Early in the offseason, Kevin Long was fired by the New York Yankees. He found employment quickly, and now is the hitting coach of the New York Mets. Meanwhile the Yankees decided that not one but two hitting coaches would be a suitable replacement, Jeff Pentland and Alan Cockrell. The Yankee offense has struggled the past two years, hitting .242 in 2013, and .245 in 2014. The offensive struggles will give these two men a heavy workload this season. Are these two men the right people for the job?
This is the question that many Yankee fans will be pondering, myself included. We will wonder how much the offense can improve, and that answer lies in these men’s hands. Little has been talked about their coaching experience, so I had to search like Scooby-Doo to uncover it.
Jeff Pentland has been coaching since 1975, making this his 40th year of coaching. He began coaching from 1975-1982 at the University of California, Riverside. Pentland then coached at Arizona State from 1983-1992. While a college coach, he worked with future MLB players Barry Bonds, Fernando Vina, Mike Deveraux, and Kevin Landreaux. Jeff Pentland then left to become a minor league hitting coach for the Florid Marlins in 1993. During the 2nd half of the 1996 season he became the Florida Marlins hitting coach. Pentland later worked as the hitting coach of the Chicago Cubs from 1997-2002, Kansas City Royals from 2003-2005, and Seattle Mariners from 2005-2008. He was hired by the Dodgers in 2008 as an assistant hitting instructor, before getting promoted to hitting coach in 2010. Pentland was then fired midway through the 2011 season. Jeff Pentland was a minor league pitcher, catcher, 1st baseman, and outfielder in the Padres organization from (1969-1971).
Alan Cockrell was drafted by the San Francisco Giants with the 9th pick of the 1984 First Year Player Draft. He played 9 seasons in the minors, including 5 with the Colorado Spring Sky Sox. Cockrell is a member of the Sky Sox Hall of Fame. Allan made his Major League debut on September 7, 1996, and struck out against Billy Wagner. He got his first major league hit off Tom Seaver, on a pinch hit double. Allan Cockrell only played 9 games in the majors.
After his playing career, he worked in several roles in the Colorado Rockies organization. He was a minor league manager from 1999 through 2000. He was a minor league hitting instructor from 2001 through 2002, and was the major league hitting coach for several months in 2002 after Clint Hurdle became manager. Alan Cockrell then became the hitting coach of Triple-A Colorado Springs, from 2003-2006. Alan returned as a Major League hitting coach from 2007-2008. In 2007 the Rockies led the NL in batting average, hits, and on base percentage. After getting fired after the Rockies 74 win season in 2008, Cockrell became the hitting coach of the Seattle Mariners in 2009. He was fired in May of 2010.
So what do you think of our new hitting coach and assistant hitting coach? Are they good teachers of the game, I am not so sure. Both have bounced around from place to place quite a bit, and neither have had a job in the majors for several years. They are important figures in the Yankees improving from the offensive struggles they have experienced the past two years. Hopely they make the most out of their latest job opportunity.