A hot topic to be discussed as the rapidly-approaching off-season approaches is should the Cardinals bring back Mark McGwire for another season as hitting coach.
I think a lot of that decision depends on whether Tony La Russa comes back for another season and whether McGwire found that being back on the road suits him after several summers of hanging out with his young family and around the golf course.
If the answer to those two questions is yes, does Big Mac's performance merit a return engagement?
The short answer is that he didn't do anything to deserve to be fired. The Cardinals didn't exactly fall off the map with their hitting statistics. But they didn't exactly improve their lackluster numbers from 2009, either.
A lot of people want to make McGwire the scapegoat. And, while I admit that it drives me batty to see the Cardinals strike out with runners in scoring position, swing at the first pitch when it's out of the strike zone and fail to move runners up with situational hitting, I don't think it's all McGwire's fault.
I think the main problem is that the Cardinals have too many holes in their batting order -- especially at the top of the order and in the fifth slot that Ryan Ludwick occupied so well.
It doesn't matter how good the plan is of you don't have players who are capable of executing it. Skip Schumaker is a nice fourth outfielder. But he doesn't get on the base the way you'd hope a leadoff would and he doesn't have the speed to steal bases or get a bunch of doubles and triples.
At this stage of his career, Colby Rasmus strikes out too much to bat second. And I don't think Ty Cobb could penetrate his thick skull when it comes to cutting down his swing with two strikes, being more selective in the pitches he swings at and hitting the other way when the pitch or the situation dictates.
It's also pretty tough to put together a decent batting order that includes Pedro Feliz and Brendan Ryan on a daily basis.
So, as far as I am concerned, I don't really have a big interest in McGwire's fate. If he retires I'm not going to cry about it. If he comes back, I'm okay with it. But the Cardinals need to add some better hitters to the mix if they expect better results.
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