Now that the Chicago Cubs have their new front office in place, and new manager in place, there are two more areas to renovate before heading into the 2012 season: the roster, and the coaching staff. The roster, of course, is an ongoing revamp that will take us well into January.

But the coaching staff process should come much more quickly, and at least one piece is already in place.

Manager Dale Sveum has elected to keep hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo on staff for the 2012 season, through which Jaramillo is already signed. Jaramillo, who had previously been with the Rangers, came to the Cubs before the 2010 season to much fanfare – the Cubs made him one of the highest paid coaches in baseball. Since then, the Cubs’ offense has been relatively disappointing, and their approach at the plate has become increasingly aggressive, a hallmark of Jaramillo’s time in Arlington. But, despite the philosophical difference with new Cubs’ brass that Jaramillo’s performance suggests, Sveum and the Cubs will keep Jaramillo around.

Two other Cubs’ coaches are under contract through 2012, bench coach Pat Listach and bullpen coach Lester Strode, and both are expected to be retained. As with most transitions, it’s good to preserve some institutional memory; and, in baseball specifically, it’s good to keep some coaches in place who’ve established relationships with Cubs players.

As for the biggest remaining fish in the coaching pond – the pitching coach – things remain undecided. Sveum has met with outgoing pitching coach Mark Riggins, who was a first-timer with Mike Quade in 2011, and plans to meet with him again soon. I’m not going to get too worried about a return from Riggins, under whom a number of Cubs’ pitchers had a marked performance decline in 2011 from 2010 (which, of course, is not solely Riggins’ fault, but it doesn’t look good). The meetings could be about any number of things, and I would be shocked if Sveum asks Riggins to return in 2012. Given Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer’s open belief in the importance of the pitching coach and of keeping pitchers healthy – and the fact that Sveum’s background is on the offensive/defensive side of the game – I’ve got to believe there will be a push to bring in an accomplished, veteran pitching coach (or, perhaps, a top up-and-comer).

First and third base coaches Bobby Dernier and Ivan DeJesus have been informed they will not be asked back in 2012.

  • Stinky Pete

    Sooooooooo……. Any word who might be a “top up-and-comer”?

    • Brett

      I’m not sure I could even guess at this point – there are so many possibilities. Recently retired pitchers, minor league pitching instructors, etc. I’m digging around, but coming up with names in a situation like this – unlike with GM candidates, for example, where it’s a relatively finite pool of possibilities – can be tough without a hint or two from the men in charge. Right now, at best, we have an idea of the type of guy they’ll probably want.

  • Cedlandrum

    This is a decision that I don’t approve of. Here was the core of Jaramillo’s success—- Arlington. He left their hitters still killed.

    • Fishin Phil

      I am disappointed as well.

    • Brett

      Agreed. Hopefully Sveum is heavily-influential on the hitting side of things going forward.

      • Larry

        With Sveum being a former hitting coach himself, I would be shocked if he wasn’t heavily involved in the hitting next year, especially if for any reason he felt that Jaramillo wasn’t getting the job done.

    • hansman1982

      What kind of philosophy did Sveum have? Was it high on patience? If so the thought could be that between Jaramillo and Sveum the hitters could get a nice balance of instruction.

  • matt

    If Mark Riggins is back….all of the rest of the moves will have been a waste. I wound up being more mad at him during games then Quade.

    • Cedlandrum

      I personally think that Riggins got a bad rap. He was a very well respected minor league pitching coordinator for the Cards before he came to the Cubs. I don’t think it was any coincidence that Cubs minor league pitching took a step back this year.

      • Brett

        Maybe Riggins is great in the minors, and not so great in the Majors. It’s hard for us to know for sure. The step back in the minors was undeniable. But so was the step back in the majors.

        • Luke

          The step back in the minors could also be attributed to an unlikely confluence of injuries and illnesses among the top prospects.

          Meanwhile, we still saw guys like Whitenack, Jokisch, and a number of pitchers in the lower levels have either breakout years, or performances close to that status. It might take a season or two before we can get a better read on what impact the promotion of Riggens is having on the minors.

          • Tyler

            The Cubs didn’t even want him to mess with the mechanics of the pitchers, I think that tells you the most and it is why he should not be on the staff and why the Cubs need a good pitching coach.

  • polocubs

    who are some of the better pitching coaches who could possibly be had

    • Brett

      Hard to say, because it’s highly unlikely to be someone currently under contract as a pitching coach with another team. It’s a bit late in the game for that.

  • Tim

    This isn’t a bad thing. Jaramillo’s take on being “aggressive” is more about the mechanics of the swing instead of the approach. The mechanics are his main focus as a hitting coach as opposed to a Gerald Perry who really emphasized an approach to the at bat more than the actual swing.

    If Sveum teaches the right approach while Jaramillo works on the swing it could be the best of both worlds.

    • Brett

      Good to see you, Tim. Interesting that you mention Perry, whose approach-based style helped the Cubs in 2008 be in the top two in baseball in runs scored and OBP. Why he was so unceremoniously broomed the next year, I’ll never understand.

      • TWC

        Someone had to be the scapegoat.  Unfortunately, it was Perry.

  • Mike Foster

    Ryno….just thought I’d get that in before the Ryno fans start harping again. Not that I want or expect it, just want to say it first….

  • Chris

    What about bringing Greg Maddux in as pitching coach? Haven’t heard much as to what exactly he is doing these days. My personal rumor is the Kerry Wood will be the Cubs new Pitching Coach….

    • Luke

      Reports seem to agree that he isn’t looking for an every day type of job right now. In a few years, perhaps, but not yet.

  • chris margetis

    My guess is Jaramillo will be the “hitting coach” in title only with Sveum ultimately handling it. One year left on the rather expensive contract for a coach, no need to can him and double dip the dollars when the new manager’s most recent experience is in that department, especially when his approach jives with the execs.

  • Brandon – AA Correspondent

    Could Darren Balsley be a candidate for the pitching coach duties?? With Hoyer in the mix as GM….perhaps he could pursuade him to come to Chicago. Yes Petco is a pitcher’s park, but Balsley has been retained in the position through the Bruce Bochy and Bud Black years. Ownership seems to like him. The young pitchers that San Diego has run out there also seem to respond to his instruction. it’s fair to say that San Diego’s pitching has been pretty decent with several no name pitchers. Sure; the park plays into the stats. I promise you that Jake Peavy wishes that Darren Balsey was in his Chicago Whitesox clubhouse. Those two really worked well together when Peavy was in San Diego. I believe that Darren Balsley would be a nice fit for the Cubs. Something to consider.

  • Brandon – AA Correspondent

    Speaking of Peavy….I know his contract is ridiculous (see Zambrano)…..but I think Jake would LOVE a return to the NL. Granted, I am biased… I watched him as a Padre for several years when I lived there….but he is one of the most competitive players I have ever seen. When healthy….was NASTY. Injuries have de-railed him, and I believe he wants out of the AL. Perhaps a cross town switcharoo is in order (Peavy for Zambrano)?? Would love to see Peavy back in the NL. Just sayin’.

    • Brett

      I’d have to look into it more, but aren’t there some fears that Peavy’s days of being remotely effective are over?

      • hardtop

        thats where i am.  he’s no longer a 1, 2, or 3 in any rotation.  just doesnt have the stuff to keep players off the bags or balls in the park anymore.  another one of hendrys better non-moves.  i’ll admit i wanted this guy, now im glad we didnt get him.

        • TWC

          Jake Peavy – best non-trade EVER.

  • clark addison

    PV. Stick a fork in him.

  • Sayueri

    He’s keeping Jaramillo? NO!!!!!! Strike 1 for Sveum.