David Ross acknowledged during his introductory press conference that he was going to need plenty of help from his coaching staff as he learns the ropes as a rookie manager. That means replacing several members of Joe Maddon’s staff, like third base coach Brian Butterfield and bullpen coach Lester Strode, while retaining several others. As Patrick Mooney reported for The Athletic, the Cubs are expected to bring back ($) pitching coach Tommy Hottovy, hitting coach Anthony Iapoce, and catching/strategy coach Mike Borzello in the same roles next season.
No surprises there, though there were some calls for the peanut gallery to make changes at the hitting and pitching positions for the fourth consecutive season. Borzello has been a steadying force since joining the Cubs in 2011 after stints as the Yankees’ bullpen catcher and Dodgers’ catching instructor. He was responsible for teaching Kenley Jansen the cutter and has also worked to improve the mechanics and approaches of several Cubs pitchers over the years.
When Hottovy was serving as the team’s run-prevention coordinator, he’d work closely with Borzello to establish various defensive strategies and break down scouting reports. The two continued that rapport once Hottovy was promoted to pitching coach last season and Borzello had “associate pitching coach” added to his title. Though the staff struggled at times, their work paid off in the form of several young pitchers exceeding expectations out of the bullpen.
Iapoce was hired in a front office capacity a few years ago before leaving to become the Rangers’ hitting coach and then returning to Chicago in that same role. The Cubs’ performance at the plate is what led to some thinking yet another new voice was needed, but there’s a point at which you have to value continuity. Having a little diversity in the hitters on the roster doesn’t hurt, either.
The Cubs have also hired former Phillies pitching coach Chris Young to replace Strode, who was offered another “prominent” role in the organization, and have interviewed former Padres manager Andy Green for the bench coach spot. Mark Loretta is reportedly still in the running to return, but that sure doesn’t seem likely. Another name no longer in the mix is John Farrell, whose ties to Ross and the Cubs made him seem like an early favorite.
In another less heralded move, the Cubs will be replacing Chris Denorfia as quality assurance coach. If you’re adept at assuring quality, there should be applications online shortly.