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.
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.
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.
Such promise back then in 2004 when the Mets named Yankees coach Willie Randolph as their new manager. Coincidentally, on this day in 2004 the Phillies hired Charlie Manuel as their manager.
Can an argument be made the Mets acted too hastily with Randolph?
Randolph seemed destined for the Milwaukee job, but that went to Ken Macha. Randolph turned down an offer to coach in Washington under Manny Acta, which probably was a good thing. There could be other jobs.