Cubs continue coaching carousel with more sweeping changes

Cubs continue coaching carousel with more sweeping changes

The Cubs coaching staff will have a completely different look in 2018.

After well-respected pitching coach Chris Bosio was let go last weekend and assistant hitting coach Eric Hinske moved west to the Los Angeles Angels, the Cubs announced Thursday afternoon they also are parting ways with hitting coach John Mallee and third base coach Gary Jones.

In their place: Chili Davis (hitting coach), Andy Haines (assistant hitting coach) and Brian Butterfield (third base coach). 

The Cubs have not announced the rest of the coaching staff and have still not made a final decision regarding Jim Hickey, who interviewed for the pitching coach position earlier this week.

Less than a week ago, Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein said manager Joe Maddon will have every coach back that he wants to return. Before the Cubs were knocked out of the playoffs, Maddon himself said he expects all his coaches back and said Thursday on a conference call he and the Cubs weren't ready to make any final decisions on the coach staff at that time.

Davis has spent the last six seasons working as a hitting coach, first in Oakland from 2012-14 and then in Boston from 2015-17, where the Red Sox led all of baseball in runs and on-base percentage.

Davis turns 58 in January and played 19 years in the big leagues, posting a .360 on-base percentage and .811 OPS while finishing among Top 25 MVP finalists three times and earning three trips to the All-Star Game.

Maddon believes Davis will help the Cubs' young hitters develop more, particularly situationally, an area the Cubs struggled through all of 2017 and particularly in the postseason against the elite pitching of the Nationals and Dodgers.

Butterfield has spent 17 years as a third-base coach, most recently with the Red Sox from 2013 through the 2017 season. He also worked in the same capacity with the Toronto Blue Jays and was also a bench coach in Toronto for two seasons in addition to two years as a first-base coach with the New York Yankees.

Haines — an Eastern Illinois University product — was promoted from within the Cubs organization, where he's served as the minor-league hitting coordinator the last two seasons.

Mallee is a Chicago native who has been the Cubs hitting coach the last three seasons as the team has made it to three straight National League Championship Series and built a foundation of elite young position players. Hinske served as Mallee's assistant all three years, as well.

Jones has been the third-base coach since 2014.

Cubs reportedly agree to deal with reliever Jeremy Jeffress

Cubs reportedly agree to deal with reliever Jeremy Jeffress

The Cubs bullpen is undergoing an overhaul with Steve Cishek and Brandon Kintzler already heading to other teams and perhaps more changes coming.

One incoming change is apparently Jeremy Jeffress. According to reports, the Cubs have agreed to a one-year deal with the 32-year-old reliever.

Jeffress was drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers in the first round back in 2006 and has had three stints with the team since. He made his MLB debut with the Brewers in 2010, but left the team the following offseason as part of the Zack Greinke trade with the Kansas City Royals.

Years later, he re-signed with the Brewers in 2014. The Brewers then dealt him to the Texas Rangers in the middle of the 2016 season, only to re-acquire him from Texas the following trade deadline.

In his most recent stint with the Brewers, Jeffress was streaky. He was an all-star in 2018 (1.29 ERA, 89 strikeouts, 27 walks in 76 2/3 innings), but had an ERA north of five in 2019. That 2018 season was the best of his career in many ways so the Cubs will be hoping to recreate some of that magic as opposed to his lackluster 2019.

Either way, the right-hander gives the Cubs a much-needed veteran presence in the bullpen after the losses of Cishek, Kintzler and possibly Pedro Strop, who is still a free agent.

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Former Cubs manager Dusty Baker reportedly to take Houston Astros job

Former Cubs manager Dusty Baker reportedly to take Houston Astros job

The Houston Astros are going through one of the more unusual offseasons in recent baseball history, but they reportedly have a man picked out to the guide team out of it.

According to USA Today’s Bob Nightengale, the Astros have pegged Dusty Baker to be the team’s next manager. Baker takes over after A.J. Hinch was unceremoniously fired following details of the sign-stealing investigation came out.

Baker, 70, was the Cubs manager from 2003-2006. He guided the North Siders to the 2003 NLCS before the team’s infamous collapse to the Marlins in that series.

Baker last managed the Washington Nationals in 2016 and 2017. The Nationals won the NL East both years, but were bounced out in the NLDS each postseason.

In the Astros, Baker takes over a team that has won more than 100 games each of the past three seasons, including winning the 2017 World Series and making it to the 2019 World Series. 

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