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Terry Pendleton says Brian McCann will “never be comfortable” on the Yankees

Jul 8, 2014, 12:30 PM EDT

Brian McCann Getty Getty Images

Braves first base coach (and former hitting instructor) Terry Pendelton spoke to the New York Post about former Braves catcher Brian McCann and his struggles thus far as a New York Yankee:

“New York is not Brian. That’s my opinion. I knew if he chose New York, there would be more than he expected or knew about. He’ll never be comfortable with that . . . If I had to choose where he went, nothing against the Yankees, they’re one of the best organizations around, but I think he’d be more comfortable in Texas. But he wants to win and when he looks at that, you’ve got to go to the Yankees.”

Well, before this season started it wouldn’t have been crazy to pick the Rangers over the Yankees if you really wanted to win, but we’ll let that go. What we probably shouldn’t let go is Pendleton’s extended comments — provided later in that article — about McCann being a total pull hitter now but never having really been one before, and about how that’s killing him. Which, suffice it to say, is kind of in bad form for a player not on your team, I would think.

  1. Old Gator - Jul 8, 2014 at 12:35 PM

    I think Pendelton was out of line with those comments, but I would love to hear what Bobby Bonilla or Carl Pavano have to say about playing in New York.

    • pete2112 - Jul 8, 2014 at 12:39 PM

      I have a really hard time putting McCann in the same boat as Pavano. It’s not like McCann keeps getting injured and going on the DL. He goes out there and puts his work in and seems to be a great clubhouse guy.

      • groupofsevenrules - Jul 8, 2014 at 12:47 PM

        I don’t think OG was comparing them on that basis. I think he was simply alluding to how the pressures of performing under the big lamps of the big city affect otherwise competent if not accomplished ballplayers. In most other media markets, a slump or an off year is an occasion for putting your head down and working hard to get through it and bounce back. In New York, it weighs on you every minute, probably even in your sleep. Pavano kept hurting himself because he kept going back out there when he was already hurt. It was no mere coincidence that he had a better time of it when he went to Minnesota. Bonilla nearly drove himself crazy trying to live up to New York expectations; remember his famous comment to the NY press, “you guys aren’t gonna wipe this smile off my face”? So saying, he instigated a typically New York press campaign of relentless villification and derision.

        I will confess that I do not like McCann. He’s been a sanctimonious loudmouth and, in some ways, I appreciate seeing him flounder and having his arrogance stuffed back down his throat. On the other hand, I’m sure he isn’t working any more or less hard than Pavano or Bonilla did to meet the expectations of his fans. New York sometimes gets to those you would least expect it to get to.

      • pete2112 - Jul 8, 2014 at 1:00 PM

        I’ll admit I didn’t know a lot about McCann before he signed with the Yankees other than he was a decent catcher who had some power, butI have to say I don’t see him as a sanctimonious loudmouth as you point out. It seems like the team has a lot of respect for him and seems like a genuine guy.

        Also, while everyone is pointing out all of the problems with the Yankees (me included), we seem to forget what the Yankees had catching last season and the total lack of any offensive production from that position. Sure McCann is getting paid a lot more, but I still don’t see this as a bad signing, yet. I think time will tell but I’m going to remain optimistic.

      • Old Gator - Jul 8, 2014 at 2:39 PM

        You need to check into McCann when he was with the Barves. You don’t have to check far. He got hosed on this blog any number of times for getting in other ballplayers’ faces about “playing the game the right way,” and primped regularly as if he had been appointed by Dog to do so. Of course he’s not behaving like a loudmouthed blowhard this season – if you put up (or down) the numbers he has this year, you’d be keeping pretty shtum too.

      • mikhelb - Jul 8, 2014 at 4:03 PM

        @Old gator “He got hosed on this blog any number of times for getting in other ballplayers’ faces about “playing the game the right way,” ”

        any number of times? TWO, and the hosing was made by some commenters and not by the author of the post entry… until he signed with the Yankees, which is when the point of view changed for many now that he was part of that franchise.

      • Reflex - Jul 8, 2014 at 5:23 PM

        mikehelb –

        You have been called out on this before, and people have even linked the posts. McCann absolutely was called out for his boorish behavior on this blog, by the blog authors. You continue to intentionally lie about this. Stop doing so, it makes you look unethical. I get that you think there is some sort of bias, but you need to stop lying to make your point.

        Pete – Believe it or not, but last year’s Yankees Catchers outperformed McCann so far this season. Pretty scary.

    • rjostewart - Jul 8, 2014 at 5:44 PM

      Considering Bobby Bonilla will still be paid by the Mets until 2035, he will probably have great things to say about it.

  2. pete2112 - Jul 8, 2014 at 12:36 PM

    I think it’s way too soon to say Brian will never play well in NY. Perhaps Terry’s right, but I think we need to see a couple seasons before making that blanket statement. I see this more as a NL guy getting used to AL pitching along with having to put in a lot of time dealing with the Yankees lack of starting pitching. It’s not like this guy only has to think about hitting.

    • 4cornersfan - Jul 8, 2014 at 12:53 PM

      I think that’s a fair analysis of McCann’s problems so far. Also note that he has started to hit in the last few games which may indicate that he’s getting his head around the situation.

      • pete2112 - Jul 8, 2014 at 2:20 PM

        I didn’t want to say it, but yes, he’s been hitting much better the last few games. I think he’ll find his groove and put up respectable numbers this season and I think next season will be a bit easier for him.
        Unfortunately I don’t think that means anything with regard to the Yankees turning this around as a whole. The pitching is in disarray and I think they need to address third base along with shortstop, of course. The age and injuries are going to continue to haunt this team with some of these horrible contracts they have for years to come.

  3. stackers1 - Jul 8, 2014 at 12:47 PM

    Pendleton is entitled to his opinion, but I think he’s wrong. McCann just needs ro relax a little & the hits will come. He’s probably putting more pressure on himself than the Yankees or the press are.

    • paperlions - Jul 8, 2014 at 1:28 PM

      Agree or not, that is exactly Pendelton’s point. He doesn’t think NY or the Yankees are putting pressure on McCann, he thinks McCann is not comfortable and is putting pressure on himself or, at least, not relaxing….which is hard to do when you are not comfortable in a situation.

      • carpi2 - Jul 8, 2014 at 8:00 PM

        Also, NY media do really do a good job at allowing you time to relax. Which probably compounds any self-imposed pressure McCann is having. Hence the reason why certain players struggle to succeed in that market.

  4. lukedunphysscienceproject - Jul 8, 2014 at 12:48 PM

    “What we probably shouldn’t let go is Pendleton’s extended comments — provided later in that article — about McCann being a total pull hitter now but never having really been one before, and about how that’s killing him. Which, suffice it to say, is kind of in bad form for a player not on your team, I would think.”

    Objection overruled. I’ll allow it on the basis that it seems to be coming from someone who considers himself a friend/mentor to said player rather than a simple case of a coach from one team commenting an another team’s player.

    Probably shouldn’t have done it, but I don’t see any malicious intent. Besides, he’s right. Any time you stand at home plate, look to the right side of the field and see eight fielders staring back at you, you may be pulling the ball a little too much.

    • lukedunphysscienceproject - Jul 8, 2014 at 12:49 PM

      *argh* screwed up the math. “six fielders” is what I meant.

      • paperlions - Jul 8, 2014 at 1:29 PM

        Maybe, but conceptually, the problem still works with 8.

      • lukedunphysscienceproject - Jul 8, 2014 at 2:09 PM

        I was going to just leave it, but I was afraid the HBT accuracy police would jump me.

  5. jxegh - Jul 8, 2014 at 12:49 PM

    New York is a tuff place to live. Add in the additional scrutiny of the press, fans, etc. and I can see Pendleton’s point. Some people just aren’t city folks and he may be one.

  6. Walk - Jul 8, 2014 at 12:51 PM

    As far as the pull hitter goes that started when pendleton was the hitting coach. It got worse after tp, but when brian came up he often hit a ball the other way. I remember early on teams tried to shift on him and he would chop the ball, almost playing pepper with it, into left for doubles. I saw one ball that he hit must have bounced 4 times or more before it went past third. I am not saying that brian being a pull hitter is tp’s fault, but he was a pull hitter last 2-3 years with the braves as evidenced by all shifts he saw.

  7. zs123 - Jul 8, 2014 at 1:20 PM

    McCann became an extreme pull hitter while still in Atlanta – his 2013 and 2014 spray charts are nearly identical – it was actually a source of optimism when he signed with the Yankees given the dimensions of their stadium…

    The problem with the McCann contract is not that he’s a pull hitter – left handed pull hitters can certainly succeed in Yankee Stadium (see Curtis Granderson). The problem is that it’s generally a mistake to expect consistent offensive production from a catcher, especially one on the wrong side of the 30 who has been plagued by nagging injuries most of his career.

  8. deathmonkey41 - Jul 8, 2014 at 2:26 PM

    “about McCann being a total pull hitter now but never having really been one before”

    The effects of being around Kevin Effin’ Long. Please fire this guy already!

    • deathmonkey41 - Jul 8, 2014 at 2:28 PM

      All these guys that were once great hitters become dead pull hitters and are terrible situationally. Long needs to go- but for some reason escapes criticism because someone decided to give him the genius label.

    • Reflex - Jul 8, 2014 at 6:40 PM

      As pointed out before, McCann has been a pull hitter for a couple years before he became a Yankee. Not sure why you think Kevin Long is the issue, but I’d point the blame at the front office for consistently signing guys on the wrong side of 30 to long term contracts and expecting them to improve due to wearing pinstripes. No hitting coach can change ‘decline phase’, and there is little evidence that hitting coaches affect teams at all, either positively or negatively.

      Don’t let it dissuade you from your crusade though…

    • lukedunphysscienceproject - Jul 8, 2014 at 7:06 PM

      LOL, sure, because veteran hitters get their swing completely ruined in a matter of months by a hitting coach all the time. It has nothing to do with age, injury, pressure, playing in a new league, or the fact that you are getting shifted on 95% more than you did last year and you either have no idea how or simply refuse to adjust.

      McCann’s hits recently, except for the home run, have largely been due to him finding holes in the shift. This is a statistical anomaly. If you keep bashing balls into the shift, some will inevitably fall where they ain’t. But it’s not a solution.

      These guys come in and see that short porch and can’t resist. Is that partly Long’s fault? Maybe, partly. But this isn’t high school baseball. Hitting coaches don’t “order” players to do anything. They suggest. And if McCann is refusing to go the other way because he thinks he there to hit home runs, nothing Long can say is going to do anything about that.

  9. twinfan24 - Jul 8, 2014 at 3:52 PM

    There obviously isn’t enough unwritten rule enforcement in the Bronx for McCann to feel comfortable.

  10. 461deep - Jul 8, 2014 at 5:02 PM

    McCann is hitting better the last few games helped a little by no more juice Ricky & Masterson. His swing seems long & slow which will perk-up sometimes. Looks older than 30 to me. Older hitters love slower pitchers which has helped the Yankees on their current road trip but credit them for taking advantage. McCann’s personality is fine with me. Catchers need to be tough & pugilistic at times which gets the people that think life is the Rumper Room upset. Jeter gets nothing but love for his friendly never combative and scripted say nothing personality in public. But he is not a wimp since he always plays hard. IRRITATING AJ is my man….

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