Cubs

Cubs reportedly hire Chris Young as bullpen coach, the first addition to David Ross' staff

Cubs reportedly hire Chris Young as bullpen coach, the first addition to David Ross' staff

The Cubs have reportedly made their first new hire for David Ross' coaching staff.

Former Phillies pitching coach Chris Young has been hired as bullpen coach, according to The Athletic's Sahadev Sharma. Young replaces Lester Strode, who has been with the Cubs since 1989 — the last 13 seasons coming as bullpen coach. The Cubs have offered Strode a different position with the organization, according to a report, however.

2019 was Young's lone season as Phillies pitching coach, though he held the club's assistant position in 2018. Prior to that, he spent five years as a pro scout with the Padres (2010-14) and three with the Astros as a scout (2015-16) and scouting supervisor (2017).

Under Young, the Phillies team ERA rose from 4.14 in 2018 to 4.53 in 2019 (though ERA leaguewide rose from 4.14 to 4.49 over the same period). So, he may not deserve the brute of the blame, which often is the case when a team underperforms in some area. Plus, the Phillies used 31 pitchers (excluding position players) in 2019, seeing many relievers go down with injuries while the rotation was ineffective. Combine those two things, and you have a recipe for a pitching disaster.

Even with that being true, though, Young's data and analytics-based methods were never fully embraced by the Phillies' pitching staff, according to NBC Sports Philadelphia's Jim Salisbury and Corey Seidman. Whether that changes in Chicago is to be seen, but Young will obviously be in a lesser role, one where those methods will be very useful for Cubs relievers.

Editor's note: This is not the same Chris Young who got into a skirmish with Derrek Lee in 2007.

In other Cubs coaching staff news, MLB Network's Jon Heyman said that quality assurance coach Chris Denorfia won't be back next season. The 39-year-old also stepped in as first base coach briefly in 2019, as Will Venable moved over to third base coach while Brian Butterfield dealt with vertigo-like symptoms.

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How Cubs stack up, according to WAR, from 2015-19

How Cubs stack up, according to WAR, from 2015-19

The Cubs made the playoffs four times in five seasons under Joe Maddon, receiving contributions across the diamond from All-Stars and role players alike.

Some players, of course, had bigger impacts for Maddon's Cubs, even in smaller sample sizes. Jesse Chavez and Cole Hamels weren't Cubs for long, but the two 2018 trade deadline pickups helped the North Siders reach the postseason for a fourth straight year.

These are the top 25 players by WAR (wins above replacement) from the Maddon era, according to Baseball Reference.

Top 25 Cubs, according to WAR, from 2015-19

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How Ian Happ promotes mental health and other things to know about Cubs outfielder

How Ian Happ promotes mental health and other things to know about Cubs outfielder

It's kind of hard to believe 2020 is only Ian Happ's fourth season in the big leagues. The 25-year-old burst onto the scene with 24 home runs in 2017, and since has been through trials and tribulations, getting demoted to the minor leagues in 2019.

Whenever the 2020 season kicks off, Happ is in line for the starting center field job. Until then, here's a few things to know about him.

1. Happ attended University of Cincinnati from 2012-15, where he studied finance. He was a star on the field (2015 American Athletic Conference Player of the Year) and an exemplary student in the classroom (3.68 GPA, 2015 Academic All-American).

2. Happ is an avid golfer and is a 2 handicap, according to Golf Digest. He competed in the Straight Down Fall Classic in San Luis Obispo, Calif., the last two Novembers.

3. Happ serves as an honorary ambassador for First Tee Greater Chicago, which strives to introduce the game of golf to young people. The organization raised $23,000 at a January fundraiser Happ participated in.

4. In 2019, Happ and artist Patrick Vale started “Through My Eyes” — a three-piece artwork series capturing Wrigley Field from different perspectives. Proceeds go to the Happ Family Charitable Fund, which promotes mental health and wellness.

Happ lost his father, Keith, to brain cancer in 2015.

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