Cubs: Another offseason brings yet another hitting coach shakeup
By Jake Misener
If you’re someone who deeply values job security, it’s safe to say hitting coach of the Chicago Cubs isn’t the position for you. In what’s become an annual tradition, the North Siders are parting ways with their hitting coach, making it 14 individuals to hold the position since 2012.
The latest casualty, former Tampa Bay minor league hitting coordinator Greg Brown, was offered an opportunity to stay in the organization, but decided to pursue external options. Given the boot less than a year after being hired, he’ll be replaced by Cubs minor league hitting coordinator Dustin Kelly.
Brown told the Sun-Times earlier this year that the lockout made his job particularly challenging, with an abbreviated spring training and no real time to get to know guys before diving into work which, as anyone who’s familiar with the game understands, can include changing player’s routines and approach at the plate which can be uncomfortable, even with a good relationship in place.
"“It’s not going to work out for every player to have their career years [the same season],” Brown said. “And if they do, we’ll probably win the championship that time. But when it comes down to being able to set the expectations and the standards in which we’re trying to achieve, well, I think that’s been done in Year 1. And I think that’s a success.”"
The offense saw some positives this year, including breakout performances from Ian Happ and Nico Hoerner, but, as a whole, the Cubs once again struggled. Now, dropping the entire basket of blame on Brown’s doorstep is hardly fair given the roster construction and its apparently lack of star power (or much power of any variety, for that matter), but the outcome is the same regardless.
Cubs have improvements to make at the plate – to say the least
Chicago ranked 17th in the league in both OPS and OBP, while checking in at 19th in both slugging percentage and batting average. The team really struggled with runners in scoring position, evidenced by a batting average in such situations that ranked worse than all but two teams in Major League Baseball this season.
As for Kelly, he’s spent the last couple years in the organization and prior to that, worked in the Dodgers’ minor league system. It stands to reason he’ll have a vastly more talented roster and the opportunity to work with some of the prospects who stand to make their big league debuts in 2023.
So, once again, it’s time to turn the page and see if a new voice can bring change to the offense. Here’s to hoping this ends the streak of endless turnover in the role but, at this point, I’m not holding my breath.