Now that the flames of the initial reactions of Giants hitting coach Carney Lansford's firing have cooled off a bit, I wanted to take a look at the overall picture about the Giants brass' decision not bring the Bay Area native back.
(Photo by: Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
For starters, I understand how tough this is for Lansford and some of his fans. The guy is a Bay Area legend. He grew up rooting for the Giants, was a key cog of the great Oakland A's teams in the late 80's and admitted that this was a job he took for "sentimental reasons", according to San Jose Mercury Giants beat writer Andrew Baggarly .
Yet, the fact of the matter is this: In his two seasons as hitting coach, the Giants ranked 29th and 26th in the Major Leagues in runs scored in 2008 and '09, respectively. They ranked 24th and 30th in OBP in 2008 and '09, respectively. They ranked 28th and 30th in OPS and 27th and 30th in walks in 2008 and '09, respectively.
Ironically, this is a hitting coach that is supposedly known for preaching plate patience and taking walks.
Well, the numbers of his hitters certainly show he wasn't very effective in getting his points across.
Because those numbers are flat-out pathetic, plain and simple. Sure, the Giants won 88 games this year, but they had an incredible starting pitching staff and a much improved bullpen.
How they won 88 games is simply a miracle of God, and to think they can pull off the same kind of feat next year with the same anemic hitting really is asinine.
The Giants need something to spark the offense, and when you need a spark, it usually comes in the form of a change, either with the players, manager, or coaches.
Bruce Bochy was deemed worthy of coming back at least for another season (despite his inability to make a lineup at times), and it's too early to tell what GM Brian Sabean is going to do in terms of the roster next Spring.
So it makes sense that Lansford was pushed out after two seasons. The Giants needed to make a change, and he was the odd man out. It really doesn't get more complicated than that.
However, while I do feel somewhat sorry for Lansford that it didn't work out here in San Francisco, I don't totally feel Lansford was a fault-less victim .
Too many times have Giants fans heard Lansford complain about the hitters he had.
Too many times have the Giants fans heard that nobody was listening to his hitting instruction.
While you can partially blame that on the Giants players (I mean, it's not Lansford's direct fault that Bengie Molina doesn't know what a ball is), it also shows a vital flaw: Lansford must not be a good coach.
After all, coaches are going to get new players all the time. They are going to have to deal and adapt with the hitting styles of each individual player. They need to understand which guys have the propensity to be patient, Scott Hattiesberg-types, and which guys are going to be free-swinging, Vlad Guerrero-types.
Unfortunately, you never got the feeling Lansford understood that.
He expected every Giant to follow one model, and if they didn't follow that he seemed to give up on them easily. Granted, that may have been the result of Lansford's blunt personality (the guy wasn't afraid to say anything and everything to the media), but most likely, it was an indicator of Lansford's impatience as a hitting coach.
Maybe Lansford got a raw deal, and maybe he was just not a good fit on this roster with the kind of hitters the Giants have. Perhaps the Giants need a guy that will have to live with what he has and work around it, even if it may not fit into his "agenda."
Who that is, I don't know. Apparently, Hensley Meulens, the Triple-A hitting coach in Fresno, seems to be a popular pick to succeed the position due to his ability to take flawed hitters and improve their approaches (as evidenced with Eugenio Velez and John Bowker).
The bottom line though? As good a guy as Lansford was, he simply didn't get the job done.
The stats say it, and when push comes to shove, you have to judge him by the results. Numbers don't lie. You want to wish him luck, because he is such a likable guy, but in reality, he simply wasn't a fit as the Giants hitting coach, and this probably was a move for the best considering Bochy is staying as manager.