only thing we did in this process from a termination standpoint was terminate Coop. We offered opportunities for all of our coaches to remain in the organization. We think the world of the work they have done for us, particularly Cheo.
"I know this is a hot-button issue for a lot of people. Cheo has done a tremendous job for us as our first-base coach. We felt that overall, from the standpoint from the communication in our clubhouse, a change was necessary -- different voices, different ways of operation, and we felt simply changing the manager was not the appropriate way to go at this time.
"If we didn't feel strongly about any of these people, we would not have offered them opportunities to stay in the organization, and certainly in the role we constructed for Cheo, we feel he can provide a fulfilling role for us and we have the ability to continue to have him be a fabric of our organization."
Cruz, 62, is one of the most popular players in franchise history. He ranks near the top of the club's offensive charts in several categories and had his No. 25 retired in 1992. Cruz has served as first-base coach for 13 years and has been involved in all nine of the Astros' postseason appearances.
But after 13 years on the Major League staff, Wade said change becomes necessary at some point.
"He's a guy that's beloved in the city of Houston and in this organization and we wanted to do something that was absolutely respectful to him," he said. "Whether we meet everybody's expectation in that regard remains to be seen, but we felt what we did was the right thing for the organization and the right thing for Cheo as well."
Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.