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The Cubs Hit a “Home Run” with Their Hitting Coach Hire, Minor League Rules Changes, and Other Cubs Bullets

Chicago Cubs

The Blackhawks have not trailed since their coaching change. Could be an artifact of a lot of things and you don’t want to pin it exclusively on that change, but geez. Jeremy Colliton has gotta be wondering some things.

•   The Athletic duo of Sahadev Sharma and Patrick Mooney responded to some questions here, and it’s always a good read. Our latest podcast episode is in there, too, if you absolutely need to hear my mellifluous voice. Among the thoughts from Sharma, another way of describing the changes to the pitching infrastructure, as well as the hitting side, where new hitting coach Greg Brown comes in for some love:

This isn’t a complete shift in philosophy, but legitimate changes are being made with specific plans in mind. I touched on this during the GM meetings and think some of Hoyer’s quotes in there lay it out pretty plainly. Essentially, we need to stop thinking of the minor leagues and major leagues as separate entities when it comes to coaching and developing players. Communication and collaboration across the board need to improve.

So Tommy Hottovy and new assistant pitching coach Daniel Moskos need to think and talk similarly to Craig Breslow, the vice president of pitching. Same with Greg Brown, Johnny Washington and Justin Stone on the hitting side ….

The hope is that some stability at both levels and some coaching additions should lead to some success. A lot of these hires come with some high hopes. Multiple sources outside the Cubs organization called Brown a “home run” hire and said he connects with players and does a great job communicating and making sure other coaches feel involved and valued.

•   There’s never a bad time to be good at developing players of any stripe, so there’s only so much I can say in making this point. But it sure feels like it’s going to be an important next few years for the Cubs in making sure their young bats can not only climb the minor league ladder successfully, but then also transition to the big leagues and keep developing. There’s just an overwhelming volume of very young, very low-level positional talent in the system right now. Gotta convert those guys into real contributors.

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•   Lost track of this for a minute, so it’s a little old, but it’s really useful. Over at The Ringer, the data duo of Rob Arthur and Ben Lindbergh (it’s a day for duos I guess) looked at the actual impact of the minor league rules changes this past season from an analytical perspective. There’s a huge discussion of robo umps (Automated Balls and Strikes (ABS)), where there are clear pros and cons, but mostly a lack of knowledge on how it would actually play out with more advanced pitchers and hitters. Using the system at the lowest levels is good for data collection on the technology, but maybe not so useful for data collection on player performance. I expect we’ll see ABS start climbing the minor league ladder in the years ahead, long before it would actually be deployed in the big leagues – basically, I left the piece feeling like, no matter what, we won’t see ABS in MLB for several years, at least.

•   Remember the idea to move the mound back? It was used in the second half of the Atlantic League season with inconclusive results. A little more contact on a per-swing basis, yes, but no decrease in strikeout rate (because more pitches were taken for strikes). Might just need more time and data on that one. Ditto on banning the shift – BABIP increased, but not by much (I’d argue that’s because hitter behavior doesn’t and can’t change overnight). Well, unless you’re talking about the rules about baserunning: the rule about limiting pick-off throws to two per plate appearance DRAMATICALLY increased stolen base attempts and success rate. So that seems like a winner if you like stolen bases. Much, much more in a very data-dense article.

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•   I am all for giving random love to DJ Herz:

•   For the Pearl Jam fans among you:



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.