Austin Kearns' days in DC are numbered. No secret there. It's even surprising that he's still here but that might be the result of the large contract. He isn't even a major league hitter anymore, struggling just to hit .200. The coaching staff discovered that Daniel Cabrera was putting his foot on the rubber when he threw and they tried to correct it (unsuccessfully). So why haven't they taken a look at Austin Kearns' mechanics? There's one simple thing he can do, and it doesn't involve anything complicated. CHOKE UP ON THE BAT, AUSTIN!
He is consistently late on his swings. He often loses control of the bat and sends it flying into the stands. You can tell that he's trying to maximize the power of his swing by getting maximum extension and using the weight of the bat, instead of getting good bat speed. All of this is related to his bad habit of putting his bottom hand at the end of the bat, so that he is barely hanging on with that hand. This is why he has such a terrible hold of the bat and it may be why he can't catch up to major league pitching anymore.
Many hitters try to get through slumps by choking up on the bat. Why won't he do this? Or why won't the coaches make him do it? It's not rocket science. Is he afraid that he'll look like a weak contact hitter if he does? So what? Is that any worse than batting .198? It's not like he's hitting HRs with his current approach. The strikeouts wouldn't matter so much if he were also hitting HRs like Adam Dunn or Ryan Howard but he has just 3 HR in 167 AB this year to go with 49 K's.
Maybe he will always be too stubborn to change but he should realize that he is playing himself out of the major leagues, not just out of DC. Some have said that he is just homesick or that he doesn't like playing in a big city. That may be true but that's unrelated to the fact that he is consistently late on his swings and that he is holding the bat way too low. Some other players have their idiosyncrasies like Kevin Youkilis or Gary Sheffield but no one is going to complain if you are productive. When your idiosyncrasy directly affects your productivity, then you absolutely need to change the bad habit. At the very least, have him change his approach and choke up. Get him to improve his average to .260 or .270 (hopefully) so that the Nats can trade him for an OK prospect. That's about all the team can hope for. Then if he reverts to his bad habit of holding the bat so low next year, he'll be on a different team and it won't matter to the Nats.
Unfortunately I don't think this is going to happen. Frustrating since no one seems to be trying this simple solution. What is there to lose by telling Kearns to choke up on the bat? Nothing. So do it.