Rays  Diary  8/2/15

      Enough is really enough!  Time to wish Derek Charlatan and his ouija board a fond farewell and return to baseball 101.  Amateur baseball philosophers in the Rays “corporate office,” as Joe Maddon used to call it, need to stop calling the shots and hire a for real batting coach.

      There is a way of approaching the plate with bases loaded against a pitcher who has not thrown a strike near the plate in 4 or 5 pitches.  Joey Butler’s amateur effort in today’s game against Boston pitcher, Ross, is not his fault.  Every Little League coach tells the batter in this situation, to take the first pitch and to keep taking pitches until the pitcher throws a strike.  Out of the next five pitches, perhaps one is a strike, but Butler is basically given leave to swing at all of them, a familiar scene with almost all Rays hitters.  My question: by offering no help whatsoever to hitters, exactly whose side are Shelton and corporate boobs on, anyway?  Are these people so worried about proving their amateur theories correct that they are willing to sacrifice their team year after year and in the process, destroy the effectiveness of their pitching?

      No, their pitching, the core of the Rays success, is not immune from tampering by the same amateur hacks in corporate Rays.  Having Jim Hickey is not enough to keep these same incompetents from damaging the pitching staff as well.  Why else would these fools fall for some email suggestion (their chief source of baseball knowledge), apparently from a malicious Yankee or Red Sox fan, that they remove young pitchers after sixty or so pitches, quite early in the game, no matter how well they are pitching?  No professional baseball person would pay attention to such rubbish, especially with no evidence behind it and the inevitable ensuing destruction of the best relief staff in the game.

      Many apologists have pointed to the limited benefit a hitting coach has on his team.  Unfortunately they are ignoring the harm he can inflict on his team.  Somehow, Steve Henderson must have gotten the best out of his students, because I don’t believe that any of the Rays have ever done as well as they did under him.  He was the only one to get Carlos  Pena to drop his left elbow into the slot like a major league hitter or to get B.J. to hit more than his body weight.  Zobrist hit near .300 and almost 30 homers with a compact swing resembling Barry Bonds’ until Shelton showed him how to use his hands improperly (way too early) in his swing.

      Even now, so many obvious hitting questions go unanswered.  Does Derek Shelton watch any film or videos of his hitters in game situations?  Why do Kiermaier and Butler continue to swing at high fastballs early in the count?  They, like 99.9% of all batters will never be able to hit them.  Unless there are two strikes and Umpire McGoo (Todd Fairchild?) behind the plate, don’t even consider that part of the zone.  When is a Rays batter going to step up in the box so he can hit a breaking ball?  Other teams do it quite successfully!  Why aren’t Rays hitters trained to not try to pull outside pitches into double plays? Why did John Jaso have to be traded to another club to learn how to develop a decent batting stance after Rays were reminded so many times to do this?  And, while we’re at it, exactly when was Mr. Shelton planning to talk with Evan Longoria about his swing- either the loop or the hitch or the amateur uppercut- any part of the cross country effort that continues to wear away at his power and his batting average?  Does anyone believe that hitters like Butler or Sousa will actually improve under the current administration?

      Offensively, the rays will remain a Mickey Mouse organization as long as wannabe baseball philosopher clowns in the corporate office, using the internet as their chief source of information, remain in charge of what goes on on the field.  Please give manager Kevin Cash a fair chance at success.

Al Finkelstein,  8/2/15