Monday, November 28, 2011

Maybe I should write longer posts

Longtime readers of this blog know that I am a fan of David Pinto's Baseball Musings site. He's an astute judge of what's important and writes very well. Occasionally, he'll refer to this blog -- such as over the weekend when he referenced my call to Fire Hensley Meulens. I didn't go into detail as to WHY, other than saying the team was terrible last year on offense and that Meulens had been bailed out in 2010 by career years by Torres and Huff plus strong playoff performances by Ross, Uribe and Renteria. I also took a somewhat gratuitous shot at Meulens by pointing out that he was a pretty terrible MLB player.

In response, David said that I should blame Brian Sabean for assembling last year's team and that with Posey back and Sandoval mashing, things may be better. That's a fair assertion. Still, we are going to have to agree to disagree as to Hensley Meulens. I say he should have been shown the door, much as Aaron Rowand and Miguel Tejada were. As I said in the headline, I probably should have explained myself more thoroughly, so here goes.

The Giants offense was particularly awful because very few of the hitters had any patience. It's one thing when you're Sandoval and can square up damn near any pitch. It's quite another when you're Miguel Tejada or Aaron Rowand and flat out refuse to work a walk -- setting a crappy example for the young guys on the team. How bad was it? Really bad:

-- the Giants were 29th in runs scored at 570
-- The Giants were 24th in walks at 448
-- the Giants were 29th in number of pitches seen at 22,835
-- the Giants were 29th in onbase percentage at .303

That, ladies and gentlemen, is a team that's hacking A LOT at bad pitches. And I would maintain that a batting coach DOES bear part of the blame -- particularly when an even marginal increase in offense would have gotten the Giants into the postseason. Anyone who watched the Giants play last year knows that the team had a hardcore propensity for swinging at pitches out of the strike zone. Here are the top walkers last year --

-- Ross, 49
-- Huff, 47
-- Torres, 42
-- Burrell, 33
-- Sandoval, 32
-- Fontenot, 25
-- Crawford, 23
-- Belt, 20
-- Whiteside, 18
-- Posey, 18
-- Stewart, 16

In case you've read this far, Cody Ross is tied for 86th in MLB; Tejada took 12 walks; Rowand took 10.

So perhaps Hensley Meulens was doing his level best with a bunch of free swingers. But these team's offensive numbers are flat out pathetic. I'm going to assert that another hitting coach -- particularly one who would say over and over and over "Stop swinging at pitches out of the strike zone, dammit, or you're not going to play!" -- would have delivered a better offense.


Anonymous hilarie said...

No hitting coach could possibly say that with any credibility with Bochy at the helm. Bochy started Huff every day even though he admitted after the season that he knew Huff was not in shape. Bochy started Rowand and even led off with him. Bochy started Tejada and Orlando Cabrera. There were always players on the bench who offered superior offense and defense to those guys -- including better (albeit not usually great) obp skills. Remember Meulens' predecessor Carney Lansford? He had the same complaints and voiced them to the point where he was fired for being such a grouch. Didn't make a speck of difference to the headstrong, vain, ineffective collection of subpar veterans Sabean assembled.

3:08 PM  
Anonymous hilarie said...

As a reference:

3:11 PM  
Blogger Big D said...

Ah, the old "he's just a pawn so it's not his fault" and "stop complaining because there's nothing to be done" defenses of Meulens. I find those kind of assertions tiresome and silly. Get real, for heaven's sake.

Here's the bottom line -- He did a demonstrably lousy job. OK, he wasn't the only one but he was the one in charge of coaching the hitters, who were plain awful. It strikes me that you're just interested in being argumentative by contending that I'm somehow out of line in calling for Meulens to be fired. If I performed my job as poorly as he did, with those kind of lousy results, I would expect to be fired immediately.

11:27 PM  
Anonymous Big Z said...

....he was a pretty terrible MLB player ! Do you know what you'r talking about??

Don't hate Hensley "Bam Bam" Meulens!

1:29 AM  
Anonymous hilarie said...

Read the 2009 story I linked to. This is a long-term problem in the Giants system. Remember when Felipe Alou started a vendetta against KNBR's Larry Kreuger for the latter's complaints about "brain-dead Caribben hitters hacking at slop"? That was in 2005. We've seen a dozen undisciplined position players come up from the Giant's farm system in the last few years -- Posey and Belt are exceptions to that rule. Sabean and Bochy have both publicly derided the walk and obp, favoring RBIs and batting average. When Sabean sent Belt down, Bochy and his big complaint was Belt is too selective, which they called "passive." Sabean's big hot stove signing is a no-walk, free-swinging CF.

Now, you may be right that a hitting coach who had recent and sustained success at the plate might have the credibility to get these guys to change their approach. But it's more likely that the team will actually have to change players to get results. If, by accident, the Giants start fielding a team of disciplined hitters, whoever the batting coach is will look like a genius. But that is unlikely to happen because Sabean and Bochy don't value plate discipline.

10:26 AM  
Anonymous hilarie said...

I see my post with the link to the Lansford story wasn't approved. Got lost or whatever. So here's the link again, along with another one making the same case for firing Lansford that Giants Win makes now about Meulens (other than the "he was a terrible ballplayer" argument, because Lansford was good).

Let me make clear that I'm not exactly defending Meulens; I'm saying all evidence is that on the Giants the batting coach doesn't matter here: The GM, the manager, and the farm system love, cultivate, obtain, and promote brain-dead hitters who hack at slop. It's the organization. Ted Williams wouldn't have been able to get through to Aaron Rowand, and he wouldn't have been able to persuade Bochy not to start Rowand or even to stop batting him leadoff.

You do realize that those decisions on Bochy's part actually cost this wretched offense a 2011 post season appearance, right? They would have made the playoffs if Rowand had simply sat.

5:38 PM  
Blogger Big D said...

I do appreciate your taking the time and effort to write all these comments, Hilarie. And I still don't agree that Meulens isn't blame-free. He did a lousy lousy lousy job. I still can't think of a better way for the Giants front office to show that they're committed to improving the offense than by firing Meulens.

7:04 PM  
Anonymous hilarie said...

The front office could hire somebody who understands offense as well as Dick Tidrow understands pitching and order Sabean to follow that person's lead as he follows Tidrow's. Or simply replace Sabean with a non-caveman. And order Bochy to cultivate and play rookies and others who demonstrate plate discipline and hitting ability, and to sit those who don't, or be fired. Those steps would improve the offense even if Mario Mendoza were the batting coach.

8:43 AM  

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