Monday, October 19, 2015

Another year, another Yankees hitting coach fired

For the second straight offseason, the New York Yankees will be looking to fill the role of hitting coach after firing Jeff Pentland, who served in the role for just one season. The 69-year-old Pentland was reportedly told of his departure last week according to the George King III of The New York Post.

The Yankees also released Gary Tuck from his duties as bullpen coach and catching instructor. King mentions Mike Harkey as a potential replacement for Tuck in the bullpen spot. Harkey, who was recently fired by the Arizona Diamondbacks as their pitching coach, was the Yankees bullpen coach from 2008 to 2013 and is good friend of Yankees manager Joe Girardi.

Pentland explained to The Post that he was told that there was a chance that this was a one-season gig from the start, so the firing was not a surprise to him. The lack of shock is especially true considering the massive overall team slump the offense suffered from August through the wild card game.

We’ve seen this over and over again. A hitting coach is only as good as the production of his hitters. The best thing a hitting coach can do at the major league level is find and fix flaws in a batter’s swing before it becomes a full-fledged skid. There were far too many extended slumps for several Yankees this season, and Pentland took the brunt of the responsibility; right or wrong.

For the first four months of the season, the Yankees were receiving great production from a good number of players and NO ONE was talking ill about Pentland’s performance. Had the Yankees finished the year stronger on the offensive side, there is no telling whether this move would have been made or not.

The Yankees could move up assistant hitting coach Alan Cockrell to the lead role, or finally hand over the job to longtime minor league hitting instructor Marcus Thames, who was rumored to be considered last season. Raul Ibanez is another option for the Yanks. For what it is worth, Cockrell received a vote of confidence from Pentland.

“I thought Alan did an excellent job,’’ Pentland said. “It was a good pairing.’’

Regardless of who the Yankees put in the spot, the position is a tenuous one with a couple of players looking to bounceback from down seasons and others hoping to remain productive for a full season. The role of a major league hitting coach is one in which the incumbent is excessively complimented when things are going well, and wildly bashed when hitters are failing. There never seems to be a middle-ground for the job, especially where it concerns the Yankees.

Christopher Carelli is a freelance baseball writer. Besides his work here, Christopher is a featured Yankees writer for His baseball commentary has also been published on Yahoo Sports and linked multiple times on MLB Trade Rumors’ Baseball Blogs Weigh In. He is a member of the Internet Baseball Writers Association of America, the Baseball Bloggers Alliance and the BYB Hub.