As meticulous as promised, first-year Cubs manager Craig Counsell took his time when assessing his coaching staff for the 2024 season. Unveiled on Tuesday, it's a mix of familiar faces and new names, including a former Cubs first-round pick as the team's new bench coach.
Cubs bring back a former first-rounder as their new bench coach
Ryan Flaherty, Chicago's first-round selection in the 2008 MLB Draft, joins the staff as Counsell's right-hand man, replacing former Cubs bench coach Andy Green, who joined the Mets front office this offseason. Not only does Flaherty have that prior connection to the organization - he was also a college teammate of Chicago GM Carter Hawkins at Vanderbilt.
"He understands the game on a lot of different levels. He understands the newer aspects of the game, but also can speak to the older, more nuanced aspects of the game. I think he just fits really well in a role like this bench coach role. Add to that, the opportunity to learn under a guy like Counsell, and it was a really good opportunity for him as well."- Carter Hawkins, via MLB.com
Flaherty served, like Green, as the Padres bench coach prior to coming to Chicago - and he'll now get the chance to learn under one of the best managers in the game in Counsell. Among the other new faces joining him are bullpen coach Darren Holmes and Mark Strittmatter, the team's new Major League field coordinator.
Strittmatter will replace Craig Driver, who was dismissed at the end of the 2023 season. It's not all new faces, though. Mike Napoli is back as the first base coach and Willie Harris and his unmatched shoe game will handle third base duties. Pitching coach Tommy Hottovy and assistant pitching coach Daniel Moskos return to head up the arms and hitting coach Dustin Kelly - a longtime favorite of Cody Bellinger - is also back.
Another interesting wrinkle is the return of former Cubs hitting coach John Mallee, who will serve as Kelly's assistant hitting coach in 2024 after working at Triple-A Iowa last season. Mallee, if you'll recall, was the team's lead hitting coach during the team's 2015-2017 heyday - then held roles with the Phillies and Angels before returning to the Cubs organization.
With the roster as-is, Counsell and this group have their work cut out for them. But with the majority of the free agent market yet to move, you can bet the club will look quite different come mid-February when everyone starts getting to work in Arizona.