Billy Butler is a 6-foot-1, 240-pound first baseman who should probably be a designated hitter, could best be described as “lumbering,” and has a grand total of one stolen base in 533 games. Yet for some reason the Royals are convinced he should be running more this season.
Butler stole a base in yesterday’s game against the Rangers and said afterward that manager Ned Yost “has pretty much turned us loose” as base-stealers.
Dick Kaegel of MLB.com writes that “Yost figures that Butler could get up to 10 steals a season by picking his spots,” which is sort of hilarious for a guy who has three steals in his last 856 games dating back to the minors and grounded into 32 double plays last season for the third-highest total in baseball history.
Kansas City has an incredible amount of young talent coming up through the farm system and has a chance to emerge as long-term contenders relatively soon, but for now the Royals are going to be a very, very bad team and Yost trying to make base-stealers out of everyone on the roster isn’t going to help.
In something of a surprising move, the Chicago Cubs fired their pitching coach, Chris Bosio on Saturday. Bosio had held the job since the 2011-12 offseason.
The Cubs made the NLCS this year, but were nowhere as near the formidable as their 2016 World Series champion iteration. While there were several reasons for that, one was that the pitching staff, which featured multiple, better-than-expected performances in 2016, but took a step back in 2017. Some of that was personnel — Joe Maddon did not have Aroldis Chapman to call on in the postseason like he did last year — and a lot of that was mere regression from veterans like Jon Lester and John Lackey. A lot of it had to do with a much higher walk rate this year than in the past.
Still, there was no chatter during the season or at the time of the Cubs’ playoff exit the other day that Bosio might be a fall guy. The Chicago Tribune reports that it was Joe Maddon’s call and that he had grown displeased with Bosio. The Tribune report suggests that Cubs pitchers will be displeased with the move as they were devoted to Bosio. Coaches, of course, come and go, so I suspect they’ll get over it.
Whatever the case, Bosio likely won’t say unemployed for long. He is widely credited with helping Jake Arrieta transform from a project to an ace and for the considerable and the somewhat unexpectedly successful development of Kyle Hendricks. The Tribune suggests that he’d be a good fit in Minnesota, where his former teammate Paul Molitor is in search of a new pitching coach.
There are several intriguing coaches available at the moment, most notably Mike Maddux, who has been the Nationals pitching coach but whose status is now in flux given the firing of Dusty Baker. Maddux’s brother Greg, of course, is a spring training pitching instructor for the Cubs. The Tribune adds that Maddon may look to his old Tampa Bay Rays pitching coach Jim Hickey or, possibly, even recently fired Red Sox manager John Farrell, who made his bones as a pitching coach.