A friend of mine who is just as fanatical about the Angels as I am said to me, "And who the hell is Jim Eppard, anyway?!" He was giving me his opinion as to what the Angels' Organization should to do to turn things around, and his suggestion was to fire the coaching staff, or at least the hitting and pitching coaches. I had to admit his reasoning seemed sound, and after a little research, I was convinced he was probably right.
So let's take a look at a few key members of the staff:
- Jim Eppard Currently the Hitting Coach for the Angels. According to BaseballReference.com, Jim's batting average was a respectable .281, but further examination shows that over the 4 seasons he played in the Majors, his average steadily declined, making that average rather misleading. Of course, he only played in a total of 82 games in his career. He never hit a HR in the Big Leagues. Ever. He's your damn hitting coach and he never hit a home run in the majors?
- Mike Butcher Currently the Pitching Coach for the Angels. Mike's numbers aren't horrible; his W/L record is 11-4. But the W/L is a fairly meaningless stat. His ERA over the 4 seasons he played is 4.47, and his WHIP is 1.54. Guess that means he was letting the team's defense help him out.
- Rob Picciolo Currently the Angels Bench Coach. In his nine seasons in the majors, his OBS average is .246 and his OPS is .558. I have only one thing to say about that: :(
- Steve Soliz Currently the Angels Bullpen Coach. Played nine seasons in the Minors; never played in the Majors.
I decided not to list Alfredo Griffin, nor Dino Ebel, since they are not directly responsible for hitting and pitching. I also decided not to list Mike Scioscia's career numbers: we're all too familiar with that information, and this post is really only addressing Mike's coaching staff.
So I guess the argument is how important is Major League experience when coaching at the Major League level? My friend argues that a coach at that level needs more than sub-average to average numbers in order to command any respect from his players in the first place, and if the experience of a coach is lacking, than how good can his advice be, anyway? Valid points, to be sure, however, there are some very good managers whose resumes as players are really no better than the coaches mentioned above. Joe Maddon comes to mine, for one. But is that the exception and not the rule?
I thnk the proof is in the winning, or lack thereof in the case of the Angels. When you look at the sheer frustration over the last 2-3 seasons this team has produced, it's hard not to hold the coaches accountable as player after player has struggled just to meet minimal expectations. I believe, as my friend does, that the team has some very talented players who should be more than able to put together at least a winning season, which is why we agree that it is time for at least some of the coaching staff to go.
With that said, I'd be very interested in hearing some suggestions for hitting and pitching coach replacements. My friend suggested Garrett Anderson and Scot Shields, respectively. We couldn't do any worse. Any suggestions?