Former batting coach Chili Davis rings the bell for the Mets
Tell us how you really feel, Chili Davis.
The former Mets hitting coach has explained what really happened with his layoff earlier in the season, and he certainly didn’t mince words in the process.
“This organization needs a big turnaround, it needs to clean up,” Davis said Mike Puma of the New York Post. “Some of the people who have been around for so long during those dark years have to bring new faces and new baseball players. To be honest, I don’t think Zack Scott was a baseball player. He was the chief of analysis in Boston. He was an analytical guy. That’s where it belonged, in analytics.
Scott, the Mets’ interim general manager last season, who was fired earlier in the week after being charged with a DWI misdemeanor on August 31, has got rid of Davis and the assistant batting coach Tom Slater 24 games in the 2021 campaign.
The Mets produced one of the best offensives in baseball of 2019-2020, but Scott decided to replace that duo with minor league hitting coach Hugh Quattlebaum and assistant Kevin Howard in early May.
Although the Mets’ roster got off to a collective slow start to the plate last season, Scott placed more importance on process than results.
“I’ve been told it’s not about results, it’s about process,” Davis said. “Well, if the process isn’t producing good or good results, then the process is worthless because it’s not a good process. The process improves your players. That’s a shitty statement to tell me it’s not about results, it’s about process.
“How did the process go [with Quattlebaum]? This is my question. How well did the process work? It’s not about the results so how did the process work because everyone could see the results. There is a wine in Napa called “Brilliant Mistake”. I almost bought a case to distribute it. Brilliant. “
The Mets finished with a 94 OPS-plus [six points below league average] and had the sixth worst offense in baseball overall.
While Davis acknowledged that Quattlebaum and Howard weren’t placed in the easiest situations, he believes things would have turned out differently if he and Slater had been allowed to remain in their roles on the team.
“I don’t think Michael Conforto would have wrestled, I don’t think Dom Smith would have wrestled like that, I don’t think [Jeff] McNeil would have struggled like he did because we had built a trusting relationship with these guys, ”Davis said. “They trusted us and we communicated well with them, and I think throughout the year we would have been able to put them on the right track, by doing what they do. And I think it was a little unfair for the Quattlebaum-Howard duo to bring them in when they did, because they didn’t know anything about the players. It was just a bad decision.
And what Davis said might actually matter. The Mets saw a number of key members of their roster fight a lot last season.
The Mets waited several months for the offense to recur, but it never did and ultimately sealed their fate with another losing record.
Keep in mind that McNeil, Davis, Smith, etc. all had previous success under Davis as a batting coach for two seasons. And their struggles in 2021 were a big reason the Mets missed the playoffs.
“There are players who are going to be there, are they good for the team? Are they team players? Davis said. “I know the guys we had in 2019 and 20 – they were a good team. It was on the way, parts were needed and they started putting the parts together, but they had a good core of players. McNeil was an All-Star, Conforto was improving, Dom Smith was improving, JD Davis was improving, Petey [Alonso] became Petey and [Amed] Rosario had a big year in 19 for us and the kid [Andres] Gimenez arrived last year.
Prior to joining the Mets, Davis was a batting coach for the Boston Red Sox, Oakland Athletics and Chicago Cubs. He also enjoyed a distinguished 19-year career in the major leagues, where he landed 350 home runs.
Although Davis is known to be more old school with his coaching methods, he claims he is not anti-analytical. Even still, he disagreed with the new style of the Mets they tried to implement last season.
For example, the Mets faced starting pitcher Jake Arrieta in a game on April 20, and analytical staff presented Davis with a projection that the right-hander would only use his change seven percent of the time based on his three. previous departures. .
But the Mets faced Arrieta in September of the previous season, and he used his change 32 percent of the time against them, according to Statcast. And at a low price, he ended up throwing it at a 14.7% rate against the Mets lineup that night in Chicago.
“I challenged [the analytics staff] and asked where their information was coming from, ”Davis said. “They said, ‘Well, we were looking at his last three starts.’ It was the start of the year and he had pitched twice against Pittsburgh and once against [Milwaukee]. It had nothing to do with the Mets. Maybe he didn’t use his change so much against these other guys. I disputed this and I was right. I don’t think it was taken lightly.
“I see analytics as information. This could be good information, but will I coach only with analytics? No. Because numbers and computers and machines have their place, but when you’re dealing with human beings and you’re a hitting or pitching trainer or any type of trainer you have to deal with personalities, sometimes you have to deal with emotions. You have to face the psyche of some guys. I say this as a former player.
Davis, who admittedly had a strong relationship with former manager Luis Rojas, criticized the front office’s pre-scripted game plan for the coaching staff.
“I was in some meetings and the lines were already set for the day,” Davis said. “I don’t know how many entries [Rojas] had to build the lineup every day, but I think it’s something, even though the analytical people are involved, the manager and his staff should have a say. When you think about it, we’re the ones in the batting cages with the batters every day. We know their thoughts, we know how they feel, I hear what they are complaining about, I know what they are saying and the same goes for the pitching coach and other coaches. We see them every day, so the input we have would be invaluable in building a range. “
Davis is disappointed with the way things turned out with the Mets. He is still hoping for another job as a major league coach and has been in contact with at least one team about a vacancy.
He also has respect for Mets owner Steve Cohen, but he’s unsure whether the organization is on track to be successful or not.
“I believe in my heart that Steve Cohen wants to win and I know that in his business analysis is important,” Davis said. “He’s a hedge fund man and analysis is important in this area and it should be because you deal with numbers every day. Just like baseball you are dealing with numbers, but you are also dealing with a lot of human elements in baseball. You never feel like a gamer every day, even when you are hot. Even when you swing well. You don’t go to the stadium every day and feel the same.