Monday, January 11, 2010

More January Baseball

OK, I promise not to go all baseball all the time on you but the whole Mark McGwire issue has been bothering me for a while.

Some time ago the St. Louis Cardinals announced that they had hired former slugger Mark McGwire as a hitting coach to replace Hal McRae. The Birds definitely struggled with the bats down the stretch so a change here seemed to have some logic. But McGwire? I wasn't convinced.

Then in an interview last week Tony LaRussa, Super GeniusTm, suggested that maybe the Cardinals could use McGwire as a pinch hitter late in the season. OK, this just put me over the top!

McGwire is a 46 year old man and would be 47 by the end of the season. That's all kinds of too old to play MLB baseball. The few exceptions one could find to that rule are people that have not been injury plagued (McGwire was) and didn't take the last 8 years off! This is nothing but Tony LaRussa, Super GeniusTm and #1 fan and bestest friend of McGwire trying to rehabilitate McGwire's image. It's a stupid idea and everyone knows it. As the ridicule rolled out Tony LaRussa, Super GeniusTm backed away from it. He was joking, he claims.

Today, McGwire addressed the allegations that he used steroids during his career. He copped to using them. No shit, Sherlock! Personally, I don't care that much. I don't see them as cheating. It doesn't bother me that they were used. Blah. Whatever.

All this attention has just made me focus more on hiring McGwire as a hitting coach. His career stats don't scream hitting coach to me. Batting Average is not a very good stat to base an entire analysis on but a career .263 is kind of sad. Additionally, McGwire has more strike outs (1,596) than RBIs (1,414). Of the top 10 sluggers in baseball history McGwire shares that distinction with Sosa and A-Rod, both fellow 'roid-heads, and the great Harmon Killebrew. Killebrew retired when I was just 4 years old but I wouldn't hire Sosa or A-Rod as hitting coaches either.

I watched McGwire and was and remain a fan. That doesn't translate into me thining he's the best for this job. When I think of the way McGwire played the game I think of the infield shift because he was a dead pull hitter. I think of tape measure shots over the out field wall. I think of big, swinging strikeouts. I do not think of slapped line drives. I do not think of going the opposite way. I do not think of hit and runs. In short, I do not think of situational hitting.

Sluggers generally know how to put a ball over the fence. Getting people on base and moving them around the diamond takes more than raw power.




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