Wednesday, November 04, 2009


Found a Job

Once upon a time, in the late-80's, I had Hensley Meulens's Upper Deck card. I had no idea if he was any good or not, but I thought his name was pretty cool, so I always remebered him. Later on, when it turned out that he really wasn't any good, I somehow came into possession of his minor league card, with him playing for the AAA affiliate of the Expos or something, a card that is now buried in a storage bin somewhere with no value whatsoever. Now Meulens is the Giants' new hitting instructor. I'm sure seven-year-old me would be blown away by this series of events.

Meulens takes over for the recently shit-canned Carney Lansford in the hopes that he can turn water into wine improve the Giants' hitters. Meulens is getting all the credit for supposedly being the mastermind behind John Bowker's star turn at Fresno this season, and is also being lauded for getting Eugenio Velez to be more patient (though I challenge you to look here and tell me where this reawakening took place). In taking over what was arguably the worst offense in baseball last season, Meulens has his work cut out for him, to say the least.

I'm always curious as to how much difference a hitting coach can really make. Obviously he can have guys tweak their stances or shorten their swing, but if you can't hit, then you can't hit. What is Meulens going to do, instruct Aaron Rowand to stop swinging at sliders in different time zones? Yeah, that worked so well for Carney.

One reason this move might work is that a lot of times the best managers and coaches were mediocre players in their day, simply because they essentially have a better idea of what they were doing wrong. Star players tend to make bad coaches because they were so naturally gifted and they just don't understand why the crappy utility infielder can't hit a breaking ball like they could. It's probably the reason Tommy Lasorda and Tony LaRussa and Dave Duncan made such great managers and coaches, and why Ted Williams was a miserable manager and hitting coach.

Lansford was a good hitter in his day, so maybe he just couldn't relate. Meulens was pretty bad, so maybe it follows that he'll be the next Charlie Lau. First up on his list will be to mentor Buster Posey, get Fred Lewis to cut down on his strikeouts, and leave Pablo Sandoval the hell alone. As for getting his hitters to take more walks, apparently Lansford already tried, and found the task to be positively Sysiphusian.

--The baseball season ended today in nauseating fashion with the Yankees winning it all. I was able to switch the TV off just before the last out was recorded so I didn't have to watch the Yanks celebrate. Beware in the coming weeks brainless articles arguing that baseball needs a salary cap because the evil big market team won and no one can compete with them and blah blah blah.

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