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Cubs assistant hitting coach Terrmel Sledge won’t be back in 2021

This minor move probably won’t move the needle much.

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Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

It is probably a sign of Terrmel Sledge’s influence on the Chicago Cubs in his two years as assistant hitting coach that the only photos I have available to me of him in a Cubs uniform are the posed ones from team media day in February.

Friday, the Cubs parted ways with Sledge, per Sahadev Sharma of The Athletic:

Trying to fix the long-running issues with their offense, the Cubs will once again reshuffle their staff, choosing not to retain assistant hitting coach Terrmel Sledge, whose contract is set to expire Oct. 31, sources said.

Sledge, 43, played in the majors with the Montreal Expos, Washington Nationals and San Diego Padres before extending his career with five more seasons in Japan. He previously worked as a minor-league hitting coach for the Los Angeles Dodgers, an organization that is viewed as the gold standard in terms of player development and the intersection of scouting and analytics, consistently producing top-tier talent from their highly-rated farm system.

Apparently, that “gold standard” didn’t do much to help Cubs hitters, who after a strong start to 2020 pretty much disappeared the rest of the season. Sharma’s article says that hitting coach Anthony Iapoce is “expected to return” next season. Iapoce has a year left on his contract, but I wonder about how much influence he’s really had on Cubs hitters given their performance over the last two years. This, from Sharma, is also notable:

Part of the organization’s changes in player development last offseason involved modernizing both their pitching and hitting instruction. Justin Stone, the director of hitting, isn’t considered an option for the big-league staff. The Cubs don’t want to disrupt what they believe is a good thing going forward. However, the modern approach that Stone stresses is what the Cubs are hoping to create at the major-league level.

My question would be: If Justin Stone is seen as being this good as “director of hitting,” why wouldn’t the Cubs consider him an option for the big-league staff? True, Stone doesn’t have any MLB or minor-league playing or coaching experience, but the current staff isn’t getting the results any of us would want. Why not shake things up? Here’s an article about Stone and his approach from the Tribune last December.

Nothing else is working. Why not try something different? If you can recall anything significant about Sledge’s tenure with the Cubs, let us know. I certainly can’t.

In any case, the Cubs are in the market for a new assistant hitting coach.