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Where SHOULD the best hitting and pitching coaches be?

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#1 JB_Iowa


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Posted 15 August 2012 - 07:43 AM

Without getting into the specific merits of Vavra vs. Brunansky and Anderson vs. Cuellar, I'd like to throw out the general question of where a team should put its perceived "best" coaches. MLB level? Triple-A? Instructional leagues?

Realizing that every coach has strengths and weaknesses, I'm still curious as to what everyone thinks. Should the "best" coaches be kept with the minor league teams where there is more opportunity to impact young players? How different are the skills required at the major league level? Should a team aspire to move its best coaches up?

This question came to mind because of Brunansky's rapid rise through the system. But I'm really not asking about his merits vs. Vavra's but rather, if you want to use a specific example, would Brunansky (and his skills) be more valuable to the minor league team or the major league team? Same thing with pitching coaches.

#2 Thrylos


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Posted 15 August 2012 - 08:21 AM

The goal of the whole organization and for having a minor league system should be to help the MLB team win. When a MLB team is competing the best 25 players of the system should be in the majors and the best manager and coaches should be in the majors. Full effort ahead. If a MLB team is not competing, I understand keeping talent in the minors to play every day and develop further and keep some of the best teachers in the minors.
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#3 Riverbrian


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Posted 15 August 2012 - 08:29 AM

Your Best Teachers should be in the Instructional leagues. This is where you re-construct swings and Pitching Mechanics... Starting from scratch in a lot of cases. Plant the seeds for upward growth. If things are not fixed here... A player's advancement can stall and the player won't reach the the better teacher at the upper level.

As you move up the levels... Especially at the Major League level... You need a Psycologist. The player has mostly grown and it becomes a case of adjustments and dealing with the head.

#4 Jim Crikket

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Posted 15 August 2012 - 08:43 AM

It's an interesting question, JB. I believe, more than anything, teaching (and that's what coaching is, at its core) is about the ability to combine knowledge with communication skills. Some coaches relate better to young players than others. Some, because of their own MLB success, will have more credibility with players of almost any age. Does Brunansky know more about how to hit baseballs than Vavra or any other coach in the Twins organization? Maybe, maybe not. But he can put on a World Series Championship ring when he works with a hitter and maybe the guy will pay a little closer attention to what he says. Maybe he'll even seek out Bruno for help quicker than he would someone without Brunansky's background. I also think that kind of credibility carries over to the MLB roster. At that point, some guys feel like they already know it all and feel that no "hitting coach" who has never had much, if any, success as a player can possibly tell them anything they don't already know. But a coach with a "ring" he earned with a bat does have something that the MLB player wants and maybe it's not the message, but the messenger that finally gets the message across.

I think the answer is that you need very good coaches at all levels. In low levels, it's mostly about teaching fundamentals and helping kids adjust to the grind of playing 140 games a summer. At AA and AAA it's about helping a prospect learn more about plate discipline, preparing mentally and using a player's abilities to execute appropriate strategies (hitting behind runners, when to pull and when to go the other way, developing a power stroke and learning when to use it, etc.). In other words, make him "Major League ready". In the Majors, it sounds like there's a lot more film work where you study tendencies of specific pitchers that you are seeing several times over the course of a hitter's career and work with players to recognize what pitchers are trying to do to them and how to turn that to the hitter's advantage.
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#5 CDog


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Posted 15 August 2012 - 09:21 AM

I think Riverbrian and Jim Crikket are on the right track. I don't think "best" is a well-defined term here, and I would be shocked if it were the case that the best person for the job at one level would always (or even often) be the best person at another. The things that need to be worked on are different, the age is ususally different, the mentality of the student is different, and even the short-term goals are different. So the "best" coach at a given level isn't necessarily the best at another. Speaking from my own experience, I was a much, MUCH better coach at the 8th and 9th grade type levels than I was at the JV or varsity levels (in a different sport, but I think the concept still applies). So I don't think the OP's question has a true answer. The adjusted answer is that the best coach for each level should be at that level.

#6 Ultima Ratio

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Posted 15 August 2012 - 10:31 AM

A small mistake at the beginning is a big mistake at the end.

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#7 Seth Stohs

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Posted 15 August 2012 - 10:43 AM

GREAT QUESTION! I generally agree with Jim Crikket. In the lower levels, it's all about fundamentals, stressing them and then having the right amount of pushing and a ton of patience. As you move up the ladder, they need to be a little big more refined and detailed. Fundamentals should continue to be pushed, but might be more film work. Rochester should be what are those final touches. In the big leagues, it's about finding things on video quickly and correcting.

I guess I would answer AA. I think Vavra is very knowledgeable. I'd like to see more from Brunansky. He's clearly helped Parmelee. What about Dozier and Benson? Both gave him a lot of credit last year and struggled with him this year. I do think Vavra is the best hitting coach they've got, although Jim Dwyer is really good in Ft. Myers too.

#8 JB_Iowa


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Posted 15 August 2012 - 11:03 AM

Thanks for the responses. I had thought about psychology vs. teaching but hadn't given a thought to the "been there, done that" credibility issue.

I just think that as fans, we sometimes see what is happening at another level and think a particular coach should be with the big league club. And while that person might also be great at the ML level, his skills may be more important in the minors at that particular time.

As for Brunansky, Seth, I would also point out that Revere credited him with helping him with changes that helped him too. Every coach has success stories as well as less successful results.

And Thrylos, this doesn't mean that I don't think that there may need to be changes at the ML level. I'm also of the opinion that, at some point, people often stop responding to certain messangers.