Welcome to the fourth installment of our In The Dugout series. Today we focus on the two men in charge of righting the struggling offense from a year ago, hitting coach Bill Mueller and assistant hitting coach Mike Brumley. Both coaches, similar to the new base coaches, are making a return to Chicago where each spent some time with the Cubs.
Bill Mueller is yet another name to join the Cubs with ties to Theo Epstein. Mueller’s career began with the San Francisco Giants after being drafted in the 15th round of the 1993 MLB draft. After debuting with the low A affiliate Everett Giants, Mueller wasted no time moving through the Giants farm system. On April 18, 1996, Mueller made his Major League debut. Coincidentally it was against the Cubs as a pinch hitter. He remained a regular at third base for the most part of five years before being traded to the Cubs prior to the 2001 season.
Mueller spent only one season with the Cubs, and was then dealt back to the Giants the following season. He was then signed by the Boston Red Sox before the 2003 season. Mueller spent three seasons with the Red Sox, and in his first year won the AL batting title with a .326 average. He also put up career-highs in home runs (19) and doubles (45). While it was a career year, Mueller was a very consistent hitter, batting between .290-.295 in five of his ten major league seasons.
In 2006 Mueller was reunited with former teammate Nomar Garciaparra, but it was short-lived, as he played in only 32 games before needing his third knee surgery. It turned out to be career-ending, as doctors were unable to find a procedure to repair the deteriorating condition he suffered from. Following that season after announcing his retirement, Mueller became a special assistant to the GM. In 2007 after Eddie Murray was fired, Mueller moved down to the field as the interim hitting coach. He held that role till the end of the season, then returning to the front office as the special assistant to Ned Colletti once again. On November 22nd, the Cubs named Mueller their hitting coach under new manager Rick Renteria.
Assisting Mueller will be another former Cub, Mike Brumley. Brumley spent his first year in the majors with the Cubs in 1987. Brumley played for six teams over an eight year career, playing every position but pitcher and catcher. Brumley was a base coach for the Seattle Mariners from 2010 through 2013.
The job these two men have in front of them can not be overstated. The Cubs finished in the bottom third of the National League in most statistical categories. Following the decline of Starlin Castro and the struggles of Anthony Rizzo, the Cubs need drastic improvement offensively. Rome wasn’t built in a day, but the Cubs need to lay some marble foundation this season, and Mueller and Brumley will be the men to help do so.
Next week we finish up our In The Dugout series with the man in charge, Cubs’ first-year manager Rick Renteria. Keep following Cubbies Crib for all Cubs news, and remember, Spring Training is right around the corner.