As all of you are well aware, Mike Matheny got fired over the weekend.
I was never his biggest fan and denounced his playing favorites with his players as well as his bullpen usage, but I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels that way and those subjects have undoubtedly been covered in somebody else’s blog.
Rather, I want to talk about somebody else who got fired: Hitting coach John Mabry.
I’m sure many of you have heard of or read a book called Moneyball. I love the book and have seen the movie many times. One thing that is in the book but not in the movie is a scene where Scott Hatteberg is in the video room. In this chapter, the author discussed how well Hatteberg prepares and how disciplined he is as a hitter. During his career Hatteberg had a high OBP and was known for working the count. He had a very intellectual approach at the plate. They (him and the video coordinator) are talking about how to approach a very smart pitcher (if I recall, it was Jamie Moyer) and how to deal with him when John Mabry walks in. In the ensuing few pages you get a description of Mabry which basically describes Mabry as the anti-Hatteberg. Mabry would go up to bat with no thought process or preparation, but would rather go and look for the first tasty pitch he saw and hack away.
When we hired Mabry to be our hitting coach, I didn’t think of his tenure with the Cardinals as a player (other than thinking maybe he was a legacy hire, who got the job partially because he was a former Cardinal) but rather thought of this chapter in Moneyball. My initial reaction to the hire, in fact, was “those who can’t, teach.”
Currently the Cards are 21st in the league with a .315 OBP, just ahead of the mighty Miami Marlins. Apparently he couldn’t teach either.
Now that he’s gone I think we should find someone like Hatteberg, heck call Hatteberg himself up! If he says no, track down other former players known for patience and discipline. Homers are up these days, but so are strikeouts, and one way to counter that is better discipline, and that’s on the whole organization, not just the player. Hatteberg, Kevin Youkilis, somebody of that nature. Just don’t bring in another Mabry.
As always, thanks for reading.