The Chicago Cubs announced the coaching staff that will surround new manager Rick Renteria in 2014 on Friday, and there are some very interesting names and job titles on the list. Brandon Hyde got the bench coach job, essentially becoming the manager’s right-hand man, coming down from the front-office role of director of player development to do so. Jose Castro was named quality-assistance coach, and Mike Borzello (previously a staff assistant) got a title change, to catching and strategy coach.
With that, nearly all of the distinct lines that once separated the front office from the field staff have disappeared. Teams all over the league are doing things like this, mostly when it comes to defensive positioning and coordination, but the Cubs seem to have taken it one step further. Castro’s job is to ensure that plans are executed according to design. Hyde’s presence in the dugout signals not only that the top-line executives—Theo Esptein, Jed Hoyer and company—approve of the job Hyde has done in implementing player-development philosophies, but that they want the continuity of approach to run all the way up into the big-league dugout. It’s not overwhelmingly clear what role Borzello will play in his strategic role, but the very fact that the job description exists is intriguing.
Innovation in baseball is most rewarding when it fosters the easy or cheap acquisition of very strong talent. This isn’t that. Coaches matter, and matter in ways we can’t measure well, but talent ultimately determines the winners and losers in baseball, most of the time. Nonetheless, the aggressive restructuring we’re witnessing here—the ripple effects run into the front office, too, with amateur scouting director Jaron Madison taking Hyde’s old job, and Matt Dorey moving into Madison’s—bears watching. It could mean nothing, but it more probably means that the Cubs will enjoy synergy between the front office and dugout staff that most teams can only envy, and that should help them maximize what they can get out of whatever talent they assemble, this season or going forward.Next post: St. Louis Cardinals Add Peter Bourjos, Jhonny Peralta and a Whole Lot of Flexibility
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