It was easy for people to hate on Terry Pendleton back at the end of April or the beginning of May. The Braves were not producing. We sucked. I mean, I wrote an article saying “There’s always next year” and AJC writers talked of how bad the Glaus acquisition was. Everyone everywhere wrote about how it was all TP’s fault. Which was fine and made sense. In April.
But then the team turned around. We have the highest on-base-percentage in the National League. Glaus is raking, Prado is leading the league in hitting, Heyward was mashing until his thumb got in the way. Chipper is hitting .385 over the last 11 games (stat taken before last night’s game). Yunel provided a clutch hit against Strasburg (oh, and hit .299 in June). McCann hit .276 in May/Jone. Hinske has been a bright spot among bright spots off the bench. In May and June, Melky Cabrera has hit (I begrudgingly admit) .293.
And yet some people I know (even on this site) still continue to hate on Terry Pendleton.
Now, I don’t agree with the folks that say TP should be the next coach of the Atlanta Braves. I think he’s an option but not necessarily THE option. Then again, he’s been a fairly low key coach for the Braves, and that’s what we’ve always had. What has TP done to deserve the haters? This is one of the most potent offenses in the NL and everyone is contributing in some manner.
Doesn’t Terry Pendleton deserve some of the credit for this? Do we still just want to blast him for anything that goes wrong?
Maybe we were wrong back at the beginning of the season. Maybe we just got our slumping month out of the way at the beginning of the season before starting to tune it up for the long haul – we were damn good in spring training and we’re damn good now. Maybe Terry Pendleton isn’t that bad as far as coaches go.
When was the last time we were this balanced? We have a damn good rotation, a damn good offense, a solid bullpen with a dominant closer, and a legendary manager pulling out all the stops in a season that really does feel special.
Tags: Terry Pendleton
Posted in Coaching | 2 Comments »
Editor’s note: Several of our writers have varying opinions on TP’s success as Braves’ hitting coach. Expect to see a few opinions expressed in the coming days and weeks as it’s a hot topic in Braves Nation.
I read an interesting article on one Braves’ bloggers thoughts of Terry Pendleton on TalkingChop.com. In this article, the author gives an in depth statistical analysis of how certain players have faired better in Atlanta than in other cities, whether it be before or after their arrivals.
I commented on this article, citing that there are other explanations for a player’s success in Atlanta or lack of success in another city.
There are players that had career years in Atlanta, players that are presumed to have used PEDs (Marcus Giles, Garry Sheffield), players who hit walls after leaving Atlanta, and there is the fact that some players just may be more comfortable playing in the Atlanta environment rather than in other cities.
The analysis was solid, and it did point to success under TP which cannot be denied. If players produce more in Atlanta, whether TP is helpful or not, something is working.
However, in this case, I feel there should be an adjustment made to the Braves staff, and I feel that Pendleton has the target on his back.
There are three particular cases that I feel correlate Terry Pendleton with a lack of success as a hitting coach. Those cases are the failures of Kelly Johnson, Jeff Francouer, and Andruw Jones.
Kelly Johnson currently has seven home runs, eight doubles, and leads the National League in slugging. We all know Kelly is streaky, and his production will certainly come down, but it appears that Kelly is on pace to reach that 25 home run potential that everyone thought he would reach as a Brave.
Scott White of CBS Fantasy Baseball wrote an article on former Braves producing well thus far in 2010, and pretty much nailed the Kelly Johnson disaster in Atlanta on its head, in my opinion.
“See, the surprise with Johnson was more his performance last year than his performance this year. Or at least it should have been. After the way the Braves handled him, you’d never know it.
They grew impatient with Johnson. Wanting to see consistent rather than sporadic power from him, they discouraged the patient approach that made him so enticing in the first place. It messed with his mind, warped his God-given instincts and made him a flailing mess of a hitter.”
These are my exact feelings on the situation as well, and I have felt this same way since before last season even began. The trend of Kelly raising his average, but decreasing his on base percentage, slugging percentage, and home runs was not a trend that I nor any Brave follower should be fond of.
In 2008’s spring training and throughout the season, there were articles written consistently stating how Kelly was going to try to be more aggressive to avoid strikeouts and to try to be more consistent. Everyone would love consistency, but from what we have seen from Kelly over the past half-decade, this just was not going to happen. It is simply not Kelly Johnson, and even I, as well as many other Braves bloggers, understood that Kelly’s potential would not be reached if his approach at the plate, which made him such a great talent, was altered.
Kelly is not the only Brave who saw his career reach its valley as a Brave. Andruw Jones and Jeff Francoeur, two more unbelievably talented players did so as well. Of course, there are many more factors that came into play that saw their production dwindle, but the fact that they did so in a Braves uniform and now are producing better numbers cannot be ignored.
Jeff has not played a full year with the Mets, so it is hard to say that he will be better than he was as a Brave, but in 308 plate appearances last year with the Mets, Francoeur had an OBP of .338 with a 120 OPS+, and this year he has a .349 OBP with a 122 OPS+. These are his highest totals since his first half-season as a Brave. I still think Jeff will come down, but the fact that he improved once he left the team should be noted.
The Andruw story is yet to be finished as well. He had a miserable season with the Dodgers after signing as a free agent and was only average as a Ranger the following year. This year he has been productive, but it is clear that something was wrong for the past few years. I don’t blame Pendleton for Andruw’s demise, but a preventative approach and working with Andruw consistently following his 41 homer season of 2007 may have been better than trying to fix his swing midway through his terrible 2008. It was easy to see that Jones got homer happy, and once that happens it is hard to fix.
Using this season’s Braves’ hitters statistics right now would be silly, due to the fact that we are only a few weeks into the season and some players are bound to hit better, and some are bound to hit worse.
Again, Pendleton cannot be solely to blame for these players performing poorly while in Atlanta, but the fact remains that they did indeed produce career lows under his tutelage. The fact that there have been no career saving stories to match these, shows that Pendleton is at least far from a superb hitting coach. Firing Pendleton may seem like a knee-jerk reaction, but with the offense sputtering for the past few seasons a change seems like it is needed and Pendleton should probably be the one to go.
Tags: Andruw Jones, Jeff Francoeur, Kelly Johnson, Terry Pendleton
Posted in General | 16 Comments »