The Chicago Cubs made a big splash when they opted not to bring back pitching coach Chris Bosio next season, and in the hours following the decision, debates have been raging over whether it was the right move.
After all, several Cubs pitchers, including Jake Arrieta and Kyle Hendricks, can likely credit their career success to Bosio’s tutelage. He was the one who encouraged Arrieta to go back to the “cross-fire” method that helped lead him to the 2015 National League Cy Young Award, and he has countless other success stories on his resume.
Relievers like Trevor Cahill and Pedro Strop have also found their form thanks to Bosio’s work, and his reputation as a strong groomer of pitchers has allowed him to survive through three different managerial regimes since he was hired in 2012.
Despite that success, there were plenty of arguments to be made that Bosio needed to be shown the door. The Cubs were one of the worst teams in baseball in terms of walking batters this season, finishing with a staggering 554 free passes being issued. That was by far the worst number of any playoff team, and it came back to bite the Cubs in a bad way in the postseason, as they walked 53 batters during 10 games before being eliminated by the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Not only did the Cubs walk a ton of batters, but several relievers regressed badly this season. Justin Wilson is one of those hurlers, as he went from a closeout specialist to completely unavailable as soon as he put on the team’s uniform. He walked batters left and right and looked lost on the mound after his acquisition at the trade deadline.
Hector Rondon also had a rough season, giving up more home runs and struggling badly with his command throughout the year.
Finally, there were criticisms of Bosio’s communication skills, as he repeatedly didn’t have pitchers ready in time in the bullpen, forcing Maddon to yank pitchers in the middle of at-bats.
With all of that in mind, was it the right move to fire Bosio? The short answer is yes, but that doesn’t make the decision any easier. After all, Bosio’s successes were incredible, and no one can ever take away the fact that he was a big part of the reason why Arrieta was able to go on his Gibson-ian run at the end of the 2015 season.
Even with that being the case, cutting Bosio loose is a move that Joe Maddon and Theo Epstein have the capital to execute. Both have shown an ability to get the maximum out of their players and coaches, and if the duo feels that moving on from Bosio was the right move, then they have certainly earned the benefit of the doubt.
Obviously if the move doesn’t pan out, they will receive criticism, and rightfully so. With the team getting bounced from the postseason and having weaknesses that need to be shored up, the duo needs to be given the room to work, and this is a good example of a place where fans should trust the team’s process.