Maddon, Cubs keep coaching staff almost intact
What could have been a bumpy transition turned into a pretty smooth ride for the Cubs' coaching staff this off-season.
In October, team president Theo Epstein announced that everybody would be back except for assistant hitting coach Mike Brumley.
That didn't sit well with top hitting man Bill Mueller, who resigned. So the Cubs went out that same month and hired Chicago guy John Mallee as their hitting coach. And that appeared to be that.
Then Joe Maddon fell into the Cubs' laps after Maddon chose not to exercise his option to manage the Tampa Bay Rays again.
All bets appeared to be off as far as the coaching staff was concerned, but credit Maddon -- a manager with big-time status in the game -- for open-mindedness as ke kept almost all of the staff intact. Maddon did bring former Cubs player Dave Martinez with him to serve as bench coach, a role Martinez held ably in Tampa Bay.
There was some minor shuffling within the staff to accommodate Martinez and fill other needs. Here's a look at who's who and who's where:
Chris Bosio: Pitching coach Bosio will be working with his third manager. He came aboard with Dale Sveum in 2012 and worked under Rick Renteria last year.
Even though the Cubs have been a last-place club, Bosio is becoming one of the more respected pitching coaches in the game. He got a nice Christmas present when the Cubs signed lefty Jon Lester to be the ace of the starting staff.
Bosio has overseen the rise of No. 2 starter Jake Arrieta and closer Hector Rondon. He will face challenges getting Travis Wood back on track and seeing if anything can be done with Edwin Jackson.
Mallee: South Side native Mallee comes most recently from Houston, where he developed an American League batting champion in Jose Altuve. Mallee is the Cubs' fourth hitting coach in four seasons. He brings solid credentials, and the Cubs hope they've found their man for years to come.
His main challenge will be making sure young second baseman-shortstop Javier Baez can cut down on his strikeouts and harness his bat speed and tremendous power.
Eric Hinske: The former Cubs draft pick and major-league hitter moves from the first-base coaching box and role as outfield coach to become Mallee's top assistant. This will be Hinske's second year as a big-league coach.
Martinez: Seen by many as a manager-in-waiting, Martinez did not get the top job in Tampa Bay after Maddon left, so he will continue to work alongside Maddon in the dugout. Martinez is a good student of the game, and no doubt his time at the top step of the dugout will come.
Brandon Hyde: To accommodate Martinez, Hyde moves from the bench to the first-base coaching spot. That displaced Doug Dascenzo, who was hired last fall to coach first and work with the outfielders. Dascenzo became the organization's outfield and baserunning coordinator with responsibilities in the major and minor leagues.
Gary Jones: After coming in with Renteria last year, Jones got a nice vote of confidence by holding on to his job under Maddon.
You rarely heard Jones' name last year, and that's a good thing for a third-base coach.
Lester Strode: A longtime organizational man, Strode mans the bullpen. He's widely respected for working with pitchers, so he's a valuable aide to Bosio.
Mike Borzello: The Cubs' game plans for pitchers and catchers are put together in great detail, and Borzello has a big hand in that as catching and strategy coach. He also came in with Sveum.
Henry Blanco: Greg Maddux's former catcher with the Braves and Cubs, Blanco studied the game intensely as a backup. He will be the Cubs' quality-assurance coach.
Blanco retired as a player last spring and joined the Arizona Diamondbacks' staff. He knows the game inside and out and has mentored young catchers. He could be on the path to managing in the big leagues someday.
Franklin Font: This former Cubs farmhand is a staff assistant. He joined the big-league staff for the 2012 season.