Commentary: Looking for a new Cubs pitching coach

by - Columnist -
Mark Rebilas - USA Today Sports
Mark Rebilas - USA Today Sports

When Jim Hickey announced yesterday he was stepping down as pitching coach of the Cubs my initial thought was whew. I won’t be that guy that is piling on him today. Anytime your real life issues impact your professional life it is a tough thing to go thru and why make a guy feel worse than he already does.

However, it is an opportunity for the Cubs to put someone in that position that will have the ear of the staff. I watched last year the mound visits by Hickey and it appeared more times than not that the pitchers were not even paying attention to him. Many times, things actually got worse after he left then they were before he went out there.

The issue for the Cubs is that Joe Maddon is a lame duck manager right now and it is unlikely that any top-flight pitching coach is going to leave his current situation and join the Cubs without some sort of guarantee that he won’t be cut loose when Maddon is gone.

There has been plenty of names bandied about and I won’t bore you with that list, but the Cubs are going to either have to settle for a second or third tier coach, or they will have to look within for help.

Which brings me to my suggestion for team Theo. Once again I ride to the rescue and offer the brain trust my help in making the right move. At some point, you would think he would mention how valuable I’ve been to him. So far crickets.

Anyway, the obvious solution here is to promote the one guy who has the best insight into the pitchers on this team and that is Lester Strode the current bullpen coach. He has 30+ years with the organization and has been with the major league ballclub for the last 12 seasons. He knows them, they love him, and you get the additional advantage of opening a spot for David Ross as the replacement bullpen coach.

It is an easy transition and if, as I suspect, he is as good as he will be, you then can give him an extension whenever you make the manager change that will be made in 2019 and keep him around for a while.

I will let Theo and Jed swish that around in their heads this week and expect them to follow thru early next week.

Have a safe and Happy Thanksgiving.

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