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Sunday, February 17, 2013

Dismissal by Phillies still stings ex-hitting coach Greg Gross

GG All-in and The Disappointments (Bitter Boy Records)

Knowing the possibility existed that he’d be among the dismissals did not help ease the sting on the final day of the 2012 season, when general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. summoned Gross into the manager’s office at Nationals Park.

“They called me in right after the game was over in Washington,” Gross said. “They told me they were going in a different direction, and they weren’t going to have me back.”

Gross said he walked out without saying a word.

“I basically thought I had been thrown under the bus,” he said. “I know we didn’t hit, but we also didn’t have much of a lineup for most of the year. It was disappointing.”

If Gross thought he deserved better than a pink slip after last season’s uphill battle without Ryan Howard and Chase Utley for half the season, he’s right. The Phillies also fired bench coach Pete Mackanin and first-base coach Sam Perlozzo, two men who were around when the team won its second straight National League pennant in 2009.

“It took me a long time to think about what I wanted to do,” Gross said. “I knew I probably wouldn’t be able to go back into [the Phillies’] system. That wouldn’t have happened. But going to a whole different organization where I don’t really know anybody, I looked at that as a positive thing.”

Repoz Posted: February 17, 2013 at 09:41 AM | 11 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: phillies

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   1. bookbook Posted: February 17, 2013 at 10:43 AM (#4370956)
"Hitting Coach" = "Scapegoat"

Where has Greg Gross been all these years?
   2. spike Posted: February 17, 2013 at 11:40 AM (#4370977)
Hitting coaches seem to be the tiger-repelling rocks of baseball. I empathize with the tenuosness of their position, but it's a pretty sweet gig while it lasts.
   3. Edmundo got dem ol' Kozma blues again mama Posted: February 17, 2013 at 12:06 PM (#4370984)
He had a mess to work with last year, but I'm hard pressed to think of any evidence that he has any particular accomplishment to point to. Domonic Brown has not thrived under his tutelage; there have been many mitigating factor on the other hand. John AAAABerry had a nice 2nd half of 2011 but that didn't continue into 2012. A 2 month Kevin Frandsen surge? A BABIPpy good year for Juan Pierre? Adderall enabled Chooch fluke year? For all that, the veteran players all declined as you expect and more. Who knows?

So GG, yeah you're a scapegoat, but there is no compelling reason for you not to be scapegoated.
   4. bigglou115 Posted: February 17, 2013 at 12:29 PM (#4370991)
3. I tend to think MLB level hitting coaches are largely overrated in their effects on hitters. It would seem all the underlying mechanics and such would have been ingrained before they ever see a guy, so their job boils down to offering tips and helping guys bust slumps. Asking him to fix Dom Brown in the limited amount of time him and Brown worked together, while Browns problems have obviously become ingrained over an entire MiLB career, seems to be asking a lot.

Obviously there are exceptions, I figure there are guys who espouse philosophies that can be good or bad (expand your zone if your a 4 hitter with 3 balls so you can drive in a run). And there are probably a few guys who really can change a players fundamentals to make them more slump proof. All that said it seems to me we're too quick to expect these guys to do miracles, but also too quick to give then credit when a player comes out of a slump likely caused by bad luck.
   5. McCoy Posted: February 17, 2013 at 01:19 PM (#4371010)
About the only real use I could see for a major league hitting coach is for him to be the "captain" of the organization's hitting philosophy and for him to work and coordinate with the lower rungs of the organization to make sure that the philosophy is fully ingrained within the organization. Having said that I doubt they do that at all.
   6. Edmundo got dem ol' Kozma blues again mama Posted: February 17, 2013 at 03:09 PM (#4371047)
biglou, I think we are actually on the same page. My thinking is that there is nothing to point to to say GG is a good coach and deserves a job and there is nothing to say that he isn't that good and doesn't deserve a job. He's just 1 of seemingly 100s of guys capable of being an MLB hitting coach competing for 30 jobs, IMO. If he's not a miracle worker after a couple of years, let's try another one of the inexhaustible supply.
   7. The Buddy Biancalana Hit Counter Posted: February 17, 2013 at 05:25 PM (#4371100)
Would a team be wise to hire multiple hitting coaches for a major league team?

From the outside it seems impossible, even with 12-man pitching staffs, to spend sufficient time with every hitter. Granted, equal time may be a seriously sub-optimal goal. But asking one ex-major leaguer to work as a technical and psychological instructor for half a team seems, as others have pointed, essentially impossible.

Hitting's about as specialized a skill as playing golf and I don't think many (if any) swing coaches have even 10 professionals in their portfolio, plus you have short game and/or putting specialists sub-dividing the coaching landscape.
   8. flournoy Posted: February 17, 2013 at 05:41 PM (#4371108)
The Braves have two hitting coaches: Greg Walker and Scott Fletcher. I don't really know how they divide their duties.
   9. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: February 17, 2013 at 07:36 PM (#4371134)
Scott Fletcher played in 1612 major-league games and hit 34 home runs, so hopefully Walker is in charge of the "power stroke" department.
   10. Everybody Loves Tyrus Raymond Posted: February 17, 2013 at 07:47 PM (#4371141)
But ... who's going to teach people to bat .280 with no power now?
   11. Walt Davis Posted: February 17, 2013 at 10:47 PM (#4371172)
Hitting's about as specialized a skill as playing golf and I don't think many (if any) swing coaches have even 10 professionals in their portfolio, plus you have short game and/or putting specialists sub-dividing the coaching landscape.

An interesting analogy. It probably goes deeper than that once you start including the Euro tour and the various sub-tours though. Since it's an individual sport, the very top teachers can sell themselves to an elite clientele but once you're outside the top 5 swing coaches or so, I suspect the client lists get pretty long.

But, yeah. It's always mystifying that somehow guys who weren't good hitters/pitchers somehow become good coaches but it's doubly mystifying that somebody like Greg Gross would have any insight into how Ryan Howard should swing. He might of course -- just because he had no power doesn't mean he doesn't understand how to swing for power. He might have even understood it as a player but, being Greg Gross, swinging for power still would have meant little more than warning track flyballs so he went with an approach that would be a lot more successful for him.

I suppose it's "natrual" to think that somebody like Gross would be a better hitting coach than Rob Deer but it seems common-sensible that you'd want Gross working with your slap hitters and a guy with power working with your power hitters. Next thing you know they'll have catchers as pitching coaches! :-)

Scott Fletcher as a hitting coach is pretty hilarious.

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