Saturday, August 28, 2010

Change in the clubhouse starts with Bagwell

ESPN's Jerry Crasnick has an article on hitting coach Jeff Bagwell, and the change we can believe in in the Astros clubhouse.

Hunter Pence:
"I was definitely nervous when he first got here. I didn't know how to talk to him. It's Baggy. You hear all the stories from everyone around here about how he was the greatest leader and such an awesome player, so you put him high up on a pedestal. But there's been a huge change in this clubhouse, and he's been part of it. He makes you laugh on a daily basis and have fun hitting again. He says to us, 'You guys have too many feelings. You can't have feelings in this game.' He'll just rag on you."

Every hitting coach develops his own style with time. Bagwell, a .408 career on-base guy, wants Houston's young hitters to show more discipline at the plate, but he knows that patience can't be forced. And he's less inclined to dwell on mechanics than a hitter's mental approach and the never-ending quest to get a good pitch to hit.

Bagwell's Chevy Keys to the Game:
"Hitters always see the pitcher out there and say, 'What has he got?'" Bagwell said. "I'm like, 'He's right here. Watch him when you're on deck. Don't ask me or some scout who sits behind the plate.' I don't want guys up [the runway] every single inning watching their at-bats on video when they can find out something that's happening on the field. Watch the game. Talk to your teammates. Look and see if the guy is tipping pitches."

It's a good article, and we don't want to pull too much from it. There's even a chart showing the Astros without Bagwell, and the Astros with Bagwell. Interesting stat: The Astros hit 131 doubles with Sean Berry as hitting coach, and have hit 71 in the five weeks since Bagwell came on.

We all know the debate about how effective a pitching coach really is, but it sure is fun to see Bagwell in the dugout.

And we'll close with some class. Bagwell, on Berry:
"I feel terrible about it. Are you kidding me? There was nothing wrong with Sean. Sean worked way harder than I do. It's just that our best players weren't hitting. But that's the thing to do now: Teams fire the hitting coaches and the pitching coaches."