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Same as it Ever Was
by Derek Smart
The Cubs retained all of their coaches today, signing them all to one year contracts, with the only mild surprise being that pitching coach Larry Rothschild turned down more money and more years with Detroit to remain in Chicago.
I always find it tremendously difficult to evaluate these sort of transactions. It's rare that a coach's input and its impact is obvious to those of us on the outside looking in (counterexample = Wendell Kim), so for me to say whether someone like Rothschild or Gene Clines should stay or go is speculative at best.
Is it the coach or the personnel? It's just too difficult to sort it out from this distance. Sure, the Cubs were second in the league in batting average, but they were also dead last in walks. Is that because Clines preached aggressive hitting to his team, or because the roster was filled with men who weren't much inclined toward patience at the plate to begin with?
Was the club ninth in the league in ERA because of the plethora of injuries sustained by the pitching staff, or was it because Rothschild didn't have the requisite skill to turn the raw talent used to replace those who were hurt into useful Major League hurlers?
Is the fact that all of these coaches were kept on for another year a sign that Jim Hendry is unwilling to use his staff as easy scapegoats for a disappointing campaign, or is it a symbol of the organization's inability to understand the nature of the underlying forces that brought about their demise?
With the information available to us I think we can make salient arguments for either side of those issues, and that's why I sit frozen on the fence like a songbird in a blizzard when this sort of stuff comes my way. I tend to stay fairly open-minded until I'm presented with meaningful data, which I think is a strength in general, but gets in my way when there's a conclusion to be reached in less than optimal circumstances such as these.
So, once again, I turn to my intrepid readers for help. Is there anyone on the Cub coaching staff (Dustinator aside) who you think is getting less opprobrium than they deserve? Do you have a kick-in-the-butt reserved with a particular coach's name on it? Whom shall we rue?