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Tuesday, November 04, 2003

WORTH A READ

Check out Chuck Klosterman's new book, "Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs". It's not really about baseball but Chuck does recount his days as a little league coach where he tried to install a Beane-ian offense and he explains why most sports reporters actually hate sports.

I don't agree with everything he says but he's a good writer and damned funny. He also has a whole chapter about why soccer sucks.

SORIANO FINALLY MEETS HIS MATCH?

Never ones to be overshadowed for long, it sounds like the Yankees are going to hire Don Mattingly as their hitting coach.

I'm not sure how much hitting coaches can really affect a player's performance once that player reaches the MLB-level, or whether despite his natural charisma and leadership Mattingly actually has the tools to teach, but one thing for sure... this has to be aimed directly at Alfonso Soriano. And it's a great idea.

The announcement suggests that we won't see that rumoured Soriano for Beltran deal. Clearly, the Yankees haven't given up on their talented "second baseman". Because, aside for the fans, Mattingly's here strictly for the benefit of one person.

The Yankees' other big bats--Giambi, Jeter, Williams, Posada, Johnson, and even Matsui--all already know the value of working the count and taking walks. I mean, honestly, what's Mattingly going to tell Giambi? But the hope has to be that Mattingly and his career .358 OBP (and career 1.32 BB/K ratio) might somehow rub off on the man who recently obliterated the postseason record for strikeouts.

Mattingly isn't likely to incur the wrath of Joe Morgan in his advice to Soriano. Mattingly isn't going to tell Soriano that he's got to go up to the plate looking for a walk. He's going to help him be more selective, improve his strikezone judgement, and make adjustments. He's going to try to help Soriano make more contact. In the process, of course, Soriano's walks should naturally go up and his strikeouts go down.

Now, there's no way Soriano's BB/K will ever top 1.0 like current all-time greats Bonds and Frank Thomas. That just doesn't happen when a player strikes out 170 times and walks only 30 times in as season. And I think it's unlikely Soriano will somehow see a Thome-like increase in OBP but still keep his Thome-like strikeouts. But will the player that emerges from Mattingly's tutelage resemble Nomar Garciaparra (.370 OBP, .69 K/BB), Sammy Sosa (.349 OBP, .40 BB/K), Vladimir Guerrero (.390 OBP, .79 BB/K) or, well, Alfonzo Soriano (.322 OBP, .21 BB/K)?

Soriano clearly has the talent to put up Sosa-like percentages and ratios (if not perhaps the consecutive 60 HR seasons), but my money's still on #4.

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