According to Andrew Baggarly of the Mercury News and internet, the Giants have interviewed Red Sox hitting coach and old friend Chili Davis for ... something. It’s safe to assume that it’s for the same position he had in Boston, even if that position isn’t technically open in San Francisco.
Davis has been a hitting coach for the last six seasons, starting in 2012 with the A’s and moving to the Red Sox in 2015. As soon as news broke that the Padres were interviewing Davis, I felt a twinge of jealousy. I grew up watching him. I had his name on my Atari-sponsored 25th anniversary bat, dang it. He should come here and ... well, I wasn’t sure about that last part yet.
Baggarly suggests that Davis taking over as the hitting coach doesn’t have to mean the Giants will fire Meulens, though.
Indications are that the Giants see the need to overhaul their hitting instruction, both at the major league and minor league levels, but they also see Meulens as an astute member of their organization that they wish to retain. It’s possible that Meulens could be shifted to another position on the major league staff, such as bench coach, and be groomed as a potential successor after 2019 when Bochy’s contract expires.
What would that mean for Ron Wotus? Possibly another spot in the organization, whether it’s in the front office or not. It could also mean a raw deal. I haven’t talked to a single person who is unimpressed with Meulens as a human being and baseball mind, so it would make sense that the Giants want to keep him around, just as it would make sense to get a fresh voice in as the hitting coach for a mostly unchanging group of hitters.
Davis was one of the most productive switch-hitters in baseball history, with 350 career home runs over 19 seasons. He came up in 1981 and made two All-Star teams with the Giants before leaving as a free agent after the 1987 season. I remember being mad at the organization for not keeping him, but ...
... I’m not sure sure if they had a choice. He might have wanted out of Candlestick, and, buddy, I don’t blame him.
While with the A’s, Davis was present for the emergence of Josh Donaldson, as well as the start of Josh Reddick’s production. With the Red Sox, he was there for the genesis of the absurdly talented young outfield of Mookie Betts, Jackie Bradley, Jr., and Andrew Benintendi. It’s always tricky to point to a hitting coach and say he’s responsible for this guy’s successes and that guy’s failures, but it’s not as if he hasn’t watched hitters get better under his watch.
On the other hand, when you factor in expectations and ballpark, the Red Sox might have been the most disappointing home run team in the majors this year. Yes, even worse than the Giants when you consider Fenway vs. AT&T Park. The Red Sox hit just 168 home runs this year, which was 40 more than the Giants, but still dead last in the American League. So don’t expect a panacea.
Still, the Giants are apparently looking to make a change with their coaching staff, and Davis is certainly a familiar name. Who would be happy with this move?
Old people, mostly. The kind of old people who remembered Davis and were always annoyed that he got away.
Davis’ Wikipedia page says that he got the nickname “Chili” as a kid because of the teasing that followed a particularly gnarly bowl cut. Which means I got some bad news for my dude in the sunglasses there. He’s been living a lie without his true nickname for decades.
Anyway, this is all premature, but if you were worried that the Giants were going to forge ahead with the same ol’ coaching staff, there are indications that won’t be the case. And an old friend might be there to help.