There were no confirmations or announcements about the coaching staff at yesterday’s introductory press conference for new manager David Ross, but it’s been a fair bet that there would be at least some turnover.
Among other spots, it has seemed like the bench coach gig – the manager’s number two – might be ripe for change, not so much because Mark Loretta did anything wrong in his year with Joe Maddon, but rather because a rookie manager might be best paired with a different kind of bench coach.
Sure enough, while stopping short of saying the Cubs would definitely be making a change at the spot, President Theo Epstein strongly suggested it.
‘‘Either as bench coach or somewhere on the staff, I think it’s important, given David’s lack of experience managing, to have someone who’s either managed or been a bench coach and can stay a step ahead of him early on over the course of the game as he grows into the job,’’ Epstein told the Sun-Times. ‘‘That would make a lot of sense.’’
Obviously Epstein isn’t saying it has to be the bench coach, but given the nature of the role and its proximity to managing the game, you’d think that would be the most obvious spot for an experienced former manager, ideally.
That squares with things that Ross, himself, said about wanting his bench coach to be a “step ahead” of him until he really gets that “feel” as a manager.
You don’t know what you don’t know, and the benefit of having an experienced former manager in that bench coach role is that he can be quite an in-game asset to Ross, without necessarily stepping on Ross’s leadership toes in the clubhouse. Nobody expects Ross to be a perfect in-game manager from the jump, so why not help set him up for success on that side of things? And obviously, having another experienced voice in the clubhouse could be a benefit, too.
An early name I reckon you’ll hear folks speculating about? Former Red Sox manager John Farrell has family connections to the Cubs’ organization (all three of his sons have been in the organization either as players, scouts, or execs), was a pitching coach with the Red Sox when the Cubs’ front office was there, and also was the manager in Boston when Ross was a player there. Currently, Farrell is a special assignment scout in the Reds’ organization.
There were rumors last year that Farrell could be considered for the Cubs’ pitching coach job, which ultimately went to Tommy Hottovy.