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Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Jim Hickey Pays The Price

Richard Justice is reporting on his blog that Astros pitching coach Jim Hickey has been fired:


Justice seems to think that Hickey, like Gary Gaetti earlier this season, is being made to be the scapegoat for the team's failings this year. Not surprisingly, I tend to disagree. My grandmother could have been the pitching coach for Roger Clemens, Andy Pettitte, and Roy Oswalt. Those guys have a pretty good idea what they're doing, and thus require little more than a "How are you feeling?" and/or a "Can you sign this for my kid?" from their pitching coach. The other members of the staff, particularly the young starters (Buchholz, Wandy, Hirsh, Albers, etc.) were the players who desperately needed insight and coaching. Seeing as how those guys were inconsistent at best (and I'm being kind here, because they're all relatively young), I don't think you can say Hickey did even a serviceable, much less acceptable, job with them.

But as unpredictable as the starting staff was, I think Hickey's real downfall was with the bullpen. Brad Lidge, anyone? If there was anyone in the major leagues who could have benefitted more from astute analysis and extra coaching, it was Lidge.

Hickey's defenders might say that Lidge's problems were purely mental, but I think that's an ill-placed excuse, particularly when you consider that Super Joe McEwing had to clue Lidge in earlier this season that players around the National League knew Lidge was tipping pitches. You're telling me that's something that Hickey shouldn't have picked up on? Furthermore, Lidge himself admitted that he was a mechanical mess at times throughout the year. Those are the times when the pitching coach should earn his paycheck, and I don't think Jim Hickey did that.

Hickey's hands-off, jog out to the mound once every two weeks approach works perfectly fine with Clemens, Pettitte, and Oswalt, but it's a far cry from reasonable for the rest of the staff. As such, he paid the price with his job. Don't feel too bad for ol' Hickey, though...I'm sure Fox has already inquired as to his availability, what with their glowing assessment of his "smooth voice" ringing in their ears from last fall.


Blogger G-Man said...

Sorry, but this has to one of silliest things ever written by someone not named Richard Justice. It is simply impossible for someone outside of the organization to accurately evaluate Hickey's performance.

Wed Oct 04, 08:08:00 PM  
Blogger Bert said...

G-Man, you say this and yet you're a subscriber (founder?) to the "Fire Kubiak" blog. Good for you. Keep those hypocritical statements coming, we love 'em!

Thu Oct 05, 08:57:00 AM  
Blogger Scott said...

Name one pitcher who has developed under Hickey's watch. Gaetti being blamed for not teaching Ausmus, Everett and Taveras to hit better is like Paris Hilton's monogamy coach being fired for Paris' consistently slutty behavior. There was never any hope for the Astros' offense with the roster in its current construction. Among Backe, Wandy, Zeke, Buchholz, Nieve and Hirsh, there is unquestionably some talent, and none of it has developed properly, and to make matters worse, guys like Lidge and Qualls have struggled. Hickey's loss will only be felt by Houston's horny female fans.

Thu Oct 05, 02:46:00 PM  
Blogger G-Man said...

Hickey has been witn the Astros since 1991, so there are probably a few pitchers who have developed under him. By the way, how are those Baltimore pitchers "developing" under Mazzone?

Wed Oct 11, 02:21:00 PM  
Blogger Scott said...

I don't know. How are those Brewers' pitchers developing under Mike Maddux? Or those Giants' pitchers developing under Dave Righetti? What's your point?
Telling me that Hickey's been on the Astros payroll for 15 years doesn't make me feel any better about the job he's done in his two-plus years in Houston. It just makes me want to send in my resume to T-Poo for the pitching coach job in Tri-City.

Thu Oct 12, 11:39:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hickey has developed more young arms than one could ever know. 2 years ago he was named the astros organizational man of the year. For almost all of his coaching career, he has had the #1 or #2 staff in the league. Sometimes things are out of one's control. He can coach and guide the young guys until he's blue in the face, but at the end of the day, they are the ones who have to pitch. At that point, it is out of Hickey's hands.

Tue Oct 17, 06:55:00 PM  
Blogger Scott said...

I don't claim to be an encyclopedia of pitching development, but as a common fan, I see no evidence that any pitcher under Hickey's wing progressed significantly during the past two years. Many regressed and/or struggled, but only the usual suspects (Oswalt, Clemens, Pettitte) consistently shined.

Wed Oct 18, 04:54:00 PM  

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