Minus a first base coach, the Cubs named their 2014 coaching staff for new manager Rick Renteria, keeping pitching coach Chris Bosio, bullpen coach Lester Strode, catching and strategy coach Mike Borzello, and staff assistant Franklin Font.
New to the Cubs dugout are bench coach Brandon Hyde, hitting coach Bill Mueller, third base and infield coach Gary Jones, assistant hitting coach Mike Brumley and quality assurance coach Jose Castro.
Hyde only spent one year behind the desk serving as the Cubs director of player development for over a year. The 40-year-old is no stranger to the dugout starting his coaching career back in 2002 at Long Beach State. After serving as a Class A hitting coach in the Marlins system in 2003-04, Hyde spent the next five season as a manager, leading AA Jacksonville to a Southern League title in 2009. He also managed the Mesa Solar Sox in 2009. Hyde has experience as a bench coach, spending a season and a half with Jack McKeon and the Marlins during 2010-11. Hyde played four seasons in the White Sox organization (catcher/first base) after being signed as an undrafted free agent in 1997. He joined the Cubs organization in Dec. of 2011 as the minor league field coordinator. With two years experience in the Cubs’ minors, Hyde knows the Cubs’ young prospects and will be a familiar face when the youngsters hit the Wrigley clubhouse. Hyde is also familiar with each players strengths and weaknesses, which will be invaluable to Renteria. Hyde replaces Jamie Quirk.
Former American League batting champ Bill Mueller has been named the team’s new hitting coach, replacing James Rowson. The 40-year-old almost four months as the Dodgers hitting coach in 2007 after Eddie Murray was hired. He worked in the Dodgers front office from 2006-13 (minus the hitting gig), most of that time as a special assistant to GM Ned Colletti. Mueller was a full-time scout for the Dodgers in 2013. A 15th round pick by the Giants in 1993, the infielder debuted in San Francisco in 1996 and spent five years with Giants, hitting .294/.383/.395 in 145 games in 1998. He was traded to the Cubs for Todd Worrell in Nov. 2000 and the Cubs shipped him back to the bay for Jeff Verpalncke in 2002. With the Cubs, Mueller played 173 games, hitting .277 but had an on-base percentage of .373, his career average. Mueller signed with Boston as a free agent (by some guys named Epstein and Hoyer) and promptly won the batting title hitting .326 with a .398 OBP. He played three season for Boston and finished his career as a Dodger, playing 32 games in 2006 before retting after the season. Even since the new front office was hired, they’ve been preaching quality at-bats and on-base percentage. Mueller has his work cut out for him as the NorthSiders have finished 28th the past two seasons in on-base percentage, his specialty as a MLB player. He’ll also need to improve the plate appearances of Starlin Castro and Anthony Rizzo, who both struggled in 2013.
Gary Jones is no stranger to Jed Hoyer and Jason McLeod as the Cubs’ new third base coach/infield coach worked with both in San Diego as the organization’s minor league infield coordinator in 2010-11. Jones’ held that position for the last seven years after 15 seasons as a manager in the minors for Oakland (8 years), Boston (3 years) and San Diego (4 years). He also spent one year as the A’s first base coach in 1998 and served as the Red Sox’s coordinator of minor league instruction during Epstein’s first year in Boston. Jones was originally signed by the Cubs as a free agent in 1982 and spent four seasons with Chicago and four more with the A’s, reaching AAA in 1987. In nearly 900 games playing primarily at second, he hit .283/.437/.370. His best season was in 1986 for AA Huntsville, batting .311/.464/.393 in 130 games with 34 stolen bases. The 53-year-old’s minor league development experience adds another voice in the dugout for the rush of young talent heading to Wrigley in the coming years. Jones replaces David Bell.
Former Chicago Cubs Mike Brumley (39 games in 1987) takes over for Rob Deer as the team’s assistant hitting coach. The 50-year-old was the Mariners first base coach the last four seasons and spent 1997-2009 with Seattle as a minor league manager, field coordinator and instructor. Brumley was the Red Sox 2nd round pick in 1983 but the Cubs acquired Brumley along with Dennis Eckersley for Bill Buckner in 1984 and then traded away the infielder with Keith Moreland to the Padres for Rich Gossage and Ray Hayward before the 1988 season. He played a career-high 92 games for Detroit in 1989 and also spent time with Seattle (1990), Boston (1991-92), Houston (1993, 1995) and Oakland (1994). Brumley played eight seasons with a lifetime slash of .206/.261/.272 in 295 games. Brumley is another coach that has years of experience working with young players.
The core of the Cubs pitching coach staff will remain together as Chris Bosio, Lester Strode and Mike Borzello are all returning.
Bosio returns for his third season after spending the first two with Dale Sveum. He also had big league coaching experience with a year in Tampa Bay in 2003 and an interim basis with Milwaukee in 2009. Bosio started his coaching career as a special assignment coach for Seattle before getting a job with Lou Pinella in Tampa. He coahed four years at two Wisconsin Colleges (Lawrence University and U of W—Oshkosh) before getting hired by the Reds as a AA pitching coach. He then joined the Brewers organization serving as their pitching coach at the major-league, AAA and AA levels. He also served as an advanced scout for two years. Its been a revolving door on the mound for the Cubs using 31 different arms in 2013 and 30 in 2012. Travis Wood and Jeff Samardzija are the only two starters to complete both seasons under Bosio while relief pitchers James Russell (122 IP) and Blake Parker (52.1 IP) are the top bullpen holdovers.
Strode has spent the past 26 seasons with the Cubs organization, starting his coaching career in 1989 as a pitching coach in the minors. The Cubs bullpen coach for the past seven years, Strode served as the club’s minor league pitching coordinator from 1996-2006. The 55-year-old was the Cubs pitching assistant in 1994-95 and was a minor league pitching coach from 1989-1993. Strode was the Royals fourth-round pick in 1980, spending nine seasons in the minors, including five in AAA but never made the majors. He pitched his final 18 minor league games for the Cubs AAA team in Iowa, and has been with the organization ever since.
After spending the past two seasons as the Cubs staff assistant, Borzello has the expanded role of catching and strategy coach. The 43-year-old worked extensively with Wellington Castillo during the 2013 season, one of the few bright spots for the Cubs and showed great development during the season before he was injured. Borzello was drafted by the Cardinals in 1991, playing four season with the Cardinals in 42 minor league career games. He began his coaching career with the Yankees and spent 12 years in the system as a batting practice coach and spent two years operating the radar gun and charting pitches. From 2008-11, he was the bullpen catcher for the Los Angles Dodgers.
Franklin Font returns for his 20th season with the Cubs, the last two at the major league level as a staff assistant. Font spent three seasons as the Cubs minor league infield coordinator. The Venezuelan native managed four seasons in the VSL (2002), DSL (2005-06), and the Cubs Rookie League in 2008. Font played six seasons in the Cubs minors, reaching AA before he retied in 2000. He spent 2001 as a staff assistant for Daytona. A Latin influence with years of minor league experience. You might be seeing a theme here.
Cuban native Jose Castro joins the team as the quality assurance coach. He has spent the past 25 years as a minor league hitting coordinator and hitting coach for Kansas City, Seattle, Florida, San Diego and Montreal organizations. Castro was the Phillies 27th round pick in 1977 out of Jackson High School in Miami. He played 14 seasons in the minors with a slash line of .275/.347/.403 in 1,416 games. Castro served as Seattle’s interim hitting coach in 2008 and managed AAA Tacoma for 28 games in 2010.
With Brandon Hyde heading to the bench, the Cubs promoted Jaron Madison as the new director of player development. Madison was hired in August of 2012 as the Cubs director of amateur scouting, the same position he held for the Padres the previous three years, working with McLeod and Hoyer. He spent two years as the St. Louis Cardinals assistant director of scouting and was the assistant to the director of scouting for San Diego from 2005-07. He started his professional baseball career as an associate area scout for the Padres in 2002 and then spent spent three years as an area scout for Pittsburgh covering Northern California, Northern Nevada and Hawaii. Madison oversaw the 2013 draft as the Cubs selected Kris Bryant in the first round.
When Theo Epstein left Boston there was an understanding he could not raid the Red Sox system and would only be able to take one employee with him, including none of the top-level employees in the department. That Red Sox employee was Matt Dorey, an area scout and one of the Red Sox’s top talent evaluators. Dorey spent the past two years as the Cubs’ regional crosschecker and will replace Madison as the Cubs director of amateur scouting. He will oversee the Cubs 2014 draft and the fourth overall pick. He served the Red Sox as the area scout for Louisiana and Texas after being the club’s Northwest scout in 2007, working with McLeod. He is credited with the Red Sox’s signing right-hander Anthony Ranaudo (sandwich pick, 2010), third baseman Garin Cecchini (2010 fourth-round), outfielder Kendrick Perkins (2010 sixth-round) and Lucas LeBlanc (2010 11th-round), a group in which Boston spent nearly $5 million.
Cubs GM Jed Hoyer was on 670 SCORE (Chicago radio station) on Saturday morning and addressed the coaching changes.
“We have one more position to add, but we are very happy with where we are, we think we added a lot of impact people, a lot of people with great coaching experience. One of the more important things for us was making sure we could keep our pitching infrastructure in place, with Chris Bosio, Lester Strode and Mike Borzello, I think those guys have done a really good job for us, we made a lot of pitchers better, and players love those guys. A big focus of our winter was making sure we could keep those guys, and we did.”
The Cubs have not set any deadline on when they would name a first base coach to replace Dave McKay, who took the same job with the Arizona Diamondbacks.