When the Cubs and 2018 Pitching Coach Jim Hickey parted ways earlier this offseason, it was a lot to process. The Cubs had only just plucked Hickey up after parting ways with Chris Bosio a year earlier and their new hitting coach, Chili Davis, was in the process of being replaced, as well.
But after hiring Anthony Iapoce to replace Davis, the Cubs have found their replacement for Hickey, and it’s exactly whom we expected (and I hoped):
The #Cubs go outside the box, as expected, and promote Tommy Hottovy as pitching coach after previously being their “run prevention coordinator.” He replaces Jim Hickey, who stayed just one year.
— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) December 6, 2018
To that end, you should probably keep an eye on the Cubs’ Coordinator of Advanced Scouting Tommy Hottovy (a.k.a. The Run Prevention Coordinator). Mentioned as a possible replacement for Jim Hickey by Jesse Rogers on the radio this week, Hottovy has generated some headlines lately and it seems like there could be something there (via Sahadev Sharma at The Athletic): “No final decision has been made and the Cubs front office will continue to do their due diligence, but preliminary discussions have taken place and Hottovy currently looks like a favorite.”
…. But there’s one other, speculative reason I think Hottovy could make sense for the Cubs right now: he’s the perfect one-year fill-in. *IF* the Cubs are really going to swap out managers after this season, the next manager will likely want to bring in a new staff. Hottovy, who is both very young and has no experience as a pitching coach yet, might LOVE the chance to dip his toe into the coaching waters, while having a place to land (anywhere in the Cubs organization, perhaps right back into his old job) if the next guy wants to bring someone new in.
In that sense, it’s a win-win for everyone. The Cubs get to use someone they trust and like, but who won’t block a new manager from bringing in his own guy. Meanwhile, Hottovy gets some legitimate resume-fodder while he continues to build an impressive career at a relatively young age (and who knows? Maybe he’ll do such a good job, the next manager will want to keep him … or maybe Joe Maddon will get extended anyway). The whole thing is not an ideal situation, but it could be the best of a bad one.
Although Hottovy is a bit of an unorthodox hire, he does have experience with this staff and as the Cubs run prevention coordinator, which, in his own words includes “breaking down the opposing hitters and working with our coaching staff to determine our plan of attack, coordinating all of our defensive positionings, and communicating with the coaching staff that will be positioning the players during the game to make sure we are all on the same page.”
Frankly, I’m very happy with the decision and I think it’s in the Cubs best interest in both the short and long-term.
Besides Hottovy as the new pitching coach, the Cubs have announced the rest of the missing pieces of the coaching staff, including assistant pitching coach, Mike Borzello, the assistant hitting coach, Terrmel Sledge, and the new quality assurance coach (and old friend) Chris Denorfia!
Cubs name Tommy Hottovy pitching coach, Mike Borzello adds assistant pitching coach to title, Terrmel Sledge assistant hitting coach, Chris Denorfia named quality assurance coach.
— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) December 6, 2018
We’ll likely have more on the rest of the coaching choices – including Borzello, who’s responisibilities just widened – another time. At first blush, they’re all perfectly swell choice (I mean, who doesn’t miss them some Denorfia?)