I am starting to smell something that is bothersome. I am worrying that, in time, it will begin to reek. As this season unfolds, a meaningful part of our collective failure might lie at the feet of our coaching staff. If true, they are most unclever feet.
We see easily, and therefore fixate on, the obvious: that which the players themselves do, or fail to do. But there is a tremendous amount of effort being done by large numbers of people in places where we fans are not witness, which all lead to actions and execution on the field of play. While there is a school of thought (certainly here on HH) that this effort has relatively small impact compared to that of the players, I am inclined to believe that there is an underestimation there.
Perhaps, all things being equal, the back and forth of all that coaching and staff effort between opposing teams all equalize over time and regress into the background fog compared to the statistical impact of the players. But what happens when there is an extended imbalance? I am suspicious that the underestimation of coaching overlooks this potential of inequity. i am suspicious that we may be seeing a teeny bit of this inequity potential right before our very eyes, that our coaches themselves are the ones getting schooled.
How much of our poor offense is because the opposition has uncovered a working approach to pitching and defensive positioning towards our hitters, and our coaches have failed to identify this approach, and/or failed to help our hitters adjust in response?
How much of our pitching struggles are because the opposition has gained insight into pitch selection and tendencies, and our coaches have failed to identify some new trend and assit our pitchers in developing strategies to adjust?
The hallmarks of Scioscia baseball designed to put pressure on the defense, aggressive baserunning, now appear feeble. How much of that is because the opposing coaches now know how to anticipate when and where Scioscia is going to apply the pressure, and our coaching staff has failed to adjust? Sure, you cannot establish an agressive approach to baserunning unless you get baserunners, but in 2012 even those few baserunners that we do realize fail to pose any threat beyond how they might be forced to advance by the hitter at bat. There is no surpise there.
Has it become common knowledge around the league on how to pick off our signals? Are our pitchers tipping their pitches and everybody but our own staff are able to recognize it? Are other staffs using more productive scouting systems to attack our batting order and our staff has no idea as to what is going on? No idea as to how to identify it? No idea as to how to respond?
Are our players going into battle without the proper GQ concerning new tactics being deployed successfully against them? Are these coaches and staff proving to be ineffective at baseball spycraft?
I am starting to wonder if this is so. What do you think?