As you know (thanks to Tom), reports are surfacing that the Mets coaching staff is going to remain intact. I agree…..only if you are talking about Dan Warthen. How is it possible that Howard Johnson is still employed?
Indulge me for a second before I get into the reasons why Howard Johnson should be out of a job. First and foremost, I am a New York Mets fan. Howard Johnson will always be a player that I remember with fondness. How can you forget Hojo and Straw joining the 30/30 club in 1987 together?
One of my favorite plays in 1986 was when he came off the bench to belt a monstrous home run against the hated St. Louis Cardinals to help the Mets sweep them in their own home park.
I will also never forget the hilarious instructional video he filmed with Roger McDowell on how to make a hotfoot.
For those of you that know me, I am not a proponent of the quick hook. That being said, it is time for Howard Johnson’s tenure to end as their hitting coach. Since his appointment to the position in July of 2007, the Mets’ offense has produced below expectations.
Throw out the injury plagued season of 2009, and take a look at how the Mets have regressed as a team offensively.
2010: They are currently ranked 23rd in team average and RBI.
2008: They ranked 12th in team average, and 10th in RBI.
Upon watching almost every game this team has played during his tenure, it appears that the hitters as individuals tend to not have the ability to make in-game adjustments. They also seem to take a long time to come out of slumps collectively.
It is the hitting coach’s job to help hitters recognize what pitchers are trying to do to them, as well as correct flaws in their swing that they develop during the season. How many more times are we going to see Jason Bay wave weakly at an outside breaking ball?
Don’t get me wrong, I understand teams go in slumps offensively. However, I think slumping for an entire month is excessive. The month of July has been absolutely disastrous for the Amazin’s. They are dead last in all of baseball in runs and on base percentage. They are next to last in batting average, RBI, and home runs.
So what is keeping Johnson employed?
He has a history with the Mets as a respected player and he possesses the right work ethic and attitude as a coach. But these factors alone are not enough to weather this storm.
Throw in an outstanding relationship with the team’s superstar, and you might have the right ingredients.
Recently, David Wright commented on the Hojo rumors :
“HoJo hasn’t had any oh-fers, it’s the hitters. HoJo is the hitting coach, that’s the bottom line, we’re the hitters. HoJo is taking it hard as any hitting coach would. Obviously the relationship I have with HoJo, I love him. I’m always going to go to bat for him. I’m always going to fight for him, but the whole offense feels responsible. As hitters we have to do a better job of going up there and having good at-bats.”
Side Note: Comments like these endear me to Wright. He NEVER makes excuses and is extremely loyal. Combine that with his talent and the fact that he comes to play every day and you’ve got yourself a keeper, ladies and gentleman.
The problem is, you can’t fire an entire lineup. I think Johnson knows this.
“I think at this level you get hired to get fired at some point. I’m not saying it’s going to happen, but you deal with it. That’s the reality of sports. We’re trying to set a standard here and we’ve scuffled. Hey, this organization has been solid. I don’t feel any pressure that way or anything like that. It’s nothing like that.”
Is it completely fair to blame Hojo for all of this? Absolutely not. One of the biggest challenges a hitting coach can face is trying to get his guys in a rhythm or a zone as hitters. I imagine that is quite challenging when the lineup changes on a daily basis.
Omar stated last week that Jerry’s job is not in jeopardy. That led me to believe that someone was going to take the fall for this awful month. Dan Warthen is in the clear. Lost in this horrendous month was an outstanding performance by the vast majority of the pitching staff.
A message needs to be sent that this isn’t good enough. Apparently, we’ll have to wait for it. Hojo has earned a stay of execution.
Originally published on Mets Gazette.