The Chicago Cubs led the National League in runs and on-base percentage in 2008 and were second in batting average. The same Chicago Cubs fired hitting coach Gerald Perry on Sunday because they’re not hitting as well.
And now you’re asking: Why don’t the Braves, who have scored only 10 more runs than the Cubs, do the same?
Answer: Because you never want to take your cue from the Cubs, who have been getting it wrong for more than a century.
Answer: Because the Cubs are, once again, wrong.
Gerald Perry — former Brave, good guy — is a skilled hitting coach. The Cubs, who know something about goats, needed a scapegoat. Are they hitting much this season? Nope. But they’re the same guys (minus Aramis Ramirez, who’s been hurt) as last season.
As Alfonso Soriano told reporters: “Last year, nobody said nothing. We had the best team offensively. He was the best hitting coach. This year, we have a little problem and now he’s the worst.”
In the same Associated Press story, Ryan Theriot said Perry “did everything in his power aside from going up there and hitting for us.”
This space sought to address the Pendleton issue 10 days ago, but the matter, if you judge by comments on the ol’ blog, hasn’t been put to rest. Is it the hitting coach’s fault that Jeff Francoeur has a lifelong penchant for swinging at the first delivery? (I saw him play a doubleheader when he was a Parkview senior, and he swung at the first pitch seven of eight times.)
Is it Pendleton’s fault Jordan Schafer struck out 358 times in 385 minor-league games before this season? Is it Pendleton’s fault Frank Wren had to dump Mark Teixeira for Casey Kotchman, who has never had more than 14 homers in a big-league season?
Pendleton’s track record:
Only in one of Pendleton’s seven full seasons — his first — have the Braves finished in the bottom half of the league in any of the three key offensive categories. This year they’re in the lower half in all three, but which is the exception and which the rule? And really, given the makeup of this roster, should we have expected much more?
Chipper Jones has won a batting title on Pendleton’s watch. Brian McCann has won the Silver Slugger award. Andruw Jones hit 51 homers in 2005 and 41 in 2006. If Pendleton is to blame for all the bad, is he not deserving of credit for any of the good?
Bottom line: With these Braves, it’s not the hitting coach. It’s the hitters, or the abject lack thereof.