Staffing Odds and Ends: Derek Shelton is Safe

There have been a couple small news notes for the Rays over the last few days. We heard about Dave Martinez yesterday - now for the other bit of news. 

Maddon is stating that he expects all of his staff to be back next season. Yes, that means Derek Shelton and Jim Hickey are safe at the moment. I'm not going to spill many words on Derek Shelton here, but there have been a couple looks at him recently and the evidence has been murky, although not terribly positive. However, it's always tough to evaluate a coach - tough to separate what's talent, what's luck, what's coaching, etc. - so I'm willing to give Maddon and the Rays the benefit of the doubt. Shelton can't change the fact that the Rays are full of strikeout prone players, many of them with large platoon splits. His job, as Reid Brignac recently stated to us:

We look at opposing pitchers and their tendencies.  For example, being a left-handed hitter, I'll look at how left-handed pitchers attack lefties.  Our hitting coach Derek Shelton will work with us every day and will help us not stray too far from what has made us successful.

Derek Shelton's job is to keep players from screwing up, messing with their skills that allowed them to reach the major league level. Was he successful in this in 2010? I can't say conclusively that he was or wasn't, but the Rays did have a productive offense - despite their inconsistencies - and so I'm hesitant to lay too much blame on Shelton's shoulders.

Also, when he was hired, many of us speculated that Shelton was brought in especially to fix BJ Upton. Shelton spent a large portion of the off-season working with BJ Upton, and although Upton started off the season a bit slow and his average was still low, he did have a much better offensive season than last year (.337 wOBA vs. .310 wOBA) and he hit with more power than any year in his career since 2007 (60 XBH). I'm certainly not sold entirely on Shelton, but I think it's also too easy to blame him for all our offense's maladies - and as a result, he gets more blame than is likely justified.

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