Former big league All-Star Mark Loretta, 47, gets his first shot at a big league coaching job on the heels of a run with the San Diego Padres front office.
As mentioned in last week’s article, Loretta will be Joe Maddon‘s third bench coach in as many seasons. Dave Martinez left the team after the 2017 season to take the reins as manager of the Washington Nationals and, now, Hyde heads to Baltimore.
In the run-up to Loretta’s hiring, literally nobody seemed to consider him a candidate, let alone a front-runner. More folks had their eye on the likes of Mark DeRosa, David Ross or even someone like John Farrell than a front office-type like Loretta.
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Loretta has spent the previous nine seasons in the Padres front office as a special assistant to baseball operations but also offers a little past coaching experience, as well. He coached the Israeli national baseball team during the 2013 World Baseball Classic qualifier. The team ultimately fell to Spain in an extra-inning affair, narrowingly missing out on the final spot in the Pool Finals.
The California native played 15 seasons in the Major Leagues primarily for the Milwaukee Brewers and the San Diego Padres, with brief detours in Houston, Boston and Los Angeles.
Looking back at his playing days
Loretta was drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers in the 1993 Draft and made his Major League debut for the team in 1995.
Primarily used as a utility man/spot starter during his tenure with Milwaukee, he got a much-deserved chance as a full-time starter after signing with the San Diego Padres in 2003 where he became one of the league’s better on-base/contact second basemen.
His best season came in 2004, when he finished ninth in the National League MVP voting, batting .335 with 16 home runs, 76 RBI and 208 hits in 154 games.
A two-time All-Star (2004, 2006), Loretta retired in 2009 at the age of 37 with a career .295 average and a .360 OBP.
Cubs hoping for some consistency moving forward
The hiring of Loretta by the Cubs acts as the final piece of what has been, once again, a flurry of offseason coaching replacements for the team.
Most recently, the team hired Tommy Hottovy as their new pitching coach, Anthony Iapoce as their new hitting coach and Terrmel Sledge as their new assistant hitting coach. This trio replaces the likes of Andy Haines, Chili Davis and Jim Hickey – all of whom moved on (through either their own choice or the organization’s) after last season.
While moves like bringing aboard Hottovy as the pitching coach is an interesting one, hiring Loretta seems like the most logical coaching move this offseason and should benefit the club immensely due to his resume of always being a low-strikeout/high-OBP player during his playing days.
That mentality and ideology is something that the Cubs desperately need, as seen during the team’s late 2018 downfall, and should help the club as a whole create more opportunities for getting on base, thus driving in a higher volume of run in 2019.