Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Scapegoat

Teflon Ken Still In The Picture

The A's recently announced that Dave Hudgens will not return as hitting coach next season. Yet remarkably, Ken Macha was offered a contract in what is undoubtedly the most perplexing move since Macha's last attempt at a rational batting lineup.

Ok, this I do not understand one bit. First things first, is Hudgens a great hitting coach? Well, clearly he's not, but not even Wolfgang Puck could make a savory meal out of a pile of shit. Hudgens is not the problem. But he's hardly the solution, either. This team won't miss him, even if the blame for the team's offensive futility was misdirected. So who gives a shit, really? Well, maybe Dave, seeing as how he's now unemployed. But other than that, it's doubtful the casual A's fan will even notice.

But you know how you could have made Dave Hudgens look like a more valuable hitting coach? By Ken Macha not having a fucking retarded lineup, that's how. By giving Kendall and Hatteberg so many AB's instead of guys who could have done a better job, if only marginally. By giving them so many AB's at the top of the lineup. By keeping guys like Ellis and Johnson down at the bottom of the lineup for so long when they were hitting so well. The average spot in a batting order is worth approximately 18 more at-bats than the one directly below it. This means that over the course of a year, the leadoff guy will get about 162 more AB's than the 9th place hitter. So in those extra AB's, Macha chose to give them to guys like Kendall and Hatteberg, two of the four worst hitters in the AL last season, while our best hitters were in the dugout, helpless to do anything.

How many runs did Macha cost the team last season, simply by putting out the least effective lineup he could dream of? I dunno. But I bet it was somewhere on the order of 30-40 runs.

If Macha could have consistently put out a reasonable lineup, would Hudgens still have his job? If you added those 30-40 runs to this team's total, they'd be 4th in the AL in runs scored, they'd have a higher OPS, and undoubtedly their numbers in "clutch" situations would have looked a little better. Which means they'd have won more games. Timely hits are what wins ballgames. And you know how you get timely hits? By having your best hitters up there in "timely" situations. And you know how you do that? By getting your best hitters more at-bats. And you know how you do that? By moving your best hitters up in the lineup, your worst hitters down in the lineup, and Scott Hatteberg anywhere outside the lineup.

So did Ken Macha's managerial impotence cost Hudgens his job? Yeah, it probably did. But Macha is the one negotiating for a new deal, and poor ol' Dave is scouring the want ads.

I guess you could say that makes him the scapegoat.

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