Terry Pendleton on hitting: “That individual has to step up”

Terry Pendleton was hurt when he heard Jeff Francoeur had gone to Texas to work with Rangers hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo. He told Francoeur as much.

Said Pendleton: “Honestly? My pride gets in the way. I asked Jeff, ‘Why didn’t you come to me?’ Obviously he felt the need to go elsewhere. It’s his winter. [But] it bugged me at first. Not hearing it from him, that got me more than anything. I told him, ‘I thought our relationship was better than that.’ ”

Pendleton has been the Braves’ hitting coach since 2002, and he’s held in high esteem within the organization. But it did seem odd that the conspicuously flailing Francoeur would consult an instructor on another team’s payroll, and some have taken his Texas sojourn as a vote of no confidence in Pendleton.

And with the 2009 Braves starving for offense and the prized prospect Jordan Schafer being demoted after striking out 63 times in 50 games, the cry has gone up on AJC.com blogs: Pendleton must go! (Never mind that the Braves have hit above the National League in each of their seven full seasons under T.P.)

If Bobby Cox has anything to do with it, Pendleton is going nowhere. “Terry is good,” Cox said, emphasizing the adjective. “He’s an endless worker. He works harder than any hitting coach I’ve ever seen.” And Cox has worked alongside some fine ones: Cito Gaston, Clarence Jones, Don Baylor, Merv Rettenmund.

Said Pendleton, told of Cox’s wholehearted endorsement: “I appreciate that. It’s worth a lot.”

Does a hitting coach actually matter? “If I answer that, I’m damned if I do and damned if I don’t,” Pendleton said. “I always think there are things I can do better, and I’m always asking the players questions: ‘What do I need to do better?’ Physically, I think I can help a guy prepare. Mentally, you can do a lot of talking, but sometimes that individual has to step up.”

Still, a hitting coach feels it when a pupil fails. Pendleton again: “Chipper [Jones] and I were talking the other night, and I was saying I felt like I let [Schafer] down. You try to do everything you can for these young guys – sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t.”

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It isn’t as if Pendleton doesn’t know how failure feels. He hit .324 as a Cardinal rookie in 1984. But, he said, “I didn’t know how to make adjustments – henceforth .240 and .230 [the next two seasons].”

And how was the same guy able to win the batting title and be named MVP in 1991 as a Brave? “I adjusted.”

Asked if he feels Pendleton is a good hitting coach, Francoeur said: “Absolutely.” So why head for Texas? “Sometimes you’ve got to work something out. Even with Rudy, the final week I was there I was changing something else. Guys do that all the time. Chipper goes to his dad. Mac [Brian McCann] goes to his dad.”

Has his work with Jaramillo damaged his relationship with Pendleton? Francoeur: “We’ve talked about it. We’re working together now. I really can’t say much. It is what it is.”

Pendleton is a pro’s pro. He’ll always work hard to do the job he’s paid to do. “Guys have struggled before,” he said, “and I tried to assist them in getting it right.”

But this is the same Pendleton who walked off the field in Cincinnati in 1993 because he didn’t think Braves pitchers were protecting their hitters. The man does have a code.

And he also has a point: Sometimes a hitter has to step in and step up. A hitting coach can’t take every at-bat for his team. Goodness knows these Braves would be better served if theirs did.

214 comments Add your comment

JD

June 4th, 2009
2:02 pm

We’ve been bringing up the rear in offense for awhile now. It’s not like this season is a hiccup. And part of it is guys going into epic slumps. What has TP done to help Andruw, Francoeur, Schafer, Kelly, etc?

TP was hurt when Francoeur went to Rudy and says “Why didn’t you come to me?” He’d been Jeff’s hitting coach for three years at that point! Something’s obviously not working.

JD

June 4th, 2009
2:03 pm

oops…was I supposed to say “First!”?

Paul W

June 4th, 2009
2:05 pm

This is a results-oriented business, and the results stink. BC is too loyal for his own good. If he loves TP that much, maybe he should move him to a different job and get an effective batting coach.

Franchouer is the perfect benchmark. Either he is too hard-headed to listen to TP, or TP is ineffective. Whichever is true, one of them should go.

MiltonDawg

June 4th, 2009
2:06 pm

I agree with TP stating that sometimes it is up to the players themselves to step it up. However, how do you explain the lack of offense from the entire team over the past few years. Players? Coaches? Little bit of both? As far as the drama with Jeff is concerned, i agree with him on “it is what it is”, but nothing has dramatically changed since his visit with Rudy. Jeff needs to hang out with Chipper/McCann’s dads if it going so well for them.

Jason

June 4th, 2009
2:16 pm

Terry to me as a player was never much of a patient hitter, which I see a lot in the Braves approach to hitting this season and years past. It seems like we’re taking the aggressive approach night in and night out, with only a few exceptions that can be found. This wouldn’t be a problem if we had a team of Tony Gwynn’s, but we don’t.

This may not be on Terry, but we seem to have lost the art of playing small ball, moving guys over, and knowing the situation that you’re in, or maybe it’s because I see Franceour come up in these situations too often that my judgement isn’t accurate.

I want to say that Frenchy was doing good after working with Rudy, and is now underperforming because, as stated above, he’s working with Terry, but Jeff just doesn’t seem to have the right mentatlity to turn the corner on his performance. I don’t know if it’s his ego, or his determination to be a certain type of hitter, but whatever it is, it’s not the type of hitter that the Braves need. Does he need to have his eyes checked like McCann did, because some of the pitches combined with some of the swings he takes it just disgusting. His bases loaded performance last night was just stupid….and I say that a lot about Jeff’s approach, stupid.

Mac

June 4th, 2009
2:18 pm

So, you think Terry’s still got the eye and pop in his bat? Where would be play?

Herschel Talker

June 4th, 2009
2:21 pm

Terry Pendleton – nice guy. Decent 3B. Great team leader. A train wreck of a hitting coach. This is not up for debate.

Kevin

June 4th, 2009
2:22 pm

I understand completely the sentiments on TP…however I do think that TP knows how to hit and seems to be a good instructor. Francoeur reminds me much like Andruw Jones in the fact that he has all the talent in the world and will never adjust, never go opposite field, and never learn for himself how to hit. The game is a game of adjustments and it doesnt matter who is the instructor….Francoeur continues to look lost….if he would really work on remembering what TP, Rudy, and Chipper are saying and force himself to do those things then it might work….otherwise…Francoeur will fail

Alex

June 4th, 2009
2:26 pm

No way you put our hitting struggles entirely on Pendleton. If a coach could make players perform on command, coaches would get paid more than players.

ND

June 4th, 2009
2:36 pm

I have never played a game of organized baseball in my life so I would never profess to know the first thing about hitting. But what I do know is it makes sense to take what the pitcher is giving you and go from there. I don’t have PTV but from what I can gather, JF could have easily walked last night driving in the go ahead run. Instead he swings at pitches that are nwowhere near the strike zone. Can he not see that? I think Chipper is really the only guy on the team who will see an outside pitch and just serve it to the opposite field like he did the other night. I think he has a plan every at bat, JF doesn’t. But I will say this, TP is going nowhere this season so we might as well stop talking about it. And welcome to the Show Tommy and nice to have you Nate.

BT

June 4th, 2009
2:39 pm

Mark I am afraid I have to agree with Paul. Where are the results. If he is an excellent hitting coach who are the players he really helped. I am sure he is a great guy who has the respect of everyone as a person. I have just never seen in print the names of players who have become even better hitters because of Terry. Chipper and McCann have been helped by their dads. Schafer didn’t seem to get better, Diaz has always been a hitter. Does Escobar say that Terry has really helped him?

mitch

June 4th, 2009
2:40 pm

Mr. MB–next time you see Francoeur tell him everything is what it is. There ain’t nothing that ain’t what it is. And there ain’t nothing that is what it ain’t. I think. Like, it’s a tautology. It’s like saying a rose is a rose. Of course it’s a rose. It ain’t no pack of boiled peanuts. Your pal, Mitch

Ron E.

June 4th, 2009
2:45 pm

Pendleton might make a good manager. He needs to go as batting coach. He hasn’t been able to help the Braves’ struggling young hitters and those are the ones that actually need a batting coach. Chipper and McCann would hit fine even if the Braves didn’t have a batting coach at all.

getmattholliday

June 4th, 2009
3:00 pm

MITCH – LM you know what O. I’m cracking up at work reading your blog

CC

June 4th, 2009
3:01 pm

I don’t know that the team has much confidence in TP. He’s a good bench coach, but maybe being the hitting coach is not his strenth. It seems management wants to keep him and direct him to a higher job, but this path isn’t working out.

Bryan G.

June 4th, 2009
3:07 pm

Here are the numbers:

YEAR TEAM BA NL RANK
2009 .258 8th
2008 .270 3rd
2007 .275 2nd
2006 .270 2nd
2005 .265 6th
2004 .270 4th
2003 .284 1st
2002 .260 9th

I have to say, I’m not a Pendleton apologist, but the statistics do not reflect the perception that he is a bad hitting coach. Maybe Frenchy just can’t hit and Schaffer just wasn’t ready???

Skillet

June 4th, 2009
3:09 pm

All I get from this article is that Pendleton is indeed firmly implanted in the Braves organization, and is basically untouchable unless someone else purchases the Braves…Very disappointing…..I don’t put a whole lot of thought into what Frenchy did, going to Jaramillo for help, because Frenchy is desperate. But the team as a whole is not been productive for a good while. So what does Bobby Cox say, “Terry is good”…Folks meet your next Atlanta Brave manager, Terry Pendleton.

bfred

June 4th, 2009
3:14 pm

Good hitter does not equal good coach. Some guys can just do, but not explain how. Pendleton is clearly one of those guys. I loved him as a player and would advocate for keeping him as a coach, but agree with most here that he is not an instructor.

As for Francoeur, he is either ignoring his coaches and swinging wildly at every pitch he sees, or his coaches are not telling him to lay off and work the count. Either way, somebody is failing badly at his job. I think most readers here would like to know which it is – can one of the writers do a little legwork and get back to us? This question should not come as a surprise.

jake

June 4th, 2009
3:16 pm

Pendleton is a diaster. Name a player who has excelled under his “tutelage”? As JD, Paul and others have pointed out, no one. And the good hitters — Chipper, McCann, Diaz — were either already good hitters and/or turned to their fathers as coaches. The Braves have the past few years been consistently poor on offense, and as Joe Simpson has often pointed out, even lacked awareness to know when to take a pitch. And I don’t know that he’s even a good bench coach. Wren says he dropped Glavine and farmed out Schaefer based on performance, what about Pendleton?

Bob

June 4th, 2009
3:24 pm

For the record, Clarence Jones was a crummy hitting coach. But Pendleton, Francoeur and Jaramillo can ALL get their Braves Minor League info from here-

http://minorsandmajors.com

JJ

June 4th, 2009
3:29 pm

If JF went to another coach, came back, and is just as lousy as when he left, why crucify TP.
I think he is just another flash in the pan athlete who was great in high school but needs at least another 2 years in minor league ball beginning in AA.

Smithoma

June 4th, 2009
3:33 pm

So it looks like there is no resolve to the Pendleton problem. Classic Bobby Cox, sticking behind his guys. Frank doesn’t have the gaul to go against Bobby’s grain.

Smithoma

June 4th, 2009
3:34 pm

JJ, The TP problem is bigger than Francouer.

Mark Bradley

June 4th, 2009
3:36 pm

Take a look at Bryan G.’s table above. Tell me if a team that has ranked in the top half of the National League in hitting each of the past six seasons reflects poorly on the hitting coach.

ND

June 4th, 2009
3:37 pm

JJ: That is a good point. Besides, JF can look at his ABs on film and see he sucks. As bad as he looks he should be able to figure it out on his own.

Aunt Esther

June 4th, 2009
3:38 pm

I love Terry Pendleton, sucka, but he’s a fish-eyed-fool of a hitting coach.

Curious George

June 4th, 2009
3:44 pm

Is Terry Pendleton being kept on as Hittiing Coach for the purpose of keeping him within the BRAVES organization as the heir apparent to Bobby Cox as Manager?

Alan

June 4th, 2009
3:46 pm

Bobby Cox, bless him for being loved by his players and coaches but enough is enough. Do we have the talent, if so, whats wrong or do we not have the talent to be better. I have never seen a team that can be up one day and down the next, at least not a winning team. These men are professionals and if they can’t approach every game as such, something is wrong. I was a professional in sales, the only down time I had was if i felt iwas so good i couldn’t miss or if I felt sorry for myself. HOPE THE BRAVES CAN FIND THERE WAY OR ITS A LONG SUMMER!!!!!

mjphilli

June 4th, 2009
3:51 pm

Some people just won’t listen or adjust. Besides, the first time I saw Francoeur’s swing, I was immediately thought of Brad Kommisk – no way that swing is gonna equate to a long career.

Skillet

June 4th, 2009
3:52 pm

Mark,

And up until last season, the Braves run production average in the NL since 2002 wasn’t horrible either…So even if I’m willing to give Pendleton a pass as the hitting coach. I’d still think he should manage a team in the minors, just to make sure that he can control a team. It’s pretty obvious that he and Frenchy would be at odds, and that makes me wonder if there are any other Braves who don’t respect Terry. The hitting coach job, is one of those MLB jobs where the coach gets too much praise for a teams success, and too much criticism for a teams failure. Let’s see what Terry can do with a Chevy before we hand him the keys to a Cadillac.

Ronald Millsaps

June 4th, 2009
3:52 pm

When I learned yesterday that Tom Glavine was released, I was stunned. You just don’t do someone that way.

I’m not against Frank Wren’s being the GM, but this organization has some serious strikes against it. When you look at the combination of John Smoltz, Tom Glavine, and Greg Maddux, Wren, in the span of a few months, has been highly disrespectful of all three, especially to Glavine. If you’re not going to re-sign the man, you need to be direct about it—before the season—as opposed to giving him this malarky–especially in June.

By the way, to anyone who thinks Glavine is getting his just desserts for going to New York, remember three things: You don’t mistreat someone with this legacy and who has been this integral a part of your success; he has the right to play wherever he wants, and John Schuerholz easily could’ve re-signed him but kept putting him on the backburner while negotiating with Mike Hampton.

I still say Bobby and T.P. could do more with this team chemistry-wise. As mentioned, Bobby has used disproved approaches many times and has given adjustments two or three games at times. No question that he can build a team like no other, but his in-game strategy can be questionable at times. Yes, this statement is true for every other manager as well, but it does bother me that we haven’t seen the right attempts for optimal team chemistry. Why he refuses to at least try Jeff Francoeur at cleanup is a sign of extreme stubbornness, the same for his refusal to use Kelly Johnson properly–but at least Kelly is batting like a run-producer now and not a run-scorer.

Ronald Millsaps

June 4th, 2009
3:52 pm

correction: two* of the three, not “all three”

JD

June 4th, 2009
3:53 pm

Looking at that table, I’m a little shocked. I remember watching those 2006 and 2007 seasons and continually being frustrated by the offense’s inability to score runs.

JJ – Francoeur stuck with Rudy’s advice for the first part of the season, and was hitting well over .300. He admittedly went back to his old ways in May and his average plumetted. He still looks like his old self and he’s still getting the same results. I want to know what TP is doing about that.

Jay

June 4th, 2009
3:53 pm

Who exactly has TP developed as a hitter?

wmatlanta

June 4th, 2009
3:53 pm

Mark, I believe Jeff’s got till the July 31st deadline to get his act together or he’s gone, if Frank Wren’s epic Wednesday is any indication.

Mark Bradley

June 4th, 2009
3:54 pm

Let’s take Francoeur. Went to Texas. Worked with Jaramillo. Got a whole new stance and approach. And what’s he hitting? Why, .251 — with an even worse on-base percentage than last season.

Is it possible it’s not the coaching?

Chop Suey

June 4th, 2009
3:54 pm

Terry teaches chopping at the ball. Must be the truth. Thorman and Francoeur are the best examples. Francoeur lets this team down every at-bat with his undisciplined plate demeanor. He killed a rally last night and kills them with regularity. Not a smart player. Not being coached or not accepting coaching. Either way, it needs to get fixed. Bring back the Canadians. Send Frenchy to France. Delta is ready when you are. Chop Suey from Canton, here. Still waiting on the Chop Chick blog from April 9 to come down and my new blog to go up.

Billy

June 4th, 2009
3:56 pm

Mark, I don’t care one way or another whether he stays or goes, but I will say that BA doesn’t equal runs. And THAT’S the problem for the Braves. If you leave the bases loaded every inning, your BA is going to be fantastic, but you’re still going to lose.

Skillet

June 4th, 2009
3:59 pm

Billy,

Stats can be misleading.

Mark Bradley

June 4th, 2009
4:00 pm

I believe Brian McCann won the Silver Slugger award for his position, and he has had only one major-league hitting coach. And now you’re going to say, “Well, McCann goes to his dad.” But is McCann’s dad with the Braves on the road? In the clubhouse? In the dugout?

Does Pendleton get credit for Escobar? For Renteria hitting .293 and then .332 as a Brave after hitting .276 for Boston? For Willie Harris having his best statistical season in his one year as a Brave? Or are we only listing those failures who suit our argumentative purposes?

MatthewH

June 4th, 2009
4:01 pm

OK, 3 blogs in one day? Are you trying to get me fired?!? How am I supposed to read them all and still be productive at work? Thanks for all of the great info.

Outside Robber

June 4th, 2009
4:02 pm

I’m seeing the Francoeur side of the issue here in that sometimes, fresh eyes are needed to provide a new perspective and view of what’s working and what’s not. Could the same be said for the current Braves’ manager and coaching staff? Fresh eyes needed?

wmatlanta

June 4th, 2009
4:03 pm

Jeff’s issue is he always swings at and usually misses the first pitch, and the entire baseball world knows this. So he starts off 0-1.
Stan Kasten and the Washington Nationals would take Jeff in a heartbeat.

Fi

June 4th, 2009
4:05 pm

Agree Mark. I really think it’s an issue with the pupil and not the teacher. There’s only so much TP can do – it’s up to Franceour to act upon what he learns from TP or any other hitting coach.

MatthewH

June 4th, 2009
4:05 pm

Millsaps-I’m not sure how the Braves did Glavine wrong. They offered himn the chance to retire as a Brave and he declined and asked for his release. Would you want him pitching for the team if he couldn’t do it? They were honest with him and gave him a chance to go out as a Brave. What exactly did you want the Braves to do?

Mark Bradley

June 4th, 2009
4:06 pm

Thanks, Matthew. Sorry to be a distraction.

And let me say this about Jeff Francoeur: He’s one of my favorite guys, but he has always swung at the first pitch. I covered a high school playoff doubleheader at Parkview when he was a senior, and he swung at the first pitch seven times in eight at-bats. Terry Pendleton had nothing to do with that performance. That’s just Francoeur’s nature.

Skillet

June 4th, 2009
4:07 pm

Mark,

You can’t fire all the players. And the Braves fans have not gotten their money’s worth over the past 3 seasons…So if these recent player moves don’t pan out, than the Braves need to think seriously about new leadership.

Rez

June 4th, 2009
4:07 pm

No run braves stem from the following: 9 hitters, 3 (B+/A-), 2 (B/B-), 1 (C-), 3 (D-/F). So mathematically 44% of your hitters are sub par / below average.

sd

June 4th, 2009
4:08 pm

People blamed TP for Andruw too. When Andruw left, he got worse. It was a shame too, because at one point, he had potential to have one of the best careers at center field of all time.

So, I think that a lot of these guys just lose the ability to hit. Usually its mental.

sd

June 4th, 2009
4:10 pm

However, I will say that if I was Bobby Cox that I would tell Francoer that he is to take pitches. “I don’t care if the first ball is straight over the plate and coming in at 65 mph, you keep the bat on your shoulder, or you get fined.”