Monday, December 11, 2006

Perception Versus Reality!

There seems to be some misconceptions among fans as to a coaches effectiveness on a players performance. I'm not talking about MLB managers, but the coaches that work for them. Quite often, when the home team's players struggle, for whatever reason, not only is the player blamed but also his coach. To the contrary, when opposing teams players do well, their coaches are either a non-factor or are considered saviors.

This perception versus reality, as to a coach's effectiveness on a players performance, is what I'd like to address in a little more detail with respects to a couple of high profile pitching coaches known to many Cub fans.

One is the former and present pitching coach of the Chicago Cubs, Larry Rothschild and the other is the former pitching coach of the Braves and present pitching coach of the Orioles, Leo Mazzone.

Many a Cub fan feels, that their pitchers would've benefited greatly by having Leo Mazzone instead of Larry Rothschild. This perception that Mazzone's success while at Atlanta, could have magically reversed the problems of the Cubs pitching staff had he been at Chicago, I contend is not realistic. I'm not saying Mazzone, is not deserving of his due, but the health and talent of the staff he shepherded in Atlanta, had more to do with is recognition as an excellent pitching coach than the reality of his turning duds into studs.

To further illustrate this point, the Orioles with great expectations, swept up Mazzone from the Braves last year to be their pitching coach. However, when you look at the Orioles staff results, Mazzone was unable to reverse their sub par performances. Why? Primarily because the Orioles don't have a very talented pitching staff.

Pitching coaches, like most baseball coaches are not paid a great deal of money. Do you know why? Because they just are a small reason why their players perform well or not. That's the reality.

The Cubs pitching coach Larry Rothschild has a perception of not being very good. Is that reality? I don't think so and let me explain why.

Most pitching coaches that are recognized and thought highly of have one, been the beneficiaries of having a good organization that scouts well and brings in talented arms. Two, has a good working relationship with their team's manager, that will defer to his pitching coaches advice on a pitcher's health and if he's struggling or not. Three, has pitchers that aren't stubborn and willing to be coached.

The Cubs have done a decent job of acquiring some talented arms, most notably Kerry Wood and Mark Prior. But their physical breakdowns most certainly were exacerbated in some part do to the poor working relationship between Baker and Rothschild. Baker abused his starters, much to the chagrin of Rothschild in 2003. Wood by his own admission was bull headed and refused to accept the warnings of his violent mechanics, while not heeding advice of a training regimen that would help strengthen his back problems. Prior wasn't helped by the workload he encountered his first year in the Bigs, and may also just be unlucky enough to have some genetic flaw in his shoulder.

These reasons are the reality of Rothschild's results working with the Cubs pitching staff. If he was as clueless as some Cub fans think, why now then when all the stops are being pulled out to win in Chicago, did Lou Pinella retain him? Further as yourself why, after the 2005 season did Dave Dumbroski, the GM of the Detroit Tigers, offer him a three year deal to come to Detroit? And lastly as yourself why, after Maddux had been traded to LA, and his ex-teammate from Atlanta, Jason Marquis called him about his struggles in St. Louis, did Maddux tell him to go talk to Rothschild, not Mazzone?

Those are facts Cub fans, and facts support reality not perception.

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