Sandy Alderson Hires Kevin Long as Mets Batting Coach

Chicks dig the long ball.

In a win-win for everyone, Kevin Long takes a short trip across town to join the New York Mets as batting coach.

Long wins, because he doesn’t have to break his NYC apartment lease (his offseason home is in Arizona, I believe).

The Mets hitters win, because Long is an excellent batting coach.

Sandy Alderson wins, because now he has another coach on Terry Collins‘ staff that he hand-picked. Oh, you don’t think that’s relevant? Think again. There’s a reason Bob Geren is the bench coach, and it isn’t because of the thumbs-up/thumbs-down dance sensation that is sweeping across the nation. Though, I wonder if the hiring of Long paves the way for Jeff Wilpon to replace Geren? I’m not sure which coaches are “Jeff’s.” We know Collins and Tim Teufel are both of Fred Wilpon’s “guys,” and Alderson has Geren and Long, but there are still Dan Warthen, Ricky Bones, and Tom Goodwin to be accounted for. Hmm … is it possible Collins had the power to hire any of them?

Conspiracy theories aside, you’ll be happy to know that Kevin Long is a proponent of what has been described by some outlets as “Sandy Alderson’s hitting philosophy” — if you haven’t heard of it, it involves batters being disciplined, working counts, and swinging at good pitches. A novel, groundbreaking approach, I know, and I’m surprised Alderson hasn’t written a book or created a hitting DVD yet (Kevin Long HAS produced a DVD — it’s called Pro Hitter’s Workout and I recommend it).

Oh, yes, Long’s (Alderson’s?) hitting philosophy is the same as former Mets hitting coach Dave Hudgens‘ — and Lamar Johnson‘s, for that matter. And it might be the same philosophy espoused by every hitting coach in MLB. And the minors. And on the planet. It seems that the idea of waiting for a good pitch to hit is a good one — good enough that it’s taught universally.

Can a hitting coach make a difference? This is where things get sketchy. If you say “yes,” then maybe you also believe that a manager can make a difference. Yet, we’ve been trained by the bright, MBA-carrying Ivy League executives proliferating baseball to think that a manager merely pushes buttons and executes the GM’s plan. And therein lies the conundrum: if a manager is mostly inconsequential, then, so too, must be his coaching staff? And if so, then why fire Hudgens, reassign Johnson, and hire Long?

My theory: for public relations purposes. Kevin Long is a known entity in New York, he is familiar. All New York Yankee beat writers respect and like Long. They’ve already written nice things about Long and positive things about what he may do for the Mets.

(For the record, I do believe coaches and managers can make a difference, and I like the hire, and I like Long — though I am biased as I met and worked with Long a few times during my days with Don Mattingly‘s now-defunct bat company, and found Long to be a GREAT guy.)

Am I really being cynical, or could there be a shred of truth to my conspiracy theory? Well, consider this: the Mets other known choice for batting coach was who? Ah, yes — former Met Dave Magadan. Oh, and there were also rumors about Bobby Abreu and Edgardo Alfonzo.

You tell me — in the comments.

Oh, and not-fer-nuttin, but … isn’t it against the Bud Selig Law to announce hirings / firings / transactions during the World Series? Just sayin’.

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.
  1. Yeats October 24, 2014 at 4:40 pm
    Chicks dig teh ‘roids.

    Thanks for posting that classic commercial.

  2. argonbunnies October 25, 2014 at 3:51 am
    If you have some headcase player suddenly calm down and start turning talent into results, credit his new manager! If you have some hitter completely revamp his swing and drastically improve, credit his new hitting coach! Given how rarely either of those things happen, I’m inclined to think that neither role, manager or hitting coach, is a big deal when it comes to player improvement.

    There have been exceptions, though. I recall Bagwell crediting Rudy Jaramillo with helping him understand how to swing — in the offseason, while Jaramillo was another team’s hitting coach!

    Regarding Long, I do remember one Yankee talking about how Long had made him a better hitter, fixing a career-long weakness against same-side pitchers. Unfortunately, that same player reverted to his more accustomed results over the next two seasons. Guy named Granderson.

    The only other thing I have to go on is that my Yankee fan friend — an analytical fellow who’d fit right in here — seemed to think well of Long. That’s my main reason for slight optimism.

  3. Bat October 28, 2014 at 1:33 pm
    Not sure what to make of this hiring.

    Another Kevin – Seitzer – performed very well in prior years as the Royals hitting coach and was recently hired by the Braves away from the Blue Jays.

    Not sure if he would have been a better hire.

    Long gets fired for poor “results” according to Cashman but gets this job. Maybe he needs a fresh start, or maybe he isn’t that great a hitting coach.

    Again, tough to say and not sure what to make of this.

    Best option would of course have been to bring Joe Maddon on board as manager and let him hire who he wanted to hire as hitting coach.

    • Joe Janish October 28, 2014 at 3:18 pm

      That last thing you said.

      I know that there have forever been coaching hires that came down from the front office, on all MLB teams. But this system of an entire coaching staff being assembled by the executives mystifies me. I kind of, sort of get the idea of all coaches reporting to the front office rather than the manager. But shouldn’t the manager be able to choose most of the staff he’s going to work with? And by “choose,” I don’t mean that he sits in on the interview with the GM and agrees with his boss that an individual is the right hire.

      Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think Terry Collins chose one of the coaches. Maybe Tom Goodwin? All the others were either promoted from below or picked by someone above him. Perhaps there’s nothing at all unusual about that — I don’t pay enough attention to the assembly of other teams’ coaching staffs. Seems weird, though.

  4. Bat October 29, 2014 at 2:10 pm
    I agree with everything you said Joe.

    Probably Maddon would not get to pick his coaches as I too do not think Collins was able to pick his coaches.

    But perhaps a more high-profile hire is afforded a bit more deference in this regard?

    I also agree that it seems strange that a manager will spend a ridiculous amount of time with his coaches and you would think that the general manager would want a tight fit between manager and coaches both on a personal as well as a philosophical level.

    But I agree that doesn’t seem to be the trend in major league baseball and most coaches seem to be hired and fired by the GM with (sometimes) input from the manager considered.

    • DanB October 29, 2014 at 2:24 pm
      It is not just a baseball thing. A lot of industries do not want bosses to hire their underlings because they are afraid of loyalty conflicts. Personally I think it is a poor managerial style that stagnates progress.