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Friday, January 18, 2019

Report: Theo Epstein faced pressure from Bryzzo to fire Chili Davis

It’s been 99 days since the Cubs fired Chili Davis, but we’re still hearing new reports on the reasoning behind the decision.

The latest comes from SNY’s John Harper, who explained why the New York Mets were so quick to hire Davis after he was fired from the Red Sox and Cubs in successive winters.

If aspects of what are claimed here are remotely true, it is quite possible that Cubs fans have things to worry about far worse than team spending….

QLE Posted: January 18, 2019 at 07:57 AM | 26 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: anthony rizzo, chili davis, cubs, inmates running the asylum, kris bryant, theo epstein

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   1. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 18, 2019 at 09:26 AM (#5806502)
Has there ever been this much "ink" spilled over a hitting coach?
   2. bobm Posted: January 18, 2019 at 09:43 AM (#5806509)
FTFA:

The simple fact of the matter is Davis was brought in to limit the roller coaster nature of the Cubs lineup (by improving situational hitting, using the whole field, cutting down on strikeouts, etc.) yet the team still wound up leading baseball with 40 games of scoring 1 or fewer runs. It was the quiet offense that led to the Cubs' demise down the stretch in 2018 more than anything else.


?

For 2018, (requiring tgl_stats.RS<=1), sorted by greatest number of games in a single season matching the selected criteria

                            
Rk    Tm Year #Matching W  L
1    BAL 2018        40 2 38
                            
2    CHC 2018        39 4 35
                            
3    MIA 2018        37 2 35
                            
4    SFG 2018        36 4 32
                            
5    NYM 2018        35 3 32
                            
6    TBR 2018        32 4 28
7    PIT 2018        32 4 28
8    KCR 2018        32 3 29
                            
9    TEX 2018        31 1 30
10   DET 2018        31 1 30
11   CIN 2018        31 1 30
                            
12   PHI 2018        30 0 30
                            
13   LAA 2018        29 3 26
14   CHW 2018        29 2 27
                            
15   WSN 2018        28 0 28
16   TOR 2018        28 0 28
17   ARI 2018        28 1 27
                            
18   SEA 2018        27 5 22
19   MIL 2018        27 3 24
                            
20   SDP 2018        26 0 26
21   HOU 2018        26 2 24
22   ATL 2018        26 3 23
                            
23   LAD 2018        25 0 25
                            
24   MIN 2018        24 0 24
                            
25   STL 2018        23 0 23
                            
26   OAK 2018        21 1 20
27   CLE 2018        21 1 20
28   BOS 2018        21 3 18
                            
29   NYY 2018        16 0 16
                            
30   COL 2018        14 2 12


Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 1/18/2019.

   3. shoewizard Posted: January 18, 2019 at 09:54 AM (#5806518)
well lead NL then. Point still the same.
   4. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 18, 2019 at 10:00 AM (#5806520)
I wish I had an "analytics coach" at work, so if I had a shitty year, I could just blame him.
   5. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: January 18, 2019 at 10:14 AM (#5806525)
I know it's not fair but whether Davis did well or poorly is almost beside the point.
   6. Zonk Sits on the Stool next to Slats Steely Posted: January 18, 2019 at 10:48 AM (#5806535)
If aspects of what are claimed here are remotely true, it is quite possible that Cubs fans have things to worry about far worse than team spending….


?????

Rizzo had a strong finish to end up with fairly Rizzo-esque numbers, but he certainly had half a lost season while Bryant had an almost entirely lost season. Both had injuries, sure...

Only Baez had a particularly good season - and his 'good season' hardly echoes a Davis approach.

Chili Davis might be a fine hitting coach... but he was pretty clearly a bad fit for his team. Firing him was atop my offseason org wish list.

The fact that Bryzzo agrees? This constitutes the exact OPPOSITE of worry for me.

Thed drafted Rizzo in Boston 12 year ago. Jed traded FOR him in SD. Thed traded for him again when they reunited in Chicago. He's had a stellar Cubs career and their confidence in him paid off. Bryant's track record is shorter, but neither of them have even the slightest whisper of being terminal complainers or clubhouse lawyers.

It's never pleasant when you have to can a middle manager, but FFS... Your two best hitters have problems with the hitting coach? YOU FIRE THE GD HITTING COACH!

The Chili Davis elegies were tiresome last fall and they've aged even more poorly.
   7. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: January 18, 2019 at 11:50 AM (#5806561)
Two of the most like and respected members of the team didn't meld with the hitting coach, so they replaced him. That is a good thing for the franchise. There is a reason they're being paid millions while the hitting coach makes 200k or whatever.
   8. SoSH U at work Posted: January 18, 2019 at 11:55 AM (#5806564)
If aspects of what are claimed here are remotely true, it is quite possible that Cubs fans have things to worry about far worse than team spending….


I think the fact that they're being referred to as Bryzzo is the most troubling aspect of the story.
   9. Master of the Horse Posted: January 18, 2019 at 12:20 PM (#5806580)
8 nailed it.
   10. Darren Posted: January 18, 2019 at 12:28 PM (#5806587)
Davis seemed to have some success early with the Sox, but his last year saw basically the whole team drop off in power specifically and offense generally. While the whole industry seemed to be moving toward getting the ball in the air, I remember him saying that it was a bunch of hooey. Then he went to the Cubs, who didn't do well.

Keeping talented players happy and giving the advisors who they like working with seems like a reasonable way to manage a team.
   11. Zonk Sits on the Stool next to Slats Steely Posted: January 18, 2019 at 12:49 PM (#5806594)
Thing is - it was more than just Bryzzo...

Willson Contreras utterly cratered last year. Most of Schwarbs' increased value came from him turning into a plus fielder - his batting lines were/are pretty much stalled where they've always been. Happ? Almora? Not a whole lot of progress - both had moments where they looked to be taking a step, but by end of the year? Both were what they were and what they are.

Maybe you could point to a Zobrist bounceback - but Zo is a 37 yo veteran who basically bounced back to what you might expect a normal 37 yo aging curve bounceback to look like. I suppose Heyward looked better than he has since signing - but still nothing to write home about (except to complain) i/r/t offensive contributions.

The sole bright spot was Baez... and I'll reiterate that Baez's contributions don't exactly look like a guy who followed Davis' plan to cut strikeouts, improve situational hitting and use all fields (his spray charts don't look all that different than they did pre-Davis).

Again.... Davis may well be a fine hitting coach. But he's a bad one for this team. Bryant, Rizzo, Schwarbs, and Happ are all pull hitters with good walk rates. Baez and Contreras are, to a large extent, free swingers with good power.

Davis was a poor fit for the talent on this team. Deciding to pursue what amounts to an almost wholly alternate hitting approach was a bad idea. Maximize the skillsets you have. By all means, tinker and try to smooth out the downsides of the guys... but if it costs you the upside? Pass. With some exceptions (Baez, Almora) - the strength of this team is that they work counts, take walks, and hit HRs. This is not the 1985 Cardinals. Stop trying to turn them into that.
   12. JJ1986 Posted: January 18, 2019 at 12:51 PM (#5806596)
Is it pronounced Brigh-zo or bRizzo?
   13. Zonk Sits on the Stool next to Slats Steely Posted: January 18, 2019 at 12:52 PM (#5806597)
The latter...
   14. asinwreck Posted: January 18, 2019 at 02:48 PM (#5806648)
Has there ever been this much "ink" spilled over a hitting coach?

Are we including Barry Bonds's tenure with the Marlins?
   15. Nasty Nate Posted: January 18, 2019 at 03:02 PM (#5806654)
I think Walt Hriniak had a bunch of stories written about him.
   16. Steve Parris, Je t'aime Posted: January 18, 2019 at 03:12 PM (#5806659)
I think the fact that they're being referred to as Bryzzo is the most troubling aspect of the story.

For a second I thought I had missed that the Cubs signed Bryce Harper, gave him a terrible nickname, and let him fire the hitting coach.
   17. Greg Pope Posted: January 18, 2019 at 03:28 PM (#5806663)
From the link in the article:

Curious as to why the Mets hired a hitting coach, Chili Davis, who lasted all of one year with the Cubs? Here are a couple of reasons to believe it was more of a well-reasoned decision than you might think.


Two of the smartest organizations fired Davis, and the Mets hired him. That doesn't make me curious at all. What would make me curious would be if the Astros or Yankees hired him.
   18. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: January 18, 2019 at 05:19 PM (#5806683)
I think Walt Hriniak had a bunch of stories written about him.


Yep. Same for Charlie Lau and Rudy Jaramillo.
   19. Leroy Kincaid Posted: January 18, 2019 at 05:57 PM (#5806692)
Godammit. I seriously thought "Bryzzo" was the name of a team owner or something. Why do people do this? Do they want to get stabbed?
   20. Red Voodooin Posted: January 18, 2019 at 06:44 PM (#5806701)
The origins of the portmanteau are in .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).
   21. Zonk Sits on the Stool next to Slats Steely Posted: January 18, 2019 at 07:26 PM (#5806703)
I think Walt Hriniak had a bunch of stories written about him.


Didn't Frank Thomas pay out of pocket for his own personal hitting coach during Hriniak's reign? Or was it that he paid Walt when the ChiSox had a different HC.

I suppose Bryzzo could have done the same and split the cost...
   22. Darren Posted: January 18, 2019 at 09:23 PM (#5806723)
I thought Frank loved Hriniak. He had that Hriniak approach and swing, with a lot more power to it than most.
   23. Darren Posted: January 18, 2019 at 09:27 PM (#5806724)
In this article, Thomas credits Hriniak quite a bit:

https://www.mlb.com/news/hitting-coach-walt-hriniak-helped-frank-thomas-unlock-hall-of-fame-potential/c-66253108
   24. the Hugh Jorgan returns Posted: January 19, 2019 at 05:06 PM (#5806833)
Maybe they should have fired the pitching coach, I hear Chatwood was really complaining about the fact he couldn't find the plate all year long and it was definitely managements fault!
   25. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: January 19, 2019 at 05:23 PM (#5806836)
You jest but Chatwood did not have horrific walk rates until he came to Chicago. Anyway the pitching coach quit.
   26. Walt Davis Posted: January 21, 2019 at 03:10 PM (#5807394)
On Hickey (the pitching coach), in the first half, the Cubs' walk rates were terrible although a good chunk of that was Chatwood; in the 2nd half, walk rates were pretty good.

The offense was the opposite story. They were firing on almost all cylinders in the first half, then dropped in the 2nd half. I've broken it down elsewhere but it seems hard to pin the blame on Chili. Guys ignored him in the first half, had success ... then decided to start listening to him in the 2nd half to their detriment? In the first half, Contreras hit 279/369/449 ... in the 2nd it was 200/291/294 ... do we really think that was Chili? If there's a legit storyline here, it would seem to be a more detailed one about opponents adapting to the Cubs and Chili not being able to counter it.

But hey, offense went south pretty much across the board, you fire the hitting coach. I have no problem with that.

Contreras' performance was particularly bizarre. His underlying numbers are essentially unchanged -- same K, same BB, same G/F, same pop-up rate, roughly same BABIP (313 with a big 1st/2nd split), same statcast numbers as I recall. His HR/FB simply cratered.

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