The Chicago Cubs have gone through three different hitting coaches in three years. In the end, the players do what they want to do. And occasionally, that’s bad for coaches.
In 2017, the Chicago Cubs hitting coach was John Mallee. A believer of metrics and launch angle, he coached the team to the World Series in 2016. A year later he was ‘old news,’ and the Cubs brought in Chili Davis–a situational coach who was not a believer in the metrics or launch angle. In 2019, it’s Anthony Iapoce. Seriously, the guys have to wear nametags in the clubhouse.
Reports came out that Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo ‘pushed’ for the Davis firing. Davis admitted that he didn’t connect with millennial players (Is this why Joe Maddon bought the Millenials for Dummies book?) He was supposed to ‘teach’ them situational hitting, use all fields and cut back on the strikeouts. He didn’t do that, so he had to be fired. Right?
Not necessarily. Davis clearly wasn’t a fit for the Cubs. But he deserved another season to at least see if he could get through to some of the players. But it wasn’t to be. Jim Hickey, the pitching coach, left for ‘personal reasons.’ That another story, but a reoccurring theme. Maybe it’s not the coaches who are failing the players, but the other way around?
The players have their minds made up. They have since their mother’s or fathers were drilling it into them. Launch angle. Follow the metrics. His father has coached Bryant–and very well–since he was a kid. It’s challenging to listen to a new voice, a different voice, after all these years.
Take Iapoce. He sits on the bench, rarely engages the players. Now, he may not want to get in their head during the game and chooses not to. Or, he doesn’t want to ‘ruffle feathers’ of the big guys in the lineup. Just saying.
There might not be any grounds to say that Bryant and Rizzo ‘forced Davis out.’ But you can be sure that they made their opinions known upon their exit interviews. They probably didn’t force him out. The players make millions. The coaches a fraction of that. Whatever the GM tells you, he’s listening to the players and not the coaches. Any general manager, not just Jed Hoyer or Theo Epstein.
It’s on the players to adjust. And if they don’t want to? The front office can make a change for them by trading them or releasing them. Regardless if the Chicago Cubs make the postseason, the team should make some changes. Some may be unpopular. But we’ll get over it. We always do, and then we can move on.