The Mets announced on Monday night that the club has relieved hitting coach Chili Davis and assistant hitting coach Tom Slater of their duties, effective immediately. The club has named Hugh Quattlebaum the team’s new hitting coach and Kevin Howard the new assistant hitting coach. Both will be in St. Louis on Tuesday.
Acting general manager Zack Scott said this decision was not made based on 23 games worth of production, but rather that the Mets needed coaches that understood “the process under the hood.”
“This is a really difficult decision to make," said Scott. “But the reason we felt like it was the right decision was, it's based more on kind of a vision for what we want our Major League hitting program to be. I'm not going to dive too deep into those details to reveal what that vision is necessarily, but there are certain things that you know.
“A lot of what I've spent my time doing since being here is to assess the process that's going on, to get to before games when guys are struggling, those types of things. I think our job is to support the players and put them in a position to succeed as a baseball operations group. We just felt like the players needed a different level of support and some different skills brought into the mix.”
Scott said that both Quattlebaum and Howard were around in Spring Training and made relationships with players both in regards to hitting and off the field. He feels confident that bringing these two coaches to the Major League level will have a long-term impact on the team and begin long-term sustainable success.
Both the new hitting coach and assistant will be with the team for the next six months -- through the end of the season -- but the Mets have not made a long-term commitment. After what Scott hopes is a long postseason run, the team will reassess its needs.
“This isn't about recent results, this is about the process behind the scenes,” said Scott. “And so just whether we were not hitting with runners in scoring position, or, you know, knocking 17 hits, or whatever it was that we had last night. I mean, it's not about that. It's too early to be overreacting to small samples of results. And the assessment for me, from doing a lot of research and observations of my own, was that we can be better. And this is a step towards that.”
Quattlebaum, 42, joined the Mets' organization this offseason as the Minor League director of hitting development. He had spent the previous three seasons with Seattle. Quattlebaum was the Mariners’ Minor League hitting coordinator in 2018-2019 and was the assistant hitting coach with the Major League team during 2020. Prior to working with the Mariners, he was coaching and consulting in Southern California. Quattlebaum was drafted by Detroit in the 25th round of the 2000 MLB Draft from Amherst College (MA). He spent four years in the Tigers' (2000-2002) and Orioles' (2003) Minor League systems.
Howard, 39, joined the Mets this year as the organization’s director of player development. He spent the previous six seasons in Cleveland’s organization, including 2019-2020 as the Minor League hitting coordinator. Howard played professionally for 12 seasons, playing in the Reds, Yankees, Phillies, Dodgers, Mariners, Padres, Blue Jays and Cardinals organizations before spending the final two years of his playing career in independent ball. He was originally drafted in the fifth round of the 2003 MLB Draft by Cincinnati. Howard earned a bachelor's degree in Business Management from the University of Miami where he played college baseball for three seasons, winning a national championship in 2001.
Davis was in his third season as the Mets' hitting coach and Slater was in his fourth season as the team’s assistant hitting coach.
Davis and Scott both worked together in the Red Sox organization -- Davis served as the hitting coach from 2014-2017 while Scott worked in the front office. Scott reiterated that he has a lot of respect for both Slater and Davis, and the history between them made this decision even more difficult.
“Those guys have worked their butts off, it's not about working hard,” said Scott. “It may seem early in the calendar, but part of the reason is we know there's some risk in making change. These are both two very well-liked baseball and good baseball men. There are really strong relationships with players, they like these guys. I know we know that there are some risks and making a change and disrupting what's been going on since Spring Training and beyond that in past seasons. But we felt like it was worth taking that risk in order to get to where we really want to be with our Major League hitting program.”