Oct 24

New Hitting Coach Long Can Help This Suggested Outfield

Let’s operate under the assumption, which isn’t hard to do, the New York Mets won’t acquire the long-ball hitting left fielder they covet. Given that, the Mets’ outfield – from left to right – should be Curtis Granderson, Juan Lagares and Matt den Dekker.

Lagares is a finalist for the NL Gold Glove in center field, along with Billy Hamilton and Denard Span. The award is determined by 75 percent input from managers and coaches and 25 percent by statistics.

LAGARES: Needs to hit.

LAGARES: Needs to hit.

Lagares proved this season he can field the position and steal a base, but he’s far from polished offensively, evidenced by a low on-base percentage and propensity for striking out. If he’s going to compete for the leadoff spot those two areas must be improved.

I would move Granderson from right to left – there’s your homer hitting left fielder – because it’s easier to play than right. You want a polished defender in right, which is den Dekker.

This should the full time opportunity he didn’t get last season because the Mets wasted their time with Chris Young. Yeah, I know it’s piling on.

All three could benefit from new hitting coach Kevin Long’s tutelage.

Granderson thrived under Long with the Yankees, hitting over 40 homers and driving in over 100 runs in 2011 and 2012. Unfortunately, he also struck out 169 and 195 times in 2011 and 2012, respectively.

Maybe Granderson will benefit with the closer fences in Citi Field, but if Long can get him to cut his strikeouts and use the whole field, he could live up to that contract. Granderson’s on-base percentages and strikeout rates were much better playing in spacious Comerica Park, giving the impression he was seduced by the Yankee Stadium bandbox.

As for Lagares, his 87-to-20 strikeouts-to-walks ratio is something he must improve because in this era teams can’t afford to carry an offensive liability no matter how good he is in the field.

Den Dekker showed he’s worthy of the opportunity based on his production over a limited 152 at-bats with a .250 average and .345 on-base percentage.

This is potentially a good outfield defensively, but if they prove they can hit, the Mets will be greatly improved.

Oct 16

Mets’ Triple-A Hitting Coach Hired By Cardinals

The St. Louis Cardinals, a regular in the NLCS, has hired Mets’ Triple-A hitting coach George Greer to oversee their hitting program throughout their system, reports ESPN.

Didn’t I hear the Mets needed a new hitting coach?

If he’s qualified to be hired by the Cardinals, shouldn’t he at least gotten a serious look from the Mets?

Oct 14

Hitting Coach Update; Hope It Includes Approach

The New York Mets’ search for a hitting coach is apparently down to Dave Magadan and Kevin Long, both of whom preach patience and using the entire field. Both also are experienced on the major league level; Magadan with Texas and Long with the Yankees.

Regardless of theirs, or anybody else’s hitting philosophy, it comes down to the hitters buying into what they are saying and how well they execute.

For the most part, the Mets don’t have a lot of hitters with the discipline to take a pitch and go to the opposite field – exactly what Kansas City and San Francisco are doing in the playoffs.

As the Mets build toward 2015, this is the approach they must take. They still don’t have a leadoff hitter, but that could be Juan Lagares if he walks more and strikes out less.

We saw what happened this season when Lucas Duda became more selective. It was what the deposed Dave Hudgens wanted them to take. His message was good, but perhaps it was how it was delivered that was at fault.

Patience and plate presence is a more direct path to team success than power. History is loaded with power laden teams that fizzled in October because they couldn’t do a simple thing as advance a runner and hit a fly ball with a runner at third. When you look at this year’s playoff field, consider Baltimore, Detroit and Los Angeles.

This is the message the Mets should be teaching all their players on all levels. It should be an organizational approach and it is not.

 

Oct 12

Looking At Hitting Coach Candidates

The New York Mets are still looking for a hitting coach and several options are out there. Among them are Kevin Long, Bobby Abreu and, why not, Wally Backman.

Let’s briefly look at each candidate:

KEVIN LONG: He’s respected and had success with the Yankees, including Curtis Granderson. A working relationship with one player isn’t enough, but he had it with more than one. Brett Gardner is another example. I don’t know why things didn’t work with the Yankees, but it stands to reason it was more because of injuries than anything. … The Yankees’ hitting philosophy has been one of patience and working the count, something the Mets need to improve.

BOBBY ABREU: He knows the players, but hasn’t been a hitting coach before. A lot should depend on his hitting philosophy, which hasn’t been made known. He had a good career, but production as a player doesn’t always translate into success as a coach. He made a positive impression on the team and has a good relationship with Terry Collins.

WALLY BACKMAN: Backman didn’t have a great offensive career, but that doesn’t always lead to being a good coach, either. Backman also knows many of the Mets’ younger players and might have been a positive influence on Lucas Duda and Travis d’Arnaud. As a player, Backman was a contact hitter, which is a philosophy the Mets need to adapt more than power. If the Mets really believe Backman is part of their future, this could be a positive move. Should they ignore him it would also speak volumes.

 

Mar 25

Viola To Have Heart Surgery, Unable To Continue As Pitching Coach

Adam Rubin of ESPN New York is reporting that former Cy Young winner Frank Viola is scheduled to undergo open-heart surgery next Wednesday and will be unable to serve as pitching coach of the Triple-A Las Vegas 51s.

Viola, 53, had a heart issue detected during his initial spring-training physical. Viola spent the past three seasons as a Class A pitching coach for the Mets.

Ron Romanick is expected to replace Viola as the pitching coach for the Pacific Coast League team.

Very sad to hear, my thoughts and prayers go out to him.