For the third time in three years, the Chicago Cubs have a new hitting coach.
Er, I mean, for the third time in three years, the Chicago Cubs have a new pitching coach.
Wait. Wait. No. Sorry. Those are both true, but this is the other key coaching position that has turned over for the third time in three years. The Chicago Cubs have a new BENCH coach, and it’s former big leaguer Mark Loretta.
From the Cubs’ release today announcing the hiring:
“Loretta is a 15-year major league veteran who has spent the last nine seasons in the San Diego Padres front office upon retiring as a player in January, 2010, most recently as a special assistant, baseball operations. Loretta was a two-time All-Star infielder with the Padres (2004) and Boston Red Sox (2006) during his career with the Milwaukee Brewers (1995-2002), Houston Astros (2002, 2007-08), Padres (2003-05), Red Sox (2006) and Los Angeles Dodgers (2009).
Loretta is a 1993 graduate of Northwestern University. He was drafted by the Brewers in the seventh round of the 1993 Draft and made his big league debut two years later. Loretta was a career .295 hitter (1,713-for-5,812) with 309 doubles, 76 home runs and 629 RBI in 1,726 major league games.”
As a long-time front office man, Loretta will be a different kind of presence for the Cubs’ bench job, which had previously been long-time coach Dave Martinez’s, and then long-time coach and player development man Brandon Hyde. (The Cubs also announced the addition of former big league pitcher Bob Tewksbury to the mental skills program, but we’ll discuss that separately.)
Also, as you no doubt would notice, Loretta spent some big league time with the Red Sox when the Theo Epstein regime was there, and then joined the Padres’ front office when Jed Hoyer was running the show there. The connections run deep with the current front office, and it’s hard not to take notice of that fact when they were left scrambling late in the hiring cycle to find a bench coach.
Also, given that Joe Maddon is on the final year of his contract and was not offered an extension (yet), maybe the front office was looking to have someone in the dugout with whom they have a more direct line than you’d typically see with a bench coach. I don’t mean that in any nefarious way, mind you – that’s just the way modern front office-coaching staff relations are trending.
With Loretta joining the previously-announced and finalized coaching staff, the Cubs now have their full crew at the big league level. They still have some critical coordinator and minor league coaching positions to fill, but at least they’ve finally got the big league staff in place.