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Coaching up the Cubs: An anecdotal comparison of old way vs. new way

Coaching up the Cubs: An anecdotal comparison of old way vs. new way

"Why don't the Cubs work on fundamentals.  It's the same old @#&% every year."

-- My dad, every season since 1974

It seems that no matter who was in charge, the Cubs never really excelled at the little things. That may be beginning to change this year.  In case you missed it, Sahadev Sharma wrote a piece on Alfonso Soriano where he stated,

" Soriano admitted that this year was the first time he’s ever gotten instruction on how to play the outfield. First base coach Dave McKay routinely coaches all the outfielders on how to play defense."

I think the key phrase here is "instruction on how to play".

There's little doubt Soriano's defense has been addressed over the years, but any coach can tell you to work on things.  A good coach teaches you how to do it.  It's not just the amount of work you put in, it has to have some sort of direction.  It's pin-pointing a specific issue to work on and learning how to do it the right way.  If you're just telling a guy to put extra work in, he's likely to keep practicing to make the same mistakes.  To me that was the case with Soriano and his defense up until this year.

The Cubs, however, have a new way of doing things and it's starting to look like a marked improvement over the old Cubs way. With that in mind, let's compare some of the old Cubs way of doing things with their new way of doing things..

Old Cub Way: Hee-Seop Choi

If you go back to old scouting reports, you might read something like this: "Excellent power from the left side, good plate discipline...but has trouble with lefties, swing gets too long and can sometimes be busted inside."  We could well be talking about the 2011 Anthony Rizzo here, but that was the book on Choi back when he was the Cubs top prospect and future first baseman.  Choi never did figure out lefties, hitting .151 and striking out over a 1/3 of the time in his career.  He never shortened up his stroke and as a Cubs, never adjusted to pitchers who would work him up and in.  The Cubs eventually traded him off for 1B Derrek Lee.

New Cub Way: Anthony Rizzo

After a disastrous debut with the Padres, Rizzo actually played well for the Cubs in the spring.  The new Cubs weren't going to be fooled.  They knew Rizzo needed to work on a few things.  Rizzo was sent back to Iowa this year with specific goals: improve against lefties, shorten up his swing, and work on his defense.  Check, check, and check.

Old Cubs Way: Shawon Dunston

Dunston was brimming over with natural, but unrefined talent when the Cubs drafted him first overall.  You couldn't help but think that after polishing his skills in the minors, the Cubs would soon have a superstar SS on their hands.  But that polish never came.  It was almost as if Dunston made it to the majors as basically the same player he was in high school.  His immense talent got him by, a rocket arm and outstanding range made up for some poor positioning in the field.  Extremely quick hands helped him become a decent hitter despite a frighteningly bad approach at the plate, and track-star level raw speed helped him overcome some questionable instincts on the bases.  The shame of it all was that Dunston was a humble kid who worked and played hard.  He was ripe for good instruction.  As it was Dunston was an exciting player, but he should have been a lot better than he was.

New Cubs Way: Starlin Castro

Castro is still a work in progress but the Cubs have wasted no time coaching him up this season.  He has some quickness in the field with a strong arm, but up until this year, his range was sub-par and his throws were often short.  The Cubs improved his positioning in the field and his footwork on his throws and he has become at least a solid average SS on defense this year.  They've also dared to tinker with him at the plate.  He's the Cubs most natural hitter but the Cubs have altered his approach and after a struggle, it's begun to pay some dividends.   In addition to refining his approach, the Cubs have shortened his leg kick to help him generate more power.  The old Cubs would have left him to his natural talents and let him hit .300 with an occasional spectacular play on defense.  These Cubs want him to get on base more and hit for more power while also being a consistent asset in the field.

Old Cubs Way: Corey Patterson

We all have our lasting memories of Corey Patterson but one thing we can agree stifled his potential was his bad approach at the plate.  He did not want to walk and he took a home run cut regardless of the situation, resulting in some maddening strikeouts with men on base when all he needed to do was make contact.  It didn't help that he was stubborn and insisted on doing things his way, but I can't help but think this Cubs staff would have gotten through to him much better than the old one did.

New Cubs Way: Welington Castillo

They may play different positions but they are both short, physically strong hitters who take big swings -- and neither took a whole lot of pitches in the early minors.  In fact, I had a Corey Patterson flashback the other day when Castillo struck out on a huge rip with the tying run on 3rd and nobody out.  Dale Sveum talked to Castillo about it afterward.  In the very next opportunity in the same situation:  tying run on 3B, less than two outs and two strikes, Castillo cut down on his swing and went the other way.  The result was a sacrifice fly to RF that scored Rizzo with the tying run.  Unlike Patterson, Castillo has also greatly improved his discipline at the plate, seeing almost 4 pitches per AB and walking in nearly 10% of his plate appearances, both rank among the team's best.

The two players are/were also both gifted defensively from a physical standpoint, but Castillo has the challenge of playing a more mentally demanding position.  He also had to change positions while Patterson had played CF his whole life.  Castillo has worked hard to become a competent receiver behind the plate to go with his tremendous physical skills, particularly his throwing arm.  In fact, Sveum singled Castillo out as the player who has developed the most this season.

Those are just a few anecdotes and I'm sure you guys will have a lot more, but I want to point out that it's not limited to the major league club.  No longer is it assumed that a talented player can get by in the majors without making adjustments (i.e. Felix Pie).  The Cubs have addressed them early and have been instrumental in the development of players such as Javier Baez and Dan Vogelbach.  Rather than rushing them, the Cubs spent a lot of time with both players in extended spring training and the results have been outstanding.  The Cubs are taking a similar approach with Jorge Soler and Albert Almora.  Rather than remain agape after his HR in Kane County (as I have), the Cubs are addressing some slight flaws in Soler's swing this fall in instructs. I also expect the Cubs to work on getting Almora to take more pitches and tone down his leg kick as well.

There's also still some work to be done on baserunning.  Ryan Theriot was famous for his baserunning blunders in his short time here.  There's even an acronym (TOOTBLAN)  named after him that some use to describe all gaffes on the bases.  But after seeing bonehead mistakes by players such as Starlin Castro, Luis Valbuena, and Dave Sappelt this season, we'll have to chalk that up as an area to improve on for 2013.

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  • Let's hope that with all the young exciting prospects we have
    that they can develop and learn the new way. Practice,
    practice, practice is only ok if your doing it right. Dunston
    is still one of the most exciting players I every saw but!

  • In reply to emartinezjr:

    Dunston was my favorite as a kid. I even imitated the way he flipped his bat before running as hard as he could to first base...on every single play.

    Imagine what he could have been had he been drafted by this front office and developed by this staff.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I met him twice easy to tell he is a great person. So much
    raw talent too bad we did not have the right instructors.
    Will always be remembered for his arm.

  • In reply to emartinezjr:

    I remember Dunston for his wild swings and misses with runners on base and game on the line.

  • In reply to emartinezjr:

    That arm was phenomenal. Still the standard by which all others are measured at SS.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Also, Dunston never dogged it. He busted his tail out of the box wherever he hit the ball and he was the best infielder I've ever seen chasing down pop-ups in the outfield.

  • Yes! Those are two things I remember about him as well. I always wondered how many errors Dunston caused by busting his tail on every single ground ball -- and he had that great raw speed too. If I remember correctly, he was timed at 3.7 seconds to 1B from the right side. It seems to me Dunston was the beneficiary of more rushed throws and bobbles as infielders hurried to transfer the ball from glove to hand than any Cubs I can remember. Add that to his OBP, he earned it!

    And his pop-up range was elite. Castro is excellent as well, but Dunston was in a category all by himself.

  • First off......I am so happy that Green Bay is 1-2 this morning.......yeah, the refs blew the call.......but think how many bad calls Green Bay got away with from past games!.......God was just evening the score.....

    Just a thought.....lets say Dan Vogelbach is a top notch hitter.....and first baseman with the glove....and if Rizzo is still a top rated player....what should Theo & Jed do?.....we can think about that in three years from now.

    If there was an MVP AARP award...Soriano should win it.

    Just looked at the pitching for this Cubs / Colorado series.....if you like hitting, this will be the series.

    Almora & Soler ranked #2 & #4 for Arizona Fall League according to Phil Rogers.

    Back to Green Bay......not only Packer fans woke up this morning as a losing, frustrated Packers fan....they woke up in Green Bay.

  • In reply to CubsTalk:

    We'll think about that in 2-3 years. Best case scenario is the Cubs have that problem when Vogelbach is ready. At worst, you can trade him for whatever you need at that point. At best, the NL adopts the DH!

    I'm guessing there are going to be a lot of runs scored in this series too, especially considering it's in Colorado.

    I think you're referring to the BA list for the AZ rookie league. Should also mention that Vogelbach made the list. He was 14th but 2nd among 1B. Big bonus baby Ronald Guzman was first, partly because of his age -- he was just 17. Many Cubs didn't qualify but guys like Paniagua, Maples, and Underwood got a lot of love in the ensuing chat.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    the yankess basically had this problem with montero, i know that he's a "catcher" and probably was a higher touted prospect than vogelbach will ever be, but the yankees got michael pineda and jose campos for montero and hector noesi, i know if u substituted vogelbach and a guy whose projected to be a #4, and we got that return id be ecstatic. so i think that everything with vogelbach will work out because he'll either be helping us out in the dh slot (if one exists) or bringing back some valuable assets in return.

  • In reply to CubsTalk:

    I'd like to see Soriano win the comeback player of the year. I can't think of anyone else in the NL who has re-emerged on the field like he's done this year. He deserves it (and it would help the Cubs deal him).

    Good read John, thanks.

  • In reply to SFToby:

    Thanks Toby!

    That would be nice to see Soriano win that award. He'll get tough competition from Ryan Ludwick and A.J. Burnett. Gold Glove is a possibility. He deserves something for the work he has put in this year.

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    In reply to CubsTalk:

    I have two words for everyone before you get too excited about Vogelbach: Brian Dopirak.

    OK, I like Vogelbach too, great start, seems like a nice kid, fun to have around. But before we get too excited, let's see him hit at A+ or above.

  • In reply to Zonk:

    Good cautionary tale. Dopirak had that .307/.363/.593 line with 39 HRs at Lansing, which is the equivalent of the level Vogelbach will play next year at Kane County -- but Dopirak never came close to duplicating those numbers. He never made it past AA with the Cubs and never made the majors at all.

    A couple of other similarities, Dopirak was a big kid too, though more in a sculpted way, at 6'4, 235 lbs. He was also a 2nd round pick out of a top FL high school.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    Yep.....B-Dope even had a nickname after A-ball he was so good. Ranked #21 on BA's top 100 heading into following season.

    There is a huge difference IMO between A and A+. A is a hitter's league, and A+ is a pitchers league. If you can rake in A+, you're a prospect. Until then, who knows.....

  • In reply to Zonk:

    Remember thought, that the Midwest League is also a good pitcher's league, though not as tough as the FSL. I'm even more cautious than you. For me they have to prove it in AA -- that, in my opinion, is the biggest jump. Some think it's even a bigger jump than AAA to the majors from a purely physical skills standpoint. It separates prospects from suspects.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    Am I crazy, or didn't Dopirak sugger from injury problems after that monster year? (Can't find a ton of confirmation on the I-net, so I may be crazy.) Probably a significant concern with Vogelbach given his, uh, physique.

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    In reply to Mike Moody:

    suffer, not sugger.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    He did have some injuries and you took the words out of my mouth --you have to worry about Vogelbach's health as well. Still, Dopirak should have recovered better than he did. He quickly and completely dropped off the prospect charts.

    Either way, it serves as a cautionary tale not to assume players will make it because they're crushing it in the low minors. A lot of things can happen, including injury.

  • In fairness to Patterson John, he just didn't want to "clog up the basepaths!"

    Great article!

  • In reply to Ryno2Grace:

    LOL! Great point :) Forgot who his manager was for a second!

    And thanks!

  • I guess I was on another planet when TOOTBLAN was created. Please explain what the acronym stands for. Thanks....

  • In reply to StillMissKennyHubbs:

    You really didn't miss anything. It's one of those Twitter phenomenons -- or "memes", among Cubs fans/bloggers than anything else.

    It stands for "Thrown Out On The Basepaths Like A Nincompoop", so obviously nothing to be taken too seriously.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Thanks. Nice subject, by the way. If you do more of these, I'd like to see Matt Murton included. "He'll win batting titles" is what they said about Matt......and I think they meant in the Bigs, not AAA.

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    In reply to StillMissKennyHubbs:

    Acronym for Thrown Out On The Basepaths Like A Nincompoop.

    "Baseball statistic invented for Ryan Theriot of the Chicago Cubs, for his penchant for ill-advised steal attempts and general lack of skill running bases.
    Theriot's current TOOTBLAN number is 19."-Urban Dictionary

  • In reply to Brian Szewczyk:

    Ha! I guess that's the perfect place to look that up. Nice find.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    All I know is that we have had more than one reliever this year get Hinshawed.

  • In reply to Zonk:

    We need to add that to the Cubs lexicon too! I also use "Bakered" when a pitcher hurts his arm from overuse.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    You're being overly mean to Dusty here. I mean, really, did this ( http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/gl.cgi?id=priorma01&t=p&year=2003 ) workload have any long term negative effects? As Dusty said at the time, it isn't the number of pitches that's important, it's how strong the pitcher looks throwing them.

    (Incidentally, I've looked up Reds starters this year. He's still bad, but nowhere close to this. Either he got Religion from destroying the Cubs best chance at a pennant in my lifetime, or pitch counts are being enforced on him.)

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Oh no, no negative effect at all ;)

    That's not even mentioning the innings he threw in the playoffs (another 23.1) -- and this in his first full season.

    And he's full of it when he talks about "how strong they are". Prior was throwing 88 mph fastballs in that 8th inning of game 5, and he had the hottest pitcher on the team in Matt Clement ready and available to be used out of the bullpen. Of course, we all know what happened next!

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    I just remember the love affair Dusty had with Jose Macias. That, and his Dugout Dice:

    http://wiklifield.thecubreporter.com/Dusty%27s_Dugout_Dice

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Dusty Baker had a thing for utility infielders: Macias, Ramon Martinez and, of course, Neifi Perez.

  • I think this was one of the most encouraging articles you've written in recent memory. Thanks!

    You know, this also gives me hope that we should be able to increase our pipeline of talent not only through drafting better talent from our new front office, but that we'll be able to better maximize (and perhaps exceed) the potential of the minor league system. This should create more than linear improvement in the pipeline.

  • In reply to mosconml:

    Your welcome...and thanks!

    It's been hard to be positive about the major league team but I've actually been thinking about this since that Welington Castillo sacrifice fly. He made that mistake and almost instantly got a chance to redeem himself -- and then came through. You really like to see that, but even if it didn't work, you'd have to be impressed with the change in his approach and how he so quickly took to instruction.

    I think we'll see a big improvement in development and how ready our prospects will be to play in the majors. I don't think Sveum or any of the Cubs coaching want to have to teach as much at the MLB level as they've had to this year. A lot of that stuff should have been taken care of in the minors.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    I've read in a couple places that Theo was shocked at the state of the organization when he got here. Given that he pretty much knew the talent involved, I think that has to be -- at least partly -- a reference to the state of minor league instruction.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Agreed. I think most of it had to do with instruction -- or lack thereof.

    The organization was neglected. The Cubs kept adding pieces, but seemingly didn't pay as much attention to it after they were acquired. They were like kids getting shiny new toys. And the idea was that when the old ones stopped working, just get new ones. After a while, you have a house full of broken toys.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    That's a very nice description of it. And, I guess, we can count ourselves lucky that they arrived when they did so that Javy Baez, Jeimar Candelario, and Gioskar Amaya don't join the house of broken toys.

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    Another thing about Patterson that has changed is how he was used in the minors. He was the best bat on the team in the low minors and, so, he was batting 3/4 and was encouraged to swing for the fences. But then, when he got to the big leagues, the Cubs suddenly wanted him to take walks, slap the ball on the ground, and use his speed. Combined with the lack of coaching mentioned above (Soriano's quote is either extremely high praise for McKay or extremely damning of what came before, or both), this doomed a kid with all the natural talent in the world.

    Brett Jackson in Iowa is probably the best example of how things have changed. That team was so awful when Rizzo left, that he could conceivably have been the 3/4 hitter. But the Cubs kept batting him 1 or 7 because that's where they thought his future was in the big leagues, and wanted him to get used to it.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    I could excuse Patterson for not slapping the ball (he was too good for that) and I was okay with him swinging hard, as he often did. What I would have liked to have seen, even in the minors, was a more patient approach and a better awareness of the game situation. That's something you should do regardless of where you bat in the order.

    And good point about Jackson, they never tried to force that square peg in a round hole with him. They didn't care where he ranked in the Cubs system, they were going to use him as his skill set dictated.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    No, I personally think they completely botched Corey Patterson. I think he could have been a great line-drive hitter with significant power as well. But my point was that they had decided he was going to be a slap hitter, base stealer -- and then let him develop as though he was a power hitter. Insanity reigned supreme in those days.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    No doubt. That was completely insane. I don't think he would have been a star anyway because of his bad approach, but I would have taken a good average, above average power, great speed, and great CF defense from him.

  • Couple of things I'd love to see addressed for 2013 are keeping the glove on a runner through his slide into a base (I must have seen 5 or 10 outs during the year we could have got by the runner oversliding if we would have done this), and CHRIST ON CRUTCHES, not watching the ball when we're running the bases. I heard an ex-player announcer say recently that you have to watch the ball to know what to do, but this is mostly chicken fried crap. Castro watching the ball 30 feet from third base, what's he going to do, decide to go back to 2nd? Sadly, neither one of those things appears to show up on Sveum's radar so far, but maybe in 2013... or maybe it's part of The Cubs Way and will be addressed in the minors from now on.

  • In reply to Carne Harris:

    Those little things add up. And while I think Castro looking over his shoulder is overblown, since it's much more common for players than we are led to believe, that one play when he was legging out a triple and looked over in mid-sprint was not smart. I racked my brain trying to think why anyone would do that and the only thing I could come up with was maybe he wanted to see the line of the throw and where to slide -- but that's pretty flimsy.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Castro gets singled out by peeps for some reason, but it really is our whole team that's bad at it. Some kind of aversion to picking up the 3b coach. I get that's it's human nature to want to look - I did an an instructional camp at a local college as a kid where they had us do a drill where we didn't watch where the ball goes after we hit it. Hard as hell. Still, you're major league ballplayers, you just gotta do it. It's probably so glaring to me because the rest of our running game has improved so much this year, in no small part due to Dave Sweet Cheeks McKay.

  • In reply to Carne Harris:

    I didn't know that "sweet cheeks" was McKay's middle name ;)

    It is tough not to look because it goes against every natural instinct you have. It's like being chased...who's not tempted to look behind and see what's coming -- no matter what the person in front of you is saying?

  • Awesome, awesome piece John! I was actually going to ask you to write a piece about the coaching staff. I think its obvious that Dave McKay is the best coach on staff or at least the coach the makes the biggest difference. Now that the FO is pretty much set, I think Theo/Jed will focus on the coaching staff for next year. If I remember correctly Pat Listach is in the final year of contract. I'm not sure if they'll bring him back. The hitting coach James Rowson came in on an interim basis half way through the year. Will he be back or be sent to the minors? Lastly, I'm not sure about Jamie Quirk. You always hear that the bench coach did this and that but as far as I'm concerned I haven't much about him.

  • In reply to WillieG1:

    Thanks Willie!

    I think we'll see some changes in that coaching staff -- and the guys you mentioned are on the bubble, especially Rowson and Listach -- but I do think each has a chance of sticking around. I think Rowson at the very least will go back to minor league instruction, where he has excelled.

    As for Quirk, you're right. You don't hear much about him. Certainly not nearly as much as we heard about Alan Trammel. I think part of it is that Sveum, unlike Piniella, is young and still trying to make his own mark and perhaps isn't ready to delegate as much responsibility.

  • In reply to WillieG1:

    Speaking of Listach, ESPN's Jim Bowden said that "Lou Piniella told me a few years back that Listach will eventually become a successful manager. It was just the second time Piniella ever recommended someone to me; the other was Don Mattingly, who has become a huge success for the Los Angeles Dodgers. The 1992 American League Rookie of the Year has four years of minor league managing experience on his résumé as well as four years of major league coaching.''

  • In reply to SFToby:

    Good stuff. Listach is well regarded. His name has come up in the past for managerial openings, though he's never been on the short list yet. If the Cubs keep him around and they win, I think that will change.

  • I remember watching Daytona Cubs years ago.....I recall a few players who made it to the MLB's........Jody Davis was a manager one time....nice guy, but had no control over players....these players took advantage of Davis,,,,,,,,,..another coach, who was just let go and ex-MLB player, was always talking too much about his playing days and letting out too many secrets on past players......i saw Cubs bullpen pitchers drawing out obscene images on the dirt as the game went on......not the way of instructing players of how to act in front of fans......I always remember two Florida farm systems that acted real professional belong to the Tigers and the Rangers.......I am glad that Theo is taking control of the entire system.

  • In reply to CubsTalk:

    Interesting stories. I guess it's hard to know what exactly went wrong, but when you consistently fail to develop impact talent...well, it has to be more than bad luck.

  • Separate topic. I am tentatively planning on going to the Fri and Sat games in Phoenix, so if there are any Cub fans on Cubs den that plan on being there, let me know and maybe we can meet up at the stadium.

  • In reply to JK1969:

    I'll just miss you. I have tentative plans to go in the second week of October. I believe Luigi is going and he posts here once in a while.

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    In reply to JK1969:

    Money's been tight and an trying to score some freebees for Sat night..I'll let you know

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    I think Josh Vitters and Tyler Colvin are another example of where the old regime failed. After drafting them never got the kind of attention and instruction that other noticeably talented prospects recently have received. They just drafted him and said best of luck to you, they just let him play on talent and promoted him on stats alone. Imagine if they got the kind of attention Albert Almora and Soler are getting at 17 years old. for Vitters luckily he's still young enough to improve.

  • In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    I think if they had Vitters they'd have been on him early and often about his approach and his defense. Can't help but wonder if it would have made a difference. I guess we'll never know. Like you said, he's still young. I've always thought he'd be more of a late bloomer type -- maybe like Colvin who didn't succeed until he was 24, 25 years old.

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    And don't even get me started on all the power arms that capped out as relievers because the old front office couldn't develop starters to say their lives.

  • Love the article about the new way Cubs, but 1 year is a very small sampling of "progress". Let's give it 5 years before we can put our stamp of approval on the new Cubs way.

  • In reply to kevie:

    Thanks.

    I don't think it's too early to judge. It's a better process regardless of the results. You can only control process, results are partly based on outside factors, and the Cubs are at least improving the process, and that's all you can really ask.

  • This is one of the best articles you've written, John.

    Who was the old regime coach that taught Soriano to jump just as he was about to catch a fly ball?

    Have a good one.

  • In reply to DropThePuck:

    Thanks Drop the Puck!

    I think Soriano learned that one on his own :)

  • John,

    Excellent article as always. I really look forward to reading this blog each day.
    If the Cubs decide to trade for a 3rd basemen, who are they most likely to target? What would it cost? I can see Vitters being a name that will be thrown around as a part of trade discussions this off season.

  • In reply to supercapo:

    Thanks for the kind words supercapo!

    There aren't a whole lot of options out there. I wrote about some here...

    http://www.chicagonow.com/cubs-den/2012/09/third-base-remains-a-question-for-the-cubs-for-2013/

  • In reply to supercapo:

    Although I guess most of those names really aren't trade candidates. It'll be some sort of flyer similar to Stewart, if I had to guess.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Thanks, Now that you remind me, I remember reading the article. I see 3rd being a hole for another year or two until Baez arrives.

  • In reply to supercapo:

    Me too. I think we'll see stopgaps until then.

  • When it comes to the little things that win a game, it all boils down to the work of Dave McKay. There really is nobody in the business who demands more than just a fundamental understanding of the fundamentals like he does. Marlon Byrd mentioned in his cubs.com blog during spring training that he had never even thought about what foot should be hitting the base until this year. It apparently took some time for him to adjust to the idea of actually thinking "ok, right foot hits the bag" while running.

  • In reply to elusivekarp:

    Agreed on all counts. We need more coaches like McKay -- including in the minors.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    I've always contended hat the only thing that the Cubs have been cursed with is shitty management....I recently ran into a guy in Lowes from Chicago and his son was a bartender @ the Raven I believe he said, told me that part of the reason guys like CPatt and Farnsworth never mad eit big time is because thet'd be out till the wee hours partying before a 1:20 START TIME!!!!! Any other manager aside from Dusry would have fixed that prob...He probably partied with them!!!

  • In reply to Luigi Ziccarelli:

    Farnsworth is legendary for going to the bars and it doesn't surprise me that Patterson was too.

    Agree on the bad management, but I would extend that out to bad ownership, who didn't invest in anything but trying to make as much profit as possible. Whether you like Ricketts or not, at least he's invested in the long term future of the team.

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    In reply to Luigi Ziccarelli:

    This is why "Josh Hamilton" and "Cubs" should *never* be used in the same sentence.

  • In reply to Luigi Ziccarelli:

    Same could be said about Dennis Eckersley. I think a complete list would be huge.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    How many coaches does a minor league team carry? I'm guessing the manager has to teach this stuff for the most part. I'd like to see an off season program where a coach (like McKay) could get all the managers and coaches together and go over how to run bases, go back on a fly ball over your head, etc. They do work on all phases of the game. Keep the managers & coaches there and have them all get schooled from the best representatives of the Cubs Way in all phases of the game. Impress on them that if that aren't always teaching and reinforcing these techniques, they'll be looking for another job. I realize that this stuff is supposed to be in the manuals, but practical instruction is always a good thing.

  • In reply to elusivekarp:

    It continually amazes me that some of these guys with so much talent never learned some of the fundamentals I learned in t-ball. Perhaps part of the problem of the old regimes is that they assumed too much about what these players already knew. Most of these guys don't grow up in well-to-do suburbs with great little league programs.

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