After Sunday’s 8-4 loss to the Miami Marlins, there were three casualties of this endless war. First baseman Ike Davis, LHP Rob Carson and OF Mike Baxter were sent to the New York Mets version of purgatory, Triple-A Las Vegas. Was this the right move? When you consider who was brought out of limbo, OF Collin Cowgill, first baseman Josh Satin and LHP Josh Edgin, it really does leave you scratching your head. What was the point? What could they possibly contribute? For that just leave Davis and company, right?
In my eyes, and the eyes of anyone who has eyeballs to see, the most glaring problem is the offense. It isn’t rocket science. This isn’t to say it is the only problem. Just the most obvious. In case you do not understand what I am saying, let me share with you what a couple of my colleagues have to say.
Fan Junkies Radio host, Jonathan Ragus, had this to say about what he sees when these so-called major leaguers come to bat:
“The Mets look lost at the plate. The pitching isn’t the problem that it always is with this team, it’s the hitting.”
That has been my point since the middle of May. The pitching has started to come together, slowly, but nonetheless it has. Look at how many games pitchers Jeremy Hefner and Matt Harvey could have won. Harvey should have a minimum of nine wins and Hefner should have at least four wins instead of a 1-6 record. The only way these guys are going to get any run support is if their teammates start hitting the ball. Put the ball in play. Quality at-bats are key. If you get an out, make it an effective out. Move the runner over.
“When the Mets fired Rick Down in 2007 that Mets team resembled what we are seeing at the plate this year, a lost ball club. The stances look off and hitters just look uncomfortable. It’s time for Sandy Alderson to make the change at hitting coach to see if it can rejuvenate some of these guys. If it doesn’t, than there is a bigger problem that no one sees on the field.”
With all of that being said, the only question left that should be asked and has yet to be asked is: What has hitting coach, Dave Hudgens, done to warrant remaining with the team especially when the worst team in the NL East beats you?
Here are some numbers for you to put things in perspective. Proceed with caution as the following information may cause you to switch allegiances.
Through only 58 games in 2013, the New York Mets have a batting average of .226, ranking them 25th. On-base percentage is .294 ranking 27th and with runners in scoring position their average is .241 (26th) and OBP .312 (23rd).
At the end of the 2012 season, the team ranked 19th with a .249 BA, 20th with a .316 OBP and with RISP they ranked 22nd with a .327 average. The numbers for 2011 are slightly higher.
Every year sine 2011 the team has been in a steady decline when it comes to the offense. NDB Media host for Sports Talk with the Guys, Roger Noriega, feels that “a good coach will always get his players to buy in”. You can hardly disagree with that.
When you are, or were, in school, if you had a great teacher, no matter how much you hated the subject, you paid attention. You learned. As much as I hated math, I passed my classes because I had a great math teacher in high school. I kept doing poorly, as did my classmates, with the teacher before her because I could not understand his teaching methods. The new teacher was able to see the problems we were having and came up with a game plan to fix it. She took us step by step and kept on until we got it.
This is not to say that Hudgens is not trying to help the players. It is only to say that his time is up. He is now ineffective as a hitting coach. One-third of the season is now gone. Demoting players and bringing up the players the team already had is not the solution. Firing the man responsible for not getting the job done is.
Give credit to former general managers Steve Phillips and Omar Minaya. When it was time to fire coaches, they did it. It doesn’t matter if you agreed with how it got done. The point is that it did. Minaya fired manager Willie Randolph, pitching coach Rick Peterson and first baseman coach Tom Nieto when the Mets were on a losing streak in 2008 in Anaheim. In 2007, Howard Johnson replaced Down as hitting coach.
In 1999, after an eight game losing streak in June, Phillips fired pitching coach Bobby Apodaca, bullpen coach Randy Niemann and hitting coach Tom Robson. After the firings, he told the media:
“We are one-third of the way through the season and that is enough time to make an evaluation. There is still enough time to get the ship righted.”
And right the ship they did. That year they won 97 games, the NL Division series, but lost the Championship series to the Atlanta Braves. Phillips saw it was the coaches and not the talent that was the problem.
The evaluation part of the quote sounds familiar. Alderson told the media:
“There may be players on the team right now who have been evaluated over the first part of the season, whose evaluation may culminate, or will be made in the next week or two or three weeks and there may a decision one way or another.”
Evaluations of players. Okay. But where are the evaluations on the coaching staff?
During the firings in 1999, Phillps also said:
“This decision was made with the intent to…help the hitters in situational hitting and allow us to perform better and let Bobby [Valentine] make it work.”
I could not have said it better myself. This is what a general manager is supposed to do. You give your manager the best possible team so that he can win games. That includes the coaching staff. If the staff the manager chose is not getting it done, the GM should step in and proceed to clean house, if necessary. There are no loyalties in baseball. You are in the position of general manager to do the best that you can with what is available to you. Mr. Alderson, you have not done so.
So my question remains unanswered. What has Hudgens done to warrant remaining with the team? From where I stand, not a single thing.