Category Archives: coaching

Guessing game

John Smoltz did a pretty good job of analyzing what everybody could see last night during game five of the World Series–everybody, that is, who wasn’t occupying a spot in the Cub dugout. What Smoltz diagnosed was Cleveland’s strategy with Baez at the plate. Throw him a first-pitch strike, Smoltz said, and then throw him […]

road not taken

Geez, why couldn’t the Royals’ hitters lay off that high fastball? Who’s their hitting coach? And speaking of people engaged in something perhaps more gratifying than managing the Cubs, Bochy was a strong contender for the Cubs’ managerial post when they hired Piniella in 2006. Piniella and Bochy were in play both in San Francisco […]

Jaramillo, why . . . must we say goodbye?

A few months ago I wrote in these pages that there is a secret to hitting, and that Tyler Colvin, “lacking either the native intelligence or the proper coaching, has not been able to follow the clues that lead to that secret.” Rudy Jaramillo was Colvin’s only hitting instructor with the Cubs, just as he […]

Looking for a pitch to take

“If 0-2 and 1-2 are bad luck for every hitter (except Prince Fielder), the secret to hitting would be to prevent those counts from turning into an at-bat.” If Tyler Colvin’s first full year in the majors, 2010, had been a college course–call it Hitting 101–he would have aced the qualifying exam (spring training), gotten […]

Hill’s challengers

No one ever said Koyie Hill could hit. What they did say, especially following the 2009 season when Hill gunned down 20 of 50 would-be base stealers (40%), was that he could throw. Unfortunately for Hill and his supporters, that caught-stealing percentage plummeted to 18% in 2010. Full disclosure: I consider myself a long-time Hill […]

Slidering away

Too many offspeed pitches–that is how I would characterize Larry Rothschild’s long tenure as pitching coach of the Cubs. As one example among many, here is the pitch sequence in a pivotal at-bat during the playoffs in 2008. The date is October 1, 2008, at Wrigley: game 1 of the Cub-Dodger NLDS. The Cubs are […]

Quade vs. Piniella

Wins don’t just happen. When Mike Quade took over a Cub team that had lost twenty of its twenty-five most recent games, and led them to twenty-four wins in the next thirty-seven, it was obvious that a competent leader had replaced a less-then-competent (or at least underachieving) predecessor. If Lou had at one time possessed […]

“Why wasn’t he throwing that fastball?”

Last night in the bottom of the ninth, Carlos Marmol interrupted his meltdown by throwing three straight fastballs past Juan Uribe for the second out. The strikeout halted the Giants’ momentum, and a few additional pitches secured the Cub victory. Jon Miller, the Giants’ play-by-play announcer, reflected on how Marmol, protecting a four-run-lead, had gotten […]

Zambrano and Bradley

I grew up watching the Cubs play ball in the afternoon, when I could have been watching soap operas. I feel pretty much the same way today. What I find interesting and relevant about Zambrano is that he doesn’t have very good aim with any of his pitches. His minimal pitching motion is also a […]

Jeff Stevens’ first win

I like Jeff Stevens in the 8th-inning mix next year, and was surprised when he gave up three runs in one inning (in his first ML win!) on Friday, so I watched the inning later on mlb.com. Very interesting. Votto and Phillips singled and Gomes hit a home run; but none of those three could […]