The Cardinals have announced that all of their coaches -- besides the previously fired Marty Mason -- have agreed to contracts and will be back in 2011.
That was somewhat surprising in that there was a lot of speculation that Mark McGwire's coaching career would be one and done. McGwire hinted strongly at the end of the season that he might prefer to stay home in California with his wife and their five kids -- including new triplets. But, apparently, either manager Tony La Russa is very persuasive or else Mac got tired of changing diapers really fast.
A lot of Cardinals fans have made McGwire the scapegoat of a lousy 2010 season. And I can see their point since the St. Louis offense seemed to shoot itself in the foot every time it was handed a runner in scoring position. But I think the impact of a hitting coach in that sort of situation is greatly over-valued. You can talk until you're blue in the face about mechanics and hitting philosophy. But if you have players who are incapable -- or unwilling -- to execute, there isn't much anyone can do about it.
I was shocked to see a graphic during the last game of the American League Championship Series that showed the top teams in the majors in making productive outs. The Cardinals ranked fifth on that list. How, I don't know. They seemed to strike out every time there was a runner at third and less than two outs and hit the ball to shortstop or second base every time they had a man on second.
I guess it is a tribute to how good half of the St. Louis batting order is. If the Cardinals made so many productive outs and had such a bad percentage of hitting with runners in scoring percentage, they must be creating a TON of scoring opportunities.
So, back to my original point. McGwire is coming back. How do I feel about that? It depends on what the Cardinals do to improve the offense. If they get a decent leadoff man an a decent fifth place hitter, I think he'll do just fine.
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