Some people say the coaches don’t matter, it’s the players on the field that make the difference.
I disagree. Derek Lee also disagrees.
Coach Perry Hill took a player that had played some second base, but was primarily an outfielder named Delwyn Young and made him a second baseman.
Hill did this in the middle of the baseball season.
Did Young possess skills? Certainly. But the ability of Hill, in a very short period of time, to turn Young into an average second baseman was nothing short of remarkable.
Hill saved the Pirates organization a considerable amount of money. It can be argued that the Pirates should have went out and got a stop-gap player to fill the second base position. (For his efforts, the Pirates have effectively blocked him from talking to three other clubs–John Perrotto tweet)
But with Coach Hill on the staff, that wasn’t necessary. Proving once again that coaching makes a tremendous impact on a young baseball team. Hell, on any team. The ability of Hill to stress defense and hence run prevention was vital to the Pirates losing only 99 games this year. It should have been worse.
In a Post Gazette article by Chuck Finder, Chicago Cubs first baseman Derrek Lee, a Gold Glover under Hill with the Florida Marlins, said last month: “What he preaches defensively, what he brings as an infield coach, I’d say he’s worth about 10 to 15 wins a year as a coach. That’s saying a lot for a coach. … We’ll take him.”
Hill wasn’t happy. You know all about the story. He moved along. Can’t blame the guy a bit. He had a one year deal. He did more than can be asked of a professional coach. Did Hill mention that he wasn’t thrilled with Wilson and Sanchez being traded? He certainly did. So what?
Many Pirate fans called the announcement of Hill and Pitching Coach Joe Kerrigan laughable at the beginning of the season.
Could you imagine the season without those two coaches on the staff?
In time we will find out just how much Hill is missed. Tony Beasely could resume his role as Infield Coach, a new First Base Coach could be hired, who knows. Nevertheless, a few more coaching decisions are up in the air this offseason. However, the bottom line is this, when such a respected coach like Hill is gone after one year, despite the considerable efforts of the Pirates, what coach would take a job here?
Which leads us to the next maddening decision forthcoming from the Pirates organization.
Paul Maholm said this about promoted Pirates Assistant Pitching Coach Ray Searage [link to his career page] “He’s been around, and he knows his stuff,” Maholm worked with Searage in Williamsport in 2003 and in spring trainings. “He’s definitely somebody who’ll help out … let your natural talents come out. He’s a very positive guy, high energy, wants everybody to do well. To me, he’s just a fun guy to have around.”
Cool. A fun guy!
A fun guy who GM Neal Huntington said, “will be a lot more than an Assistant Pitching Coach.”
My question is this? What is so wrong with focusing on being the absolute best ‘Assistant Pitching Coach?’ That job is tremendously important as we saw last year.
It would be thrilling for me to see two men doing absolutely nothing other than focusing on the pitchers at the major league level for the Pirates. Nothing else.
Am I crazy?
And am I crazy for not being excited about the promotion?