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Hojo on the Hot Seat?

by Jim McNierney

A hitting coach’s (or instructor or whatever title fits within the baseball organization) job is as tenuous as the manager’s job if not more so because his responsibilities are so specialized.

In teaching, mentoring, instructing both veterans and young players in the fine art of being successful in hitting a 9” ball being thrown at you in varying speeds is nothing shot of a black art. Like most skills in a sporting arena, the skill is honed only through practice and preparation for the confrontation and situations to come.

One of the amazing appeals to this sport that we all love is this one on one confrontation of a batter versus an opposing pitcher. Even when the batter is successful in making contact with this sphere there is a very strong possibility that he will still be unsuccessful in furthering his team’s position. The odds are very strong that one of the nine players on the other team will stand to react quickly enough to assure that the batter’s efforts are still considered fruitless.

Thus, very much like the manager of a baseball team, the only thing a hitting coach can do is to be supportive, give guidance that he feels will be constructive in developing this skill and hope that his charges will be productive. Like a manager, the hitting coach’s success is garnered through the success of his team.

In the case of Mr. Johnson, despite his claims to the contrary, he would be well advised to be looking over his shoulder. The Mets hitter’s have been looking pretty awful for quite some time. Jason Bay has become almost a parody of himself in comparison to his career numbers and average prior to coming to the Mets. Curiously, in the case of Mr. Bay, he was still successful when facing American League pitching during the inter-league games. I don’t know what conclusion to come to with that information.

The Mets as a team before last night’s game have been 5-for-36 with runners in scoring position since the mid season break. Their batting average with the bases loaded is the worst in the Major Leagues. They have been shut out three times during this current road trip. The shutout number is a mark of futility that they hadn’t been guilty of since 1981.

A lot Mets fans were quite hopeful with the return to action of Carlos Beltran and Luis Castillo. Those hopes have been dashed (trashed, squashed, worked over and summarily flushed into the primordial commode) over the last week while watching their beloved team move through this road trip that held so much promise.

With the trade deadline looming large next week, it’s going to be imperative that the Mets make some kind of move if they have any hope of remaining relevant as the season winds into it’s last two months of action. Trades might not be enough. There might need to be some changes made (as illogical as this sounds) to the managing and coaching staff if only to show the fans that the front office is paying attention.


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