I’ve been writing it for about four months now, over and over again. Alas, no one in Philly was listening, and now they have paid the ultimate price. Here is a direct quote from World Series Preview. “Manager Charlie Manuel has a World Series Championship under his belt from last season, but the guy just scares the hell out of me with the use of his pitching staff.” Brad Lidge potentially blew the Phillies season in Game 4 allowing the big hit to Alex Rodriguez to blow the contest as the Phillies fell behind in the Series three games to one. No team since 1985 has come back from a 3-1 deficit (go Kansas City). At least that combo of Lidge-Manuel made me look good, and that’s all I really care about because I’m so vain.
Stephen Strasburg had a spotty outing the second time he took the hill in the Arizona Fall League as he was hammered, torched really, for eight runs (seven earned) over just 2.2 innings. However he improved to 3-1 with a victory on Monday and is now sporting a 5.28 ERA with 17 Ks in just 15.1 innings. Strasburg reportedly hit 100 mph on the radar gun with four of his first six pitches on Monday. The kid can flat out bring it like few who have ever played the game. I can’t wait to see him pitch in games that count come 2010.
The Giants fired hitting coach Carney Lansford after the team had the fewest walks in the majors (392) and the second fewest home runs (112). I find it hard to believe that it was Lansford’s fault. After all, the front office game him about five major league caliber bats to work with. To replace Lansford the team hired former Triple-A hitting coach Hensley Meulens. I doubt Hensley will be able to teach Pablo Sandoval to stop swinging at balls that nearly bounce. Still, I’m always surprised when the hitting coaches end up being guys who couldn’t hit when they played (kind of like how your high school gym teacher was always about 45 lbs overweight). In a career that spanned 496 ABs, Hensley hit .220-15-53 with a .641 OPS. The man he is replacing, Lansford, won a batting title in 1981 (.336), finished second in 1989 (.336) hit over .300 five times, and batted .290 with a .753 OPS while racking up 2,074 hits in his career. Doesn’t make much sense how some of the better hitting coaches just didn’t have successful careers.
And speaking of hitting coaches, why is everyone freaking out about the Cardinals signing of Mark McGwire to man the position? Certainly there is plenty of ammunition for those who want to attack McG for the Andro and performance enhancing drug issue, but that matters little today. There is also a group of people who say ‘McGwire hit .263 in his career, so what can he teach these guys?’ However, as I have just pointed out, compared to Meulens, McGwire was Picasso with the bat in his hands. The bottom line is that McGwire knows how to hit, and being able to teach the mental aspect is often the most important part of hitting. Regardless, did you ever hear anyone say that Mark didn’t have a beautiful swing? Controlled yet extremely violent at the same time, McGwire worked with the gifts that he had at his disposal, and in the end he retired with a .394 OBP and a .982 OPS. All told, McGwire is one of only two men who accrued at least 3,000 plate appearances in his career, hit below .265, and still managed a .390 or better OBP. I have no doubt he can help improve Cardinals batters by helping them to work with the gifts they have at their disposal, not to mention imparting the way to think as I mentioned.
By Ray Flowers