Chicago Cubs hope Chili Davis can help them turn the corner

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 14: Kris Bryant /

The sweeping changes with the Chicago Cubs coaching staff included hitting coach, John Mallee. His time in Chicago was far from a failure. But it’s what Chili Davis can teach that might take them to the next level.

The Chicago Cubs made it seem that everything was copacetic and that all coaches that Joe Maddon wanted back would be back. Cue mass pink slips for the coaching staff. Much like it was when the Cubs praised Rick Renteria, right up until the point they told him he was out a job for Maddon. But we aren’t here to judge the organization. We here to look at Chili Davis, and what he can bring to the Cubs that might be exactly what they need to take the next step.

When the Cubs decided to let Mallee go, it wasn’t for poor results. This 2017 team scored MORE runs than the team that won the World Series in 2016. But the Cubs failed to get the job done, scoring a majority of their runs on the long ball. And it seemed that if they weren’t hitting the home runs, they were striking out. Kyle Schwarber was a shell of himself but finally pieced it together in the second half. Jason Heyward‘s adjustments lead to improvements but nothing substantial.

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Teaching from experience

Enter Davis. John Mallee was of the school of data. He used that info to show hot and cold zones to a hitter, and how the pitcher might attack them in an at-bat. Davis was a three-time All-Star and three-time World Series winner. He played 19 years in the big league’s and had learned his craft by doing it himself. A former Theo Epstein hire (surprise, right?), he took the job at Triple-A Pawtucket right before the Red Sox had mass changes after the 2011 season.

Davis stresses hitting line drives to the middle of the field. He’s been great at teaching a two-strike approach. His teams have struck out the fewest times in the past two seasons. But more than anything it’s about situational hitting. The Cubs struggled, with players like Kris Bryant, Javier Baez and Schwarber among a few scuffling along by not taking advantage of what the pitcher gave them.

Moving on up

The Cubs promoted minor-league hitting coordinator, Andy Haines who was in charge of Schwarber’s bounce back in the second half. After being sent to Triple-A, Schwarber batted .255 in the second half of the season. It was the improvement the Cubs were looking to get. That could be one of the reasons you’ll see Haines in Chicago next season.

I don’t think there’s any question the Cubs needed to make changes. The pitching staff walked to many guys, and the hitters struck out too often. Those were backward from what they were looking for. While many felt the players needed to “get it done” on the field, a change in voices could help. One thing that coaches and players might notice is the way the Cubs went about it. One minute everything was great, next thing the majority of the staff is out.

Next: Davis' stellar season should be rewarded

The changes needed to happen, no question in my mind. But the way the Cubs went about it will draw ire from some. It sucks, but I don’t see anything wrong with it. You have to run a team in the best manner that you can. Sometimes that means being hush about a move you might make until you make it. I’ve seen it in my field, which is by no means the same as the Cubs. To steal a line from Jerry Maguire, “It’s not show friends, it’s show business”.