Brewers hitting coach says Alcides Escobar "has to change his mechanics"

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Alcides Escobar was benched yesterday in the midst of 0-for-18 and 3-for-38 slumps, and Brewers hitting coach Dave Sveum told Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that the rookie shortstop has a flaw in his swing:

He has to change his mechanics. What he’s doing won’t hold up to big-league pitching on a consistent basis. He has a winter project to work on. He’s got to understand it’s a game of adjustments. It’s very difficult, the way he hits, to use his God-given hand-eye coordination. He’s so front-foot forward. Sometimes you hit rock bottom before you change. It’s a game of adjustments and he has to make some.

I’m not suggesting Sveum is wrong about Escobar, but mid-September sure seems like an odd time to talk about a player needing to make major adjustments to his swing. Escobar has been in the majors, working with Sveum, for the past six months, so seemingly either the hitting coach just came to the realization that big changes are necessary or the shortstop wasn’t willing to listen until he fell into a prolonged slump. Either way, not great news for Brewers fans.
Escobar has hit just .237/.288/.327 in 528 plate appearances spread over 137 games, ranking dead last in the league in both on-base percentage and OPS.

Yoenis Cespedes blames a lack of golf for his early season slump

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Back during the 2015 playoffs the sorts of New York media types who love to find reasons to criticize players for petty reasons decided to criticize Yoenis Cespedes for playing golf the day of a playoff game. The Mets won the series with the Cubs during which the controversy, such as it was, occurred and it was soon dropped.

It was picked back up again in 2016 when Cespedes, while on the disabled list with a strained quad, was seen playing golf. Despite the fact that everyone involved said that golf did not contribute to his injury and that golf would have no impact on his injured quad, it was deemed “a bad look” by a columnist looking to get some mileage out of bashing Cespedes for having a hobby that probably half of all ballplayers share. They did it when he showed off his fancy cars too, by the way, even though just about every ballplayer has a fancy car or three. When you’re a superstar in New York — especially when you’re one with whom the media is not particularly close for various reasons — you’re going to catch hell for seemingly nothing.

Now there’s a new twist to the Cespedes golf saga. Yoenis himself says that his poor start — he’s hitting .195/.258/.354 and leads the league in strikeouts — is due to . . . not enough golf! From the New York Times:

He gave a possible reason for the poor start this weekend: not playing enough golf, a hobby beloved by many baseball players. And, yes, he is serious.

“In previous seasons, one of the things I did when I wasn’t going well was to play golf,” he said after a game on Friday in which he struck out four times but still drove in the go-ahead run in the 12th inning. “This year, I’m not playing golf.”

The story says Cespedes quit golf last summer because he worried that it was contributing to hamstring problems. He’s thinking about going back to it soon, as he thinks it’ll help his swing. Given that he’ll catch hell either way, he may as well do what he wants.