Cubs

What's going on with the Cubs coaching staff?

What's going on with the Cubs coaching staff?

CARLSBAD, Calif. — The National League Wild-Card Game was more than a month ago, Hot Stove is in full gear and yet the Cubs still haven't revealed what their coaching staff will look like in 2019.

All that's known for sure is Joe Maddon will be the manager, Chili Davis will not be the hitting coach (Anthony Iapoce will fill that role) and assistant hitting coach Andy Haines has taken a gig as the lead guy with the Milwaukee Brewers.

Beyond that, the Cubs won't comment on the reports that have permeated throughout the offseason that pitching coach Jim Hickey will not be back in the same capacity in 2019. 

Instead, the Cubs front office has offered a steady supply of various forms of "no comment."

"We're working through a lot of stuff," GM Jed Hoyer said Tuesday at MLB's GM Meetings. "I won't comment on anyone in particular, but we have a number of people exploring different things and we're not at a place now where we can announce it."

When pressed again about the matter Wednesday, Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein said the organization is "not in a position to be able to formally announce the final coaching staff yet."

The timeline for when the Cubs can announce it is unclear, though Epstein promised it would be "relatively soon." 

If Hickey is, indeed, out as pitching coach, that will mean the Cubs will have a new pitching coach for the third straight season, with Chicago native Hickey filling the role in 2018 and Chris Bosio serving as the coach in 2017. 

The Cubs are already guaranteed three different hitting coaches in three years since they won the World Series, with John Mallee filling the role in 2017, Davis in 2018 and now Iapoce — a disciple of Mallee.  Since his firing, the Cubs have lauded Davis' ability as a hitting coach, but acknowledged he simply wasn't a good fit with the current club or roster.

And more shakeup may be coming down the line, as 2019 is the final year Maddon is under contract and the two sides won't be negotiating an extension at all this winter.

As Cubs continue to ride the roller coaster, they won't 'play with the scoreboard'

As Cubs continue to ride the roller coaster, they won't 'play with the scoreboard'

The Cubs woke up Friday morning riding the high of their longest winning streak in nearly four months (five games) and a season-high 11 games over .500. 

That was only good enough for a half-game lead over the St. Louis Cardinals in the division, but the Cubs will take it considering the way things were just a week ago. 

After getting swept by Bryce Harper's Phillies on the road, the Cubs went to Pittsburgh and witnessed another late bullpen meltdown last Friday. But they haven't lost since and it's gotten to the point where Joe Maddon was asked ahead of the series with the Nationals if he feels his team is clicking in all facets of the game.

Maddon didn't answer that question directly, but it's a fair assessment of this team right now. As an added boost, Ben Zobrist should be activated off the restricted list next weekend and Willson Contreras will travel with the Cubs to New York next week and could ramp up his baseball activities there as he recovers from a Grade-2 hamstring strain. 

What a difference a week makes. 

"I can't emphasize enough — it is a 24-hour cycle," Maddon said. "It's no different than a news cycle and if you have a bad day, our game is so beautiful you can have a great day the very next night. You don't have to wait a week to play again.

"I've been involved in some really tight races in September where you're going good, good, good and all the sudden, man, you get your teeth smashed in towards the end and you can't permit that to take you out of your methods. It's great that the boys feel that way. I feel that way. 

"I still believe our best baseball's ahead of us for the rest of the season. ... With the new additions and the guys coming back, we should be capable of doing that kind of stuff."

The Cubs still have 14 games left with the Cardinals and Brewers, including a series each in St. Louis (Sept. 27-29) and Milwaukee (Sept. 5-8). 

With just over five weeks left in the season, the division race could come down to that final weekend of the year in St. Louis. That is, unless one team goes on a run and pull away with things before that point.

Either way, the Cubs are just trying to stay focused on their game while blocking out all the outside noise, which is something Javy Baez felt they didn't accomplish down the stretch last season.

"I think we're in a good spot," Baez said earlier this month. "We're actually not paying attention to other teams. It looks like they're paying attention to us. We've had ups and downs and we're just trying to get that out of the way and keep going.

"Me personally, I can't play with the scoreboard. I know where the game's at, but I can't play with numbers. I put too much pressure on myself."

Given the way last year ended and the call for more urgency this season, things certainly haven't played out in a dream scenario for the 2019 Cubs. The more time that goes by, the more 2016 looks like an outlier in terms of the way that team cruised and how pretty much everything went right.

But the rest of the division — and the entire National League — has improved while the Cubs are still searching for consistency in their own game, particularly away from Wrigley Field.

Still, there are way worse positions to be in than a half-game up in the division with five-and-a-half weeks to go.

"We all know what's at stake here," Kyle Schwarber said. "We're in a good position where we're in control of our own destiny. It doesn't really matter the home/road splits — it just comes down to playing each ballgame, one game at a time. It doesn't matter if we're at home or on the road, we got X amount of ballgames left and we can control what we do."

Tracking all the Cubs personalized Players' Weekend gear

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Tracking all the Cubs personalized Players' Weekend gear

Stay plugged into this page for updates on the unique gear Cubs players will rock over MLB's third annual Players' Weekend.

The Cubs sure will stand out on the field more than usual this weekend.

Friday commences Day 1 of MLB's third annual Players' Weekend. Over the next three days, players league-wide will rock personalized gear -- bats, gloves, cleats, etc. -- that demonstrate their style, interests and more. This is in addition to the all-white uniforms that the team will wear over the weekend.

While Derek Holland's cleats themed after "The Office" may go down as the best, other Cubs players deserve recognition for their swag, too. Without further ado, let's check out what the other players will don this weekend:

Kris Bryant

Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant is using Players' Weekend to support a great cause. Bryant will sport cleats that raise awareness for Wings for Life, a spinal cord research foundation and charity that he's supported since the beginning of big league career. The cause is important to Bryant, as his close friend, Cory Hahn, was paralyzed sliding into second base as a freshman at Arizona State University in 2011.

Bryant partnered with three Chicago street artists, each of whom customized a pair of cleats and a bat. The designs tell different stories inspired by some of Bryant's childhood memories: hitting in a batting cage with his dad, playing wiffle ball in his hometown and his love of superheroes.

Fans can bid on the gear here, as it will be auctioned off at the Wings for Life Golf Classic on Sept. 23.

Anthony Rizzo

Anthony Rizzo paid homage to Chicago with his cleats and bat. The first baseman's cleats feature a shot of the Chicago skyline from Lake Michigan's perspective, while his bat includes the iconic four red starts from the city's flag.

Ian Happ

Ian Happ also gave Chicago a shout-out with one pair of his cleats, while a second pair demonstrates his interest in golf. Both also include the initial's of his dad, who passed away from brain cancer in 2015.

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