To the best of my knowledge, major-league hitting coaches exist so that in time they can be scapegoated and let go by the organization. One cannot be let go by an organization, however, without first being hired by that organization, so on Monday the Mariners have officially begun firing hitting coach Dave Hansen by hiring hitting coach Dave Hansen. Hansen will replace the departed Chris Chambliss, who isn't the dead sort of departed, but who is the no-longer-employed-here sort of departed. Hansen will serve as the Mariners' hitting coach for as long as it takes the Mariners to put together a new pool of potential hitting coach candidates.
Most recently, Hansen was the hitting coach for the Dodgers for about a year and a half, and if you knew anything about the 2012 Los Angeles Dodgers you knew they had trouble scoring many runs. Hansen was let go after the end of the year, because he was a hitting coach and that's what happens to his kind. You might be nervous about the Mariners hiring a guy who just presided over a team 90 OPS+, but if it makes you feel any better, Hansen presumably had little to do with the Dodgers' struggles, just as he'll presumably have little to do with the Mariners' struggles. Let's just all go ahead and assume that the Mariners are going to struggle. It's easier this way.
Turns out Hansen interviewed with the Mariners for the same position two years ago, and he was a finalist before the Mariners ultimately settled on Chambliss. Hansen is excited to get his shot now, and he should be, because not only is this full-time employment, with benefits and everything, but he's also joining the team right as the dimensions in Safeco are being changed to make the ballpark more hitter-friendly. Expect to see some graphics next year comparing the Mariners' offense under Hansen to the Mariners' offense under Chambliss, ignoring the facts of roster turnover and ballpark adjustments. Hansen will not immediately be able to be compared to any of his predecessors because they will have worked under different conditions. This is an advantage for Dave Hansen. Unless the offense remains just as bad, even without park-factor adjustment, which would just be humiliating.
Obviously, I don't really care too much about the identity of the Mariners' hitting coach. This is because hitting coaches are literally impossible for us to evaluate. We'll never know whether Hansen was a good coach or a bad coach once his time is up. Some people might have opinions, but they'll just be opinions. With that said, if you'll allow me a moment of not being completely dismissive, clearly teams think hitting coaches serve important functions and the Mariners have some young players who could use some quality guidance. Maybe Hansen will help, and it doesn't matter what he did or didn't do in Los Angeles because a different voice can accomplish different things in different places. Maybe Hansen is the answer for the Mariners. Maybe Hansen is the answer for some of the Mariners.
Or maybe the Mariners hired Dave Hansen because they wanted to undermine those people who think the Mariners are opposed to the Seattle Arena because they can't stand people with the last name of Hansen. I don't think any of those people actually exist so if that's why the Mariners did this then boy was that ever a complete waste of time and resources. And then, of course, Dave Hansen will eventually be dismissed from the organization, anyway. Just no thought here, no thought at all.
As a player, Hansen joined the Mariners twice. In 2004, he arrived in the trade that sent Jeff Cirillo away. In 2005, he signed as a free agent. Hansen batted .229 as a Mariner with an 83 OPS+, and if you factor in age-related decline he might still be good enough for this bench. In his career he was a pretty disciplined hitter, with hardly more strikeouts than walks, so either that'll rub off or Hansen won't be able to believe what he's supposed to be responsible for. Additionally, Hansen is a very experienced pinch-hitter, as that was his primary role. He won the Mariners over with his catchy "I'll teach 'em to hit in a pinch!" campaign slogan. What remains to be seen is whether the Mariners hitters under Hansen are prepared to hit more often than once a day, for the pitcher. Some parts of Hansen's experience should be passed along and some parts of Hansen's experience should be kept to himself.
An under-explored aspect here is that Hansen was a career .500 hitter against the White Sox, with a 1.517 OPS. I think it's safe to say, based on this, that the Mariners are tired of having their asses handed to them by Chicago. But Hansen was a career .056 hitter against the Tigers so don't expect the games against Detroit in 2013 to be as fun as the games against Detroit in 2012. I am a very experienced baseball blogger and this is how coaching works.
So the Mariners had a vacancy, and now they've filled it. Up next: all of the other far more important roster vacancies. I can't believe Jack Zduriencik even had time to issue a statement on the Hansen hiring. How about getting some big-time dinger hitters! Hello!