Earlier this afternoon, Phil Rogers of the Chicago Tribune reported that the Cubs had hired Rob Deer as a staff assistant. Past relationships have played a theme in many of the hirings in the Cubs organization. Theo Epstein brought on board Jed Hoyer as GM from their days in Boston. The front office duo also worked to bring over Anthony Rizzo, a prospect with history with both executives in Boston and San Diego respectively.
Manager Dale Sveum and pitching coach Chris Bosio have past history as both teammates and coaching staff colleagues for the Brewers. With the hire of Deer, there is now a third former Brewer player to join the staff. The former Milwaukee slugger will work as a staff assistant regarding hitting. To be clear, hitting coach James Rowson, who took over for the fired Rudy Jaramillo in June of 2012, will keep his job. Deer will assist Rowson, but the former Brewer will not be dressed in uniform during games.
Deer’s coaching resume basically consists of several years of being a roving hitting instructor for the Padres (yet another connection, this time with Hoyer). His time with San Diego includes Rizzo’s 2011 season with the Padres. Deer consistently hit 20+ home runs during the bulk of his 12 year career, the majority of which was spent in the American League.
However, Deer is probably more well known for holding the AL strikeouts in a season record with 186 in 1987, which was broken only a few years ago. In fact, Deer led the league in strikeouts four times in his career. In every season in which Deer recorded double digit home runs, the flip side of the coin were strikeout totals of 120+ plus, averaging 157.6 strikeouts per season over a nine year stretch. With those dubious totals in mind, the decision to hire Deer as a hitting assistant is an interesting one, considering the current front office’s disdain for the most unproductive out form in the game of baseball. On top of that, we are talking about a Cubs offense that has struck out over 1,200 times in each of the past three seasons. Compare that to the 1,100 and less (978 by the Cardinals in 2011) of the past three World Series winners during that same span, and it does not take much to realize that area is one this team’s offense needs to work on cutting down.
To be fair, Deer was able to draw his share of walks, which is typically an inversely proportional statistic compared to strikeouts. While Deer’s strike outs to walks ratio does not compare to the likes of an Adam Dunn, it will be interesting to see how his influence will impact the 2013 Cubs offense under Rowson.