We just talked about it this morning, with former Cubs development executive Anthony Iapoce at the top of the discussion, and now it looks like it actually will happen.
— Jeff Wilson (@JeffWilson_FWST) October 15, 2018
As Jeff Wilson reports, Iapoce, whose manager Jeff Bannister was fired by the Rangers last month, has told the team he is leaving to be the Cubs’ new hitting coach. Given the uncertainty in the manager position, the Rangers permitted their coaches to look around, and apparently it didn’t take long for Iapoce and the Cubs to link back up after Chili Davis was fired last week.
Given all the circumstances that precede this decision, I think this is just about as good as the Cubs can do. You’re probably not going to hire away a big “name” guy right now with Joe Maddon’s contract lasting only through next year, and a big name might not even be the right fit anyway. So the Cubs instead go with someone who is somewhat familiar with their young hitters already, knows the front office and what they’re looking for, and now comes with hitting coach experience.
Iapoce previously served in the Cubs organization for three years as a special assistant to the GM, in charge of the minor league hitting program (as I understand it, he was essentially the minor league hitting coordinator). He was hired away by the Rangers in 2016 to be their hitting coach, and now returns to the Cubs in that role.
As for Iapoce’s philosophy and all that good stuff, my guess is you’ll find it is more or less in line with the front office. Theo Epstein summed it up at his season-ending press conference: “Launch angle is not a fad. Line drives and balls in the air are way more productive.” We’ll see what Iapoce has to say when he speaks on this topic, though, when the hiring is finalized and made official.
The Cubs faded badly at the plate in the second half this year, with power cratering, groundballs spiking, and a total lack of hard contact. Iapoce will have no shortage of talent to work with, though the weight of turning things around will not rest on his shoulders alone.
UPDATE: It’s already official:
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) October 15, 2018