Dont judge Rob Deer by the back of his baseball card.
That was essentially the message from general manager Jed Hoyer, responding to some of the chatter about the Cubs and their new assistant hitting coach. Maybe this name wouldnt have registered as much in another city, if White Sox sluggerstrikeout king Adam Dunn wasnt working on the South Side.
But between 1987 and 1993, Deer led the American League in strikeouts four times, while also generating the power that allowed him to crush 230 home runs during his big-league career.
I always think that mentioning a coachs stats as a player is one of the least useful things I can imagine, Hoyer said Tuesday. No one ever mentions Jim Leylands numbers or Tony La Russas numbers or any of those guys professional stats.
Coaching and playing are two very separate things. And just because a guy happened to strike out a lot, or didnt have a high batting average, it doesnt effect how well he teaches at all.
Deer is tight with manager Dale Sveum after their playing days together with the Milwaukee Brewers. Deer will work alongside hitting coach James Rowson. Sveum is also an old hitting coach and can often be seen giving instruction by the cage during batting practice.
In the past, Deer (San Diego Padres) and Rowson (New York Yankees) have worked as minor-league hitting coordinators, which should help them guide the youth movement at Wrigley Field.
Several well-respected organizations including the Atlanta Braves, Los Angeles Dodgers, Philadelphia Phillies and St. Louis Cardinals have added an extra set of eyes and incorporated an assistant hitting coach. The logic is simple in what can be a copycat league.
Baseball teams in general are starting to realize that the pitching coach has 12 guys, and he has help from the bullpen coach, Hoyer said. The hitting coach has 13 guys and really no help at all.
In multiple interviews across the years, Deer has explained that he instructs hitters to do what he didnt, that he learned from his limitations. Theres also something to be said for the instant credibility that comes from having stepped into the box for more than 4,500 plate appearances in the big leagues.
I also would note that (Deer) was a guy who did get on base and had a lot of power, Hoyer said. But I dont think that a coachs playing background says a lot about how he coaches, how he teaches.