There are 25 players on the active roster of each Major League Baseball team. There is a manager and several coaches. Each play an important part in a winning team. Without a strong manager who understands his team, there is no success. Without a good hitting coach, who takes time with each of his players to build routine and confidence, there probably is no success. Without a good pitching coach, who can feel when a player has reached his breaking point without pulling the string too quickly, there probably is no success. Without a good bullpen coach, you can’t have success if he does not have a complete understanding about that pitcher he is sending in on that given day. The bench coach has to be the encyclopedic mind who allows the manager to make the decisions with all of the knowledge at hand, both in player performance and possible circumstances which may or may not affect a decision.
Coaches are more than teachers. Some get ahead and are glued to a franchise because they are ‘good guy’s’, always quick with a quip. That get the voices in the broadcast booth to proclaim how funny he is and what a great guy he is. After all, the third base coach of the Milwaukee Brewers said ‘I’ve been teaching the hot dog vendors some signals. Well, just the one where they throw me sausages’.(Twitter 03.10.12)
Yes. Coaches are more than teachers. They are more than just funny guys or pals or good to be around. They should not be promoted because of propinquity. Just being with an organization a long time should not insure one of promotion and continued position. Coaches are important because they have to make sure they put the players in a position to succeed and not fail.
Managers can lose games because of a wrong hunch or a blundered tactic. But the most important coach on a team is probably the third base coach. The ‘Windmill Man’. Why? He is the most exposed. His duties include holding or sending runners rounding second and third bases, as well as having to make critical, split-second decisions about whether to try to score a runner on a hit, a wild pitch, passed ball or mental mistake while accounting for the arm strength of the opposing team’s fielder and the speed and position of his baserunner. His is, in short, critical to a team’s success.
The Milwaukee Brewers have a third base coach and this is a condensed view of some of the decision he had to make this season.
On Tuesday, 3.24.15 vs D’Backs, the third base coach had Jean Segura attempt to stretch a double into a triple with one out. Segura was out. It wasn’t even close. But then again, this was Spring Training and it is a time to try things out. Perhaps in the future of the season, this lesson will have been learned.
On Wednesday, 3.25.15 vs Rangers, the third base coach had Carlos Gomez attempt to stretch a double into a triple with two outs. Gomez was out even though it was clear that GoGo was not performing up to his standards in the outfield as it appeared that he had slowed up a step from the previous campaign. But it was still Spring Training. Perhaps by the time the season began, this lesson would have been learned.
On Thursday, 3/26.15 vs Mariners, the third base coach of the Brewers had Scooter Gennett attempt to stretch a double into a triple with two outs in 2nd inning. For the third straight day, this runner was out. OK. It was still Spring Training and perhaps in the regular season this lesson will have been put into the memory box and it would not happen when it counted in the regular season.
On Saturday, 3/28, with a runner on second, stood the Brewers starting pitcher Wily Peralta. A hit to right field and third base coach does not give a signal to the runner who lumbers around third. Strangely, the runner scores as the ball, thrown in by the right fielder, hits the rubber and slows it down long enough to allow Peralta to score. Why no signal? Well, it is only Spring Training and perhaps he was thinking about something else as there are a number of pretty girls in the stands and he loves to wave to all.
On that same Saturday, 3/28, the game was tied 2-2. Runners were on second and third one out. Aramis Ramirez was on third. A fly ball was hit to right field. Third base coach and Ramirez go down the third base line toward home before the coach motions for Ramirez to go back to third and tag up because the right fielder catches the ball. The right fielder throws Ramirez out at third to end the threat for a double play. Well, it is only Spring Training and after all, they don’t count in the standings. Lessons learned. Spring Training is done. Lessons learned.
The season has begun. On Tuesday, April 7, 2015, in the second game of the regular season, in bottom of the 4th at Miller Park, with the Brewers trailing the Colorado Rockies 3-0, Adam Lind, leading off, hits a ball off the wall in deep right center field. He is waived to third by the third base coach and is easily called out with a relay from the center fielder. Rule #1 in baseball: never commit the first out of an inning at third. OK. this is the real season. Every decision counts. A coach must always put his players in a position to succeed. Well, it’s only one mistake. And after all, coaches are human too.
On Friday, April 10, 2015, with Kris Davis at third, the pitch got away from the catcher, going nearly to the first base box seats and the third base coach did not advance him, even though the Brewers were down in the game. Your mother could have scored. OK. that’s two. It’s early. Only April of a very long season.
On Friday, May 22, 2015, the third base coach held Willy Peralta at third with the game tying run. He could have scored. You could have scored. That’s three.
On Saturday, May 23, 2015, the third base coach sends Sanchez home and is out at the plate. On that same day, May 23, 2015, he questionably sends Ryan Braun home who is out at the plate. Brewers loose in extra innings. That’s four and five.
On Wednesday, May 27, 2015, he sends Khris Davis, who had hit a triple, to go on contact with one out. Ball is hit to the first baseman, Brandon Belt of the Giants, who easily threw home to Buster Posey to tag the sliding Davis. The world could see that nobody would be able to score with Belt facing home plate. Belt, Posey and the Giants’ announcers were a bit stunned to see anyone running on a ground ball to first with one out and the game tied 0-0. With Aramis Ramirez the next batter, who hit a single to right, the run would have scored. Problem was, it would have been the game tying run as the Brewers scored one in the inning and lost 2-1. Now do you understand the value of a good 3rd base coach? That’s six.
In St. Louis on June 3, 2015, the third base coach sent Jonathon Lucroy, who is probably slower than your mother, from 1st to second and was thrown out for the third out in an inning that could have produced some runs as they were trailing 7-3 at the time. While you may question that this was the first base coach’s responsibility, the player looked toward the third base coach as he had rounded the bag on his way to second for a signal. He could have signaled a ‘no go’ and the player would have returned to first. But he didn’t. That’s seven.
Credit where credit is due. the third base coach waves Segura in the bottom of 2nd on June 13, 2015, from 1st on a double by Scooter Gennett to take 2-1 lead against Nationals at Miller Park in game #3 of series on Saturday.
Back to reality, on July 23, 2015, with runner at 1st & 3rd (Perez), down by a run and nobody out, the third base coach lets Perez try to score on a hit back to the pitcher who turned two by throwing to second to get that runner from first (for the first out) in the inning as shortstop then threw to home to easily get Perez attempting to score from third. This single mistake took the Brewers completely out of the inning and the game. Honestly, people are still scratching their heads on this. That’s eight.
On August 12, 2015, with nobody out, with Brewers leading 1-0 against the Cubs, Gennett hits a double with Segura coming up. Segura lays down a perfect bunt to move the runner to third. But wait! The third base coach does not stop Gennett as he over runs 3rd and continues toward home. After the pitcher fired the ball to the first baseman to get Segura, Anthony Rizzo sees Gennett way off third and fires the ball to third to double up Gennett. Brewers loose a perfect chance to score with a runner on 3rd and one out. Eventually loose in 10 innings with a walk off, their 11th of the season. That’s nine.
Players are gauged on both their hitting and fielding. This season so far, only one player has more errors than the third base coach on the Milwaukee Brewers and this is the #1 error prone team in Major League Baseball.
Without fully analyzing all of the teams in the AL and NL, we cannot say the third base coach of the Milwaukee Brewers has cost more games than any other third base coach in the game. But just in this brief examination, he has, in the eyes of this writer, made nine mental errors that costs the team games. With 70 losses so far this season, only three other teams have more, all in the National League. Imagine if those nine errors were not committed and the team actually won those games. They would be a .500 club.
Granted that is wishful thinking and certainly this team, this year, has failed miserably. But the coaches must be held responsible for not winning just as the man who hired them, namely the fired manager of the Brewers who started the season and is now the third base coach of the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The third base coach of the Milwaukee Brewers should put his players in a position to succeed and not fail. That is his sole responsibility. For years this coach has proven he is not up for that challenge. It is time for a change.