The Cubs Have Fired Six Members of the Minor League Staff

This weekend, the Chicago Cubs dismissed six members of their minor league staff, including AAA Iowa manager Dave Bialas and A-ball Peoria manager Casey Kopitzke. Bialas had been a member of the Cubs’ organization for 18 seasons.

The other coaches dismissed were Daytona (High A) pitching coach Marty Mason, Peoria hitting coach Barbaro Garbey, Mesa (Rookie League) pitching coach Frank Castillo and Mesa hitting coach Jason Dubois.

Managerial and coaching turnover in the minors is actually quite common, though I’m sure this particular set is indeed related to the organizational reshuffling the Cubs have been doing over the past 10 months. Unfortunately this is just more of the natural process that follows front office turnover, and is not necessarily a reflection of a particular failing on the part of those dismissed. It is interesting that, as recently as last week, the two guys singing the highest praises of Jorge Soler were Kopitzke and Garbey, each of whom had spent a great deal of time working with the 20-year-old Cuban.

The Peoria Journal Star’s Kevin Capie rounded up the Peoria Chiefs’ season, including now-fired manager Casey Kopitzke’s thoughts on the season and his time at Peoria (“I’ve enjoyed every minute. It’s a great area with great people and good community support. When you come to the park and know that the people have your back, it’s a great feeling. It gives you that extra boost, that home-field advantage. It’s a great place to play.”). He’d been heading up the Chiefs for three seasons, a team that is not expected to be affiliated with the Cubs come 2013.

I include that bit because it’s a reminder that, when these decisions come down, they involve real people who’ve committed to years of service with the Cubs. Maybe they don’t fit the future plans, and maybe they haven’t been successful. But it’s still a little sad, even if only for a moment. Best of luck to the six dismissed coaches, and here’s hoping they catch on elsewhere.

As for the Cubs, they’ll look to fill the vacated spots in short order, and Paul Sullivan speculates that Boise (short season Low-A) manager Mark Johnson could move up to job at A-ball (which is expected to be Kane County, next year). That would be a nice fit, as he would have managed a number of the guys at Boise that he would be managing at Kane County.

Brett Taylor is the editor and lead writer at Bleacher Nation, and can also be found as Bleacher Nation on Twitter and on Facebook.

26 responses to “The Cubs Have Fired Six Members of the Minor League Staff”

  1. Luke D

    The fact that Jason Dubois was a hitting coach is truly a lesson in irony.

    1. JulioZuleta

      I read that Casey Kopitzke was entering Marquette Law, known for its Sports Law program. Maybe gunning to be an agent now that he has the connections.

    2. Assman22

      Jim Hendry leftover. Thought it was silly when he was brought in for the gig, finally given his walking papers. Will be interesting to see who Theo swipes from Boston this offseason….

  2. Melrosepad

    I’m bummed. Liked Jason Dubois when he was a player and was hoping he would do a good job with the coaching.

  3. elizarudi15

    Good. Bialas was horrible.

    1. Cedlandrum

      I’m interested to know why you think he was horrible.

      1. elizarudi15

        Not agressive at all, particularly on the basepaths. We lost so many games by just one run. There are probably still runners stranded on base. Granted, he had a lot of adversity to work through with his whole team getting called up, but it’s the little things you do or don’t do during a game that makes a difference. I say good riddance.

        1. DocPeterWimsey

          One-run games are not the Cubs’ problem this year. The Cubs record of 13-23 in 1-run games tells us that they are either very bad or very good: mediocre teams usually have played 10-15 more 1-run games than very bad or very good teams like the Cubs. (Incidentally, a 13-23 team in 1-run games is just as apt to be very good as it is to be very bad: all teams are about 0.500 plus/minus luck in 1-run games.)

          Stranding runners also is not the Cubs problem: 13 of the NL’s 16 teams have stranded a greater number of baserunners.

          Here is the real problem: all 15 NL teams have had more men reach base than the Cubs had had. They are dead-last in walks and 12th in extra base hits. So, it is not like the Cubs “had their chances” and “left the game on the bases.” The Cubs offense has repeatedly failed to create chances.

          1. DocPeterWimsey

            lol, this just shows where my brain is: I started off with the Peoria Chiefs page, took a phone call, and then looked up the big league team!

            This is what 4.5 years of sleep deprivation does to a brain. (Did I meantion that I have a 4.5 year old?)

            What is the embarrassed icon?

            1. Drew7

              Don’t worry, Doc- Your point remains the same. The I-Cubs’ OPS was 4th-lowest in the league, and the had a BB-differential of -76.

              1. DocPeterWimsey

                So, here is what I started to look up!

                The Iowa team was 15th of 16 teams in runs scored and 15th of 16 in guys reaching base (excluding HR), but they were middle of the pack in runners stranded. Within the league, this correlates to lack of slugging, and the Iowa Cubs contributed to this: they were last in HR and 12th of 16 in XBH. They were 7th in SB, although that probably reflects Campana. Still, within this league (as with MLB), the correlate of non-stranding guys is getting guys to jog more often, not getting them to run better.

                Peoria tells a somewhat similar story but with better OBP: middle of the pack in guys on base + near bottom of the league slugging = near top of the league stranded.

          2. cubzforlife

            I believe elia was talking about the minor league team not the Cubs.

            1. DocPeterWimsey

              Yes, I added my embarrassed addendum already. What can I say, senility sucks.

              1. MoneyBoy

                Doc, I was going to comment but forgot what I was going to say … so don’t feel bad.

  4. Kevin

    Let’s see how many slots are filled from either Boston or SanDiego.

  5. fortyonenorth

    I was surprised to see Garbey’s name on the list, if for no other reason than it sounded like he was helping Soler to assimilate – no easy task, I’m sure.

  6. CUBSIN

    From the Peoria newspaper: “Geiger was chosen the team’s most valuable player at the end of the season after hitting 17 home runs in just 75 games. He missed the first two months of the season with a fractured bone in his wrist.”

    Wow! Wrist injuries usually result in a serious loss of power until fully healed.

  7. Chris

    I guess I’m not surprised that there are firings from the minor league levels. What I’m really wondering is why weren’t more of the coaches fired? Can anybody speak to the merits of coaches throughout the organization? I think I understand why the Boise staff was unaffected. Not sure about Tennessee, or other coaches at various levels that kept their jobs. Just looking for some opinions from fans with first hand knowledge from watching games locally.

  8. Ramy16

    The only sad thing is letting go hitting coach barbaro Garby he was close with Jorge Soler and was really helping him get established here in the U.S.

  9. Spriggs

    Especially bummed for Castillo and Dubois. They are really nice guys and they put in a lot of work. Hope they find something else in baseball if that’s what they want.

    One thing I found kind of amusing all year was Dubois trying to position the fielders from his spot on the bench. I could rarely tell where he wanted the fielder to go — and most of the time, neither did the fielder. How such a simple thing was so complicated and confusing all year long, really was kind of funny (whistle, signal, confusion… repeat…). I hope he communicated hitting instruction a little better!

    I also read the same thing about Kopitzke attending Marquette law.

  10. Stevie B

    “You’re fired!!!!”

  11. Fastball

    Well I am glad to see some people get moved along. I especially believe that the pitchers were very poor when it comes to mechanics and performance. That starts in the low minors and goes all the way to the Majors. I have yet to see a Cubs pitcher come up that could throw strikes and or have proper pitching mechanics. And the hitting philosophy has been very poor with just about every hitter that has moved up to Chicago. That all starts in the minors and obviously has been a problem. Just because a guy was a good player or was around for a while doesn’t make him a good coach or instructor. So overall this is a very positive move by the front office and something I hoped would happen. They probably need to make quite a few additional coaching / instructor changes this off season.

  12. jim

    The sandberg game was the best by far.

  13. jim

    I feel sorry for mrs frank castillo.

  14. Harry Ramirez

    I read that Barbaro Garbey was close to the Latin players and had big influence on them, particularly on Soler, so i’m surprised he was let go. The irony is that it was only a week ago when I searched his name to learn more about him and found out that he actually played in the big leagues. I feel sorry for him and the others, but that’s business I guess.

  15. Lifepainter

    In a town near me is a scout named Hank Krause. When I was younger Hank umped alot of high school and college ball as was a scout for the Reds. Then he was a Cardinals scout. Then he was a Pirates scout. Now he is a Padres scout. Hank was had a few players make it to the majors and puts on a tryout camp each year with a few other area scouts most noteably, Bill Clark from Missouri. Each time these teams move people around in their front offices they terminate the little guys. Many of these scouts get paid milage and meals only.