The Cubs fire their hitting coach. Should the Braves?

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:

  • In 2002, the Braves were ninth in the league in hitting and OBP, 10th in runs.
  • In 2003, they were first in hitting and runs, second in OBP.
  • In 2004, they were fifth in all three categories.
  • In 2005, they were fourth in runs, fifth in hitting and seventh in OBP.
  • In 2006, they were second in hitting and runs, sixth in OBP.
  • In 2007, they were third in OBP, fourth in hitting and runs.
  • In 2008, they were third in hitting and OBP, sixth in runs.

Should the Braves fire Terry Pendleton?

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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.

418 comments Add your comment

WTF???

June 15th, 2009
2:46 pm

Abso-damn-lutely

Phil

June 15th, 2009
2:49 pm

Go ahead and tell us how great a job Moron Cox is doing while you’re at it.

Mark Bradley

June 15th, 2009
2:51 pm

Moron Cox is doing a great job. (But I was under the impression his first name was Robert. Live and learn, I suppose.)

AJC*

June 15th, 2009
2:57 pm

You can’t fire your next manager…It’s quite a dilemma for the Braves.

Homer

June 15th, 2009
2:59 pm

Awwwww….Bradley is in love!!! How sweet.

Frankie Knuckles

June 15th, 2009
3:00 pm

Sometimes somebodys gotta get fired. At least the Cubs are sending out the message loud and clear. Mr. Turner, please get nostalgic, and buy back this team.

BT

June 15th, 2009
3:03 pm

Mark, I have to respectfully disagree. On your “is it Pendletons fault ….” I would have to counter with the following:

Kelly Johnson has been here a few years now with no apparent improvement. Sure he had about three very good weeks at the end of the season (no pressure) when he was lights out but this year is almost a third over and he is having a career poor year. Chipper and McCann you know where they get their instruction. Kotchman is Kotchman as his Frenchy. Diaz I like but is undisciplined at the plate. Garrett Anderson is a semi disaster. Blanco has not improved. Norton is horrible, I doubt that Ross has learned much from Terry. My point is instead of let’s keep him because it’s not his fault, someone should be able to say he should be kept because he helped these players. Our first base rental for last year distorted the team average last year.

Everyone says TP is a great guy – not a great reason to keep him.

WTF???

June 15th, 2009
3:03 pm

I think Bobby has gone senile.

Frankie Knuckles

June 15th, 2009
3:03 pm

Mark,
Whats your take on the Braves offensive struggles/inconsistency this season? Is it just not our year? Did Schafer hurt the team more than we thought? Garrett Anderson?

Phil

June 15th, 2009
3:04 pm

If it’s because of the lack of hitters, then whose fault is that? Wren? You don’t think Cox had any say so in the roster? Who to keep, who to cut, who to trade? Get real, Wren doesn’t have a clue, he depended on Cox to set this roster.

PMC

June 15th, 2009
3:04 pm

I don’t think it matters. They could have Ted Williams head and the ghost of Joe Dimaggio teaching hitting and they’d still be in 4th.

See the ball hit the ball. Swing at strikes. Work counts deep. Get to the Bullpen Early. It’s not the coach, it’s the players.

AJC*

June 15th, 2009
3:05 pm

Hitting coach jobs are overrated, and like Frankie Knuckles says “At least the Cubs are sending out the message”…Somebody with the Braves organization needs to be sacrificed for this debacle of a team.

PMC

June 15th, 2009
3:06 pm

there is no salary cap, they could have paid Mark Teixeria if they really wanted to win afterall… then again, he didn’t really do squat here either.

Reid Adair

June 15th, 2009
3:09 pm

Well said, Mark. A hitting coach can only so so much with players who, excluding Chipper Jones and Brian McCann, are average at best – and some of them aren’t at that level.

Mark Bradley

June 15th, 2009
3:09 pm

Frankie — I had a very nice aunt named Frankie, by the way — I just don’t think these guys are very good hitters. Chipper is. McCann is. Escobar could be. But Matt Diaz is a part-timer for a reason, and Kelly Johnson has never, I’m sorry to say, impressed me. Casey Kotchman has no power. Jeff Francoeur is feast-or-famine, mostly famine of late. Garret Anderson will turn 37 in 15 days.

When the roll of all-time ambitious thoughts is called, Frank Wren’s “We-might-have-seven-guys-who-can-hit-20-homers” will be prominent therein.

JEB

June 15th, 2009
3:11 pm

MArk you are correct!
As Braves fans – we really do not see the BIG picture (which is the whole league and the total figures) we just see our Braves on a day to day routine – and we love them – but we are so frustrated that we want to BLAME somebody. Pendleton and Bobby are good places for the fan base to start.
We hollar to trade and get rid of Francouer and K. Johnson – then we blame Pendleton for their situation.

We seem to forget that these guys are like students in school – you can have the best teachers – but that does not guarantee the success of the student.

Mark Bradley

June 15th, 2009
3:12 pm

But in Wren’s defense — I say again — he had two areas to fix over the winter: The starting pitching and the outfield. He got the starting pitching part done. He didn’t get the outfield. But you can only do so much in one offseason. (Unless you’re the Yankees or Boston, in which case you just buy until you find the ones you like.)

randyarnold

June 15th, 2009
3:12 pm

Pendleton should go, but only as part of a larger purge which starts with Wren – and ownership. When the powers that be decided to trade the young talent in the Teixeria trade, and then released TBS as part of house-cleaning from the Turner era, it became obvious they no longer wanted to make the Braves a team people wanted to watch.

MiltonDawg

June 15th, 2009
3:16 pm

can we outsource a hitting coach? is that considered a write off expense?

Shamus Thacker

June 15th, 2009
3:17 pm

We have players whose DADS are better batting coaches.

We have a player (incompetent in his own right) who calls out to ANOTHER TEAM’s coach for guidance.

We have Greg F’n Norton, for Gawd’s sake!

So, yes Mark, we need new ideas….

Mark Bradley

June 15th, 2009
3:17 pm

On the bright side, Greg Norton has made Corky Miller seem like Carlton Fisk.

davonelson

June 15th, 2009
3:19 pm

Make Bobby Cox the general manager and get a new manager who doesn’t have a sentimental attachment to the coaches so they will be accurately evaluated. I believe Bobby would have handled the Glavine case better but we need a manager who will get the attention of players like Francouer before they are lost for good. Andrew Jones was never really made to focus on his issues until he left Atlanta.

Homer

June 15th, 2009
3:20 pm

You have dreams about TP and BC at night don’t you Bradley?

Mark Bradley Supporter

June 15th, 2009
3:20 pm

I think the Braves just lack fundamental hitters. We seem to be a rather free swinging ball club with the exception of Chipper and McCann. Everyone else in my opinion is a crap shoot at the plate. Trying to turn Frenchy into a situational hitter is like trying to paint a house with crayons. Maybe TP isn’t the best hitting coach but the dude knows how to hit and how it should be done. You can lead a horse to water but……….

Renegator

June 15th, 2009
3:20 pm

Chipper Jones: goes to his Dad for help with his swing
Brian McCann: goes to his Dad for help with his swing

When your two best hitters want nothing to do with the team’s hitting coach – that should tell you something

Jeff Francoeur: went to Texas Rangers hitting coach (Jamarillo) for help with his swing in the off-season
Andruw Jones: completely lost at the plate his final year with the Braves and his 1 year with the Dodgers – yet Texas Rangers hitting coach has him straighened out this year

One hitting coach is getting it done – one hitting coach is not. Can you tell me which is which?

Seriously, baseball (or any professional sport for that matter) is results driven and guess what – the results aren’t there. The over-aggressive swing at the first pitch mentality that Terry Pendleton and Bobby Cox have – isn’t working. Change the approach or get someone in here that will.

And Bobby will NEVER fire Terry Pendleton. He is too loyal to ever fire anybody even when the results aren’t there. Not going to happen. Wren is going to have to do it – if it’s ever going to get done.

flange1

June 15th, 2009
3:21 pm

Mark,

Great blog topic!

From my perspective, I think I agree with you 3:09 post that TP doesn’t have that much to work with (can’t shine poo poo as my dad would have said.)

But I can also see that the Cubs wanted to make a statement and so they fired the hitting coach.

I think FW has to continue remaking the team and pulling off great deals like the JJJ deal and the Nate the Great deal.

We need more outfielders and FW will get them, he just needs the time to do it.

Hoosier Aaron

June 15th, 2009
3:22 pm

The one thing you probably didn’t realize…against the Twins – Perry told Milton Bradley there were three outs and to toss the ball into the bleachers but pose before you do it AND he was yelling for him to run into the tag at third with two outs.
So – he is the one who should’ve been fired on the Cubs.

Bit Failu

June 15th, 2009
3:22 pm

Randyarnold-
A purge of ownership? I don’t think anyone is in a place to fire ownership. Are you proposing some sort of government intervention?

spider

June 15th, 2009
3:24 pm

MARK, SEEMS YOU WANT TO FIRE EVERYONE BUT YOURSELF

Mark Bradley

June 15th, 2009
3:25 pm

I was wondering about that myself. Who does fire an owner? Would this be like the Saturday Night Massacre, where Richardson and Ruckelshaus wouldn’t fire Archibald Cox and the White House had to get Robert Bork to do it?

Then again, didn’t Billy Knight basically fire Steve Belkin?

JEB

June 15th, 2009
3:29 pm

Renegator

Before you start touting the great success of Rudy J.
go look at what Andruw has been doing lately (right under Rudy’s nose and direction – no doubt!) Also, go look at some of the stats for some of those Texas Rangers and find a few more surprises!
It’s not always the teacher!! At times the student can’t get his head straight!

Sometimes – certain teachers connect better with certain students.
Some students need their a@@ reamed & kicked – some need a head pat and head massage!

Shamus Thacker

June 15th, 2009
3:29 pm

Greg Norton is a disgrace to the Mendoza Line.

Bone

June 15th, 2009
3:31 pm

It’s either you fire everyone or do nothing because there’s nothing wrong. But…..the Braves seem to stay at .500. So, what is the big plan?

PTC DAWG

June 15th, 2009
3:32 pm

Sometimes change is needed..and a good thing…Braves need change in the dugout..Hitting Coach, Manager, you name it, what could it hurt? Last I checked, they are in a battle for 4th in the division.

Mark Bradley

June 15th, 2009
3:32 pm

For the Braves, I’m guessing the big plan is to go enjoy a delicious four-way bean at Skyline Chili in Cincinnati tonight.

PMC

June 15th, 2009
3:32 pm

You know one other thing is that Firing Coaches, especially in baseball is a good indication of a poorly run franchise from the top down.

IE. Trading Mark Derosa and bringing in a multi time loser like Milton Bradley.

The Cubs are a poorly run organization… sort of like the Nationals who fired Manny Acta recently.

Baseball managers have the least effect on their teams overall play in all the major sports. The most important part of any baseball team is the roster construction. Scouts, Coaches and GM’s have to work toegther to build the best team and know how to use them but unless something just clicks…. there aren’t many if any managers who can take a team full of crap and turn them into cream.

PMC

June 15th, 2009
3:33 pm

Shake ups can be good, but only for an underperforming roster.

The Braves have slumped for so long it’s pretty difficult to say if it’s a slump or this is as good as they can hit period.

amicusterrae

June 15th, 2009
3:34 pm

Thank you, Mark Bradley! It’s great to see some evidence in support of TP. The bashers will still bash, though.

Renegator

June 15th, 2009
3:34 pm

JEB

If Rudy J isn’t that great of a hitting instructor – why did Francouer go to him for help? Why didn’t he stick by his man Terry P?

Easy answer: Terry P wasn’t getting it done and he thought he had a better shot with Rudy J.

I’m not a professional baseball player so I don’t know if Rudy J is a good instructor or not – but he has a reputation in the MLB for being great and I’m sure there are plenty of reasons why.

hmmm

June 15th, 2009
3:34 pm

yes they need a change … I am not a Cox hater, but the team needs life and energy- he does not bring that. There is a time for everyone to go and his has come.

Steve Brown

June 15th, 2009
3:34 pm

Player strikes out with the bases loaded-Bobby says great swing
Pitcher gives up 6 runs in an inning-Bobby says he had great stuff
Chipper hurts his trigger finger-Bobby rests him a few games
Glavine is cut- Bobby says his arm was strong
Kelly can’t hit leadoff-Bobby bats him leadoff
No wonder the players love to play for Bobby-and to think Beau Bock’s career was damaged by calling Bobby out

Barry

June 15th, 2009
3:35 pm

Terry Pendleton is an established hitting coach and was a great hitter in the major leaugues. The problem with the players is they have too many chefs in the kitchen and you know what that does is spoil the meal and/or player hitting in this case.

You got all these players following their dad’s and uncles advice on hitting instead of listening to their hitting coach. Their dad and/or unlce never played in the big leagues and won anything on hitting. How in Sam hell do they get an ear from the players rather than the assigned hitting coach on the team. This dissention is spreading on the Braves and is undermining Pendletons and the players ability to coach and be coached, respectively. This need to change or all the players will lose confidence in their assigned hitting instructor if this continues and will be a detriment to the teams ability to play consisant “team hitting” baseball. “OO MANY CHEFS SPOIL THE PUDDING!!”
Let Terry coach. ANd players take hitting advice from one coach and that’s Terry Pendleton. You will get very confused by others if you don’t.

richbrave

June 15th, 2009
3:35 pm

Has DON BAYLOR licked cancer? Does he have a job in baseball at the moment? He turns 60 on the 28th of this month. If he’s out of work, I can’t think of a better birthday present for himself or the BRAVES. I vote for being CUBS’ copy-cats.

sd

June 15th, 2009
3:35 pm

I love those who point to Francoer going to Texas as evidence against Pendleton.

How did that work out anyway????

Its not the coach, its the players.

And the players we have are the players that the corporation was willing to buy. Corporations make poor owners.

jj

June 15th, 2009
3:37 pm

I think it’s time for Bobby to fall on the sword this time instead of a coach or player.It’s time foa a change at the top because his message has grown stale.”Wake up people”,it’s time for Bobby to do the right thing and show his love for the Braves and say good-bye.Thanks Bobby

Mark Bradley

June 15th, 2009
3:37 pm

Players love Bobby, for a good reason. He loves them. You wouldn’t think so to watch him griping at the umpires, but he’s unbelievably upbeat around the ballyard.

WestPalmDawg

June 15th, 2009
3:39 pm

In an era such as this, nobody’s talking about accountability. I’m not sure why “professional” hitters even need coaches. Nobody is accountable for their own actions whether its baseball or Wall St. Everyone wants to take their problems and pawn them off on something else. Terry Pendleton isn’t responsible for execution. He can’t bunt runners over, or try and go the other way with running on 2nd less than two outs or try to hit a fly ball with a man on 3rd. TP is simply an advisor.

The Rangers play in a bandbox. The reason they hit is because it’s easy to hit AL West pitching and easy to hit in their home park.

You can’t teach wisdom kids and I think it’s even harder to teach discipline which these baby Braves truly lack in every sense of the word. Just thinking about one of Andruw’s futile, flailing swings at a low and away slider or reminiscing about Frenchy wrapping his bat and swinging at the first pitch every time makes me want to puke.

Sometimes its the talent you’re lacking and in this case, proves to be true.

Ernest

June 15th, 2009
3:39 pm

Thanks for printing Pendleton’s track record. The blog and sports talk radio GMs are looking for a scapegoat and this time it is TP. The Braves have several offensive holes in their roster. Firing TP won’t solve that problem.

oldschooldog

June 15th, 2009
3:40 pm

Don’t know enough about the skill sets of the coach, or the hitters to make the call myself. But, I think Wren and Cox should consider whether they have the right hitting coach for hitters with THESE skills, or lack thereof. It may well be that GP would be a better fit with the Bravos, and TP with the Cubs. Managers are often evaluated on that criteria, right?

Steve Brown

June 15th, 2009
3:40 pm

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