Has the Royals' new hitting coach fixed what ails their offense?
The Royals have had a roller-coaster season. No team has seemed more alternately doomed and formidable while playing to a near .500 record. Because they came into the season poised for a playoff run, with the Shields/Myers trade looming large, the stakes for the team are high. Yet, depending on the day, the team appears to be either ready to make a deep playoff run on the back of fireballing phenom Yordano Ventura or poised on the precipice of failure and an impending teardown.
Much of the anxiety imparted by the Royals stems from the performance of the so-far anemic offense, which generated higher expectations in the spring. Seemingly skilled hitters like Billy Butler and Mike Moustakas have not met their relatively optimistic projections. Without an obvious explanation (such as injury) for their underperformance, hitting coach Pedro Grifol got the axe in late May, replaced by Dale Sveum, the former Cubs skipper.
What the numbers say about making a mid-season sacrifice.
We are now a week and a half into the (interim) reign of George Brett as Royals hitting coach. Brett took over the task of straightening out Mike Moustakas and Eric Hosmer when tandem hitting coaches Jack Maloof and Andre David were re-assigned within the organization. There are surely plenty of theories circulating around Kansas City as to why the Royals made the switch, but at the end of the day, they probably all boil down to "the kids aren't hitting."
Two weeks ago in this space, I asked what a good pitching coach—someone like noted magician Leo Mazzone—is worth to a major-league team. I came up with an estimate that Mazzone might have been worth four wins to the Braves (and Orioles) per year during his tenure.
An exegesis of Cage Rat, the Yankee hitting coach's treatise on being handy with a bat.
A ballplayer I know told me recently that Kevin Long’s Cage Rat(Ecco, 2011, 198 pp.) was a great book, so I went and got it from the library. I wasn’t at all surprised to discover that, whatever the reasons why the ballplayer called it a great book, they have nothing to do with the quality of the writing. By “great,” it’s necessary to keep in mind that what’s meant isn’t really Ulysses-great; people throw the word “great” around to mean things like enjoyable, not a waste of time, even serviceable. The word is a tool to denote general positivity.
Cage Rat is made of strictly functional, ugly prose—it’s often barely functional at all, in fact—rendered by as-told-to specialist Glen Waggoner in self-consciously vernacular style. Or maybe “vernacular”: it often sounds stilted, like a writer trying to sound like how he thinks someone like Long talks. That sections of it may in fact be transcriptions of actual Long speech is immaterial. It’s all clichés and received ideas cut into ribbons and reassembled. It’s probably exactly what all parties involved wanted.
Why they are doing this is pretty clear—the Angels are already seven games behind the Rangers, and their offense is in such poor shape that they've been outscored by the Mariners. Among American League teams, only the Twins have scored fewer runs per game. Despite having the advantage of the designated hitter, the Angels are outscoring only two NL franchises, and the Padres have the excuse of playing in Petco.
A look at 10 men who deserve the opportunity to be a major-league skipper.
Top 10 Week continues here at Baseball Prospectus as we look at the 10 best managerial prospects in the game. Only those who have never managed in the major leagues on a regular basis were considered for this list, which was compiled with the help of numerous people in all facets of the game.
Dave Brundage Age: 44 Current Position: Manager of the Braves' Triple-A Gwinnett farm club. Background: Brundage spent seven seasons as a minor-league outfielder then 14 years working in the Mariners' farm system from 1993-2006, four as a hitting coach and 10 as a manager. He has been a manager in the Braves' farm system the last four seasons. Why He is Qualified: This is all you need to know about Brundage: Those close to the Braves believe if they stay inside the organization to replace the retiring Bobby Cox at the end of the season that Brundage will likely be general manager Frank Wren's choice. Though Brundage has never played or coached in the major leagues, his knowledge of the game and ability to communicate and motivate would allow him to overcome any experience disadvantage.