Friday, July 08, 2011

Knapp's Ziggy a Move Worth Trying

When Curtis Granderson was in Detroit, flailing away futilely as a Tiger against left-handed pitchers, the cries for the head of batting coach Lloyd McClendon were aplenty.

Also, whenever the Tigers go on one of their maddening slumbers offensively, McClendon's name tickles the airwaves of sports talk radio, even now.

Then you look at the splits for this season and see that Granderson's monster year, one that has people uttering those three little letters---MVP---is largely due to the fact that he's crushing lefties. Much of the credit has been given to the Yankees' hitting instructor, Kevin Long.

Makes sense. A new voice, a new approach. Maybe there's something to what Long has been able to impart to his pupil Granderson.

So why is there such an uproar over the firing of pitching coach Rick Knapp, which was rendered last Sunday?

Mike Valenti on 97.1 The Ticket---and echoed by his partner on the air, Terry Foster---decried the ziggy as "scapegoating."

Well, Knapp IS the pitching coach---and the pitching hasn't been all that good this season, save Justin Verlander and Jose Valverde, two of the team's All-Stars.

So why was it OK to lay into McClendon over the foibles of Granderson et al, but when Knapp gets canned it's a case of "scapegoating"?

I wasn't necessarily a proponent of Knapp being let go, but the word "scapegoat" insinuates that Knapp is being blamed for something that he had no part of.

Was the cashiering of Knapp an indication of how jittery GM Dave Dombrowski and manager Jim Leyland are, given their tenuous contract situations? Of course. But is Knapp culpable of the performance of his staff? Of course, also.

Frankly, I applaud the Tigers for doing something bold in a year where the division is seemingly there for the taking. The Tigers rank near the bottom of all pitching categories. If new pitching coach Jeff Jones can do something to improve those numbers, then it was a brilliant move. If Jones can't, then at least the Tigers tried something to improve their embattled pitching.

As for Knapp, he'll land on his feet. Maybe not at the big league level, but he's well-respected within baseball and I doubt there'll be a shortage of job offers.

You just can't make some people happy among the media and Tigers fanbase. Either they're crabbing about guys keeping their jobs, or they're aghast at the removal of a pitching coach.

You want accountability among the Tigers braintrust? You just got some.

Knapp might be just the first domino to fall, if the Tigers underachieve come season's end. But you can't complain about management's inertia on the one hand, then complain about scapegoats when something is done to try to correct a bad situation, on the other.

Rick Knapp is a fine man and a good pitching mind. But that shouldn't guarantee the job security of a Supreme Court justice, when the numbers belie that.


Blogger xman said...

I wonder if there was some type of personality conflict or philosophical difference with the Marlboro Man to make Knapp the first and only coach ever fired mid-season in his career. Seems strange to me, but not unwarranted.

Of course, when we consider "accountability" for the bottom line garnered utilizing the payroll given the DD/JL regime over the past five years, one might draw a similar conclusion if RESULTS are the issue that earned Knapp the one-way ticket. Knapp wasn't the one who put Phil Coke & Brad Penny in the rotation, nor brought up Rick Porcello to the big leagues (arguably)too early or relied on a Max Scherzer with one solid 1/2 season of major league work under his belt.

(IMO, Knapp was still light years ahead of Chuck Hernandez before him, who saw ALL of his pupils regress under his tutelage.)

10:59 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home