The Angels announced a major move on Tuesday when they fired hitting coach Mickey Hatcher and replaced him with Triple-A hitting coach Jim Eppard. The switch means much more than a potential for the team’s hitting to improve; it indicates a major change within the organization.
Hatcher was one of Mike Scioscia’s original assistant coaches from the time he took over as Angels manager in 2000. He is the first Scioscia assistant to be fired (previous assistant coaches Joe Maddon and Bud Black moved on to managerial gigs). The two were teammates with the Dodgers and Scioscia has been incredibly loyal to Hatcher, riding with him through the team’s ups-and-downs. But the organization finally decided to fire him on Tuesday.
Many people believe Hatcher was fired in part because he upset Albert Pujols a few weeks ago. They feel the firing was a response to that issue, and that the move indicates Pujols is running the team.
I think it signifies that there is another powerful voice in the organization, but it’s not Pujols'; GM Jerry DiPoto is now the one running the show.
“Obviously, we’ve been struggling as an offensive club, really for the entirety of the season,” Dipoto said. “Peeling back the layers of the onion, this is a problem that we’ve had as an offensive team for the last couple of years. It’s something we’ve been monitoring, trying to change the way we approach our at-bats … Through conversations we’ve had as an organization, the major league coaching staff, particularly Mickey, walking through the various concerns and ideas – it’s been a rough struggle for us offensively.
“Eight shutouts in the first 36 games of the season and an offense that was grossly underperforming with what they’ve historically done. This is unfortunately a situation where a message needs to be sent, and a philosophy needs to be instilled. Right now we’re struggling to do that, and we just felt like the voice needed to change.”
DiPoto is right on the money with his assessment. The team is seriously struggling and has been underperforming for a long time given their talent. Hitting coaches are there to help the team hit better, and when the squad is underperforming across the board, switching hitting coaches can help.
Not only was Hatcher fired because he wasn’t helping the offense, but also because of a possible shift in philosophy. Hatcher reportedly endorsed an aggressive approach at the plate while DiPoto reportedly favors a patient approach.
I’m all for the change and I’m glad the team finally has another powerful voice making decisions.
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