Rob Deer Doesn’t Want the Cubs to Be Rob Deer and Other Bullets

We’ll have some rumor-y bits later this morning, but, for now, Bullets …

  • On the Rob Deer hiring (as assistant hitting coach), Bruce Miles found an older Hardball Times interview in which Deer talks about the .220 batting average/tons of strikeouts thing that folks are giving the Cubs hell about: “I answer that a lot,” responded Deer, who was minor-league hitting coordinator for the Padres at the time. “I don’t teach the way I hit. I understand how to hit .300. I know what it takes. We tell the guys to be selectively aggressive. We want that to be their approach. We tell them ‘Be patiently aggressive.’ That’s our motto. What does it mean? If you get a good pitch to hit and you take it, that’s your fault. We don’t ever want to take aggressiveness away. But, we don’t want to swing at bat pitches, either. I’ll be the first to admit I don’t want them to hit like I did.” To that I’d say good, that’s what I expected. I’d also say, “Don’t go too far, Rob: it’d be nice to have a bunch of .300 hitters who ALSO had your discipline and power, but, focus on the latter if that’s where your natural mojo is.”
  • Carrie Muskat does the mailbox thing, and says, among other things, the Cubs won’t be trading Darwin Barney, they’ll add at the deadline if they’re in competition in 2013, and the Spring Training schedule could be out this week.
  • Former Cub, and long-time farmhand, Bobby Scales is the new Director of Player Development with the Angels. Good for Bobby. I always heard that he was going to have a long career in baseball after his playing days were over, so there you go.
  • You can participate in a Twitter chat with Pat Hughes today, starting at noon CT.
  • Kerry Wood wrote a column for the Sun-Times about this being the season for giving back, and talking about various charity efforts (in which you can participate).
  • John Sickels solicits input on the Cubs’ organization.
  • Don’t forget to follow BN on Twitter, and “like” it on Facebook as the Winter Meetings approach.

Brett Taylor is the editor and lead writer at Bleacher Nation, and can also be found as Bleacher Nation on Twitter and on Facebook.

26 responses to “Rob Deer Doesn’t Want the Cubs to Be Rob Deer and Other Bullets”

  1. terencemann

    We tell them ‘Be patiently aggressive.’

    I realize Hoyer and Epstein wouldn’t hire a coach they don’t agree with but this doesn’t sound like the same approach Epstein talks about when he talks about being patient. If Epstein really thinks the pitches a player sees are the team’s pitches and not his, and if he really wants the players to work over starters so they can get to the bullpen earlier, that means that, early in the game, they’re going to be taking some hittable pitches. It means they’re going to have a smaller zone for hitting early in the count early in the game. “Wait for your pitch” and “Be patient” aren’t actually the same thing, imho. That’s not to say that Deer and Epstein have completely conflicting opinions, but these two slogans don’t mean exactly the same thing to me.

    1. Cubbie Blues

      I disagree. The Cubs new philosophy has been to be selectively aggressive which to me is the exact same as patiently aggressive. You have to be patent to get your pitch and then hammer it.

      1. DocPeterWimsey

        Yes and no. THere is one other key detail: can you recognize whether the pitch is “your pitch” before you have to start swinging at it. In other word, how quick is your batting eye. Umpires get to call balls and strikes after the ball is caught. A batter has to trigger “swing/don’t swing” when the ball is less than a third of the way to home plate: and most batter’s “sweet” zones are much smaller than the strike zone.

        In a way, “patience” has never been the right word: batting is not a cognitive process. It’s trained reflex. Thus, it’s really been about “identify your pitch”: and this is a trait that good hitters always share.

        (And, yes, there are freaks like Yogi or Vlad who could hit anything: but that only meant that they had abnormally large red zones.)

        1. terencemann

          That’s what I’m getting at. I’m not sure who the best example of “waiting for your pitch” would be, but hitters like Wade Boggs or Jason Heyward would be good examples of “being patient”. Heyward sees a ton of pitches and still gets the job done. Not everybody has his skills but I think he’s the type of hitter I think Epstein is talking about. It’s not just about swinging at the first pitch you like, it’s about making the pitcher throw to you and identifying where you can be the most effective (until you have 2 strikes, of course).

        2. hansman1982

          “and overall depth is a problem” – from Sickels

          Is he talking about depth at the top? I know in terms of impact talent we are, at best, about 5 deep.

          1. hansman1982

            wow, I did not want to post that here.

            I think, to a degree, “patience” is the right term and is slightly teachable. I liken batting eye, contact to a car. Some cars come from the factory with a V-8 – Brett Jackson and Vitters, so to speak.

            Jackson has a V8 in batting eye but a 4-banger in contact. Now he will always be naturally better at seeing the pitch than he will be in making contact. That’s not to say you can’t work on his contact through tweaks in mechanics, approach, etc… kind of like you could put a turbo on a 4-cyl to make it better. It will never be a V-8 but if you tell him he won’t see wrigley again until his contact improves, you bet he’s gonna be hitting up Jeg’s for that Cold Air Intake and dual exhaust.

        3. Cubbie Blues

          I still see patience as being a similar word. I am reading it as not getting too anxious at the plate and feel like you have to hack at everything in the strike zone, but to have patience and wait on your pitch.

          1. DocPeterWimsey

            But, again, I think that this ascribes more “thinking” to the process than there can be. Batting is not like golf where you get to stand there and think about exactly what you want to do. (Pitching is, but that’s a different story.) Batting is like fencing where react in particular ways to particular things. Sure, you can be prepared: this guy likes to throw sliders on this count, this guy likes to attack on the blade then feint on the body, etc. However, in both cases you do not want to guess in advance: a guy likes to do that, but when you guess and swing/thrust/whatever (or don’t!) and your guess is wrong, then you are hosed.

            And that gets back to recognition: the good hitters (like the good fencers) are the ones who most rapidly (but unthinkingly!) recognize what the pitch is and trigger “swing/don’t swing.” You are dealing with about a 10th of a second: so the trick is not feeling comfortable taking a pitch, but reflexively laying off of it.

            (And this is why none of us are MLB batters: chances are really good that none of us could ID an MLB pitch even half way to home plate: and even that would be much, much too late!)

    2. Tim

      being patient and waiting for your pitch is the same thing as being selectively aggressive. selecting that pitch you can really hit hard and be aggressive on the swing

  2. CubFan Paul

    but if you’re saying his defensive skills are limited, I’d have to disagree (as would Gold Glove voters). Trade Barney? No.

    Carrie confused the question. I’m quite sure the statement was referring to Barney’s offensive skills being limited, therefore liking Wakins’ potential better (me too).

    His stock is high after winning the Gold Glove, but his skills are limited. I like Logan Watkins’ potential better. John D., Grand Rapids, Mich.

  3. Fastball

    I don’t care what the Dodgers do. I am a Cubs fan. I could care less about the Dodgers.

    1. Cubbie Blues

      ?

    2. DocPeterWimsey

      All Cubs fans should worry about what all of the other 29 teams. For one thing, this binary “Cubs / not Cubs” view greatly distorts expectations: instead of recognizing that the Cubs are one of many teams competing for limited resources, it makes it look like success/failure are equiprobable outcomes.

      Second, the 29 other teams do things in a variety of different ways. No one way works: there is not a “right way” to build a team, a franchise’s financial situation or their farm system. (It’s not clear to what you are responding: the Dodgers are not mentioned here!)

      In a way, that is what Moneyball was: a description of how the Yankees actually won rather than how the media described how the Yankees won. This pertains to everything else in baseball, and thus makes the other 29 teams your concern.

  4. Fastball

    Deer must have what Theo was looking for. He passed the interview and got the job. Nobody was apparently holding Theo by the throat and forcing him to hire Deer. I would say they must be thinking on the same page. With the hitting department in such disarray in this organization I doubt Theo goes off half cocked and hires someone who doesn’t fall lock step with his way of thinking. He fired that guy last season.

  5. D-Fresh

    Is there evidence of Deer being in the same location as Theriot’s mother?

  6. Fastball

    I use that line on the golf course a lot. Hey was your wife living in Jacksonville, FL in 1982 cuz your kids look a lot like mine. It’s usually good for a couple strokes a round. Makes my friends think a little bit.

  7. Internet Random

    Carrie Muskat . . . says . . . the Cubs won’t be trading Darwin Barney, they’ll add at the deadline if they’re in competition in 2013 . . . .

    LOLcano!!one!eleven Good one, Carrie!

  8. Fastball

    I don’t think the Cubs are in the market to trade Barney. I am sure he comes up in conversation. It’s hard to build a SS/2B combination. I see these two being part of the anchor up the middle for a while. I know a lot of folks don’t like Barney for what ever reason. I guess his offense. His defense is outstanding and that trumps his lack of hitting. I think his hitting will be his off season focus this winter. Just like last season he focused on his defense at 2B. I believe that this year he will have much better results with his bat. I don’t think he will be a .300 hitter but he will be at .280+ a point or two. IMO that will be just fine hitting out of the 8 hole. His value will continue to grow. He has not reached his ceiling just because he won the gold glove. This isn’t the type of kid who is going to stop developing himself. I don’t see that being part of his make up as a player. After this year he will have Watkins at least pushing him a little bit. Theo may consider a trade next off season. I don’t think that happens though. If Watkins can overtake Barney at 2B. Barney then becomes the utility infielder. I see no reason to shuttle him off when there is a job for him here long term. He fits in a lot of ways because of his intangibles in the club house and on the field. He is a team guy, he will be a leader by example and we need those with all the young players we have in the pipeline over the next 2 or 3 years.

  9. Fastball

    Carrie Muskat . . . says . . . the Cubs won’t be trading Darwin Barney, they’ll add at the deadline if they’re in competition in 2013 . . . .

    shouldn’t this be 2015

  10. North Side Irish

    Buster Olney reporting the Cubs are in on Jeff Keppinger…have to figure it’s for 3B. He could take Stewart’s spot on the 40 Man.

    Buster Olney ‏@Buster_ESPN
    Club evaluators were aware of Jeff Keppinger’s leg injury, and don’t consider it serious enough to deter them. Teams bidding: TB, AZ, CHC.

  11. Rizzo 44

    David Wright was offered a 6 year $100M deal and MLBtraderumors thinks he will turn it down. Looks like the Mets will be trading away there All Star 3B very soon. This is the type of stuff the Cubs FO may be waiting on to happen. I’m not sure just yet, but I would say Theo would love to have Wright hold down 3B for 6-7 years and I also think he would kill at Wrigley. Health is the key for Wright. He would be a huge pick-up by the FO if they could swing a trade for him and lock him up as a Cub. Just my opinion.

    1. Ted

      I really like wright going forward. Barring injury, his skill set should age well and his approach is exactly what we need more of. Would make for the right kind of clubhouse leader for an otherwise young team. Here’s hoping he makes it to free agency next winter.

  12. johnr42

    Hey Brett,

    Spelling error fourth line from the bottom of the Rob Deer bit. “We don’t ever want to take aggressiveness away. But, we don’t want to swing at bat pitches, either.” I assume it’s supposed to be “bad” not “bat” unless that really was the quote.

  13. DarthHater

    they’ll add at the deadline if they’re in competition in 2013 . . . .

    Shouldn’t this be: “they’ll add now so that they have a shot at contending in 2013?”

  14. fromthemitten

    Most superstar hitters don’t win up coaching… they’ve made enough money where they can live comfortably. Rudy Jaromillo never reached the majors. Neither did James Rowson, their current hitting coach. Larry Rothschild, who I would argue was one of the best pitching coaches the Cubs have ever had, had a 5.40 ERA in his brief stint of the majors.

    Conversely, Ted Williams is one of the greatest hitters in MLB history and failed as a manager.

    To look at it this way: people like Rob Deer carved out decent careers in spite of his limited physical capabilities because of his approach at the plate whereas it came easier for superstar players. Even though he wasn’t a superstar, he can impart his knowledge on hitters who do have superstar talent further enhance them while also helping players with limited physical tools (Barney and Campana) to have an approach similar to his in order to get on base more often. The more I think about it the more I like this signing.