Chicago Cubs

Cubs: The rundown on the minor-league staff

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Cubs: The rundown on the minor-league staff

The Cubs are betting big on this youth movement, the idea of player development. So even if these names dont jump out into headlines, they will be doing important work behind the scenes.
Whether thats helping Brett Jackson with his two-strike approach at Triple-A Iowa, or guiding Arodys Vizcaino as he recovers from Tommy John surgery in Des Moines, there needs to be some finishing touches.
At some point next year, Cubs fans should be able to drive to Class-A Kane County and see some of the prospects Albert Almora and Jorge Soler who are supposed to be foundation pieces in Theo Epsteins rebuilding project.
Heres a look at the minor-league staff the Cubs unveiled on Tuesday:
Triple-A IowaMarty Pevey (manager)Mike Mason (pitching coach)Brian Harper (hitting coach)Nick Frangella (athletic trainer)Ed Kohl (strength coach)
Note: Pevey had worked as the organizations catching coordinator for the past three seasons, running his experience to almost three decades in professional baseball. Harper who won a World Series ring with the 1991 Minnesota Twins moves up a level after managing at Double-A Tennessee and Class-A Daytona.
Double-A TennesseeBuddy Bailey (manager)Jeff Fassero (pitching coach)Desi Wilson (hitting coach)Scott Barringer (athletic trainer)Ryan Clausen (strength coach)
Note: This will be Baileys 25th year as a manager in the minors. Fassero pitched for nine teams in the big leagues and went 121-124 with a 4.11 ERA during his 16-year career. Look for top prospect Javier Baez to be in Tennessee by the second half of next season if he continues on this fast track.
Class-A DaytonaDave Keller (manager)Storm Davis (pitching coach)Mariano Duncan (hitting coach)Peter Fagan (athletic trainer)
Note: Keller has been with the organization for almost a decade, earning a good reputation as a hitting instructor. Davis who won 113 games during his 13-year career in the big leagues is a new hire. He spent the last two seasons as the pitching coach at Class-A Hickory, an affiliate of the Texas Rangers. Before that, he helped The Bolles School in Jacksonville, Fla., win back-to-back state titles in 2009 and 2010.
Class-A Kane CountyMark Johnson (manager)Ron Villone (pitching coach)Tom Beyers (hitting coach)Shane Nelson (athletic trainer)
Note: Johnson, the former White Sox catcher, gets bumped up after managing two seasons at Class-A Boise. Villone pitched for 12 teams in the majors, and he could be working with some of the more interesting arms in the system, Pierce Johnson and Dillon Maples, trying to help get them to that level. On some nights, it could be worth sitting through the traffic to get to Geneva.
Class-A BoiseGary Van Tol (manager)David Rosario (pitching coach)Bill Buckner (hitting coach)Jonathan Fierro (athletic trainer)
Note: After five seasons as a volunteer coach and serving as an associate scout, Van Tol has been elevated. He has extensive experience in the college game after coaching at Gonzaga University and the University of Portland. Buckner the Curb Your Enthusiasm guest star returns for his second season on the job.
Mesa (Rookie)Bobby Mitchell (manager)Anderson Tavares (pitching coach)Rick Tronerud (rehab pitching coordinator)Ricardo Medina, Jimmy Gonzalez (hitting coaches) Steve Melendez (athletic trainer) Yi-Chiang Chang (rehab strength coach)
Dominican (Rookie)Yudith Ozorio (manager) Leo Hernandez (pitching coach)Oscar Bernard (hitting coach) Wilkin Perez (athletic trainer)
Note: The Cubs will only have one Dominican team next season. Osmin Melendez will manage the Venezuelan Cubs, a newly created team, with Franklin Blanco working as the hitting coach.
Tim Cossins who has spent the past 10 seasons in the Miami Marlins organization will help oversee it all as the minor-league field coordinator. The Marlins draw far more attention for their fire sales, but they have a good job developing impact players like Giancarlo Stanton.
The Cubs consider Derek Johnson to be a signature hire. Johnson had resisted other chances to leave Vanderbilt University, where he coached several top prospects, including future Tampa Bay Rays ace David Price, the American Leagues Cy Young Award winner in 2012. As the new minor-league pitching coordinator, Johnson will try to address the systems biggest weakness the lack of impact arms.
Anthony Iapoce, a special assistant in player development, will oversee the minor-league hitting program while working on other projects within the organization. The last three seasons he worked as a roving hitting coordinator for the Toronto Blue Jays.
Carmelo Martinez, whos been a presence for the Cubs in Latin America, becomes the hitting coordinator for Class-A, Rookie League and Dominican League teams. Jose Flores joins the organization as the minor-league infield coordinator. Lee Tinsley is back for his third year as the outfieldbaserunning coordinator. Doug Jarrow (strength and conditioning), Justin Sharpe (athletic training) and Chuck Baughman (rehabilitation) also return as coordinators.
There are roughly two months left until pitchers and catcher report to Arizona.

Jose Quintana’s ‘career-altering’ game has Cubs planning clinch party in St. Louis

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USA TODAY

Jose Quintana’s ‘career-altering’ game has Cubs planning clinch party in St. Louis

MILWAUKEE – The Cubs are going to destroy Busch Stadium’s visiting clubhouse. The rivalry has fundamentally shifted to the point where the St. Louis Cardinals are hanging around the National League’s wild-card race in a transition year and it would have been a massive failure if the defending World Series champs didn’t win this division. But there will be some symbolism to popping champagne bottles and spraying beer all over that room.

“We intend to clinch there,” Ben Zobrist said after Jose Quintana’s complete-game masterpiece in Sunday’s 5-0 win over the Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park. “And I think for a lot of the guys that have been around here for a long time, it’s going to be very satisfying.”

Quintana has only been a Cub since the Brewers failed to close a deal with the White Sox and team president Theo Epstein swooped in to make a signature trade during the All-Star break. Quintana hasn’t yet pitched in the playoffs, but this is close enough, the Cubs winning back-to-back 10-inning games against the Brewers and shaking off a walk-off loss before the lefty faced off against Chase Anderson in front of a sellout crowd of 42,212.

Quintana gave the Cubs more data points to consider as they prepare for a probable first-round series against the Washington Nationals. The magic number to eliminate both the Brewers and Cardinals is two, with Milwaukee off on Monday and the Cubs playing a rivalry game in St. Louis that night, meaning the party goggles won’t come out until Tuesday at the earliest.

“It’s the playoffs already for this team,” said Zobrist, who again looked like a World Series MVP in the seventh inning of a 1-0 game when he launched Anderson’s first-pitch fastball into the second deck in right field for a two-run, breathing-room homer. “We’re already thinking that way.

“We’re in postseason mode right now. And we intend to continue that for the next month.”

While there are valid concerns about Jon Lester’s nosedive in performance since coming off the disabled list and the state of Jake Arrieta’s right hamstring, the focus should also be on how Quintana (7-3, 3.50 ERA in 13 starts as a Cub) could be an October game-changer for this rotation.

“Once he got over here, he was really jacked up about having a chance to play in the playoffs,” manager Joe Maddon said. “He’s showing you that right now. Games like that, to me, could be kind of career-altering for a pitcher.

“When you pitch a complete-game shutout on the road under these circumstances, that definitely does something for your interior. It definitely fluffs it up a little bit.”

“It’s exciting to be here,” said Quintana, who allowed only three singles, piled up 10 strikeouts against one walk and hit 93 mph on his 116th and final pitch in the ninth inning. “I just try to help my team and it’s really special when you get that opportunity. It’s about winning and I have a huge opportunity here.”

In all phases of the game – dominant starting pitching, an offense that created different ways to score runs, multiple bullpen contributors and an airtight defense that committed zero errors in 39 innings – Maddon saw what he was looking for: “We reacted in a playoff manner for these four games. Our mental intensity could not be beat.”

That drifting, in-and-out focus had been part of the background when the Cubs shocked the baseball world with the Quintana trade in the middle of July. Concentration won’t be an issue at Busch Stadium. And this hangover will be real.

“It will be nice to do it there, I’ll just say that,” said Zobrist, who understands the Cubs-Cardinals dynamic as someone who grew up in downstate Illinois. “But we got to win the games.

“As John Lackey said it before (this) series: ‘This is not a small series, boys.’ We knew it was a big one here in Milwaukee. And it will be another big one in St. Louis.”

Joe Maddon gives Cubs space during national anthem: ‘Everybody’s got the right to express themselves’

Joe Maddon gives Cubs space during national anthem: ‘Everybody’s got the right to express themselves’

MILWAUKEE – As protests formed at NFL stadiums across the country, sending an anti-Trump message after the president’s inflammatory rhetoric, a group of about 11 Cubs players and coaches stood off the third-base line while a men’s a cappella group sung the national anthem before Sunday’s 5-0 win over the Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park.

The night before, Oakland A’s catcher Bruce Maxwell became the first Major League Baseball player to follow in Colin Kaepernick’s footsteps and kneel during the national anthem at the Oakland Coliseum, sending a jolt through a conservative industry.  

“Like I’ve always talked about, everybody’s got the right to express themselves in the manner in which they feel,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “I’ve always felt that way.”

That’s easer said than done in a team sport that doesn’t have the same outspoken culture as NBA or NFL locker rooms. It will be fascinating to see if this starts a similar movement across baseball. The Cubs are a marquee team that has already visited the White House twice since January and will likely return to Washington in October for a must-watch playoff series against the Nationals.

“I have no idea,” Maddon said. “We’re going to wait and see. And, again, if it does, that’s fine. I have no issues. I’m all into self-expression. And if a player feels that he needs to express himself in that manner, then so be it.”

[RELATED — Joe Maddon feels the heat from White House comments and rethinks Trump vs. sports world]

Maxwell, the son of a U.S. Army veteran who made his big-league debut last year, told Bay Area reporters this decision had been building and rooted in his own childhood in Alabama, where Trump appeared on Friday at a rally for Republican Senate candidate Luther Strange and told the crowd that NFL owners should fire any “son of a b----” kneeling during the national anthem.      

“The point of my kneeling was not to disrespect our military or our constitution or our country,” Maxwell said. “My hand was over my heart because I love this country and I have family members, including my father, who bled for this country, and who continue to serve.

“At the end of the day, this is the best country on the planet. I am and forever will be an American citizen and grateful to be here. But my kneeling is what’s getting the attention, and I’m kneeling for the people who don’t have a voice.

“This goes beyond the black and Hispanic communities because right now we have a racial divide that’s being practiced from the highest power we have in this country saying it’s basically OK to treat people differently. I’m kneeling for a cause, but I’m in no way disrespecting my country or my flag.”

Maddon’s anti-rules philosophy gives the Cubs the space to do whatever they think’s necessary to get ready for the next game. It’s freedom from: dress codes on road trips, guidelines on facial hair and overloaded mandatory batting-practice sessions.

That hands-off approach has worked to the point where the defending World Series champs could clinch a second straight National League Central title as soon as Tuesday at Busch Stadium and celebrate in front of the St. Louis Cardinals. It’s not unusual to see only a small group of players, coaches and staffers standing on the field during the national anthem.

“That’s up to them,” Maddon said. “I’ve never really had a policy regarding being out for the anthem or not. A lot of times guys like to do different things right before the game begins. Sometimes, you’re on the road, you hit later and you get in later and then your time is at a premium. So I’ve never really had a specific theory about coming out for your anthem at all.”