After years of calling for his head, Angels fans finally get their wish as the team has announced that embattled hitting coach Mickey Hatcher has been relieved of his duties.
For some, this is cause for celebration, but not for me, though I do think it was time for him to go. This team's offense has gotten too bad and too many batters are struggling for any hitting coach of any repute to keep his job, even if his duties don't have much to do with said struggles. This move is all about someone having to pay for the Angels' painfully slow start.
What it most definitely isn't is some sort of power play by Albert Pujols as certain national reporters are speculating (hint, the writer's name rhymes with Shmon Shmeyman).
Yes, Albert and Mickey had a little bit of a run-in over Hatcher being a bit too candid with the media. That incident was just frustration boiling over and I suspect that is what this firing is about as well, only this time the frustration comes from the top. By that, I mean Jerry Dipoto and probably Arte Moreno too. We are almost a quarter of the way into the season and the inept hitting has shown no signs of turning around, so one cannot blame management for wanting to shake things up.
Hatcher was just the easiest target. In his 13 years in the position, fans have probably been demanding his firing for roughly 11 of those years. If this firing does anything, it should appease the angry mob for a short time. What it won't do is instantly turn around the team's offensive fortunes.
Granted, I have never heard anyone make any kind of case that Hatcher was a good hitting coach. Heck, I can count on one hand all the times in the last 13 years that I have heard a player credit Mickey for helping them out. That being said, a hitting coach has pretty limited impact and influence on the team's performance. It is highly unlikely that interim hitting coach is going to come up and suddenly straighten out Pujols or Aybar or Wells or Bourjos. At best, the team will benefit simply from having a new voice in the clubhouse. But really, how much difference will that even make?
If we look at this from far enough away, the real story here isn't that Hatcher got canned, it is that Dipoto and/or Moreno actually were able to fire him. Hatcher has been by Mike Scioscia's side for the entirety of Scioscia's tenure and Mike has protected him over and over and over again. Maybe this was Scioscia's idea, but I seriously doubt it. More likely, Scioscia had this thrust upon him, which is a safe assumption since Sosh was curiously absent when the announcement was made.
Combine this firing with the trade of Jeff Mathis and it seems pretty clear that the iron grip on the franchise that so many assumed Scioscia had before last off-season has been greatly loosened, assuming it was ever that tight to begin with. Some have taken the giant leap of logic and decided that Hatcher being fired is somehow a shot across Scioscia's bow and that he better start getting results or he could be next. I have no insider information here, but I find that assumption highly dubious. Firing a batting coach says that the team is frustrated and not willing to stand idly by without doing something. Firing a long-tenured manager like Scioscia says you want to change the direction and philosophy of a franchise entirely and the Angels are a long ways a way from crossing that bridge.
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Yup, this was all about pandering to the rioting villagers. I was going to make a comment that the new coach must be brilliant to have caused twelve hits last night after a half hour of His presence. Then I found out Hatcher was let go AFTER the game. All you knee-jerk reactionaries better hope there aren't any more games with less than double-digit hit totals because I'm going to mock you incessantly when they happen. And they will. Can anybody out there picture Albert Pujols sitting there, listening in rapt attention to a minor league hitting coach? HA! Ain't going to happen. Not this year. IF Eppard shows he knows something he might bring some credibility to next season but, for this year, these guys will continue trying to figure it out on their own.
On the other hand, I can also see that Hatcher could easily become the new W and, four years from now, any hitting problem will continue to be blamed on him. That would be incompetence by whoever does it.