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The Upshaw to all this...

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I was all set to do a Padres preview today, but this article popped up. In it, Baseball America's John Manuel examines the lack of position players developed by the Giants system. Pedro Feliz was signed in 1994, and now he's thirty. That's the good news, and Manuel digs a little bit to find out why. Especially telling is this excerpt:

In the past, players complained to coaches at higher levels that they took extra batting and infield practice only when roving instructors came around. And in 2004, the organization's roving hitting instructor, Willie Upshaw, didn't even go to the two East Coast affiliates at Double-A Norwich and low Class-A Hagerstown, working instead with hitters in San Francisco. In contrast, Tidrow himself is known to go on the field and work with the organization's pitchers when he makes the rounds of Giants affiliates.
That just has to be filed under, We Can't Possibly Have All the Information. Perhaps this happens with a lot of teams. Maybe Upshaw's influence at the major-league level was indispensable. Maybe at the end of the season, Ned Coletti and Brian Sabean looked at each other and simultaneously said, "I thought you told Willie to go to Hagerstown!". Then they rolled their eyes for the camera, a trombone did its thing, the credits rolled, and we had to wait a whole week for another wacky half-hour. Maybe it was one of those things.

But, wow. There were minor-league hitters who wanted a little more tutelage from experienced hitting instructors, and didn't get it. The missing secret ingredient preventing Arturo McDowell's chrysalis from morphing into Juan Pierre, and this is just a guess, was probably not a couple of hours with Willie Upshaw. However, in year ten of a wretched ten-year organizational drought, it might make sense to start trying things. If a motivational speaker were to kick down the door of the Giants front office and, in an overwrought orgy of pep and motivational inspiration, demand a list of 50 things they could do to improve the chances of developing a good hitter, the starting point would be obvious. Right after the "get better hitters" item, "get the hitters some more instruction from hitting instructors already on our payroll" had to come next.

This, of course, absolutely has to fall under We Can't Possibly Have All the Information. There has to be something so obvious to those who make their living in the front office, which would make them chuckle at the very idea of this post. It sure isn't obvious down here, though. Manuel did a good job to compare their failures to other organizations, and was not stingy with the praise of the pitching that had been developed. He was reporting rather than trying to convince, and the article is a good warmup to Wednesday's top-ten prospects list from Baseball America.

Stephen Shelby's interview with John Manuel, over at Fogball, is an even better warmup. Shelby regularly humiliates me with his thorough knowledge of the Giant system, and he comes up with some great questions for Manuel. The whole thing is gloriously Giants-centric, and gets the taste of Geraldo out of your mouth*. This is great stuff, so head on over.


*Warning: may not get taste of Geraldo out of your mouth.