There really is no way to talk about Mark McGwire without the subject of anabolic steroids coming up. I hope as St. Louis Cardinal Fans we are beyond that now, for better or worse. My take on the matter are that steroids were a part of baseball, they probably were for a long time, and it’s crazy to think the only people that took them were the ones who had success. I don’t think many adult males who bitch about it can honestly say that if they had the chance to make millions of dollars and have pretty women lick their toes, they still wouldn’t have done it. We know the health reasons the players who have admitted gave to us is all BS, we just have to accept it. The women and the children have to hear answers like that to go on in the world.
No, it’s time to talk about the offense, how much of an impact a hitting coach makes, and if bringing back McGwire was a good thing or not.
Until I thought about it a little bit, I would have said that I didn’t think it was a good idea to bring back McGwire. Then I thought about stability, and now that the Cardinals did bring him back, I don’t think it’s such a bad thing. I’ll use Albert Pujols to demonstrate my thinking on this. Every year Albert Pujols goes into a little funk with the bat. It’s not a long one, and yes, I get that it’s hard to say Pujols goes into a funk when he’s in the top 5 of most offensive categories ever year, but we see it as Cardinal fans. It takes his wife, long hours of video, or, as I heard him say this year after a 0-4 game against the Mets that saw his average drop to .295 in 2010, it just takes patience and time.
I wonder if John Mozeliak was worried that bringing in a new hitting coach might make things worse. From the comments Tony LaRussa made about McGwire and his new triplets, I don’t think any leverage was used by Tony one way or the other. I heard an interview with Dave Duncan the other day and it seems Duncan believes in McGwire very strongly, but who knows if that’s the case or not, or if it matters that much. Maybe Mo feels the comfort level in the team is not something he wants to mess with, or maybe a lot of people in the organization really think McGwire did a good job.
There really are a lot of things to consider about bringing back McGwire. One I haven’t heard much of is that pitching was better across the board this year. The National League batting average was .255 with a .324 OBP. In 2009, it was .259 and .330. The Cardinals had a BA of .263 and an OBP of .332 in 2009, and in 2010 they had…..the same, a .263 and .332. So, the league average went down, and the Cardinals stayed the same.
I’ve heard the evidence stacked both ways, either for or against McGwire as the hitting coach. I think the main problem is the fact the Brendan Ryan and Skip Schumaker worked with McGwire privately before the season started, and Matt Holliday had a bad start in 2009 with the Oakland A’s. Both Ryan and Schumaker had down years, and I believe the change in Holliday was his leg kick that McGwire had tried to change.
I doubt that Mark McGwire offers very much help to Pujols. Hitting coach’s were talked about an awful lot this year with McGwire taking over, and I heard it said numerous times that he has a rolodex of info he’s eager to pass on, but waits for players to come to him. Maybe that’s the norm, maybe that’s a mistake, I don’t know.
I don’t know if the St. Louis Cardinals will return in 2011 with the same team as 2010 or not. The offense was hit or miss, but it missed a lot more it seemed. I’ve heard McGwire say he would like to see more patience and less video watching, but Bernie Miklasz says the video is a Tony LaRussa philosophy. There are many more factors that I haven’t taken into consideration, but the fact is that McGwire is coming back. What are your thoughts about his return and why?