I think I finally figured out why Mickey Hatcher has been able to keep his job throughout Mike Scioscia’s tenure as an Angel: he is a magnet for fan animosity.
No matter what is going on in the Angels’ season, the instant something goes slightly askew with the Angel offense, everyone starts calling for Mickey’s head. It is an annual tradition right up there with the sparrows returning to San Juan Capistrano, turkey at Thanksgiving and the New York media freaking out that the sky is falling the first time the Yankees lose three games in a row.
What better way to distract from the real problems facing the Angels than to keep a lightning rod like Hatcher in prime position to attract all the criticism when it really just isn’t his fault.
With the Angel offense faltering once again this season, the demands for Hatcher’s firing have begun and are nearing a fever pitch. As much as I might want to join in on the fun, I simply can’t. Not this year anyway.
Believe me, I’m no Mickey Hatcher fan. Based on the track record of his career as a hitting coach, I don’t think anyone can make a legitimate case that he is a “good” hitting coach. I’m not even sure that I could be convinced that he is an above average hitting coach either, but that doesn’t mean he should be fired in the middle of the season.
Yes, the Angel offense isn’t very good.
Yes, there are several players who are performing well below expectations.
Yes, the Halos are striking out at an alarming rate.
But it still isn’t Mickey’s fault.
The last time I checked, no hitting coach was capable of reversing the aging process so that a guy like Torii Hunter could continue being an All-Star hitter. Nor do I believe most hitting coaches possess degrees in psychology so that they can get deep into the psyche of badly struggling new additions who are putting to much pressure on themselves to perform (hello, Vernon Wells!). And I highly doubt there is anybody on the face of the planet that is capable of turning Jeff Mathis into an even slightly useful hitter.
If you want to blame Hatcher for what is going wrong with the Angel offense, you need to credit him with what is going right too.
Does he not deserve credit for Howie Kendrick having a career year?
Does he not deserve credit for Erick Aybar’s bounceback season?
Does he not deserve credit for Alberto Callaspo becoming a solid everyday player?
Does he not deserve credit for Obama producing his birth certificate? Oops! Sorry, got carried away there.
Not be a total hypocrite, I fully acknowledge that I have demanded Hatcher’s ouster as recently as this last off-season. That request was made not because of Hatcher’s shortcomings, but rather because I felt the coaching staff had stagnated and needed to be shaken up to provide a new voice and perspective to the players. That ended up happening when Ron Roenicke left to manage the Brewers, so consider my application to terminate Mickey withdrawn.
The fact of the matter is that Hatcher takes his marching orders from the big man himself, Mike Scioscia. Sure, Hatcher can have his own impact by working with players on swing mechanics and such, but when it comes to offensive philosophy, that’s Scioscia’s call. Changing out the hitting coach isn’t going to make a major impact on the offensive philosophy that the Sosh dictates unless the said new hitting coach is a lot better at making persuasive arguments than he is at recognizing hitches in someone’s swing.
That probably isn’t what the fans want to here because they want to see someone’s head roll, but all that would accomplish is temporarily quelling outrage until the masses fixate on a new target. The beleaguered offense will still be just as beleaguered, we just won’t have Hatcher to push around anymore.
Sorry folks, Mickey has got to stay… for now anyway.