And at some length, too. I don't recall Don Baylor ever doing this. Anyway, one of the winter's most forgotten additions sat down with Doug Miller for a brief chat, answering a few questions about personal philosophy, Jeremy Reed, and Ichiro's total awesomeness. The most interesting part is probably what he has to say about Adrian Beltre, though. When asked about Beltre's down season, Pentland replied:
So, the main points:
- Beltre has little confidence.
- His swing mechanics didn't really change between 2004 and 2005.
- He's one of the best hitters in baseball.
- He'd perform better if he came to the plate with men on base more often.
- He's confident that he can hit.
You have to wonder, though, just how much good a hitting coach can do when he doesn't see anything physically wrong with somebody's swing. Let's say Pentland really belives that Beltre's biggest problem is confidence. Okay, then what? The only way for a hitter to re-gain his confidence is to go out there and beat the snot out of the ball, but if he couldn't do it a year ago, there's no reason to believe that he'll suddenly get it together this time around, and all of a sudden it's the middle of July and you're wondering why Beltre still hasn't done crap since signing as a free agent. I guess a few encouraging words every now and then might help ("Hey, Adrian, lookin' good." "You really smashed that pitch in the first inning."), but beyond that, I fail to see what kind of significant impact Pentland could really have. This feels like one of those situations where it's just up to the player to get himself going. At least in Beltre's case, he's done it once before.
And just for the hell of it, what did Don Baylor have to say about Beltre a year ago? Via Jim Street:
Percentage of breaking pitches faced, 2004: 28.0%
Percentage of breaking pitches faced, 2005: 29.5%
That's a difference of about one breaking ball every four games. By and large, Beltre faced pretty much the same pitch distribution with the Mariners as he did with the Dodgers, so that wasn't really the issue here. Nice try, Don, but no dice.