Over on the wonderfully named Frogs O’ War, Fungo Frog (whose internet name brings disturbing images to my mind) wrote a post mortem on TCU Baseball's pitiful inaugural season in the Big 12-ish, 2013 TCU Baseball: What Went Wrong.
I noticed it not because I read everything written on every SBN site every day, but because Google sent me an e-mail alerting me to an article that mentions former Mizzou assistant coach Tony Vitello. It’s certainly no secret that a lot of people who care about Mizzou Baseball (among the 12 of us), see Tony V as the #1 guy on the list of potential candidates if and/or when Mike Alden and Tim Hickman decide it’s time to replace Tim Jamieson (which is apparently not yet).
And, from my perspective: A friend of mine, who was a part of the Missouri program during several Vitello years, has a clear memory of his role at Mizzou: Vitello was much more of a pitching coach, not a hitting coach, coaching the position players was not his strong suit. According to him, all efforts to paint Vitello as both hitting and pitching coach at Missouri are misleading at best. But, as is still the case at TCU, Vitello was tremendously respected by players and helped, through his recruiting efforts, turn that program around.
So, to recap: To start 2013, TCU had three pitching coaches, Schloss/Saarloos/Vitello, and one "hitting coach", Jeroloman.
What most don't know is that during the 2012 season, it is my understanding that there was a small change made in "responsibilities" on the staff mid-way through the season. Jeroloman (the guy who had been coaching for less than a year) took more responsibility in coaching the hitters, while Vitello stepped to the side, technically "sharing" the job with Jeroloman but also focusing much more on his new primary job, head recruiter for TCU.
These roles stayed the same in 2013, with Vitello visibly absent at times from games and Jeroloman working 100% with the hitters. […]
[I]n my belief, there is no room at all for one coach to be a "full-time recruiter".
Don't get me wrong, Tony Vitello is a very, very good recruiter... Some of the best talent TCU has seen, including the excellent 2011, 2012, 2013 and still forming 2014 classes were his production. He has a very bright future ahead of him as a coach and recruiter, and I hate the idea of having him recruit players away from TCU.
Tony V may do better as a head coach somewhere than as an assistant. His best skill is as a motivator, a trait he shares with his dad, Greg Vitello, longtime coach at DeSmet HS in St. Louis. If he could hire a great pitching coach and a great hitting coach, he could do well. Whether that should be at Mizzou or not is up for debate.
What I find most interesting about the article is that if you replace the name of Tony Vitello with that of MU assistant Kerrick Jackson, and the name of TCU’s volunteer assistant Chuck Jeroloman with MU’s volunteer assistant Dan Pietroburgo, the analysis fits Mizzou in many ways.
Mizzou's Kerrick Jackson, much like Vitello, is on the staff primarily because of his value as a great recruiter. But his contribution to the everyday coaching appears to be on the same level as Vitello's at TCU, certainly not at the level this program needs.
Mizzou, like TCU, has a big problem with hitting (as in, not doing it very well). The offense has especially struggled in the past three seasons, sent this change to the BBCOR bats in D-1 baseball. Perhaps what the Tigers need, like the Frogs, is not a new head coach, but a full time dedicated hitting coach who knows how to coach players to hit successfully in the BBCOR era.
Recruiting is important, but I suspect top hitting prospects would be more eager to consider Mizzou if they see more of an emphasis on developing good hitters. MU's reputation as a school that develops top pitchers for the major leagues has certainly helped recruiting.
It's certainly food for thought. Something has to change over the next couple of years if Tim Jamieson intends to prove he's the man to bring SEC-class baseball to Simmons Field.