The New Bench Coach, Cubs Robust Mental Skills Group, Lineup Dreamin', and Other Bullets

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The New Bench Coach, Cubs Robust Mental Skills Group, Lineup Dreamin’, and Other Bullets

Chicago Cubs

It’s annual physical day, which mostly just means I’m really hungry due to the fasting for the blood draw. Well, I suppose I’m also a little nervous for the results, because I know that I haven’t been eating very well for the last few months. It’s hard to be disciplined about food all the time. Sigh. And now I’m hungry again.

  • If you missed it yesterday, the Cubs announced their new bench coach, as former big leaguer Mark Loretta will be the new guy working with Joe Maddon. As a front office member with San Diego when Jed Hoyer was there, with Loretta now transitioning into a coaching role, and with many current managers having come from a front office, it’s only natural that folks will wonder whether the Cubs are giving themselves an internal option for after this season should Maddon depart (one way or another). Loretta is a future big league manager according to at least one Cubs-connected pundit:

  • Despite all that, and the Cubs’ situation, Loretta should not be looked at as a manager-in-waiting behind Maddon. Yes, that’s a plausible outcome, but for now, I would just assume the Cubs were trying to get the best mind into the organization as possible, given their short timeline to land a bench coach who wasn’t already under contract as a coach somewhere else.
  • Loretta, by the way, was a perfectly average hitter: .295/.360/.395, 100 wRC+. Interestingly, his career year was a .335/.391/.495 (137 wRC+) when he was a 33-year-old in San Diego. Indeed, he was a far better hitter after turning 30 than before it, thanks mostly to a walk rate that ticked up and a strikeout rate that basically vanished – in that career year, dude struck out just 6.4% of the time. Good player. Hopefully he’s a good coach.
  • When announcing Loretta’s addition as the bench coach, the Cubs also announced that they’ve brought highly-regarded mental skills coach Bob Tewksbury in as a coordinator of the mental skills program. The former big league pitcher is something of a pioneer in the field, having already spent 15 years as a mental skills coach, most of it with the Red Sox (yes, during the Theo Epstein years). As mental skills director Joshua Lifrak notes, the Cubs have a very robust coaching group:

  • The more the merrier as far as I’m concerned when it comes to this aspect of the game, and the younger coaches can probably learn a thing or two from Tewksbury. There are only so many edges available in the sport, but the way a player’s mental ability can impact not only his performance on a given day, but also his long-term development and longevity? That’s definitely one.
  • This just looks cool:

  • Just dreamin’:

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Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.