Milt Thompson Pegged as Philadelphia Phillies' Scapegoat

Bob Cunningham@BCunningham215Senior Analyst IJuly 23, 2010

With the heat turning up on Charlie Manuel and the Phillies for their pathetic display this season, the team needed to find a scapegoat to turn attention away.

But after a game in which the Phils couldn't put a run on the board until the 11th inning despite 12 total hits and a eight scoreless innings of one-hit baseball by Cole Hamels, it would have to be a good one.

Their selection was logical: If everyone is upset about the lack of hitting, fire the hitting coach, Milt Thompson.

Of course, anyone paying attention can see this isn't going to fix things. Thompson can't swing the bats for the players and it doesn't seem like anyone is going to talk them out of swinging for the fences every time they step up to the plate.

He can preach and preach and preach about just getting contact and how useful a base knock can be, but he has no control over them once they leave the dugout.

And once they're in that batter's box, you can bet every single guy in this lineup gets wide-eyed just looking out at the vines in center field and get giddy just thinking about how they're going to take their lap around the bases.

That is, until their fantasy is ruined by the ump shouting "Steeerike Three!" in their ear.

But, like I said, it's a move that certainly makes sense on the surface and will breathe some new optimism into any fan looking for any reason to believe in this team again. So, for that reason, the move has done its job.

The new guy, Greg Gross, has a history inside the Phillies' organization. He was a player for 10 years and was around for the Phils' World Series appearances in 1980 and '83. He was the hitting coach once before, from 2002 to 2004, but went to Triple-A Lehigh Valley in 2005 to work in player development.

Perhaps a shakeup is just what these guys need to wake them up, but I'm so sick of saying that by now I could puke.

Either way, Gross is going to have a difficult time ahead of him as he's taking over a lineup ranked 13th in the National League in batting average with a mediocre .254 average, and a lot of guys who are getting in their own way at the plate more often than not.

One thing is for sure: As a .287 career hitter with only seven home runs in 17 years, Gross will certainly not be preaching that the bats continue to aim for the fences. Hopefully his unique perspective will sink in before the season is officially lost. But I'm not holding my breath.

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