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Mike Napoli named Cubs quality assurance coach

He’s someone David Ross can trust.

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Mike Napoli and David Ross during the 2013 World Series
Getty Images

Mike Napoli and David Ross sure look like coaches-in-waiting in the photo above, don’t they?

Now they’ll be on the same coaching staff:

Ross was expected to grant one or more of the still-vacant coaching positions to someone he’d feel comfortable with, and this is surely one of those hires. Napoli and Ross were teammates on the Red Sox in 2013 (when they won the World Series) and 2014. Napoli is also a former catcher, though by the time he was Ross’ teammate in Boston he was playing almost exclusively first base and designated hitter. He hit 267 home runs in a 12-year playing career that ended after 2017.

Many of you have asked what a quality assurance coach does. Here is a pretty good description:

Actually, communications/coordination coach is more like it. His role is to develop, teach and maintain fundamental standards and team philosophy. It seems to tilt toward overall defensive fundamentals currently - shifts, backups, etc - but that depends on the team.

It’s mostly different from a traditional coaching role in that it’s interdisciplinary (ie, not limited to running coach, hitting coach, fielding coach, pitching coach) and the QC coach is a two-way street; he not only introduces the info to the players, but then gives their reactions and suggestions for improvement. He’s also often not a bench coach, but watches games from the team boxes so he can get an overall view of how the team plays as a unit.

I think the Dodgers introduced the concept in 2016 with Juan Castro’s hire, and it’s been picking up steam as a thing since then. Manager Dave Roberts said the position just came to him as he was preparing a staff, but quality control coaches have been around the NFL for awhile, although broken into specialties (offense, defense, special teams).

That sounds pretty accurate, though each team assigns the role as they see best fitting their own coaching staff. Under Joe Maddon, the QC coach also was responsible for leading the video review crew to help decide whether a play was worth challenging. It’s possible Napoli will do that as well.

At 38, Napoli will be the third-youngest coach on Ross’ staff. Tommy Hottovy is a few months older than Napoli and Will Venable is 35.

That leaves one opening on the staff, for a base coach. Venable was the Cubs’ first-base coach last year, but it’s possible he’ll shift over to third base and the next hire will coach first base. Once that last spot is filled, the Cubs will likely then make an official announcement of all the coaches and their roles.

As always, we await further developments.