On Monday, interspersed with the Russell Martin and Jason Heyward madness, there was a more modest disappointment for Cubs fans: former Cubs hitting coach Bill Mueller, after parting with the Cubs earlier this offseason, was headed to the Cardinals to be their new assistant hitting coach.
To be sure, I’ve got no reason to believe the Cubs aren’t very happy about being able to land new hitting coach John Mallee, but if the Mueller thing struck you as odd, I understand that feeling. Not only do you not like to see folks connected to the Cubs in a positive way heading to the Cardinals, in general (rivalries!), there was the strangeness of Mueller giving up the hitting coach job with the Cubs only to wind up the assistant hitting coach with the Cardinals.
To that end, you’ll probably find a mix of comfort and disappointment in this piece from St. Louis writer Derrick Goold. You won’t have any bad feelings for Mueller, who clearly did leave the Cubs only because his assistant, Mike Brumley, was being re-assigned, and he no longer felt like it was the right fit for him. From there, Mueller was simply looking for a job, and the right match popped up with the Cardinals. He was born in the St. Louis area, mind you. It appears to have been a series of unconnected events.
The disappointment you might find in the piece, however, is tied to the glowing things Mueller says about the “relationship with the staff” in St. Louis, and the “positive atmosphere” that everyone “wanted to create in Chicago.” There’s an implicit contrast that is set up there, and it’s not necessarily flattering. At the same time, it isn’t necessarily unflattering to the Cubs, either. It may have simply been a fit that didn’t work, and it may not involve any boogymen or bad guys.
Read Goold’s piece for more on Mueller, and how he’ll fit in with the Cardinals.
In the end, this is all mostly an academic discussion. When Mueller departed, there was no expectation that the Cubs would be making any managerial change. But then the Cubs picked up Joe Maddon, and it’s entirely possible that there would have been a coaching staff shake-up anyway. Hopefully, if it’s John Mallee (and assistant Eric Hinske), the Cubs have a great setup on the hitting side, and all’s well that ends well.