I've been having a lot of fun helping the folks over at Big League Stew cover the baseball playoffs this month. Certainly that pitching matchup tonight in Philadelphia is shaping up to be something historic... or a big letdown.
All that aside, I must take a step back from that task to comment on the Rockies removal of Don Baylor as hitting coach, and the announcement that Carney Lansford will be replacing him.
My comment: Hell yes!
The Rockies desperately needed this switch. It's not a matter of what Don Baylor knows, doesn't know, how he communicates, what his experience is, what his past credentials are, blah blah. This is about results.
SEVERAL key Rockies players entering, or about to enter, the primes of their careers took major steps backwards offensively in 2010. Chris Iannetta, Ian Stewart, Dexter Fowler, Seth Smith. All backwards.
Then you had professional hitters like Garrett Atkins and Brad Hawpe, guys in their prime, falling completely off the face of the earth under Baylor's watch. That's a problem.
I know Troy Renck of the Denver Post will continue telling us how well Baylor worked with these hitters. Then he'll cite the development of Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez as feathers in Baylor's cap.
Fine. Great. I'm sure he had sound wisdom for them at times, but come on, those two would hit if I was the hitting coach. If that's all you can give me on the positive side, then you've actually made more of a case against the guy you're defending than for him.
As for Lansford, his experience in the Rockies organization is certainly a plus. The comfort level already exists between him and a number of the Rockies players already mentioned in this article. They know his message and his style. There's no guarantee it'll work for them at this level, obviously, but there's just as much chance it'll be precisely what the doctor ordered.
That's why you have to make the move.
I applaud the Rockies -- Dan O'Dowd and Jim Tracy especially -- for stepping up here to make the change. It's never easy to tell a guy his services are no longer required, but it's necessary to be constantly evaluating your team, your coaches, your situation, how your organization is evolving, and what pieces may or may not be helping you reach a championship level.
I'm happy to see that process taking place.
It's very early still in what I perceive to be the most important off-season in the Dan O'Dowd regime, but I'm encouraged by the events of yesterday and optimistic that honest assessments will be taking place across the board in attempt to correct the problems of 2010. There's a long way to go. There's a lot of work to be done. But it's a damn good start.