A few days after saying that he wasn't interested in the job, Dante Bichette was announced as the new hitting coach for the Rockies. Reportedly, Bichette's mind was changed when Walt Weiss was hired as manager and Weiss called him personally to ask Bichette to reconsider. In addition, the front office's purported top candidate Jason Giambi pulled his name from consideration for the hitting coach position.
This means that the Rockies will have two members of their 1995 playoff team guiding the 2013 team. Look, I remember 1995 fondly -- it was a great time to be a 7 year-old following the Rockies. The team was exciting, scoring 5 or more runs in 85 of their games (and allowing that many in 67), winning quite a few home games (44-28 in the strike shortened year), and swatting 200 homers in a pre-humidor Coors environment (the team hit .316/.383/.556 at home).
This kind of fondness is what the front office is hoping for from their season ticket holders with the Bichette hire. The left-fielder was arguably Colorado's most popular Blake Street Bomber (Bryan wrote about this in Rockies Retro), what with his long flowing locks, his Bichette Happens card, and his prodigious power (his 40 HRs in 1995 helped him finish 2nd in the MVP vote). Bringing him back will, if only for a moment, remind those fans of the fun they had in the free-wheeling 90s.
Of course, as a player Bichette was helped by Coors offensively (in 1995 he hit .377/.397/.755 at home!) and he gave up most of his offensive value with terrible defense (-16.6 wins on defense for his career). Still, Bichette was an above average hitter for his career (104 wRC+). Though he didn't walk much (5.2% career BB rate), he didn't strike out demonstrably more than average (15.7% K rate).
Not much of what Bichette did as a player will matter a whole lot in his role as a hitting coach though. After all, many of the best hitting coaches were hardly distinguished in their major league careers. Their responsibility is to improve swing mechanics and hitter mentality. Bichette had a pretty good swing, but it's in the attitude where he will look to make the most impact. Specifically, Bichette stated his desire to instill in Colorado hitters the feeling that pitchers should fear them -- especially at Coors Field.
In any case, there's not a whole lot of incremental value to be gained with a hitting coach at the major league level. After all, the players that comprise a major league team have already had 18-20 years of baseball instruction and have developed habits that make them effective hitters. A hitting coach just needs to make sure that players maintain their mechanics. Though Bichette is obsessed with hitting, it's not a job he'll do much better than his predecessor.
No, the main utility the Rockies are getting with this hire is a recognizable, popular face through whom the fan base can relive the halcyon days of 1995. That's not to say that Bichette will do a poor job -- it's that the intent of this hire was not completely for baseball reasons. Now to get Steve Reed as the pitching coach...
So, there was a pretty major transaction yesterday involving those pesky Marlins and the Blue Jays. Grant Brisbee writes about what this trade does to whatever goodwill the Marlins had accumulated, while Jon Sickels of Minor League Ball and Keith Law of ESPN Insider both gave their takes on the prospects involved in the mega deal.
There's not one but two articles invoking Jordan Pacheco! One (by Eno Sarris) is about his fantasy effectiveness in 2012 and the other (by Rob Neyer) concerns the fact that Pacheco received a third place vote from hometown writer Jack Etkin for the NL Rookie of the Year balloting.
Speaking of awards -- the Internet has spoken, with the unveiling of the Internet Baseball Awards on Baseball Prospectus. Wilin Rosario finished 5th in ROY. BP also has a list of things to do during the long off-season.