Sunday, September 13, 2009

Hitting Coaches

The White Sox went through another season long hitting slump, and radio talk has been swarming around the possible firing of hitting coach Greg Walker. With many callers noting certain players slumps such as Jermaine Dye, Alex Rios, Carlos Quentin and recently Gordon Beckham. Callers are demanding the firing of hitting coach Greg Walker because of these slumps. However, radio personalities, such as Boers and Bernstein, are arguing that the callers are idiots for insisting that Greg Walker is the problem. They like to state that it is not the hitting coach's fault that the players are in a slump, and that Greg Walker is doing the best he can to pull them out of the slump.

First off, I would like to state that I do believe that Greg Walker should be fired, but it is not just because his players are in slumps. I feel for the past few years that White Sox hitters have not had a proper mind set when facing elite pitchers and pitchers they have not seen. Their philosophy on this matter seems to be, do what you normally do, and be comfortable at the plate. I, however, think that their mindset should be more toward working the count, and extending these pitchers. I would be preaching patience at the plate, instead of aggression. In a game a few weeks ago, the Sox were facing CC Sabathia. This should have been a great situation to milk counts, and attempt to elevate his pitch count and force an early exit. What was CC's pitch count: 65 through 5 innings. (He ended the game with 113 after pitching into the 8th). The only real way to beat these pitchers is to see a lot of pitches, and work his pitch count, same goes for when the Sox face a pitcher they are seeing for the first time (which they have been woeful at). Milk counts, foul off pitches, and take walks.

However, I think there is a larger problem as a whole with hitting coaches. I truly believe that a hitting coach should be replaced every 2-3 years. You may be saying, that is crazy hitters need to feel comfortable with their hitting coach. That is exactly the problem. Typically, hitters go through a few slumps every season. During these slumps is when the hitting coach is invaluable. The hitting coach is supposed to see the little hiccup in the batters swing and adjust it slightly, then boom goes the dynamite hits start falling.

But what happens when a coach has been with a team/player for several years? The player keeps getting the same, or similar, advice. No matter how good someone is at their job, the tendency is to always go back to the advice that works. I think the only way to shake up a hitter is to have new ideas thrown at them. I think having new eyes watching a hitters swing and analyzing it can only benefit the player and the team.

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