As a player, Howard Johnson was a very valuable commodity. He hit homers, was pretty clutch and he was a good leader in the clubhouse.
But, this story is not about Howard Johnson the player. It is about Howard Johnson the hitting coach. He just isn’t cutting it, and I think it is about time for the Mets to go a different direction.
One of the biggest examples of a guy that Johnson has done a terrible job with is David Wright. We all remember a couple of years ago when Wright had two strikes on him. Gary Cohen would say that the at bat was just beginning.
Now, we are seeing Wright with a terrible loop in his swing, and his strikeout numbers have risen drastically. He also doesn’t go the other way nearly as often as he used to, and Howard Johnson doesn’t seem to be doing anything about it.
With Wright, Johnson has been a mentor since David was in the minor leagues, but there is no excuse for him to be as out of flux as he is right now. When the cameras go to HoJo in the dugout after one of the many Wright strikeouts, his face is expressionless, and he doesn’t even walk over to Wright to discuss the flaws in his approach.
The term coaching implies some teaching, and Johnson doesn’t seem to do much of that.
Another guy who seems lost at the plate is Jose Reyes. He swings at way too many first pitches and he doesn’t work the count. We all know about Reyes’ immaturity, and he needs somebody to sit next to him and talk to him.
Johnson seems content with chewing on his sun flower seeds as Reyes continues to waste at bat after at bat. Jose is always extremely off balance, and he needs to be more patient. I believe that I could be doing much more than HoJo does, and that is when you know that we have a problem.
The third guy who can certainly use some more tutelage is Daniel Murphy. Murphy is in an extremely big rut right now, and he has lost the patience that made him such a dangerous hitter.
For Murph, I think it would be useful for him to take more of a Luis Castillo sort of approach. He should zone in on one pitch and work the count. He has a bit of pop, but I have a feeling that his long-term potential is being a solid, doubles hitter. He just needs to stay within himself and wait for a pitch that he can drive.
In this article, I have done more coaching than Howard Johnson. The Mets should do some research and find out who’s available. I know many people are going to blame the lack of production on injuries, but patience hasn’t been exercised, and somebody needs to take the fall.