The man known affectionately as the Wizard of Boz ambles about with a noticeable hitch, the product of equal parts injury and weight of acquired knowledge from a life spent in the game. Chris Bosio has been tasked with grooming the Cubs’ staff over these last five seasons and he’s seen a pretty motley crew in that time. Long is the list of castoffs who’ve made their way to the yellowed brick of Wrigley Field to learn from the coach known for getting the most out of his pitchers.
From the sign-and-flip projects of his early tenure in Chicago to the lights-out aces of late, Boz has the patient eye to pick up on a pitcher’s nuances and the gruff demeanor to ensure his voice is heard. He’s also got the pedigree, having spent a decade in the bigs with the Brewers and Mariners, even logging a no-hitter for Seattle in 1993. As such, the man is a walking confluence of the Cubs’ philosophy of combining firsthand knowledge with data-driven observations.
One of Bosio’s newest charges is Eddie Butler, the righty who came over from Colorado in exchange for James Farris. A rapid riser through the Rockies organization, the hype finally caught up with Butler as he reached the majors. Some numbers went up, others dropped, both in the wrong direction.
His usage of the two-seam fastball fluctuated while his slider and curve got more play. But the changeup, a pitch that looked during Butler’s prospect days as though it had potential to be a devastating calling card, had dropped off appreciably.
While there’s no magic bullet, no pearl of wisdom that can turn a pitcher’s outlook from night to day, it’s certainly possible for a coach to hold up a lamp to brighten the path while they wait for sun-up. And with Spring Training dawning, we may be seeing another example of Bosio’s ability to work with reclamation projects.
@CubsDen Eddie Butler said Bosio told him to go back to his old windup. He found his movement on his pitches today in a bullpen…
— Ryan Cox (@CoxRyan89) February 13, 2017
It can’t be that easy, right? I mean, can you imagine how bad it’d look for the Rox if they DFA’d a once-promising pitcher only to see him blossom following a tweak just a few days into his time with the Cubs? Now, it’s important to note that this is just a bit of hearsay that stems from the results of a bullpen session in mid-February, so we need to put it in perspective before jumping to conclusions.
Of course, that perspective includes several other success stories. And it’s not as if Butler is a complete nobody who would just be coming out of nowhere. I’d be lyin’ if I told you I put too much stock in the report above, but I don’t think it’s a strawman either. So will Butler rediscover his old form and serve up a productive season in 2017?
Only one way to find out.