Carney Lansford didn’t walk a whole lot during his playing career. He walked about as much as Pablo Sandoval. Now he isn’t the Giants’ hitting coach anymore, and while it’s hard to shed too many tears, it’s hard not to feel like Lansford is probably relieved tonight.
Sandoval’s 52 walks were more than any other Giant collected this season, as a group of the most impatient, guess-hacking, clueless hitters baseball has ever seen led to Lansford’s getting dismissed today. Brian Sabean stays, Lansford goes. Even though he had a hand in picking Lansford and his poorly reviewed successor Joe Lefebvre (who, hmmm, happened to be Sabean’s buddy), Sabean stays.
Even though the Giants’ cleanup hitter … all … season… long … was Bengie Molina, Sabean stays.
Even though the Giants’ choices at second base over the past two seasons ranged from ancient and injury prone to overmatched and bitter, Sabean stays.
Even though he blew his allowance last off-season on a shortstop who very well may be 42 and pitcher who we know is 45, Sabean stays.
Even though Rich Aurilia was paid a Major League salary by the Giants for the entire season without interruption, and was even allowed to play from time to time, Sabean stays.
Maybe Lansford had more to do with the Giants’ offense ranking 10th in the National League or worst in 13 major offensive statistical categories (Runs, Hits, 2B, HR, SB, CS, BB*, BA, OBP*, SLG, OPS*, TB and HBP) than we even know (and yes, * means last in the NL). Maybe Carney was the one telling the outfielders to take first-pitch-strikes and swing at every pitch in the dirt or heading towards their kidneys that they saw.
I don’t even know who or what a good hitting coach is. Was Dusty Baker a good hitting coach for the Giants, or did he just enjoy the advantage of having Will Clark, Kevin Mitchell, Robby Thompson and Matt Williams around? Was Walt Hriniak a great hitting coach just because he made everyone from Frank Thomas to Michael Jordan swing one handed like a Pete Sampras backhand?
Do those American League teams (the Red Sox, Yankees and Twins come to mind) who get deep into counts and fill up the basepaths (and cause games to last about a half-hour longer, but every Giant fan would gladly accept slower games in exchange for an extra run a game) live and die by their hitting coaches, or do they go after players who have worked counts throughout their professional careers?
If Lansford’s firing warms the cockles of your Louisville Slugger, good for you (Actually, that sounds pretty gross. You need to get a girlfriend and stop reading sports blogs all day). But if the Giants are going to infuse the 2010 team with a dose of hitting Cialis next season, it won’t come from the hitting coach. It will come from Sabean going to his doctor and talking about his allergies to certain medications….
Sorry, that metaphor went a little far.
Anyway, Sabean needs to provide the new hitting coach (Who could end up being … Hensley Meulens? That’s the top candidate? Isn’t anybody whose rookie cards didn’t plunge in value by $15 dollars in 1990 available?) with an actual cleanup hitter, a patient hitter or four and a bench free of guys who played for the team 10 years ago. Then the next guy will have a chance. Otherwise? We’ll be back in this situation in 2 years, with Sabean scapegoating Meulens in order to get Bill Neukom to pick up yet another 2-year extension.