Table of Contents

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Transaction catch-up: the coaches

Hi. Been taking a bit of a break from baseball lately. I needed it--invested more into this season than I have in any season since the onset of adulthood. :) But the winter meetings have arrived, so I better get caught up on the transactions in case Krivsky trades away the team again.

First up, the coaching:

Hitting Coach
Chris Chambliss was fired as hitting instructor. Despite previously being credited with the Reds' outstanding offensive prowess over the past several years, and especially with Adam Dunn's resurgence after his miserable 2003 campaign, Chambliss is the fall guy for the Reds' offensive implosion in September (3.3 r/g). While I don't think that coaches just "go bad," it sometimes is good to have a fresh perspective. Hopefully that is what Brook Jacoby, the replacement hitting coach, will bring to the Reds.

Many of the comments from Jacoby since his signing have been about Adam Dunn and his desire to have Dunn cut down on his strikeout rate. And that's fine. Obviously, contact is a weakness in Dunn's game. But here's the thing: Dunn's problem this year wasn't his strikeouts. It was his unbelievably miserable slump in August (0.700 OPS) and especially September (0.598 OPS). So if the only focus is on strikeout rate, and not on figuring out what happened to him the last two months and trying to get him back to his 2004-2005 form, they're already on the wrong track. ...But that's just what they were talking about at the press conference, so it doesn't mean all that much.

Pitching Coach
Tom Hume will be relegated back to his bullpen coach activities. I'm a bit surprised by this, as Hume seemingly did a good job, with much-improved seasons by Bronson Arroyo and Eric Milton, among others. Overall, the Reds improved by 81 fewer runs allowed in '06 vs. '05. So hopefully Hume won't mind heading back to the bullpen.

Vern Ruhle will be reassigned within the team, perhaps as a a roving pitching instructor/advisor like the position he held prior to when he took over for Don Gullett in '05. Almost certainly, this is a move to give Ruhle a position more in keeping with the health challenges he may be still facing.

The Hume/Ruhle replacement was recently named. Dick Pole. ... Needless to say, my wife has informed me that I am an incredibly immature person, because I still find that funny and it's already a week later. Anyway, name issues aside, Pole has strong endorsements from Greg Maddux and others, which counts for something--especially given that Maddux pitched for Leo Mazzone all those years.

It's hard to know what effect either of these decisions will have on the team next year. They both sound like fine people, and hopefully can help some of the guys out a bit. Unfortunately, unless a guy coaches for a team for a long period of time so you can assess players before, during, and after they play for him, I don't see how one can make much of an objective decision about this using stats. So I'm happy these decisions to Jerry and Wayne, so long as we don't start hearing nonsense like Adam Dunn needs to swing at more balls out of the strike zone. :)

More posts to come as I catch up. :)