In one fell swoop – or, more accurately, one set of announcements – the Chicago Cubs have filled their empty third base coach and hitting coach vacancies, locked up another front office member for a long time, and announced an opening on the training staff.
On the coaching staff front, David Bell will replace Pat Listach as the team’s third base coach, and interim hitting coach James Rowson is now the full-time hitting coach.
Bell, 40, is a former big leaguer and had been managing the Cincinnati Reds’ AAA affiliate this year. He had started his minor league managerial career three years prior, with the AA affiliate. I’d say it’s a fair bet that he’s got big league managerial aspirations down the road, and this tends to be the path that those guys take. Not that rest of the coaching staff is a bunch of old fuddy-duddies, but it’s nice to nab a younger, up-and-comer for the staff.
You may remember Bell as the runner who almost ran over Darren Baker in the 2002 World Series, before J.T. Snow lifted him to safety. You probably don’t. But you may.
As for Rowson, it would be foolish to judge his “performance” on the club’s second half offensive production, so we don’t have a great deal to go on. We do know that he was brought into the organization by the new men in charge last year as the minor league hitting coordinator. We also know that, when Rudy Jaramillo was fired, Rowson was the first guy the front office/Dale Sveum thought of to fill the void on an interim basis. But we also know that they were not immediately convinced that he was the man for the full-time job, and they presumably poked around for a better fit before settling on Rowson. That doesn’t mean Rowson is a bad choice, obviously. I’m just laying it out there.
The Cubs also announced that they’d re-signed Randy Bush to a three-year extension, and he’ll stay on as one of two Assistant General Managers, together with Shiraz Rehman. Bush staying with the Cubs long term, after the turnover bug bit several other parts of the organization in the last year, is something of a surprise. But more minds in the front office – particularly a diverse set of minds – can’t be a bad thing, and the Cubs are lucky to retain him.
Further, the Cubs say that head trainer Mark O’Neal will step down from his position, but will remain with the organization in some capacity. I’ve read that this front office has long believed that player health is the next frontier in finding competitiveness edges, so perhaps they’ll go outside the box with O’Neal’s replacement.