When Chili Davis was replaced by Anthony Iapoce as Cubs hitting coach for 2019, it was stated by the Cubs that the rest of the coaching staff for next season would be announced at a later date.
This implied that things were still up in the air with the 2018 coaches. Recently we learned that assistant hitting coach Andy Haines would be leaving to take the hitting coach position with the Brewers.
Now there’s this report about pitching coach Jim Hickey:
Cubs not ready to announce their entire coaching staff. Even admit it's later than usual for that to be up in the air. Still have to hire an asst hitting coach and we don't have complete confirmation that Jim Hickey is back. We'll see.— Jesse Rogers (@ESPNChiCubs) November 7, 2018
Jesse Rogers further elaborated on that on ESPN 1000 Wednesday:
ESPN 1000's Jesse Rogers this morning on pitching coach Jim Hickey— Pinwheels and Ivy Podcast (@PinwheelsIvyPod) November 7, 2018
"I'm pretty sure Jim Hickey is not back...I don't believe Jim Hickey is back. I'm pretty much reporting that at this moment."#Cubs would have 3 different hitting & pitching coaches in 3 years if Hickey is fired pic.twitter.com/MbDZruknkw
Jim Hickey was Joe Maddon’s pitching coach for eight seasons with the Rays in Tampa, and was hired to replace Chris Bosio last offseason.
The results weren’t great. Most of the Cubs starting pitchers had poor first halves. Things got better with the rotation in the second half of the season, and the bullpen in general had a decent season. Hickey didn’t seem to mesh well with some of the veteran pitchers on the staff. Some observers felt that Hickey’s success in Tampa might have been because he was working with younger pitchers who were coming to the big leagues for the first time (David Price, Alex Cobb, James Shields, Chris Archer among them), rather than the veteran staff he inherited with the Cubs. There were some suggestions during spring training that Hickey was trying to get some Cubs starters, Kyle Hendricks in particular, to change their approach. Hendricks had a mediocre first half before a much better second half. I’ll admit I have no specific evidence to back this up, but it’s my feeling that some of the veteran pitchers in the Cubs rotation might have simply decided to scrap whatever Hickey had been preaching and go back to their previous successful methods.
Whatever the case might be regarding this, it would appear that this is perhaps another way of Theo Epstein letting Joe Maddon know that Joe can’t always have his way re: coaches. If this is the case it’s quite similar to the way the Blackhawks took away some of Joel Quenneville’s favorite assistant coaches, asserting front office authority.
There was a suggestion on ESPN 1000 by Rogers that Curt Young, currently the pitching coach for the Giants, might be someone this front office could hire as a Hickey replacement. Of course, Young is still under contract to the Giants, so it’s unknown whether they’d allow him to talk to the Cubs. Young has a history with Theo — he was the Red Sox’ pitching coach in Theo’s last year there in 2011.
As always, we await developments, and in this case it would appear that the Cubs coaching staff in 2019 will look quite different than it did in 2018.