With David Ross installed as the new manager, the Chicago Cubs must now round out his coaching staff, with plenty of turnover anticipated.
Even before the Chicago Cubs introduced David Ross as their newest manager, we knew the coaching staff could see a great deal of change. Just days after Ross’ introductory press conference, we’ve already seen a few changes – with Tim Buss and Brian Butterfield joining former Cubs hitting coach John Mallee and Joe Maddon with the Los Angeles Angels.
The Cubs have had Mallee, Chili Davis and Anthony Iapoce as hitting coaches over the last three years. Pitching coaches included the likes of Chris Bosio, Jim Hickey and Tommy Hottovy. If nothing else, there has been a lack of consistency and continuity in two key roles for the team.
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Given that Ross is familiar with a lot of the members of the current Cub’ staff, having played for the team and working in the front office for the last three years, he may want to rely on some carryover.
Ross mentioned during his introductory press conference that he wants his bench coach to be more experienced than him until he gets his feet under him. The indication is that it would be somebody who has managed before and has lots of experience behind the bench.
Ron Washington is one name that comes to mind, as is John Farrell. Farrell managed the Boston Red Sox when Ross was a player in Boston, winning a World Series. Farrell’s son, Luke, played for the Cubs in 2018 and Farrell has worked as a scout since getting fired by the Red Sox after the 2017 season.
Mark Loretta, the Cubs’ bench coach in 2019, may not have the experience that Ross is looking for in the position. Loretta interviewed for the Padres’ managerial opening before Jayce Tingler was selected for the job and, given the lack of accountability the team experienced last year, Chicago would likely move on regardless.
Ross is familiar with Hottovy, as he was the run-prevention coordinator when Ross played for the Cubs. Now, Chicago will need to replace Butterfield and Buss, the latter of whom had been with the team since 2001.
Iapoce is respected by Cubs’ hitters, having worked with them in the minor leagues from 2013-15 as a special assistant to the general manager. It makes sense to keep Iapoce around for 2020, given the relationship Cubs hitters have with Iapoce and for consistency’s sake.
The Cubs may as well keep Hottovy around as well. Consistency is a big thing when it comes to coaching, and if the Cubs keep changing coaches around the field it’ll be a lot more difficult for the team to have consistent success.
Several Cubs pitchers, most notably Yu Darvish, took strides forward last year under Hottovy. Given how critical comfort is for the right-hander, it’s hard to envision a change here.
Lester Strode, the bullpen coach since 2007, will most likely stay on staff, as I’m pretty sure he sleeps on the bullpen mound at this point. Ross is obviously familiar with him, having warmed up in the bullpen prior to games.
The big name to watch is Will Venable. Venable interviewed for the Cubs job before it went to Ross, and he has also interviewed for the opening with the Giants.
Venable is well regarded around baseball as a future manager, and if the Cubs can keep him around as first base coach, or perhaps more, perhaps maybe the new third base coach with Butterfield leaving? Keeping him on staff should be seen as a major win for Ross.