I mentioned when I started this series that not all the photos would be of current players or coaches. The current occupant of jersey No. 35 for the Cubs is bullpen coach Lester Strode, who has been a coach in the organization since 1989 and will be entering his ninth year as bullpen coach in 2015. He's the longest-tenured coach on the major-league squad, and Joe Maddon will thus be the fifth manager he has served. Here's Lester, throwing BP for the Cubs last September 9 in Toronto:
Photo: Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images
The photo at the top of this post is of Chris Speier, who was the Cubs' third-base coach in 2005 and 2006. Manager Dusty Baker brought in a lot of his old buddies as coaches, rather than choose the most qualified staff. Baker and Speier got to know each other first when Baker was a Giants coach and Speier was a roving minor-league instructor for the team in the early 1990s.
I'm not saying some of these relationships don't work out, but often, the buddy-buddy thing takes precedence over competent work. It's nice to see a good mix in the current coaching staff under Maddon -- a few holdovers (Strode, Chris Bosio, Gary Jones, Eric Hinske, Brandon Hyde), a couple of new hires (John Mallee, Henry Blanco) and one coach whose presence seemed important to Maddon in Tampa Bay (Dave Martinez).
Five weeks from today, Cubs pitchers and catchers will report to Mesa. You can use this post to talk about the Cubs' coaching staff.