Greg Walker: "I'm the right man for the job."

Over the years, it’s been hard to find new things to say about Greg Walker.
The Sox have had the same issues with cold weather, advance scouting and prolonged slumps for years, and nothing changes.  People around the Sox organization insist that Walker is the first to arrive at the ballpark and the last to leave, Walker insists his guyare putting in work and will eventually be the players the backs of their cards say they are. Sometimes they come around, sometimes they don’t, and either way, he isn’t held accountable.
After reading Joe Cowley’s interview with Walker, I guess it’s good that Walker is outwardly ramping up his efforts to reverse course, but it’s hard to be encouaged.
It’s a pretty fun read if you’re into gallows humor.  I’m not sure which part is my favorite.  It’s either this quote:

“I’ve done this for seven years and I think for those seven years we’ve underachieved two of them. Even those years we did underachieve we went about our business the right way. When they decide it’s someone else’s turn then it will be someone else’s job.”

Or this part:

The search for more answers begins Sunday for Walker when he flies to California for a sit-down with Quentin. It will be the first of two trips he may make out West to work with the outfielder this winter. In December and then January he will be off to Puerto Rico to meet and work with Rios.
Already crossed off the to-do list is meeting with Beckham, who drove to Walker’s home last week.

The former is great because it overlooks that the Sox have had the same exact problems for three straight years, and I don’t even know what that last sentence actually means. The latter is amusing if you imagine an overhead map of North America, and Walker leaving a trail of devastated hitters in his wake.
Needless to say, I’m not sure why Walker is still around and I’m not expecting big things.  Either way, 2010 should really put the Sox’s renowned organizational loyalty to the test — and the Cubs’ three-year investment in Rudy Jaramillo after an equally disappointing season should provide a fascinating comparison.
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Given that I don’t particularly care for either the Phillies or the Yankees, I was planning on treating the World Series as background noise while working on the book.
Cliff Lee reeled me in.  He was easily the most confident pitcher I’ve seen on a mound since Pedro Martinez in his prime.
To tie it in with Walker, Lee had truckloads of swagger.
“Swagger” is a word the White Sox bludgeoned into parody over 2007 and 2008.  Every time I see it now, I laugh, because what the Sox described as “swagger” back then was really just acting like a ballclub full of competent ballplayers.  That’s something that often escapes them.
Lee took it to another level.  Tim McCarver and Joe Buck made a big deal of the blase catch Lee made after sawing off Johnny Damon, but I thought he degraded the Yankees much more so when he fielded a nubber off the bat of Jorge Posada, and then casually slapped the tag on Posada’s backside.  Posada slowed to a trot as he approached Lee halfway up the first base line, and Lee basically told him which way to go from there.  If that isn’t submission on a ballfield, I don’t know what is.
By the time he snagged Robinson Cano’s chopper behind his back, he had entered the zone occupied by Michael Jordan in Game 1 of the 1992 NBA Finals.  Just like Jordan after sinking his sixth three-pointer in the first half, Lee could only shrug and smile.
And I could only smile when Lee sent Nick Swisher back to the dugout with a backwards K.  That made Swisher 3-for-23 this postseason, and 9-for-59 in his career.  At least until last night, Swisher was still mugging it up everywhere in spite of his struggles, so it was refreshing to see real swagger triumph the synthetic kind on the game’s biggest stage.
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Arizona Fall League:

  • Phoenix 11, Peoria 6
    • Jordan Danks went 1-for-3 with an RBI, a walk and two strikeouts. He was also caught stealing.
    • Brent Morel went 0-for-4.

I still have a couple more offseason plans in my email, but since there was actual news, I’ll save the next one for the next dead day.

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Jim Margalus

Writing about the White Sox for a 16th season, first here, then at South Side Sox, and now here again. Let’s talk curling.

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saltydog

I saw some of the game but I didn’t see the Swisher strikeout. Please tell me he made the patented Backwards K! Face as he walked back to the dugout.

striker

I thought he did make that face. For some reason I really don’t like Swisher. Maybe because to me he is a below average hitter that walks alot. Which tells you that he’s not a good hitter and the pitchers he faces don’t know that.

bigfun

I’d say the opposite is true – a high BA guy who doesn’t walk much is a lot easier for a pitcher to beat than a patient guy with a low BA. Swisher is only below average in the mostly mistaken sense that BA means something apart from OBP.

floridajim

Cliff Lee was dominant last night and , so far, all post-season.
Swisher is the epitome of “swagger” it must be inborn not based on performance.
How much better can Baseball get than to have Lee vs Sabathia in the World Series? What a great game.
As for Greg Walker I cannot be pleased he is returning we need something definite to have him accountable for his vague references to either success or failure are inadequate. Let’s measure the success of Rios, Quentin and Beckham as next season moves forward.
Ozzie and Walker do not seem to be on the same planet as Ozzie bemoans the lack of fundamental hitting skills in the players and Walker does what to help Ozzie?

striker

George Costanza was the first to the Yankees office and the last to leave too.

soxexile

“Swagger” is the opposite of “grinder”, which is what made it such a strange slogan for the Sox to adopt. It was probably meant to convey confidence, but in Swisher’s case it meant acting like you had succeeded before you actually had. Contrast Jermaine Dye, Paul Konerko and many others who have accomplished a lot more than Swisher, but never act like anybody owes them their next at bat.
That’s what always got on my nerves about Swisher, and probably what got on the Sox’s nerves. KW and Ozzie value hard work and a refusal to give up. That’s why they dumped Swisher, but keep Greg Walker. My dad used to say that there’s no point in bragging. It makes you look stupid if you can’t back it up, and it’s unnecessary if you can. Swisher never seemed to get that.
As for Lee, I agree he was brilliant and pithced with supreme confidence. If I were the Yankees, though, I’d be pissed at the too-casual catch, which seemed designed to show them up. I suppose there’s a fine line between getting into your opponent’s head, and just being arrogant. Lee backed it up last night, so nobody can really say anything.

bruce

I’ve owned a few businesses. One of the fun things is to move a good-effort guy to a position where they excel and grow in ways that surprise even them. Another is to hire someone who fits the new vacancy better.
I have no doubt that Walker would excel in another position and that one of the dozens of minor league hitting instructors knows how to make hitters better at OBP and situational hitting.

timmeh

JUST FYI, LONG POST. Thank you.
While I’m not convinced that Greg Walker is terrible hitting coach, neither am I convinced he is a bad hitting coach. The players the coach has to work with clearly has a huge impact on the numbers they put up. Greg Walker took over as the White Sox hitting coach in 2003 so it helps to take a look at a few key statistics and the key players involved with those teams.
One Note, for Key Offensive Players I include top the players in terms of overall production, runs scored being the primary factor. Conversely, Key Un-Offensive Players include players with the lowest runs scored.
2004
Runs Scored – 3rd in the AL
Average – 8th in the AL
Slugging – 3rd in the AL
Key Offensive Players – Konerko, Thomas, Rowand, Lee, Maggz
Key Un-Offensive Players – Borchard, Valentine
The 2004 White Sox had a very powerful line-up that lead the league in Home Runs. Considering the team that Walker had to work with, I think he did a good job in 2004.
2005
Runs Scored – 9th in the AL
Average – 11th in the AL
Slugging – 7th in the AL
Key Offensive Players – Konerko, Dye, Everett, Pods
Key Un-Offensive Players – Crede, AJ
The 2005 White Sox was an inferior offensive team and most of us already knew that. The loss of Maggz and Lee would hurt any team’s run scoring ability so the decline in offensive categories shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone. Is Greg Walker to blame for the 05 White Sox offensive struggles? Possibly, but given the players he has to work with, I would disagree.
2006
Runs Scored – 3rd in the AL
Average – 4th in the AL
Slugging – 1st in the AL
Key Offensive Players – Konerko, Dye, Thome, Crede
Key Un-Offensive Players – Anderson/Mack, AJ
The 2006 White Sox were a very good offensive club, aided by career years by Dye and Crede, and to a lesser extent, Konerko. I think the 2006 White Sox offense was boosted by Jim Thome’s presence. I give Greg Walker some credit for Crede’s emergence this year and Greg Walker deserves kudos for this team.
2007
Runs Scored – 14th in the AL
Average – 14th in the AL
Slugging – 12th in the AL
Key Offensive Players – Konerko, Thome, Dye
Key Un-Offensive Players – Luis Terrero and Jerry Owens(I can’t bear to mention any other names)
How the mighty have fallen. The 2007 White Sox was just flat out terrible. Greg Walker gets an F for this team.
2008
Runs Scored – 5th in the AL
Average – 11th in the AL
Slugging – 2nd in the AL
Key Offensive Players – Dye, Thome, TCQ
Key Un-Offensive Players – Konerko (injury), Alexei
The 2008 White Sox lead the league in Home Runs, despite having an ineffective Konerko for most of the year. This team was just like we remember it, always swinging for the fences. For a Top 5 offense, Greg Walker did his part arguably.
2009
Runs Scored – 12th in the AL
Average – 13th in the AL
Slugging – 11th in the AL
Key Offensive Players – Podsednik, Konerko, Beckham, First-Half Dye
Key Un-Offensive Players – Getz, CF, Second-Half Dye, TCQ (injury), Rios
Losing a 2008 MVP candidate hurts a team significantly from the offensive standpoint. In addition, the CF draining players of any offensive capability, and Josh Fields struggling to hit a major league fastball. A poor year for Walker but there were a lot of young players plus TCQ’s injury.
To summarize, 2004, 2006, 2008 were good offensive years, 2005 was mediocre, 2007 and 2009 were terrible offensive years. As for Greg Walker’s influence using my very basic analysis? Inconclusive. Players can make a hitting coach look really good, or really bad, so I don’t take too much into this story. I do think the 2010 team should be a good offensive team. Why? Because every other year the Sox have a good offensive season. We’ll see how it holds up.

sophist

That’s a nice breakdown. I think the key is that a hitting coach is not likely to change who a batter is. Looking back at ’07 for example, you had a lot of injuries and a lot of guys who just started looking old, and everyone was calling for Walker’s head. That’s like blaming the writing teacher because some students are still writing crappy paragraphs after one semester of work (that one comes from personal experience).

striker

I guess the question you have to ask is: What measure do you use to rate the success/failure of a hitting coach? White Sox were 13th in AVG in 2009. Quentin, Dye and Thome all had bad averages and you had 2 rookies starting and Dewayne Wise (at least in the beginning of the season). If Quentin, Dye and Thome all bat .270 then the team’s avg would jump significantly. But is Walker to blame for them not hitting .270?
I could care less of Walker stays or goes. If he affects players hitting as much as everyone thinks he does than wouldn’t hitting coaches be paid alot more than they are, at least compared to the hitters whose performance they are responsible for?