Of course, I’m a few days behind on this, but does it really matter?
I’m generally in favor of having Edgar Martinez as the hitting coach. He’s the single greatest hitter I’ve ever seen in my life and he’s one of the best Mariners we’ve ever had. If being a hitting coach means anything and has ANY effect on how the players actually function as hitters, then we’ll find out if the guys respond to the instruction of one of the best hitters ever.
I’m of the opinion that the hitting coach is essentially pointless. He’s there to watch for things in your swing and make suggestions on mechanics and whatnot, but ultimately it’s up to the hitters to hit. They’ve been playing this game all their lives, once they make it to the big leagues, there’s not a lot left to teach. Either they’ve got it or they don’t. Most of the players the Mariners bring up through the farm system simply don’t have it. I doubt that Edgar or Howard Johnson or whoever’s universally considered the greatest hitting coach in the history of the game could turn this bunch of turds into a quality-hitting group.
The hitting coach is the #1 Scapegoat of any baseball team (followed very closely by the pitching coach). He’s the guy you fire when things aren’t going as planned and someone’s head needs to roll, but you don’t quite have the stomach to shit-can the entire staff wholesale. Doing it mid-season is more of a “Wake Up Call” than it is a strategic maneuver. It’s yet another reminder that the players need to get their shit together (as if they didn’t already realize that, given their batting averages and this team’s overall lack of run support).
The fact that it’s Edgar replacing Howard Johnson lends this decision a little more heft. The Mariners aren’t replacing HoJo with Just Another Guy. This is Edgar Fucking Martinez! Howard Johnson is a guy who had a nice career, with a couple good years as a hitter; Edgar Martinez is a fringe Hall of Famer and the greatest Designated Hitter of all time. Not that the guys didn’t listen to and respect HoJo, but the words coming out of Edgar’s mouth on the subject of hitting mean a little bit more.
Some fans see this move as putting lipstick on the pig that is the Mariners’ 2015 season, like the organization is trying to disguise the fact that the team is terrible by jingling a shiny set of car keys and telling everyone to “look over here!” While admittedly, the organization was in dire need of some – ANY – positive news, I think even the most dim-witted of fans isn’t so inept as to not see this for what it really is: change for the sake of change, in hopes that it jumpstarts some sort of season-saving rally. No one is going to look at Edgar and think THIS is where it all turns around.
Because, the sad truth is – and I’ve been saying this for the better part of this first half of the season – there is no Quick Fix. There’s no hotshot stud in the minors ready to Yasiel Puig his way into the team ripping off a .650 winning percentage the rest of the way. There aren’t any Major League-ready prospects we can trade – as all of our Major League-ready prospects are already on the Major League roster – and there really aren’t any injured players looking to make a second half impact when healthy. Our main injured guys are starting pitchers, and as I noted before, the back-end of the rotation has been pretty rock solid of late (last night’s Elias performance notwithstanding).
The only “fix” for the Mariners is having the guys who are already here start to play better. Cano needs to be Cano. Cruz needs to pull out of his nosedive. Seager needs to continue to be Seager. Zunino, Ackley, Miller, Trumbo, and LoMo need to pick it up, and Austin Jackson needs to continue his hot play of late. This team needs to hit better with runners in scoring position, and they need the bullpen to be more like it was in 2014.
In other words, the problem with the Mariners is the same problem we’ve had pretty much since Edgar was still PLAYING for the Mariners: the guys we have need to be better than they are. I could have (and DID haz) made this same argument every single year for the last decade. It all boils down to: The Mariners Need Better Baseball Players. And, I just don’t think Edgar (or anyone else) is capable of making them better baseball players.
In conclusion, there was this thing that happened. You may go about your lives now.