The Braves fire hitting coach Larry Parrish

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My official view of hitting coaches is that they really don’t make a hell of a lot of difference. Maybe they help a guy here or there, maybe they don’t, but I bet that if we studied the matter closely, we’d find a pretty strong correlation between successful hitting coaches and hitting coaches who happened to have good hitters under their instruction.

That said, hitting coaches are often lightning rods for criticism. Larry Parrish of the Braves has certainly been that.  For one thing, he replaced Terry Pendelton, who in addition to being popular, happened to preside over a Braves lineup that had the best OBP in the league last year. Why was he replaced? Because someone felt that new manager Fredi Gonzalez should be able to shape his staff his own way.  Clearly no one had heard of the “if it ain’t broke” rule.

This year the Braves were 5th worst in OBP in all of baseball.  A lot of that could be the talent level, as I noted above. Or it could be that Parrish’s approach — he preached aggressiveness at the plate — has made a mess of Braves hitters.  The upshot: Parrish’s impact is hard to quantify, but he certainly suggested stuff that — if it sunk in — was likely to have a bad effect. And the Braves’ hitting was, in fact, bad in 2011.

But maybe we should take something larger from all of this.  If Parrish was hired as a means of letting Fredi Gonzalez shape his staff, perhaps Gonzalez should feel insulted that his own man has been let go.  Perhaps he should be exceedingly indignant at being undermined in such a blatant and public fashion!

That cuts it. I see no other choice but for Fredi Gonzalez to resign in protest.  Protect your dignity, Fredi! It is the most important thing!

Orioles sign Alcides Escobar

Alcides Escobar
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The Orioles have inked shortstop Alcides Escobar to a minor league contract, MLB.com’s Joe Trezza reported Saturday. The deal comes with an invitation to spring training and will allow Escobar to earn $700,000 in the majors if he breaks camp with the team (via Jon Heyman of MLB Network). The team has yet to formally announce the agreement.

Escobar, 32, completed an eight-year run with the Royals in 2018. No longer the .280-average, 3.0-fWAR player of seasons past, he hit several career lows after batting .231/.279/.313 with four home runs, eight stolen bases (in 10 chances), and a .593 OPS through 531 plate appearances last year. His defensive ratings also took a hit, and FanGraphs pegged him as the fourth-worst shortstop in the majors after he accumulated -12 DRS over the course of the season, only slightly higher than the Orioles/Dodgers’ Manny Machado, Mets’ Amed Rosario, and Red Sox’ Xander Bogaerts.

Still, Heyman holds that Escobar is being considered for the starting gig this spring and could yet prove an upgrade over top prospects and infield candidates Richie Martin and Drew Jackson. At the very least, the veteran shortstop figures to stabilize the position given Martin and Jackson’s relative inexperience, as both infielders played to varying results in Double-A Tulsa last year and have yet to break into the majors. Should either player earn consideration for the position in camp, however, Escobar might still work his way onto the Opening Day roster in a utility role as he saw some time at third base, second base, and center field in 2018.