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Was Curtis Granderson a Victim of Bad Coaching?

Last week, we swapped posts with Pinstripe Alley, trying to get some local opinion on the players involved in the Curtis Granderson trade to the Yankees. (If you missed it, here's jscape2000's post about Austin Jackson and Phil Coke.)

In my post about Granderson, I mentioned my theory that Jim Leyland messed with Grandy's head early in the season by moving him down in the order to more of a run-producing spot. That seemed to get Granderson in a power-hitting mindset, and that stayed with him once he moved back to the leadoff spot.

That prompted Ed Valentine to share something he heard, that several inside the Tigers' organization think the problem wasn't Leyland, but rather with hitting coach Lloyd McClendon.

Valentine's source (we really have to get one of those here at BYB) added that Miguel Cabrera and Magglio Ordonez eventually refused to work with McClendon, following the lead of Placido Polanco. This lines up nicely with what Bill Ferris mentioned at The Detroit Tigers Weblog, about Granderson and several other Tigers hitters making the trek down to Toledo to work with Mud Hens' batting coach Leon Durham.

That prompts two obvious questions: 1) Why is McClendon still the hitting coach? And 2) Why isn't Durham in Detroit?

McClendon, according to Valentine's source, is Leyland's "buddy," which makes it sound as if he's in no danger of losing a spot on the coaching staff. And there have been rumblings that Durham's past keeps him from getting a position with a major league team. (Strange that Mark McGwire apparently doesn't encounter the same obstacles, though he's presumably innocent until proven guilty.)

But if one of the reasons Granderson was traded was because the Tigers didn't see him improving as a hitter (particularly against left-handed pitching), it's especially mind-blowing that they'd go for that option, rather than trying to "coach him up." (Granted, that may be oversimplifying the situation, as finances were another of the presumed reasons for making this deal.)

Perhaps that explains some of the spin ("Oh, Granderson was a flawed player!") that's been pushed out through the media in the past couple of weeks. IImplications of cronyism among Leyland's coaching staff are also quite troubling.

Of course, we'll know more if Granderson improves under Kevin Long's tutelage in New York. But ultimately, whether this is true or not, it makes a situation that's already been tough enough to digest among Tigers fans even more indigestible.