We’re only a week removed from Joe Maddon saying he thought his whole staff would return for 2018, yet most of his top lieutenants are either gone or prepped to leave. Chris Bosio’s contract was not renewed, Davey Martinez is a top managerial candidate, and Eric Hinske was hired away by the Angels.
Now comes news that John Mallee will not return as the Cubs hitting coach, which should comfort a lot of folks who blamed him for the team’s inconsistent offense. Truth be told, that probably did contribute to Mallee’s undoing. If bullpen walks were Bosio’s bugaboo, big strikeout numbers were Mallee’s.
Stepping into the vacant role is Chili Davis, a longtime MLB vet who has since served as hitting coach for both the A’s and Red Sox. Here’s more on Davis from the Cubs’ press release.
Davis, 57, in 2018 will mark his seventh season as a major league hitting coach as he previously spent three seasons with Oakland (2012-14) and three with Boston (2015-17). Over the last three seasons under Davis’ watch, the Red Sox have led the majors in runs (2,411) and pitches per plate appearances (3.95), tied for first in on-base percentage (.334), ranked second in batting average (.268), third in OPS (.762) and plate appearances per strikeout (5.35).
A native of Jamaica, Davis enjoyed a 19-year major league career (1981-99), won three World Championships (1991, 1998, 1999) and was a three-time All-Star. The switch-hitting outfielder was a career .274 hitter (2,380-for-8,673) with 424 doubles, 350 home runs, 1,372 RBI and 1,240 runs scored in 2,436 games. He drove in 80 or more runs in a season nine times and hit 20 or more home runs in a campaign 10 times.
Davis was originally selected in the 11th round of the 1977 Draft by San Francisco. He became the first Jamaican to reach the big leagues when he made his debut on April 10, 1981. Overall, Davis played for the Giants (1981-87), the Angels (1988-90, 93-96), the Twins (1991-92), the Royals (1997) and the Yankees (1998-99). He served as Triple-A hitting coach for the Pawtucket Red Sox in 2011 before joining Oakland’s major league staff a year later.
Roving hitting instructor Andy Haines, who notably worked with Kyle Schwarber when the slugger was demoted, has been promoted to assistant hitting instructor to fill Hinske’s former role. While he’s maybe not as much of a rah-rah guy, Haines knows his stuff and should be an excellent influence on the big league team.
The Cubs made another change to the staff Thursday, replacing third base coach Gary Jones with Brian Butterfield. A player and coach for nearly four decades, Butterfield has been a third base coach for 18 years. Wow.
No word yet on the pitching coach gig, for which former Rays coach Jim Hickey is a prohibitive favorite. Mike Maddux is an option as well. Both are highly coveted and are likely doing their due diligence before finalizing their choices.