The Chicago Cubs lost assistant hitting coach Andy Haines to the rival Milwaukee Brewers, but will retain bench coach Brandon Hyde for the 2019 campaign.
All most Chicago Cubs fans care about boils down to, you guessed it, Bryce Harper. But the organization faces a lot of questions and decisions not related to the former MVP this offseason, including the make-up of the big league coaching staff.
Shortly after the Wild Card game loss to the Rockies, Theo Epstein and the Chicago brain trust got back in the war room and made a decision: they were parting ways with Chili Davis. Davis, brought in less than 12 months prior to help unleash the potential of the offense instead handcuffed it, as key players produced some of the worst numbers of their careers.
They then tapped former John Mallee protege, Anthony Iapoce, to assume the role of hitting coach, signifying a return to the launch-angle thinking of recent years. So with a new hitting coach in-tow and Joe Maddon‘s future for next season addressed, external factors began to chip away at the coaching staff.
Hyde a hot commodity across the league
Maddon’s bench coach, Brandon Hyde, interviewed for nearly a half-dozen big league managerial gigs over the last month. But, after missing out on landing a chance to run a team of his own, the five-year Cubs coaching staff veteran returns as the team’s number two in the dugout.
Bench coaches are often some of the most overlooked assets in a team’s fold. Dave Martinez, who held the role under Maddon prior to Hyde, is a rare exception. His reputation as Maddon’s right-hand man helped him land the Washington managerial gig last offseason.
With Hyde’s future in question, we looked at possible alternatives earlier this offseason. While they might not be as relevant now, keep an eye on guys like David Ross or John Farrell should the team part ways with Maddon next winter.
A division foe steals a valuable asset
Last season, Andy Haines served as the Cubs’ assistant hitting coach at the Major League level. Prior to that, Haines was the Minor League hitting coordinator for both 2016 and 2017.
Of course, last season, the Chicago offense went into a second-half tailspin, allowing a sizable lead in the division to evaporate over the final month. Davis paid the price for his offense’s failures – but, at least now, it appears that Haines isn’t held in poor regard.
He was no doubt attractive to Milwaukee not only because of his ties to a division rival, but his longstanding relationship with likely National League MVP Christian Yelich. He’ll have plenty of work to do, though, as several other guys on the Brewers roster trended in the wrong direction, despite the team’s overall success in 2018.
So, while the rivalry between the Brewers and Cubs will likely ramp up a notch after the event’s of this season, both teams will do so with multiple new coaches on their respective coaching staffs. Will Haines help the Milwaukee bats find consistency? Can Hyde help Maddon guide the Cubs back to the top of the Central?
Time will tell.