- Mark Saxon, ESPNLosAngeles.com
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Periodically this offseason, we'll be examining some of the issues facing the Dodgers in the near future. Next up: hitting coach.
There are plenty of good candidates out there to take over as the Dodgers' hitting coach, but who would want to do it?
The Dodgers have churned through batting instructors. Just since 2008, they've fired Mike Easler, Jeff Pentland and Dave Hansen. The only guy to do it successfully in that time, Don Mattingly, was so good he became the manager.
The Dodgers ranked 13th in the National League in runs last season, ninth in 2011, 11th in 2010 and fourth in 2009. It's hard to believe it's all because the hitters are getting such bad advice from a coach. With Adrian Gonzalez having time to settle in, Matt Kemp healthy and Carl Crawford returning at some point, the Dodgers should be in a position to make the new coach look good this time.
Here is a look at some of the names that could be in line for a call from general manager Ned Colletti in the next couple of months:
Rudy Jaramillo. His name isn't quite as hot as it once was and he won't come cheap. Jaramillo was supposed to turn things around on the Chicago Cubs, but instead he got fired in June. Jaramillo, 61, was credited for getting the most out of those powerful Texas Rangers lineups for 15 years up until 2009. Jaramillo was one of the highest-paid coaches in the majors with Chicago and commands hefty fees as a private hitting coach, so the Dodgers might not want to meet his price.
Mickey Hatcher. A favorite of Dodgers icon Tom Lasorda and a Dodger for most of his 11 major-league seasons, Hatcher was fired by Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto in May. Hatcher had become a lightning rod for Angels fans disappointed with the team's 16-21 start, caused in part by the worst slump of Albert Pujols' career. On the plus side, he helped get the most out of a star-free lineup in 2002 and, on Aug. 18, 2009, the Angels reached a rare achievement: every batter in their lineup was hitting .300 or better. Hatcher worked closely with several Dodgers last season, including Hanley Ramirez, as Colletti's special assistant.
Dave Magadan. He might be the hottest name in the business right now and he’s in limbo in Boston after the firing of manager Bobby Valentine. The Dodgers might be able to swoop in and lure him back to the West Coast. It’s likely the Red Sox will pick up his option for 2013 considering he survived the Terry Francona-to-Valentine transition, but you never know. Francona, now the Indians manager, also might try to lure him to Cleveland.
Toby Harrah. He has been working with Detroit Tigers hitters for the last half of the season as an assistant to Lloyd McLendon. That seems to be working out pretty well lately. Harrah was the Tigers' major league hitting instructor in 1998 and was a bench coach for two years in Colorado. He’s also got some managerial experience as the replacement for Valentine for the end of the 1992 Rangers’ season.
Kevin Seitzer. He took the fall for disappointing seasons from two of the Kansas City Royals' best young hitters, Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas, and got fired immediately after the season, but he's still a respected teacher within the game. Seitzer preaches staying up the middle and using the opposite field, approaches that might help the Dodgers improve their dreadful situational hitting from last season.
Periodically this offseason, we'll be examining some of the issues facing the Dodgers in the near future. Next up: hitting coach.There are plenty of good candidates out there to take over as the Dodgers' hitting coach, but who would want to do it?