Lansford: Biggest offseason move?

January 25, 2011 | 10:21 am | 16  

My former Rocky Mountain News colleague Dave Krieger has a good story today about the importance of new hitting coach Carney Lansford and some of the work he’s already done with Ian Stewart, Chris Iannetta and Seth Smith. Interesting read.

Short version is that Iannetta and Stewart have dramatically shifted their stances since Lansford worked with them in the minors and Smith became a little too focused on hitting home runs while trying to prove that he deserved ore playing time.

16 Comments »

  • Eric G. | January 25, 2011 | 10:41 am

    I’ve been saying it all offseason, I really think Stewart and Iannetta are going to have breakout seasons. I just don’t feel it with Smith however. Hope I’m wrong(about Smith that is).

  • Steve N | January 25, 2011 | 10:58 am

    Wonder what the real story was regarding the relationship between some players and Baylor. Gonzales praised Baylor for making him what he is right now, one of the best hitters in the game. Tulo has expressed similar emotions toward Baylor, from what I understand. Baylor stated many times last season during hitting slumps the other guys weren’t listening to him.

    Guess once the season starts, we’ll see what the “fixing” has done.

  • Steve Foster | January 25, 2011 | 11:22 am

    If you read Krieger’s piece, one thing that stands out is that Lansford suffered in San Francisco from essentially the same thing that Baylor struggled with last year — connecting with players. A hitting coach can offer a lot of technical advice and really shape hitters when working with them in the minors, but by the time a hitter reaches the majors, they’re more or less on their own and a hitting coach can only provide guidance. Rare are the occasions when a hitting coach has the dramatic effect that, for instance, Baylor had on Andres Galarraga a few years ago when he began resurrecting his career with the Cardinals before coming to Denver. Baylor is a pretty gruff personality and not all players are going to warm to him. The same is true of Lansford who had his own issues in San Francisco, but his real value for the Rockies is what is described in this piece: his familiarity with the hitters most in need of help.

  • Steve N | January 25, 2011 | 11:40 am

    Thanks, Steve. Yeah, I read it, actually still get the paper…of course wish it was The RMN! :-)

    And yeah, I get the impression Baylor probably expects players at this level to be “professionals” and should have some accountability or skills to adjust themselves, perhaps a fault of his.

    The wildcard with Lansford to me is, sure he might be able to get those players back to their swings they had in the minors, but three years later the other teams now have books on how to pitch them…seems like they have been rather effective.

    All said and done, think it was a good move getting Lansford. Still love The Don. Hoping for the best of course!

  • Mike Raysfan | January 25, 2011 | 11:46 am

    Good piece with some interesting comments from the players. It all sounds reasonable.

    I’ll buy in with Stewart and Smith. Iannetta? It also makes me wonder. I’m just thinking about last season. So, did Baylor tell Iannetta to scrub anything that Rene Lachemann had worked with him on? Is it just that Iannetta can see the ball better in AAA?

    Guess we will find out soon enough if the “blunt, hard-charging manner” also alienates Rockies players.

  • Steve Foster | January 25, 2011 | 12:21 pm

    Interesting that some have less faith in a Smith rebound others Iannetta. I think they all have a good shot at a rebound, but for what it’s worth, I would put my money on Smith. I’ve liked him as a hitter for a while but think he’s been in a tough spot, not knowing if he’s supposed to be coming off the bench or prepare for an everyday role. Some players can be ready for both, some can’t. He will benefit from knowing what his job is.

  • Rocky Mountain High | January 25, 2011 | 2:43 pm

    The Denver Post article confirmed what I had suspected all along: that the trio of Smith, Netta, and Stew will benefit from being reunited with Carney Lansford. If the offense have a breakout year, Carney Lansford would be the Rox’ biggest off season move.

  • Trip | January 25, 2011 | 4:07 pm

    Steve, many thanks for this thread. I read the article this morning on my kindle and my first thought was to open a thread on this subject as I’m curious about other ITRers (ITRites?) take on it.

    It can be looked at in a couple ways.

    First, I am not exactly dazzled with the FA signings and trades. I look at Wigginton and Lopez and think they are nice niche players, but they are most likely not going to knock my socks off.

    Lopez will play second in a regular lineup (I’ll put in my lineup mid to late ST). I’m expecting him to hit for a better average and more RBI’s than Barmes, but the defense will suffer some. I’m sure the plan is the more offense will offset the loss of defense. I’m also expecting him to be replaced by Herrera during late innings when the Rocks are protecting the lead.

    Wigginton is a bench player. Hopefully he is not playing very often, or at least not daily, as that would mean that Helton or someone else needs to be picked up. I know Helton will most likely be rested often, so finding Wigginton is a good thing, don’t get me wrong, I like the signing. He’ll be a good bat off the bench and probably be the fifth outfielder.

    So as Krieger states, Lansford has been brought in to kick some butt and work the ‘second tier’ of Rocks hitters. Mostly mentioned on this site is Smith, Ianetta, and Stewart. Someone mentioned Dexter, but I am not worried about him. His avg was about .280 and OBP a little under .400 after he came back up. If he can continue that and maybe even improve a little, that would be icing as his defense in CF is better than CarGos, despite what Dexter says. It was interesting to watch last year as Dexter would make an adjustment and start hitting pitches he had been missing. Then the pitchers would adjust and he would have to fight again for a while. I’m thinking (hoping?) he has learned how to adjust and adjust quicker (see CarGo adjusting during an at bat, wow…).

    What the other three did at AAA is not all that much different from CarGo, they outplayed the competition. There is/was nothing more for them to learn there. But for some reason they all tried to swing for the fences every AB last year. But it has been said they were not the only guilty ones. I see Smith as perhaps the batter that will have the third best avg on the team, behind Cargo and Tulo. Ianetta will have the second most power on the team, behind Cargo. But Stewart is the one that can most benefit from Lansford. The guy has gold glove defense. If he can get his average up and with his natural power, he can be our third MVP candidate.

  • Robb | January 25, 2011 | 5:08 pm

    Never thought Baylor was the kind of guy who would do well with younger players. Yeah, he really helped the Big Cat, but at that point Galarraga was a veteran and desperate for anything. I kind of see Lansford the same way. If he can click with at least two of the the Big Three (Netta, Smith, Stew) then job well done. I still don’t get why Spilly never gets mentioned?? I think he is as good if not better than Smith. Plus, it’s another RH to balance out CarGo, Stewart, Helton.

  • Cameo | January 25, 2011 | 5:17 pm

    It was Fowlers 2nd year in the bigs, he will be fine. If you are expecting a .350 average and 20 homers then obviously you will be disapointed. The guy is going to hit close to .300, have a high OBP and steal plenty of bags with great defense. Give the guy some time to develop. Most players need development in the bigs even after their development in the minors, not everbody can be Albert Pujols.

  • Miketober | January 27, 2011 | 8:27 am

    I really enjoyed the article (and the discussion here as well). I hope Jim Tracy read the article too and listens to Lansford RE bunting, not swinging for the fences all the time, and defining roles for Smith and Iannetta.

    I am firmly in the Smith camp. I think the man has a .300 hitter inside him plus power and adequate speed. I’m less optimistic about Stewart and Iannetta, but this story gives me hope. I wish the Rockies had added a New Hammer to the lineup, but if these three can live up to their potential then it ought to be a good year.

  • Prog'sinHawaii | January 27, 2011 | 12:06 pm

    I like Smith a lot. When he’s on, he can hit for average and power. It does appear that he has fallen into a “must hit the HR to prove myself” mode, which is partly the organization’s fault if you believe all the talk about the Rox not believing in him. I really hope he gets the majority of starts. He may not be an everyday player against lefties, but he should start almost every game against righties.

  • Dave S | January 27, 2011 | 12:17 pm

    I love the Rockies, love how they have built a “team” instead of 25 individuals. But I’m also gonna call it like I see it. What the Rockies need just to compete in the NL West, let alone the postseason, are not role-players.

    We need a shutdown #2 starter to follow Jimenez. DLR is good, but he’s also high-strung. Right now he fits a #3 spot. Hammels #4. Chacin is young and should mature while in the #5 spot.

    We also need an impact bat on the corners. There was a time in the recent past where Atkins and Hawpe could be counted on for 25HR+. Helton was a power threat. Hell, we even had Holliday. There were few easy outs in the line-up. Right now, there’s really no one to scare opposing pitchers after Cargo and Tulo.

    Smith is a fourth OF – when given more playing time last year he swooned.

    I’m going to hope for Iannetta and Stewart to step up a level, or 2 or 3. But it is equally possible that they are playing at their level and are unable to adjust to pitchers.

    I’m sorry, but Wigginton, Lopez, etc. are just not enough to fill out (as opposed to rounding out) the 25-man roster. We go into 2011 with significant holes.

  • Prog'sinHawaii | January 27, 2011 | 5:41 pm

    On offense I don’t think we have significant holes, because almost every player on our bench offers something. If you look at teams like the Brewers or Padres or even the Dodgers their benches are HORRIBLE. An injury to 1 or 2 hitters and those teams will suffer badly. While the Rox really only have Tulo and Cargo to bank on, they have 7 other players across the lineup that are very capable of driving in runs or in Dex and EYs cases, scoring runs. A player like Uggla or Young may put the team over the top, but what we do have is nothing to worry too much about. I do have reservations about the pitching staff, we could use a legit #2, but also, the competition for 4-5 is pretty deep and can absorb an injury or 2 at the back end. Some teams an injury to the 4th or 5th starter would sink them worse than it would for the Rox.

  • Dave S | January 28, 2011 | 10:14 am

    I absolutely agree that our bench is deep positionally, though there aren’t many impact bats there either.

    But there’s 6-7 innings before those guys can contribute. With our planned day-to-day starting line-up, pitchers need only worry about Cargo and Tulo. This puts extra pressure on them to perform.

    This was the glaring problem in 2010. Tulo and Cargo had electric second halfs. Too often there was no one on base ahead of them, or no one after them were picking them up.

    Of course, this is assuming that in 2010 Stewart and Iannetta were near their capability. Looking at their stats you could easily come to that conclusion. If they do find the next level, especially Stewart, then our line-up will be formidable. That said, Fowler also needs to step up his OBA dramatically as well.

    What is the plan for LF now (presuming Cargo goes to right)? A platoon of Smith and Spilly?

  • Rich M | January 30, 2011 | 4:53 pm

    Wow, I think this tread has finally touched on the real issue with the 2011 Rockies. The pitching by Rockies standards is going to be fine, and the relief corp has a chance to be outstabding. Plenty of starting pitching options and with just a little health could be solid also.

    I thought I was the only one that noticed that when the Rockies faltered down the stretch, it was primarily because the opposition figured out that if you can keep Tulo and Cargo from beating you, you have an excellent chance to beat the Rockies.

    Too many hitters in the lineup all with “15″ homer power, little speed, and strike out way too much. I won’t name names here, because you all know who they are. Let’s just say that the additions of Wiggington and Lopez didn’t improve those flawed lineup dynamics that seriously impacted the 2010 result.