Dave Hudgens Blames Everyone

Major League batters have “walk-up music” when they come to bat. I say Dave Hudgens deserves this song as his “walk-out music:”

The former Mets batting coach had some interesting words on his way out the door, firing salvos at everyone from the fans to ownership to GKR.

From Newsday:

Fired Mets hitting coach Dave Hudgens hinted that team ownership was the driving force behind his ouster, then fired back at the club’s own television broadcasters, who have long criticized the hitting approach espoused by general manager Sandy Alderson as too passive.

Did Hudgens believe he got a fair shake?

“It depends on who you’re talking about, from who,” Hudgens told Newsday Monday night in a phone interview, just a few hours after his dismissal. “From Sandy, from the front office, from the players, from Terry [Collins], from the other coaches, yeah, absolutely.”

He omitted team ownership.

Hudgens, who joined the Mets in 2011, defended the team’s patient hitting approach, which has been bashed by broadcaster Keith Hernandez.

“The naysayers, the guys who disapprove of us, the guys who I listen to on TV all the time, those guys that know everything about the game, I’m just amazed at it,” Hudgens said. “What’s wrong with getting a good pitch to hit? Somebody, please punch a hole in that for me. I just shake my head at the old-school guys that have it all figured out. Go up there and swing the bat. Well, what do you want to swing at? It just confounds me. It’s just hilarious, really.

“That’s one thing. I’m glad I don’t have to listen to those guys anymore.”


So what’s the problem with the New York Mets’ performance at home this season? Ousted hitting coach Dave Hudgens says the fans are partly to blame. Or, more than partly. You be the judge:

“I really just think guys tried too hard at home,” Hudgens told MLB.com after his firing. “I think the fans are really tough on the guys at home. How can you boo Curtis Granderson? They have no idea how hard this guy works and how he goes about doing his business, doing his job. He gets off to a slow start and they’re booing him? Come on. It’s tougher at home to play than it is on the road, there’s no doubt about it. And they’re trying really hard at home.

“You can see it in the statistics. The fly-ball rates went up, the swing-and-miss rates went up at home. I think we were first in the league in runs scored on the road, so I think guys were relaxed on the road. They could just go out and play the game, don’t worry about anything. Then at home, they’re trying to do so much. I’ve never seen that work out — especially young players trying to do more than they should be doing. When you look at the numbers inside the numbers, and you see exit velocity rates going down at home, you see fly ball rates going up, you see swing-and-miss rates going up, you see chase rates going up a little bit — although we’re best in the league in not chasing pitches out of the zone — I think those things, it just means guys trying to do too much, trying too hard.”

Good luck, Lamar Johnson.

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. Walnutz15 May 27, 2014 at 12:41 pm
    He’ll be on w/Francesa at 3:05pm – FWIW.
  2. Dan Capwell May 27, 2014 at 12:58 pm
    What a joke. First off, what is he doing, watching the game on TV while its going on? Loser.

    More importantly, this is just another cosmetic change in an attempt to hide what is really wrong with the Mets: Fred and Jeff Wilpon.

    • Walnutz15 May 27, 2014 at 1:04 pm
      They all have to be tuned closely into what’s being said on the broadcast – if not by their own ears, then from the ears/mouths relaying information to them……..due to things like replay review, etc.

      I’m still finding it funny that Collins was so hell-bent on contesting that botched Murphy play at 2nd the other day — where he not only ran right out himself, but was given a thumbs-up from the other dolt on the bench (Bob Geren) to go out and lose the review.

      Get rid of ’em all, please. If you’re not going to spend money on legit players, then at least put together a competent coaching staff.

  3. Dan42 May 27, 2014 at 1:28 pm
    Thanks Joe , I’m not sure if I’ve seen the movie, but I just ordered the last used copy from Amazon for 3 bucks.

    It sounds like Hudgens may have hit a few nails on the head, one of which being the pressure of playing in the Big City on a poor mans budget, amplified by meager assets wasted on relatively expensive, under performing newly acquired veterans who’s sole purpose is to present the public with evidence that they are trying to improve the team, instead of biting the bullet and admit that they have failed, and can’t afford to wait several years for a rebuilding program to bear fruit.

    • Joe Janish May 27, 2014 at 11:33 pm
      Good purchase! It’s a great movie, and for three bucks, a steal!

      Agreed that Hudgens iterated what we’ve all known for a while now regarding the team’s play at home. What’s more fascinating to me is what he didn’t say about Mets ownership — which spoke volumes.

      Was Hudgens fired because the Wilpons aren’t allowed to fire anyone else?

      • Dan42 May 28, 2014 at 5:40 am
        We all know that Alderson can’t be canned until is old bud Bud is gone, and Collins is probably one of the select few that will tolerate all the obvious BS that is keeping the franchise afloat. Hudgens had to be the best choice to wear the target and sacrifice on the altar of false hope, since blaming the real culprit would be pinning the tail on Sandy, who besides the Bud connection could really do some damage if he decided to retaliate.

        Oh well, at least I have another alternative to go with the new Veronica Mars movie to keep me from watching MLB.TV reruns of games I can’t watch because I opted out of paying for the FIOS package that would have allowed me to pay extra for SNY.

        And some day I’ll learn how to not write single sentence paragraphs, hopefully by 2019 when the Mets will rise again, under new ownership.

  4. Charlie May 27, 2014 at 3:16 pm
    If the management and coaching staff would just get their F***ing heads out of the spreadsheets and let the hitters be hitters, the Mets wouldn’t be so pitiful. This sabermetrics bull***t just gives ownership, management and coaching staff an excuse for failure. Get out on the field and COACH, asshole. These hitters made it because they found the hitting approach that works for them. Hudgens did nothing more than screw up their minds to try to convince management he had a clue. He probably does have a clue, but wasn’t allowed to do his job unimpeded.
  5. argonbunnies May 27, 2014 at 3:27 pm
    It’s never easier to get the truth about an organization than from a man who’s no longer with it.

    I agree with Hudgens on both counts. The Mets play tight at home and try to do too much, and GKR improperly links bad hitting with a patient philosophy.

    Of course, blaming the fans for the players’ poor approach at home is ridiculous. If you can’t hit while being booed, go play a non-spectator sport.

    Don’t blame the coaches either — the problem is that the Mets set expectations too high, so of course they try too hard. Simply being themselves comes up well short. This is a problem from David Wright on down to the greenest rookie who knows he’s in the lineup because “the team needs some offense”.

    As for the passive approach, Hudgens has never told any player ever to take fastballs down the middle. He’s simply told them not to swing at sliders in the dirt. The fact that guys like Lucas Duda lack the talent to do one without the other isn’t Hudgens’ fault.

    At the same time, I didn’t see Hudgens implementing any brilliant drills or anything, and he may have over-tinkered with certain players’ mechanics (Josh Thole for sure, but maybe Ike too) or been too hands-off with others (missing the obvious difference between Good David Wright and Bad David Wright). So while I think Hudgens’ hitting philosophy was ideal, that doesn’t say much about whether he’s an effective teacher and coach.

    I don’t see much reason not to try someone else. However, if the Mets suddenly get way more aggressive and start making outs on the first pitch instead of the sixth, I’ll take that back.

    • DaveSchneck May 27, 2014 at 10:43 pm
      Again, excellent points. The Mets’ biggest problem is that the are pretenders, from ownership down to the bat boy. The addition of 2 to 3legit offensive players – a legit leadoff and legit cleanup hitter, would make everyone better, taking off pressure to over perform. The only reason why they haven’t addressed these two glaring holes is money, and owners pretending to care about winning. A $115 mil payroll, still middle of the pack, could produce a legit leadoff and legit cleanup bat, and a winning team. And, it wouldn’t matter who the hitting coach is.
      • Joe Janish May 27, 2014 at 11:38 pm
        Agree with you both — bad hitters make a hitting coach look bad. But you can’t (apparently?) fire all the hitters, so the coach takes one for the team.

        The only thing that bugged me about Hudgens was the ridiculous hype about this “hitting philosophy” being positioned as something unique — waiting for a good pitch to hit has been an ideal approach since about 1920. However, one needs spectacular eyesight, spectacular bat speed, spectacular strike zone judgment, and spectacular discipline to turn it into success. In other words, you need elite hitters.

        Oh, and you need all those skills to succeed using any/all other approaches. How many Mets actually have all those skills? Maybe one or two?

  6. DanB May 27, 2014 at 6:22 pm
    I don’t think it matters who is the hitting coach/bench coach/batboy/etc… They are all hand picked by the front office to carry out the front office philosophies. Strong personalities need not apply. Besides, nobody is ever going to coach these guys into being a playoff quality lineup. They lack the abilitiy. When your rebuilding philosophy is to trade away your best players for prospects, then one day all you have is prospects and no quality players. I am not saying they were wrong for making any individual trade, but they had to make supplement moves to replace those players with real major league quality players until the prospects can develop.
  7. The King May 27, 2014 at 8:24 pm
    Too many strikeouts per game. Nah, the hitting coach has nothing to do with it.
  8. argonbunnies May 28, 2014 at 7:55 am
    Looks like Hudgens’ latest move was to blame the frugal Wilpons.

    Alderson then replied that this $85 mil roster, pegged by every impartial observer as a 73-win team, simply should be doing better and the budget wasn’t the issue. Oh and by the way, the budget doesn’t need to increase, and won’t until fans start coming out in droves. “But I can tell you it’ll be fine, because I think you’re all morons.”

    I dunno how much good it would do to replace Alderson as GM, but he definitely needs to stop speaking in public. I just want to punch the guy in the face, and I’m sure I’m not alone.

    More importantly, we now know the Mets’ budget for the foreseeable future. It’s not big enough to add elite free agent hitters, and we don’t have any impact bats on the horizon internally. So, get ready to watch this level of offense until the day arrives when our pitching is routinely throwing shutouts, at which point winning will sell tickets which will lead to a budget hike. Given that the Mets are no more on top of pitcher health than any other team, though, I don’t see how all those shutouts are going to arrive.

    I’m looking ahead, and I honestly can’t picture the year when we don’t start the season with 73-win talent.

  9. Dan B May 28, 2014 at 9:00 am
    Repeat after me. The most important person on the team is not the ace or the all star third baseman or the GM. The most important member is the owner and without a solid owner the team will never have prolonged success.
  10. DaveSchneck May 28, 2014 at 10:30 am
    I nominate you for GM. You again hit the nail on the head about future spending. It is clear by Alderson’s words on behalf of the lame ownership that spending next year will not increase. There is no Santana money coming off the books to permit external upgrades. This is Pittsburgh/KC small market team building forever, or until somehow the motivate the fans to return to the ballpark and SNY, as task that increases in difficulty every time the GM speaks. Like you, Sandy nauseates me. Sure, his is a smart guy, but his Ivy League pedigree still leaves him clueless regarding the dynamics of the Met fan base, his customers. He is not a New Yorker, and both he and the owners have, among other gaffs, grossly estimated the detachment of the fan base, and how the negativity can spread virally in the modern world if technology and social media. It is imperitave for sport franchises to maintain an intimacy with the fan base, so they keep enough of that base through tough times. This ownership has on its own, with no one to blame, alienated its customers through lies and deceit. The harsh treatment at the park, on the internet, and on the radio is 98$ their own doing, and they continue to refuse to acknowledge it.
  11. argonbunnies May 28, 2014 at 6:08 pm
    Heh. Thanks, Dave! If I were Mets GM, my strategy would be to be completely honest with the fans, try to win some love with them and make it hard for the Wilpons to fire me.

    Then I’d target the next FA class that has position player help to offer, and tell everyone that that’s when we’re spending. If ownership refuses when that time comes, then that’s on them and no one can muddy the issue.

    Before that FA class, I’d make what trades I could to maximize the number of players on the roster entering their peak seasons during the spending years. Most of the guys who’d be over 30 by then would be gone. The nice thing about having this as a long-term plan is that it gives me a big window to maximize return by trading guys whenever their value peaks. It’d reveal just how unnecessary Sandy’s “things didn’t develop as we hoped” B.S. is.

    I’d also go watch my minor league pitchers and see (a) who can actually put the baseball where they want, (b) who gets swings and misses from competent hitters, and (c) whose stuff looks good from the CF camera, so I can compare to the thousands of innings I’ve watched big league pitchers from that angle. Surely some guys who have scouts drooling with their velocity will fail that test; these players too will become trade bait.

    In trade, I’d do my best to package guys for the best talent I could get — Murphy, Niese and Fulmer for someone who’s really good — but if no one’s offering, I’d instead collect a ton of Nick Franklin types. Guys with one or more above-average tools and respectable ceilings, but some holes in their games. Some such guys won’t become major leaguers, but some will, and they’ll be better than a 32-year-old Murphy.

    The nice thing about a Mets team with so many holes is you really can improve anywhere. Accordingly, I’d try to find some dumb GMs and win some trades. I’d target good players who are blocked in their organizations, whether it’s young major leaguers or guys in AA stuck behind some hot prospect in AAA.

    Once the year comes when I’ve promised the FA splurge, if the ownership does in fact release the funds… if the Mets still suck at that point, I’ll admit failure and retire.