Cubs

Cubs: The rundown on the minor-league staff

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Cubs: The rundown on the minor-league staff

The Cubs are betting big on this youth movement, the idea of player development. So even if these names dont jump out into headlines, they will be doing important work behind the scenes.
Whether thats helping Brett Jackson with his two-strike approach at Triple-A Iowa, or guiding Arodys Vizcaino as he recovers from Tommy John surgery in Des Moines, there needs to be some finishing touches.
At some point next year, Cubs fans should be able to drive to Class-A Kane County and see some of the prospects Albert Almora and Jorge Soler who are supposed to be foundation pieces in Theo Epsteins rebuilding project.
Heres a look at the minor-league staff the Cubs unveiled on Tuesday:
Triple-A IowaMarty Pevey (manager)Mike Mason (pitching coach)Brian Harper (hitting coach)Nick Frangella (athletic trainer)Ed Kohl (strength coach)
Note: Pevey had worked as the organizations catching coordinator for the past three seasons, running his experience to almost three decades in professional baseball. Harper who won a World Series ring with the 1991 Minnesota Twins moves up a level after managing at Double-A Tennessee and Class-A Daytona.
Double-A TennesseeBuddy Bailey (manager)Jeff Fassero (pitching coach)Desi Wilson (hitting coach)Scott Barringer (athletic trainer)Ryan Clausen (strength coach)
Note: This will be Baileys 25th year as a manager in the minors. Fassero pitched for nine teams in the big leagues and went 121-124 with a 4.11 ERA during his 16-year career. Look for top prospect Javier Baez to be in Tennessee by the second half of next season if he continues on this fast track.
Class-A DaytonaDave Keller (manager)Storm Davis (pitching coach)Mariano Duncan (hitting coach)Peter Fagan (athletic trainer)
Note: Keller has been with the organization for almost a decade, earning a good reputation as a hitting instructor. Davis who won 113 games during his 13-year career in the big leagues is a new hire. He spent the last two seasons as the pitching coach at Class-A Hickory, an affiliate of the Texas Rangers. Before that, he helped The Bolles School in Jacksonville, Fla., win back-to-back state titles in 2009 and 2010.
Class-A Kane CountyMark Johnson (manager)Ron Villone (pitching coach)Tom Beyers (hitting coach)Shane Nelson (athletic trainer)
Note: Johnson, the former White Sox catcher, gets bumped up after managing two seasons at Class-A Boise. Villone pitched for 12 teams in the majors, and he could be working with some of the more interesting arms in the system, Pierce Johnson and Dillon Maples, trying to help get them to that level. On some nights, it could be worth sitting through the traffic to get to Geneva.
Class-A BoiseGary Van Tol (manager)David Rosario (pitching coach)Bill Buckner (hitting coach)Jonathan Fierro (athletic trainer)
Note: After five seasons as a volunteer coach and serving as an associate scout, Van Tol has been elevated. He has extensive experience in the college game after coaching at Gonzaga University and the University of Portland. Buckner the Curb Your Enthusiasm guest star returns for his second season on the job.
Mesa (Rookie)Bobby Mitchell (manager)Anderson Tavares (pitching coach)Rick Tronerud (rehab pitching coordinator)Ricardo Medina, Jimmy Gonzalez (hitting coaches) Steve Melendez (athletic trainer) Yi-Chiang Chang (rehab strength coach)
Dominican (Rookie)Yudith Ozorio (manager) Leo Hernandez (pitching coach)Oscar Bernard (hitting coach) Wilkin Perez (athletic trainer)
Note: The Cubs will only have one Dominican team next season. Osmin Melendez will manage the Venezuelan Cubs, a newly created team, with Franklin Blanco working as the hitting coach.
Tim Cossins who has spent the past 10 seasons in the Miami Marlins organization will help oversee it all as the minor-league field coordinator. The Marlins draw far more attention for their fire sales, but they have a good job developing impact players like Giancarlo Stanton.
The Cubs consider Derek Johnson to be a signature hire. Johnson had resisted other chances to leave Vanderbilt University, where he coached several top prospects, including future Tampa Bay Rays ace David Price, the American Leagues Cy Young Award winner in 2012. As the new minor-league pitching coordinator, Johnson will try to address the systems biggest weakness the lack of impact arms.
Anthony Iapoce, a special assistant in player development, will oversee the minor-league hitting program while working on other projects within the organization. The last three seasons he worked as a roving hitting coordinator for the Toronto Blue Jays.
Carmelo Martinez, whos been a presence for the Cubs in Latin America, becomes the hitting coordinator for Class-A, Rookie League and Dominican League teams. Jose Flores joins the organization as the minor-league infield coordinator. Lee Tinsley is back for his third year as the outfieldbaserunning coordinator. Doug Jarrow (strength and conditioning), Justin Sharpe (athletic training) and Chuck Baughman (rehabilitation) also return as coordinators.
There are roughly two months left until pitchers and catcher report to Arizona.

Why Cubs core's desire to sign extensions might not matter anymore

Why Cubs core's desire to sign extensions might not matter anymore

The day after Kris Bryant suggested that first-time fatherhood and the dramatic reality of world events have changed how he looks at his future with the Cubs, general manager Jed Hoyer outlined why it might be all but moot.

Setting aside the fact that the Cubs aren’t focusing on contract extensions with anyone at this time of health and economic turmoil, the volatility and unpredictability of a raging COVID-19 pandemic in this country and its economic fallout have thrown even mid-range and long-term roster plans into chaos.

“This is without question the most difficult time we’ve ever had as far as projecting those things,” Hoyer said. “All season in projecting this year, you weren’t sure how many games we were going to get in. Projecting next season obviously has challenges, and who knows where the country’s going to be and the economy’s going to be.”

Bryant, a three-time All-Star and former MVP, is eligible for free agency after next season. He and the club have not engaged in extension talks for three years. And those gained little traction while it has looked increasingly likely since then that Bryant’s agent, Scott Boras, would eventually take his star client to market — making Bryant a widely circulated name in trade talks all winter.

MORE: Scott Boras: Why Kris Bryant's free agency won't be impacted by economic crisis

The Cubs instead focused last winter on talks with All-Star shortstop Javy Báez, making “good” or little progress depending on which side you talked to on a given day — until the pandemic shut down everything in March.

Báez, Anthony Rizzo and Kyle Schwarber are both also eligible for free agency after next season, with All-Star catcher Willson Contreras right behind them a year later.

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None has a multiyear contract, and exactly what the Cubs are willing to do about that even if MLB pulls off its 60-game plan this year is hard for even the team’s front office executives to know without knowing how hard the pandemic will continue to hammer America’s health and financial well-being into the winter and next year.

Even with a vaccine and treatments by then, what will job markets look like? The economy at large? The economy of sports? Will anyone want to gather with 40,000 others in a stadium to watch a game anytime soon?

And even if anyone could answer all those questions, who can be sure how the domino effect will impact salary markets for athletes?

“There’s no doubt that forecasting going forward is now much more challenging from a financial standpoint,” Hoyer said. “But that’s league-wide. Anyone that says they have a feel for where the nation’s economy and where the pandemic is come next April is lying.”

The Cubs front office already was in a tenuous place financially, its payroll budget stretched past its limit and a threat to exceed MLB’s luxury tax threshold for a second consecutive season.

And after a quick playoff exit in 2018 followed by the disappointment of missing the playoffs in 2019, every player on the roster was in play for a possible trade over the winter — and even more so at this season’s trade deadline without a strong start to the season.

Now what?

For starters, forget about dumping short-term assets or big contracts for anything of value from somebody’s farm system. Even if baseball can get to this year’s Aug. 31 trade deadline with a league intact and playing, nobody is predicting more than small level trades at that point — certainly not anything close to a blockbuster.

After that, it may not get any clearer for the sport in general, much less the Cubs with their roster and contract dilemmas.

“We have a lot of conversations about it internally, both within the baseball side and then with the business side as well,” Hoyer said. “But it’s going to take a long time and probably some sort of macro things happening for us to really have a good feel for where we’re going to be in ’21 and beyond.”

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Cubs GM Jed Hoyer: Everyone in MLB has to take COVID-19 'equally' serious

Cubs GM Jed Hoyer: Everyone in MLB has to take COVID-19 'equally' serious

Veteran umpire Joe West made waves Tuesday downplaying the severity of COVID-19 in an interview with The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal. 

“I don’t believe in my heart that all these deaths have been from the coronavirus," West said. "I believe it may have contributed to some of the deaths.”

As far as the Cubs are concerned, those comments don’t represent how to treat the virus. In fact, they’ve gone out of their way to ensure everyone treats it with equal severity.

“That’s one of the things we've really tried internally to instill in our players and our coaches,” Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer said Tuesday, “[that] everyone here has to take it equally [serious].”

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Hoyer noted like the world, MLB isn’t immune to people having different viewpoints on the virus — those who show concern and those who don’t. This echoes comments made by manager David Ross earlier on Tuesday, and Hoyer said those he’s talked to with the Cubs don’t feel the same way as West.

The Cubs had an up close and personal look at pitching coach Tommy Hottovy’s battle with COVID-19 during baseball’s shutdown. It took the 38-year-old former big leaguer 30 harrowing days to test negative, and in the past week many Cubs have said watching him go through that hit home. 

“When you get a 38-year-old guy in wonderful health and he talks about his challenges with it,” Hoyer said, “I think that it takes away some of those different viewpoints.”

To ensure everyone stays safe and puts the league in the best position to complete a season, MLB needs strict adherence to its protocols.

“I think that's one of our goals and one of the things that we feel is vital is that we have to make sure everyone views this the same way, because we can't have a subset of people within our group that don't view it with the same severity,” Hoyer said.

“That’s not gonna work. We're not gonna be successful."

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