Mike Breyman out as Slammers manager; team searching for replacement
By Tim Tierney For Sun-Times Media October 3, 2013 9:26AM
Former Joliet Slammers manager Mike Breyman. | Tim Tierney~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: November 5, 2013 6:19AM
A month after the 2013 Frontier League season ended, the Joliet Slammers announced they want a new manager for 2014.
Mike Breyman has been let go after one year on the job and a 38-57 record in his first stint as a manager in pro baseball.
“We wanted to have the time to take a step back, look at all things involved,’’ Slammers general manager Chris Franklin said Thursday of waiting to make a change.
“We didn’t want to have a knee-jerk reaction at the end of the season. We didn’t feel like that was a good way to go.’’
The 32-year-old Breyman said he learned of his fate in a phone call this week from Slammers CEO Josh Schaub.
“He just told me they’re going in a different direction,’’ Breyman said. “I kept it professional. At the time, I was a little upset. But when any door closes, another one opens.’’
Breyman had been working on the Slammers’ 2014 roster and said the decision was “as big a surprise to me as anybody.’’
“I thought I did a lot of things they asked me to do, above and beyond,’’ he said. “They really didn’t give me too much of a reason. I’m not sure if they thought I was too young to be a manager. If that’s what they thought, I wish they would have told me before they hired me.’’
Joliet will have a different manager for the third straight season. Breyman replaced Bart Zeller, who was fired in 2012 after two years. Zeller guided the Slammers to the 2011 Frontier League championship and a 37-58 record in ’12.
Before getting the Slammers job, Breyman spent three seasons as a hitting coach in the Frontier League: in 2012 with the Gateway Grizzlies and 2010 and ’11 for the River City Rascals.
Franklin was the River City general manager when Breyman was the Rascals’ hitting coach.
“Mike and I enjoyed success together in the past,’’ Franklin said. “For whatever reason, we didn’t enjoy that success on the field here. It wasn’t for a lack of effort on Mike’s part.
“One thing we didn’t see was consistent growth during the year. We never really caught that winning streak and got momentum.’’
As for not giving the inexperienced Breyman another season, Franklin said, “We don’t feel like we have a lot of time to develop that role. It’s very important we have a winning product sooner rather than later.’’
Given Joliet’s back-to-back losing seasons, it’s unlikely the Slammers will hire someone without managerial experience.
“I’m a big believer in if you do the same things, you’re going to get the same results,’’ Franklin said.
Franklin will do a “countrywide search’’ of independent baseball, minor league and former major league managers. He expects to name a new manager before the end of the year.
“I have absolutely nothing against Chris Franklin,’’ Breyman said. “He was truthful with me from the get-go. He believed in me from the beginning. ... The guys that are higher up have the final decision.’’
Breyman has been called by a few teams to be a hitting coach, but isn’t sure if he wants back in baseball next season.
“It is what it is,’’ he said. “You’ve got to move forward.’’