The Rays have decided to let go hitting coach Steve Henderson and will keep pitching coach Jim Hickey. In addition, the Rays eliminated Todd Greene’s position as quality assurance coach.

Many are wondering why the Rays would drop Hendu when the offense set a franchise record for runs scored and the pitching staff consistently underperformed all season. The hardest people to evaluate on a baseball staff are the coaches. They have such little in-game responsibility that 99% of their jobs are performed when the fans are not watching.

We can however evaluate what their subjects did on the field.

Steve Henderson: While the Rays did hit very well overall this season, we feel the Rays situational hitting which is still lacking. Sure strikeouts are not that bad in the grand scheme of things, but there are certain situations where strikeouts suck, and only one AL team (Rangers) struck out more than the Rays this season. Where that hurts the most is runners in scoring position with less than two outs. Strikeouts are rally killers. They don’t give the runners any chance to advance. Watch the veteran hitters on the Red Sox and Yankees enough and you will see the difference between productive outs and those that are not so much.

Jim Hickey: We find it difficult to lay too much blame at the feet of Hickey. Much of the problems with the pitching staff can be traced back to the 2008 season. Too many innings, too many months, and a very short off-season. There just weren’t any dominating performances from guys like James Shields and Matt Garza like we would have expected. We are not sure what Hickey, or any other pitching coach, could have done differently.

Todd Greene: The Rays thought they had come up with a super-duper idea to assign one coach the job of scouting the Rays all season. Have one guy find the flaws that other teams will look to exploit. The problem the Rays didn’t foresee was the Red Sox then hiring that coach last year (Tim Bogar) and having him then take all that knowledge with him to Boston. Maybe it turned out that there were too many of the family secrets being held by one person so low on the totem pole.


  • There are a lot of former (Devil) Rays in the playoffs this year. [Bugs and Cranks]
  • In addition to the 16th pick in the draft, Keith Law has now confirmed that the Rays will also have pick 30B (#32 overall) as compensation for failing to sign LeVon Washington, and pick 78B (overall selection to be determined) for failing to sign Kenny Diekroger. [ESPN]
  • An Open Letter to the Rays, to which we would like to add “Ditto.” [Sixty Feet, Six Inches]
  • The Rays failed to reach the playoffs, but their 2-year run is still pretty impressive. [The Rays Party]
  • The home run hit by Juan Miranda (first of his career) on Friday night off of Dale Thayer was the longest hit at The Trop this season, travelling 469 feet. That eclipsed the 466-foot home run hit by Carlos Pena on June 13th off of Jordan Zimmerman. [MLB Video] Here is Pena’s home run. [MLB Video]




  1. Gus says:

    Re: Hickey. 3 guys who struggled under his tutleage got immediately better as soon as they cleared TIA airspace -- Jackson finally added a 3rd pitch under the Tigers coaching, Jason Hammel has been very good pitching at altitude and Kazmir has been even better than he was in August for the Rays in LA. Coupled with the bullpen making no improvement, and Hickey's history with terrible bullpens in 3 of the 4 seasons, I don't see how Cork can defend Hickey with the tired arms excuse. Taking the starters out of it (and he deseves credit for Neiman's development for sure), the bullpen and the departed starters should be indictment enough. Time for a fresh voice out there.

    • Hickey very well may be to blame for Jackson, Hammel and Kaz. But you can't lay all the blame for those guys at Hickey's feet without giving him credit for Shields and Garza, both of whom have developed into Aces under Hickey. You already mentioned Niemann, who had a better year this year than he ever had in the minors. And let's not forget what he has done for the careers of Howell and Balfour. If the performance of the pitching staff is only Hickey's responsibility then he is responsible for ALL of the pitchers. Not just the ones that sucked.

      • Gus says:

        But Garza and Shields regressed a great deal this year (blame that on innings load from 2008 if you wish). But what's the excuse on Price, exactly? How do you screw up his tools? He was better when he came up in Sept. 2008 than he was in Sept. 2009. Kazmir was better pre-Hickey and post-Hickey than with Hickey (and may have only gotten himself fixed with a Central Park visit to Rick Peterson). Edwin Jackson was so confused on the mound in July 2008 against the Blue Jays that he was about to cry out there. Now he is the horse that he always looked like he could be. Why? He developed a new pitch in spring training with his new pitching coach.

        As a major league pitching coach, Hickey is getting lots of young, raw outstanding talent (lots of No.1 draft picks) dumped on him. That ain't easy, but is he maximizing that talent? Maybe he has enough successes in the rotation to keep him (I'd say no, but certainly Shields and Garza and Neiman have had fine seasons under Hickey), but the bullpen is a complete and utter disaster in finishing games. Again, I see guys who when they were Rays (Trevor Miller, Shawn Camp) look like they were the worst pitchers in the majors as Rays and yet they turn into pretty decent pitchers in other enviornments.

        So when you look at the man with his fingerprints over the worst bullpen in history (2007), a bullpen than imploded in 2009, a miracle bullpen in 2008 that overcame the worst implosion in ALCS history (full credit for sure), I see a guy who isn't helping guys to get better except Balfour 2008 (who was basically the Balfour the Twins had in 2004 or so). Guys seem to regress under him. We have so much raw talent there, that I do think pitching coach for the Rays is more important than for a veteran team like Boston or NYY. Hickey hasn't shown me enough there to warrant a retention. When you fail to defend an AL title, I'd say changes are due. I'd have started with Hickey.


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