Texas Rangers: post trade success for Hamels calls coaches into question


Former Texas Rangers’ ace Cole Hamels has undergone a career resurrection since being traded. It’s enough to make one wonder “How?”

Barely one month ago, then Texas Rangers’ pitcher Cole Hamels was coming off a couple of very rough outings. For a guy who was trying to showcase his potential value to a contender, he certainly fell flat. I even began to openly wonder if he held any trade value at all. Somewhat surprisingly, the Chicago Cubs came calling, and on July 27th, the trade was finalized.

Since then, Hamels has been nothing short of spectacular. In five starts since joining the Cubs, he’s posted a 4-0 record. Even more astounding, his ERA is a stupefyingly low 0.73. Also, for someone who’d been giving up a lot of home runs, he hasn’t allowed a single tater since moving north. When he left town, we wondered if he’d be the third or fourth starter on a potential playoff team. Now, he has to be in the discussion as the staff ace.

Of course, there’s plenty to be said about a change of scenery. The Rangers entered the season with low expectations. True to form, they came out of the gates horribly. The season was pretty much over before it started. Given those circumstances, it’s not a stretch to think Hamels would experience a favorable bounce once he was dealt. The degree to which he’s rebounded, though, defies logic, unless you take coaching into account.

Now, for the sake of full disclosure, I’ve never been an acolyte of pitching coach Doug Brocail. I’ve just never felt that he connected with his charges the way former Rangers’ pitching coach Mike Maddux did. Granted, Maddux had more to work with in his time here, but Brocail also had Yu Darvish and Hamels here for a minute. Furthermore, pitchers here just seem to underachieve under Brocail.

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Are the Rangers’ misfortunes the sole fault of the pitching coach? No, they’re not. There are a certain set of circumstances that have undermined this franchise over the past few seasons. They emptied the farm system while chasing a ring that never came. The development of players like Nomar Mazara, Rougned Odor, and Joey Gallo have involved a series of fits and starts. While each of those players have flashed prodigious talent, there have been subsequent valleys–especially in Odor’s case–that have to make everyone wonder if any of them will be true building blocks on the next Rangers’ contender. Doug Brocail cannot control any of that.

What is certain, though, is that even the greats need good coaching. And this is where the contrast between Hamels’ performance here and his short tenure in Chicago is the most glaring. Sure, the change of scenery provided the proverbial shot in the arm, but the degree of his improvement is such that one has to feel he’s getting more there than he ever got here. In other words, Cubs’ pitching coach Jim Hickey seems to have his finger on what makes a pitcher tick more so than Brocail.

You might notice that the player himself has escaped scrutiny here. To that end, I don’t really put any blame on Cole Hamels. He was a consummate professional in his time here, and he did and said all the right things. If anything, he may have been pressing too hard to win games and showcase his wares. I’ve been pretty happy for him as I’ve seen his stellar starts accumulate. As a baseball fan, I hope he’s at the forefront of a deep Cubs’ playoff run.

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But insofar as the home team is concerned, I have my doubts as to whether the coaching staff is constructed with the future in mind. I think manager Jeff Banister is safe for the foreseeable future. His teams play hard despite their relative level of talent. The underlings, however, are fair game. The fan base here had a taste of the good life for quite a while. What we’re getting now is anything but. Don’t think for a moment that this is lost on a front office that needs to fill a new stadium in less than two years.

  • Published on 08/27/2018 at 22:01 PM
  • Last updated at 08/27/2018 at 10:35 AM