One thing I have to say about Ron Washington is that he is playing the cards he was dealt. If I am remembering correctly, all the coaches were rehired (except Wakamatsu, who was in line for the top job) before Wash came in. Which means that Mark Connor was already there. Scott commented on the blog today that Connor is the worst pitching coach in the bigs. Do I agree? Yes. No. Maybe. Since the studies of coaching are few and far between, it’s difficult to say for certain, although I’m sure he’d rank very highly (or lowly, depending on your perspective). The only study I know of was one showing that Leo Mazzone took half a run per game off the ERA of Braves pitchers. I’d love to repeat that study for Connor, although that would probably take a while. It’s made more difficult by his resume, which you can read at Wikipedia. A cursory read of it told me that he’d been a pitching coach for about 17 seasons. A little research tells me that 4 of those seasons were partial seasons (84-86 with the Yankees, who knows what was going on there, and 02 with the Blue Jays) and a few others were as bullpen coach (most of his time with the Rangers, in fact). Trying to study his effects on pitchers would be difficult with the back and forth his resume had. I can tell you that he got the Rangers job because he was Buck Showalter’s buddy from the Yankees, which is also why he got the D-Backs job. Where would he be without Buck? Oh yeah, and if you believe Wikipedia, he was responsible for Randy Johnson’s Cy Youngs in 99 and 00. Somehow I think RJ had a little more to do with it, in fact I’d almost say it was a despite Connor thing, since RJ already had one Cy, was in the top 3 in votes for several years, and won a couple more after Connor left.
In summary, I, and I bet every Ranger fan reading this, would probably be a lot happier if John Wetteland was the pitching coach today. Curiously enough, just a week ago he took a coaching job at some high school according to Wikipedia. I bet if the Rangers called he’d be available…
TR Sullivan must either be channelling me or reading the blog. If he is an ass, as I have said before, at least he has good timing to talk about Mark Connor today. The quote he has from Wash (BTW why in Oakland do they have signs calling him Wa’sh? I have heard it pronounced a little weirdly, that’s my only explanation) is “At some point, the accountability has be on the guys who are out there on the mound.” To which I respond, at some point the accountability has to be with the people in charge of the pitchers.
Wash or Wa’sh also said yesterday “He didn’t show me [any] guts” talking about Tejeda. Interesting he would call someone out like that. Could Tejeda go back down to work on some stuff? Is there any point? I think it would be much better for him to work on it on the big league level, for a couple of reasons: a) there’s no-one to replace him, and b) all the good pitchers struggled in their first year or two. Look at Maddux, 2-4 in his first season then 6-14 the next. Look at just about everyone in the Detroit rotation, all young, all good, all suffered through a 40 win season but earned their chops.
Hey, how ’bout them Rangers? As I’m writing, they complete a shutout, although dangerously close to blowing it at the end. Maybe they’re reading this too? I bet all the stories tomorrow will be about how Mark Connor turned them around. That’ll be conveniently forgotten in a week or two though, when they’re back to their old selves.
Okay, finally and appropriately, to the tune of Take Me Out To The Ballgame:
Take me out to the Ballpark,
Make me walk miles and miles,
Buy me a pitcher who can throw strikes,
I don’t care if at home he wears tights,
‘Cos we pay, pay, pay for the Rangers,
If they don’t win we’re ripped off,
For it’s one, two, three bucks a Coke,
At the new Ballpark.
Marian and I (okay, mostly me, since she doesn’t want to take the blame) made that up several years ago while attending games more regularly than we do now. You can tell how old it is, because now it’s at least four bucks for a Coke, but the sentiment is still the same – get some pitching!