Friday afternoon news dumps are typically rife with bad news, because companies can float stuff out there when no one is really paying attention. The opposite was true for the Cubs, who announced several minor league coaching hires as their organizational overhaul moves forward.
The initial series of moves consisted primarily of reorganizing current employees and establishing roles for pitching and hitting director. Their first big hire from outside the system was former A’s assistant GM Dan Kantrovitz, who was named VP of scouting and given the responsibility of overseeing the draft. This latest round of hires includes several new minor league coaches from outside the system to help beef up hitting instruction and pitching and data analysis.
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) November 22, 2019
While most fans are unlikely to be familiar with most or all of the names on this list, they serve as a signal of the front office’s intent to further push the organization’s player development philosophy in a new direction. Theo Epstein lamented how they fell into a “winner’s trap” that included sticking with the same old methods, so now they hope to move forward with an even more analytical approach.
The front office may not have been able to pry Kyle Boddy away from Driveline, but new coordinator of pitching development Casey Jacobson is one of Boddy’s protégés. Between these efforts and hiring of new director of hitting Justin Stone, the Cubs are trending closer to the path of “complete overhaul” than “tinkering around the edges.”
The need for such an overhaul should come as no surprise. The Cubs have failed to develop any impactful position-player talent outside of the first round of the draft, which would be a larger problem if it wasn’t overshadowed by their failure to develop pitching talent at all. The “Cubs Way” has clearly stalled out and the changes we’ve seen since the end of the season are an admission that major changes were necessary.
Of note, Sahadev Sharma tweeted that all the hires on the hitting side of things were made by Stone, who has been given the authority to rework an offensive philosophy that has been exposed over the last few seasons. This glut of hires, Stone’s influence in them, and the creation of a wide variety of new development-focused positions throughout the organization is a continuation of an offseason of necessary change on the player-development side.
Time will tell what other changes await us on that side of the organization, but the fact that the front office is acknowledging the need for change should be a relief. Over the past few summers, the Cubs have gone from three coaches at the lower affiliates to four coaches, a trainer, one tech guy, and a strength and conditioning coach. Adding a fifth coach with a tech background is another way to play catch-up to other organizations and ensure a cohesive philosophical application throughout the system.
The Cubs did say in their press release that they would announce the rest of the coaching, coordinator, and manager assignments for the minors at a later date. That could mean parting with some familiar faces, though there’s something to said for continuity even as other major changes are taking place all around.
Expect to hear more about the thinking behind these moves and some specifics of exactly how the new philosophies will be implemented when Cubs Convention rolls around in January.
Ryan Thomure contributed heavily to this report
I am extremely honored and proud for the opportunity to work for this organization. First class from the top down, and I can’t wait to get started. It has been a dream of mine to work in baseball for a while now, and with that being said…
LET’S GOOOOOOOO!! https://t.co/cAKQIRGpLb
— Rachel Folden (@FoldenFastpitch) November 22, 2019