Jeff Bagwell explains why he chose not to return as Astros hitting coach

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Jeff Bagwell left his special assistant gig in Houston’s front office to take over as the Astros’ hitting coach when Sean Berry was fired at the All-Star break and the offense actually showed some significant improvement in the second half despite trading away Lance Berkman.

However, last week the former MVP turned down a two-year contract offer to remain on the job.

Bagwell plans to stay involved in the organization, perhaps returning to a similar front office role, but told reporters earlier this week that serving as hitting coach took him away from his family too much to continue:

I never got a chance to see my kids. They would get up and go to school at 7:30, and I’d wake up and go to the ballpark at 12 and never see them again. I can’t do that. My decision came down to the time the coaches put in, the effort they put in and my family. I don’t think I was going to be able to give all that kind of stuff for seven months and be away from my family and not be able to see my kids. When you’re playing, you have no idea what goes on in that coaches’ room, and in today’s game, it’s even more, because they have that video room where they’re in there every single second. It was a lot of time and a lot of work.

Chalk his half-season on the job up as another data point for the best players rarely making the best coaches, regardless of the sport.

The Astros gave the Yankees an opening. Keuchel and Verlander will try to close the door.

Associated Press
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If Game 4 of the ALCS had been even remotely conventional, it’d stand at 3-1 in favor of Houston right now. The Yankees’ starter pitched well but got no run support. A mighty Astros team with an ordinarily good closer in Ken Giles had a 4-0 lead in the late innings. As the Yankees set out to mount a comeback, a base runner fell down in between first and second and should’ve been dead to rights. This is playoff baseball, however, so stuff, as they say, happens. The runner was safe, the closer struggled, the Yankees rallied and now we’re tied 2-2.

But are we even at 2-2?

On paper, no, because the Astros now will send Dallas Keuchel and Justin Verlander out in Games 5 and 6, and that gives them a clear advantage. Keuchel dominated the Yankees in Game 1, tossing seven scoreless innings and striking out ten batters. Verlander struck out 13 batters in a 124-pitch complete game in which he allowed only a single run. Beyond the mere facts of the box scores, however, the Yankees have looked profoundly overmatched by both of the Astros’ aces, in this postseason and on other occasions on which they’ve faced off against them. Most notably in the 2015 wild-card game at Yankee Stadium when Keuchel pitched six scoreless innings in the 3-0 victory.

But remember: stuff happens.

Stuff like Aaron Judge‘s and Gary Sanchez‘s bats waking up. The two most important sluggers in the Bombers lineup combined to go 3-for-6 with two doubles, a homer, a walk and five RBI in last night’s victory. Each of them had been silent for the first three games of the series but if they’re heating up, the Yankees will be a lot harder to pitch to.

Stuff like Masahiro Tanaka showing that he can tame the Astros’ lineup. Which he did pretty well in Game 1, giving up only two runs on four hits in six innings. He was overshadowed by Keuchel in that game, but it was a good performance against a strong lineup in a hostile environment. Tanaka pitches much better at Yankee Stadium than he does on the road, so don’t for a second think that the Astros bats will have an easy time of it today.

Stuff like the Yankees bullpen still being the Yankees bullpen. Yes, the Astros got to David Robertson yesterday, but it’s still a strong, strong group that gives the Yankees a clear advantage if the game is close late or if they hold a lead.

All of which is to say that we have ourselves a series, friends. While, 48 hours ago, it seemed like we were on our way to an Astros coronation, the Yankees have shown up in a major way in Games 3 and 4. If you’re an Astros fan you should feel pretty confident with Keuchel and Verlander heading into action over the next two games, but we have learned that absolutely nothing is guaranteed in the postseason.