Monday, 23 October:
The fallout of the 2017 season is beginning to take shape, and as usual the local media shows it’s almost complete and total ignorance of the game and instead takes partisan sides in issues that are as much personality cults as anything.
The same scribes who defended Starlin Castro, who sabotaged the Yankees every chance he had in the postseason, just as he did here. He doesn’t play winning baseball.
Now it’s the issue of the Cub pitching, or more appropriately, lack of it.
First. the issue of Chris Bosio, the now defunct pitching coach. Bosio, who was brought aboard by the hugely underappreciated Dale Sveum in 2013, is legendary as a rehab artist. The team would scour the waiver lists and the underachievers that had upside.
He went after guys like Paul Maholm, Scott Feldman and Jason Hammel, and developed struggling prospects like Jeff Samardzjia. The team in turn, would trade them for the players that would propel them to the World Championship.
Jake Arrieta. Addison Russell. Guys like that.
There is absolutely no doubt that Bosio, who survived the firings of both Sveum, and Rich Renteria, was instrumental the Cub’s long term success. His gut instinct of what a pitcher had inside him guided him, and he allowed Arrieta and Kyle Hendricks to be themselves.
Few other coaches would allow these idiosyncrasies. Arrieta is a contradiction; his delivery counterintuitive to most. Throwing across your body isn’t recommended; lots of torque on the shoulder.
Hendricks is his own coach. He prepares himself. And when all you throw is 87-88 mph most instructors would never allow such autonomy. Bosio had a gift for seeing a pitcher’s future.
But all things come to an end. He and Joe Maddon clashed frequently this season; his ‘seat of the pants’ approach to the game ran counter to the Bloomberg Sports system of analytics the team embraces. The failure of the bullpen to throw strikes in October hurt him terribly.
But what sealed the deal was Justin Wilson.
The Tigers reliever, obtained by the Cubs late in the season with catcher Alex Avila, was a hard throwing left hander came aboard with 13 saves and an impressive 0.942 WHIP. Possessing a 97 mph fastball and tight slider with late movement, he was the final piece to the Cub postseason hopes.
The setup man for Wade Davis. This would allow them to use CJ Edwards in the 7th, and Brian Duensing for the odd left handed batter. But something went terribly wrong.
Wilson struggled right off the bat. Unable to locate his fastball, he started aiming it. In his 17 2/3 innings of work he only gave up 18 hits; not great but not that bad. No, it was the NINETEEN walks, and when mixed in with the hits, the 11 runs and the 5.09 ERA.
AL scouts were shaking their heads. Everyone thought the Cubs had stolen him, and were shocked at the ineffectiveness. With Detroit he only walked 16 in 40 1/3 innings of work. His .323 ERA and excellent WHIP was replaced with the 5.09 and really ugly 2.094 WHIP.
This whole disaster was laid at Chris Bosio’s feet, and that, along with the falling out with Maddon, did him in. The team is currently interviewing Jim Hickey, Maddon’s old coach from Tampa, and Mike Maddux, who was also interviewed as a possible manager by the team several years back.
John Farrell, who had managed the Red Sox, is a friend and a favorite of Theo Epstein. He may also get a look, but if Joe wants Hickey expect his hire to be announced shortly…
The moves they should, and will, make.