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The Braves fire hitting coach Larry Parrish

Sep 30, 2011, 4:04 PM EDT

Atlanta Braves v St. Louis Cardinals Getty Images

My official view of hitting coaches is that they really don’t make a hell of a lot of difference. Maybe they help a guy here or there, maybe they don’t, but I bet that if we studied the matter closely, we’d find a pretty strong correlation between successful hitting coaches and hitting coaches who happened to have good hitters under their instruction.

That said, hitting coaches are often lightning rods for criticism. Larry Parrish of the Braves has certainly been that.  For one thing, he replaced Terry Pendelton, who in addition to being popular, happened to preside over a Braves lineup that had the best OBP in the league last year. Why was he replaced? Because someone felt that new manager Fredi Gonzalez should be able to shape his staff his own way.  Clearly no one had heard of the “if it ain’t broke” rule.

This year the Braves were 5th worst in OBP in all of baseball.  A lot of that could be the talent level, as I noted above. Or it could be that Parrish’s approach — he preached aggressiveness at the plate — has made a mess of Braves hitters.  The upshot: Parrish’s impact is hard to quantify, but he certainly suggested stuff that — if it sunk in — was likely to have a bad effect. And the Braves’ hitting was, in fact, bad in 2011.

But maybe we should take something larger from all of this.  If Parrish was hired as a means of letting Fredi Gonzalez shape his staff, perhaps Gonzalez should feel insulted that his own man has been let go.  Perhaps he should be exceedingly indignant at being undermined in such a blatant and public fashion!

That cuts it. I see no other choice but for Fredi Gonzalez to resign in protest.  Protect your dignity, Fredi! It is the most important thing!

  1. danandcasey - Sep 30, 2011 at 4:09 PM

    More on a Gonzalez insult – this is what FG said yesterday;

    “Everybody is coming back,” said Gonzalez, whose Braves went 9-18 in September and lost their last five to finish one game behind St. Louis in the wild-card standings. “I invited them back and they all accepted, which is good. We’ve got a good staff. …

    “I don’t believe in that,” Gonzalez said. “I think if you hire people, let them do their job. If they’re organized, detailed, and they work… You’re right, it’s easy to fire somebody and throw somebody to the wolves. That’s not the way I work.”

  2. btwicey - Sep 30, 2011 at 4:12 PM

    Heads roll , typical

  3. aleskel - Sep 30, 2011 at 4:17 PM

    I had to look it up, since that swing in OBP is pretty astounding

    Alex Gonzalez, 2011: .241/.270/.372

    Yunel Escobar, 2011: .290/.369/.413

    If the Braves really traded Escobar because Bobby Cox didn’t want to handle him for 1/2 a season right before he retired and didn’t care that he was denying the guy who followed him a very good player, there’s more wrong with that organization than the hitting coach.

    • atlsp - Sep 30, 2011 at 5:19 PM

      It wasn’t just that Bobby Cox didn’t want to handle him, several other Braves coaches (including Chino Cadahia and Eddie Perez) as well as Braves players were tired of his attitude. For better or worse, the Braves front office has always believed strongly in “the Braves way” and Escobar never fit with that philosophy despite repeated chances in both the minors and majors.

      Btw, Escobar’s 2010 OBP while with the Braves was .284 (lower than Alex Gonzalez’s OBP with the 2010 Braves) so I don’t think you can blame the drop on his leaving town.

  4. natstowngreg - Sep 30, 2011 at 4:19 PM

    Yeah, that protecting your dignity approach really worked for Jim Riggleman. Nice try, Craig.

    • jimbo1949 - Sep 30, 2011 at 5:12 PM

      I believe Craig was suggesting a Riggleman result

      • natstowngreg - Sep 30, 2011 at 6:02 PM

        Yup. That’s why I was congratulating him on the effort.

  5. klbader - Sep 30, 2011 at 4:27 PM

    Hmmm…. Hard to figure it: a hitting coach that preaches aggressiveness resulting in a substantial decrease in OBP. If only the two were related. Oh, wait…

    • spudchukar - Sep 30, 2011 at 4:40 PM

      No team stresses an aggressive approach at the plate more than the St. Louis Cardinal hitting coaches, and they led the NL in OBP.

      • stlouis1baseball - Sep 30, 2011 at 6:08 PM

        Shhhhhh. We can’t talk about the Cardinals hitting coach. Remember…he can NOT be giving credit for anything.

  6. foreverchipper10 - Sep 30, 2011 at 5:25 PM

    Bring back Terry P.!

    • stlouis1baseball - Sep 30, 2011 at 6:09 PM

      I don’t blame you one bit Chipper. I am obviously biased as Pendleton is a former Cardinal…but I have alwasy liked the guy. I fully understand Freddy wanting to bring in his own staff. However, it appears that Terry did such a good job it should have been a no-brainer that he stay. As Craig said…”if it ain’t broke…don’t fix it.”

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