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New hitting coach Lamar Johnson talks approach to hitting

New Mets hitting coach, Lamar Johnson, said Sandy Alderson’s hitting philosophy is working very well in the minor leagues.

“We’ve got guys now that are really being a lot more patient,” he told reporters at Citi Field. “We’re scoring more runs, our on-base percentage went up the last two or three years, so everything has been working out pretty good.”

Johnson, who was made hitting coach Tuesday, was in his 11th season with the Mets and was most recently serving as their minor-league hitting coordinator, predating Sandy Alderson as the team’s GM.

“We’ve got talent here,” he said. “I’ve seen some of these guys have some pretty good offensive years, so I know it’s there. I’m just here to try to help those guys get back to where they were and be a little bit more consistent.”

Matthew Cerrone, Lead Writer

I get the sense from players that Dave Hudgens may have been overwhelming them with information, making them hesitant or less confident in certain situations. It’s like, if you’re told you’re doing X-Y-Z at home, it may be a sort-of self-fulfilling prophecy, making them further do X-Y-Z at home. I have no idea if that’s true or not, it’s psychological, but so much of hitting is about confidence and feeling good at the plate. So, if changing that up, going with a guy who is more raw, more natural, more old school, maybe that helps get their bats going again.




38 comments
cmetsfan
cmetsfan

Looks like a nice, ya wanna think he's taking care of his health as big as he is.

Joseph Grillo
Joseph Grillo

"You see the ball......you hit the ball.......you catch the ball.......YOU GOT IT??????"

hankincolo
hankincolo

I prefer the advice Yogi gave Mazzilli's son. See the ball, hit the ball. 

Marc Seldin
Marc Seldin

Obviously, his background and expertise is with the hitting. But, just curious..can he manage too?

Albert E Lewis
Albert E Lewis

Matt I would love to see your take on this over ruling by Jeff Wilpon.

Bob Burket
Bob Burket

Why is it "Sandy's approach to hitting"?  When in his life did Alderson develop an approach to hitting much less have the talent to hit a 90-95 mph fastball?

Jatin A. Shah
Jatin A. Shah

So much rhetoric and BS surrounding the team. So tiring.  


Perhaps they need to re-build using the 1980s Cardinals as a model.  Big ballpark.  Roster of speed and contact hitters.   Other than one year by Jack Clark, I can't remember them having a true slugger. 

Albert E Lewis
Albert E Lewis

Matt ,this picture being painted with this organization now isn't looking the way you said it was ..they no longer look as commtted to Sandys plan.

Albert E Lewis
Albert E Lewis

Right now if they are slowly taking power away from Sandy..not looking good for his future here.

Bob Burket
Bob Burket

Best way to get hitters to hit is to get hitters that can hit.

72tilltc
72tilltc

A hitting coach needs to help the players with mechanics opening up dropping hands etc. Hudgens couldn't help anyone in a slump. DW and Murph are pros who fix themselves a good coach sees it right away as does Kieth. As far as philosophy this approach has been mimicked by the time it got to Hudgens it was misapplied to mean take 3 pitches the worst you will be is 1-2. Unfortunately It is very hard to hit with 2 strikes and the praise of the 2 strike hitter is idiotic. If your good you wont get to 2 strikes. Hitting with 2 strikes is the last place you want to be and you certainly dont want a lot of practice in that situation.

hotfoot15
hotfoot15

What I don't get is that they are teaching a hitting philosophy that is designed to work in a league where pitchers don't have the best of control or nip at the edges of the plate.  That's the minor leagues.  Most pitchers in the majors are attacking the zone.  They are way more aggressive and have much better control by the time the reach the majors.  Why do they think this hitting system will translate to the majors?

Albert E Lewis
Albert E Lewis

WOW could Collins and Alderson be hitting the road soon?

flmetsfan
flmetsfan

I don't know.  Lamar Johnson seems like a pretty nice guy and all.  I hope he's very successful in straightening out our young hitters and all, but he's still has Alderson's philosophy.  Therefore, you just changed the man, not the philosophy.  I understand that most believe that a hitting coach has little impact on the offensive performance of a Major league ball club.  However, if this is true, if these guys simply direct the setup of equipment for batting practice, why do we give a crap about who has this meaningless title?

Bob Burket
Bob Burket

Blah  Blah Blah.  90 % of the game is half mental. Whatever happened to SEE THE BALL. HIT THE BALL? And like Keith says at NAUSIUM.  GOTTA HAVE A LEVEL SWING.

James T. O'Brien
James T. O'Brien

Matt, can you give us a reason or even a theory as to why Eric Campbell has been out of the lineup over the most of the last five days?

Albert E Lewis
Albert E Lewis

Wilpons not letting Sandy make decisions anymore?I wonder how this will affect trades or signings?

mets1962
mets1962

Exactly where is a hitting coach suppose to have an impact on say the line up today? Most are over 30 year olds set in their ways. Maybe Duda he can staigthten out. Tejat will never be a good hitter unless he can get the upper cut swing cut out and hit balls on the ground or line drives. Also why play C. Young and not even take a look at van Dekker? Doesn't make sense.

Jeff Robins
Jeff Robins

Do any of the players record the games? This is what Hernandez has been preaching for the longest time. Too much coaching.

Timothy Nagle
Timothy Nagle

Approach to hitting, get people on the roster that can hit.

Albert E Lewis
Albert E Lewis

Lamar knows hitting ..hopefully....Wow Colin Mchugh left and is now a good pitcher for Houston just check his stats Matt.

72tilltc
72tilltc

@Bob Burket Best way is to swing the bat and not be at the mercy of the 2 strike count.

tullydew
tullydew

With the Hudgens firing, we are seeing that Sandy has lost full autonomy of all baseball decisions.

The Wilpons are slowly taking away Sandy's power. This could be the beginning of the end for Sandy.

Albert E Lewis
Albert E Lewis

@tullydew Wow so Jeff overruled Sandy?... oh well Sandy doesn't have the power I thought he had.

marcbklyn
marcbklyn

@72tilltc One thing that people overlook about Keith is that, while he may be good a figuring out what people are doing wrong, part of his solution is impossible for the vast majority of major leaguers. Most players cannot identify pitches coming at them. Keith could. Ted Williams could. Rod Carew and George Brett could. But, most can't. They guess and try to adjust as best they can as the ball moves. And, the philosophy today, whether you are a free swinger or not, is not to adjust your approach with two strikes because, players seem to think, it won't improve overall outcomes in the long run. Thus, I think Keith (or someone like him) would have great difficulty with today's hitters, whether they are trying for long at bats or not.

72tilltc
72tilltc

@marcbklyn true but he and Rusty knew what was coming they would share a book on tips 

cmetsfan
cmetsfan

@tullydew If the Wilpon pressure works, then it's tough to get mad at the owners.


Maybe MLB wants them gone over screwing Doubleday. I wouldn't mind that, but if the intention is really to force an owner that embraces the DH, then I would just be pro Wilpon. 

tullydew
tullydew

Judge for yourself. This article may open everyone's eyes.

http://www.capitalnewyork.com/article/media/2014/05/8546025/end-hitting-coach-and-gms-baseball-autonomy

"It's been a common thing, as the Mets have struggled, for the team's C.O.O. to express displeasure with general manager Sandy Alderson.

And sure enough, during Monday's disappointing 5-3 loss at home to the Pirates, Jeff Wilpon sent Alderson an angry text, and followed it up with an angry call. Then, after the game, they had an angry meeting.

But at that meeting, according to a knowledgeable source, Wilpon did something new: He overruled his general manager on a baseball matter, ordering him to fire hitting coach Dave Hudgens, a longtime Alderson friend and colleague.

Alderson, who has been in the job since 2010, delivered the news to Hudgens shortly afterward, in the presence of manager Terry Collins.

When he was asked later by reporters about Hudgens' unceremonious post-game termination, Alderson praised Hudgens' work ethic, and stated the obvious, that the team's "situational hitting is not where we want it to be."

Asked for comment on Wilpon's role in the firing, Mets spokesman David Newman referred Capital to Alderson's post-firing comments, which did not address it.

This incursion into baseball decisions by Wilpon would seem to indicate that Alderson will have limited latitude as he tries to improve the team despite severe payroll constraints.

As Hudgens himself put it during a controversial exit interview Monday, "I have nothing but respect for Sandy and no doubt he will turn things around if he's allowed to."

Hudgens continued his media tour on Tuesday, casting further doubt on the idea, hopefully suggested in the past by ownership, that Alderson is free to spend as he pleases.

"If they want a winner in that town, I would let the purse strings loose and let Sandy do what he wants to do," Hudgens told Michael Kay during the first of two interviews he conducted on New York radio.

The Mets have successfully avoided such tours from ex-employees in the past by tying contract compensation to silence, a common tactic. So it is fascinating to see Hudgens speak out in such a forthright way.

It's been no secret for some time now that Alderson is dealing with a far smaller budget than he expected, and was repeatedly promised, each year since taking over. It is also no secret that the budget constantly changes on him, forcing his front office to make decisions on players in a vacuum, not knowing whether money approved for, let's say, Chris Young will be available for another player if they were to pass on Young.

This is why the same G.M. who has managed to consistently win trades, with full authority and only a mandate to return the best possible minor league talent, fares far worse on the free agent market against teams with clear financial parameters and the ability to spend.

And with the fourth draft of the Alderson era coming in just over a week, some of his early drafts, a baseball area where he's had the ability to do as he pleases, are bearing fruit. Brandon Nimmo, his first pick in 2011, flashed power, strong defense and a plus swing when I saw him this weekend for the St. Lucie Mets. He's likely a few weeks from a promotion to Double-A Binghamton, where another Alderson draftee, catcher Kevin Plawecki, is hitting .331 with power.

But who will be making those decisions when the 2014 draft comes around?

It's one thing for ownership to decline to give Alderson money it doesn't have. It's quite another, autonomy-wise, to force Alderson to fire baseball personnel.

Alderson was not aware of how long he'd be restricted from spending when he took the job back in 2010. He's now in the final year of his contract with the Mets, and may not stick around much longer if even the non-budgetary decisions are no longer his to make.

After all, if he couldn't overcome Jeff Wilpon's bright ideas and Fred Wilpon's wallet when he had the discretion to make his own baseball decisions, what chance does he have now?"

72tilltc
72tilltc

@Albert E Lewis For sure had they known Jose was gonna be cut they would have kept black for another day. This was a shock to Sandy.