New Coach, Same Old Team
So the big news in Giantsland is the hiring of triple-A hitting guru Hensley Meulens. He took a broken, OBP-challenged John Bowker and turned him into a more patient hitter with a better approach in a matter of months. If he can do more of the same for the rest of the Giants hitters, I’ll be beyond thrilled. Please, take our Velez, our Sanchez, our tired, weak and hungry, and make them league-average hitters, oh mighty Hensley!
Even with a new hitting coach in place, completely altering the approach of an entire team of hitters who have little to no plate discipline is no small task. This is an organization full of players completely devoted to not working a count. A group that averaged the least pitches per plate appearance the Major Leagues, this Giants team is going to need more than to hit the cages for a few hundred swings. What it’s going to take is a complete overhaul of the organizational hitting philosophy, beginning at the top with Mr. Meulens.
This process can be expedited by some strong offseason acquisitions of guys who can take a walk, be it Matt Holliday or Nick Johnson. Sure, we’re talking about a team who won 88 games, exceeding all expectations. But how many of the 74 losses the Giants accrued could have been completely avoided by scoring some runs off of the Charlie Morton’s of the world? I can’t count the number of times we were shut down by a guy with a 5+ ERA because our hitters would go up to the plate looking utterly lost.
We need a hitting coach who can bust out a roll of duct tape so as to permanently attach bats to shoulders; a coach who will consider fining hitters who swing at the first pitch the first time through a lineup. Now that’s not to say Carney Lansford didn’t give it his best shot–his parting words gave off the attitude that his time as hitting coach in San Francisco was frustrating to the nth degree. Hensley Meulens has most certainly got a tough job for someone taking on his first big league coaching assignment. And if Hensley can’t fix these guys, then maybe the front office will realize the problem is that the actual players and not the coaches when it comes to not playing well.