Chambliss fired as hitting coach, continuing long trend
But on Thursday, a day after Wedge’s second season ended, Chris Chambliss was fired. Wedge has certainly brought stability to the coaching staff as that will be the first change in his two-year tenure, but hitting coach remains a particularly tough spot in the Mariners’ organization.
Maybe bringing in the fences next year will help, as Seattle certainly hit better on the road than at home again this season and those home struggles certainly are part of the Mariners finishing last in the AL in hitting now for four straight seasons.
But this move doesn’t seem like change just for change’s sake and frankly shouldn’t be a big surprise. Too many of the young Mariners hitters didn’t seem to be improving under Chambliss’ watch and that was a problem.
Michael Saunders took a big step forward this year, but he’s been working on his own with Mike Bard, the brother of Josh Bard, on their own hitting program that began last offseason and was carried through this campaign by Saunders.
Several other youngsters seemed to get better after they went down to Tacoma and got some help from Triple-A hitting coach Jeff Pentland, with Casper Wells and Justin Smoak the most obvious examples. Pentland was ultimately brought up to work alongside Chambliss for the final month of the season, which obviously was an indication that change might be on the way.
Whether Pentland is ultimately hired as the new man remains to be seen. He’s a respected veteran hitting coach — as was Chambliss — and has been in the organization before. In fact, he was part of the previous churn.
Since 2000, here is the Mariners hitting coach history:
Gerald Perry (2000-02)
Lamar Johnson (2003)
Paul Molitor (2004)
Don Baylor (2005)
Jeff Pentland (2006-08)
Lee Elia (2008)
Alan Cockrell (2009-10)
Alonzo Powell (2010)
Chris Chambliss (2011-12)
That’s a lot of change for any coaching position, which is why Wedge wanted some stability there. But that didn’t mean the Mariners were going to stick with Chambliss forever if they thought they needed a change. And that change came Thursday.