Starting a new thread and commenting on the last one, which has drifted into a conversation on Terry Pendleton as hitting coach… Chipper, you all probably know, hasn’t paid much attention to hitting coaches over the years, and when he gets messed up he turns to his dad for help. I think most hitters would do better with personalized instruction, though there’s clearly a bias against this. Probably for perfectly good reasons of team unity.
But hitting a baseball resembles (closer than anything else) hitting a golf ball or a tennis ball. Elite golfers and tennis players have their own personal coaches. I don’t know about golf that much, but in tennis it’s not unusual for a coach to have only one client if that client’s a top player. Baseball players already will go outside the team for help if what they’re getting isn’t working, but few have it on any sort of professional level and most defer to the hitting coach whether it’s working or not. (Or at least pretend to; Andruw’s never listened to his hitting coaches very much, for example.)
What makes anyone think that four players as different as the Braves’ big four of Chipper, Andruw, Marcus, and Furcal would be best served by being coached the same way? Any of them could afford to pay a coach a six-figure salary, and if the coach was any good they’d probably make up for it in no time. I think inevitably players will start hiring personal hitting coaches, just as they’re starting to hire personal trainers. Furcal might hire, say, Rickey Henderson, should Rickey ever retire. Wouldn’t that be fun? Or someone like Willie McGee. It probably won’t be full-time at first, but you could have 50 or 60 “consultants” who a player or their agent will call in to fix things, while hitting coaches are resigned to working with fringe players.
I’m not necessarily advocating this. I think it could be hazardous to team unity and be yet another headache for managers who have enough of one with all these prima donnas. But baseball survived agents, it can survive this.