Internal Hitting Coach Move, Wanting to Work with the Core, and Other Cubs Bullets

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Internal Hitting Coach Move, Wanting to Work with the Core, and Other Cubs Bullets

Chicago Cubs

These gd Crumbl Cookies are causing me problems. The Wife is addicted, which is fine, but that makes us codependent cookie users, because I am also addicted. If just one of us could and would stop, we’d be in much better shape. But since neither of us wants to stop, we keep getting them. And they are insanely good, but also hilariously unhealthy.

•   The Athletic reports that the Cubs’ opening at the assistant hitting coach position – aka the spot that is TOTALLY GOING TO FIX IT ALL – could be an internal promotion, with Minor League Hitting Coordinator Chris Valaika possibly getting a bump up to the big league staff. It would make a lot of sense as a guy who is more on the cutting edge of the developmental side (perhaps something that’s needed at the big league level), and also with Justin Stone’s arrival as the Director of Hitting (perhaps making the Minor League Hitting Coordinator role less current):

As a younger coach, the Cubs could view Valaika as the hitting version of [Pitching Coach Tommy] Hottovy, who’s able to draw upon his recent experience as a pitcher and familiarity with the tech that’s common in today’s game. Valaika spent a year at Sparta Science, a company that touts itself as “the leader in the application of movement diagnostic software.” It’s the type of technology — force plates primarily — that director of hitting Justin Stone has made an essential part of the team’s player development infrastructure.

When Stone was named director of hitting last offseason, Craig Breslow took over as director of pitching. Breslow did away with the position of minor league pitching coordinator and applied a different approach that amounted to different instructors applying their particular expertise when needed. Stone, meanwhile, became the lead voice for how hitting instruction would be run in the minors.

•   Speaking of the hitting coach situation, the incumbent hitting coach, Anthony Iapoce, still believes in the core and wants them all back (NBC): “Absolutely,” he said of the chances the core gets back to top-tier numbers. “I can’t say it enough. I’m super excited about rolling into next season with these guys, especially these guys going into that last year of their contract.”

•   I included that quote, in particular, because of the last part – the indication that Iapoce is particularly eager to work with guys like Kris Bryant, Javy Báez, Kyle Schwarber, and Anthony Rizzo. It’s not just that these are guys with huge offensive potential, but the implication is that, with free agency on the horizon, it might be especially possible to really get the most out of them. Is it possible there’s even more openness to coaching in a moment like that? Whatever happens with the roster, and as much as I don’t just want to see the Cubs “run it back” again, I recognize a couple realities: (1) circumstances might make running it back the only real option, and (2) these guys have the potential to be monsters in 2021. I know we grow tired of hearing it, but that doesn’t make it any less true.

•   Speaking of that stuff, let me circle back to a stray quote from The Athletic piece, which stands out all the more in light of the hitting coach considerations: “Of course, being a former big-leaguer isn’t all it takes to get through to a group that might have been spoiled by early success.”

•   I guess we’re just all about hitting stuff today:

•   What’s interesting about that list is how many guys up there had really down seasons at the plate (if you click through, you’ll see Kyle Schwarber and Jo Adell, among others that you can’t see in the embed). We know that hitting the ball very hard is good, but we also know it’s not the only thing, especially if you’re deeply inconsistent. As Ochart’s thread suggests, you might have exceptional bat speed, but you hurt yourself with poor barrel control and/or poor swing decisions.

•   I wondered, so I checked:

•   That’s wild:

•   I was a guest on the Holy Cow! podcast this week:

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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.