When I heard about the Wade Miller signing, I figured that someone, somewhere was bound to drop the phrase, “back of the rotation pitcher." Paul Sullivan didn’t disappoint.

This sounds like a reasonable gamble to me given the cost of the contract, but I certainly hope Miller is the worst pitcher the Cubs sign this off-season and not the best.

The other addition of interest in the last couple days was new hitting coach, Gerald Perry, who spent last season on Ken Macha’s staff in Oakland.

Perry, of course, is replacing Gene Clines, who specialized in teaching Cub batters how to swing at unhittable pitches and strike out with men on base, contributions which I’m thinking the team could do without.

My recollection of Perry as a player was that he was an unexceptional journeyman who couldn't hit well enough to be a standout first baseman, but could hit well enough to play in the Major Leagues for a long time. Turns out my recollection was pretty accurate.

It got me to thinking, what if anything about Gerald Perry's record as a hitter would lead anyone to believe he would make a good hitting coach, and how does his playing resumé stack up to the those of other National League hitting coaches?

I looked at the career numbers for all of the guys listed on as National League hitting coaches as of Wednesday night. (Some of these guys won’t be around next year—I think Terry Pendleton was a candidate for the Washington managers job and I’m assuming Merv Rettenmund will be replaced by new Padres manager Bud Black—and not all of these coaches were even in position last season, e.g., Brook Jacoby in Cincy, but you get the idea.)

Here’s what I found:

Eddie Murray, LA
3,026 games; 504 HR, 129 OPS+

Hal McRae, STL
2,084 games, 191 HR, 122 OPS+

Terry Pendleton, ATL
1,893 games, 140 HR, 91 OPS+

Kevin Seitzer, ARIZ
1,439 games, 74 HR, 110 OPS+

Milt Thompson, PHI
1,359 games, 47 HR, 94 OPS+

Brook Jacoby, CIN
1,311 games, 120 HR, 103 OPS+

Gerald Perry, CUBS
1,193 games, 59 HR, 95 OPS+

Merv Rettenmund, SD
1,023 games, 66 HR, 123 OPS+

Jim Presley, FLA
959 games, 135 HR, 90 OPS+

Sean Berry, HOU
860 games, 81 HR, 105 OPS+

Joe Lefebvre, SF
447 games, 31 HR, 114 OPS+

Jeff Manto, PIT
289 games, 31 HR, 93 OPS+

Alan Cockrell, COL
9 games, 0 HR, 39 OPS+

Rick Downs, NY & Jim Skaalen, MILW
Never played in Majors

So what does all this mean? Virtually nothing. As Eric Chavez put it when asked about Perry during the A’s spring training last season,

"I don't really think it's that important. I guess it might help put a stamp on things, like, 'He knows what he's talking about because he's been there,' but if you get along with someone, it doesn't matter."

Considering, also, that two of the game’s most renowned coaches, Baltimore pitching coach, Leo Mazzone, and Texas hitting coach, Rudy Jaramillo, never played even one game in the majors, it’s easy to believe Chavez is right and Perry's less than stellar numbers won't mean anything to anyone he's supposed to be instructing.

Still, something tells me that when it's time for the annual National League Hitting Coaches Picnic, I know which guys are going to be sent out to get the beer.


  1. Phil said...
    Well, I think that Perry might be of some additonal use if he can convince MLB that the games would be more exciting if the pitchers rolled the ball to the hitters. They could call it "on-the-ground" baseball.
    Cubnut said...
    Interesting thought, Phil. Sounds like fun, but dangerous. The bloody knuckles, I mean.

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