Dave Magadan would be a great fit for the Cubs

First off, I apologize for not having an article up the past two days.  I was at a resort in Wisconsin with my wife.  We had a nice relaxing weekend.  I played 3rd class golf on a world class golf course and my wife did the spa thing.  I was completely disconnected.  I did not even see a computer until late last night.

We're back in Chicago but we'll be off again early tomorrow morning.  This time we'll be off to Arizona to visit some friends and catch some baseball.  The Arizona Fall League opens tomorrow with the Mesa Solar Sox (the team with the Cubs players on it) opening up the season against Salt River.  I can't wait and I'll report as often as I can from there.  I'm also planning to check out some instructional league play.  After that, I'll get to work on some prospect lists.

Anyway, on with the item for today...

We know that the Cubs let Pat Listach go and the Cubs will need to replace him this offseason.  My mind, however, is on the hitting coach situation.  Right now the person filling that role is James Rowson and he's done an admirable role coming into a tough situation as an interim coach.  It was a team with some bad habits at the plate but we did see progress toward the end of the year, particularly with Starlin Castro and Welington Castillo.  He also worked on retooling Brett Jackson's swing, but success on that isn't going to happen overnight, if at all.  If Rowson isn't retained as hitting coach, I would like to see him retained in some capacity, perhaps to his old role as a minor league hitting instructor.

The Cubs haven't taken the interim label  off of Rowson yet, so the feeling here is that the Cubs will explore what's available out there.  The name that stands out is Dave Magadan.  Magadan has been the hitting coach of the Boston Red Sox and with the situation suddenly unstable in Beantown, he may become available this offseason.

Technically Magadan is still under contract.  The guaranteed portion ran out after this season but he does have an option year remaining.  That option is held by the Red Sox.

The team will once again undergo a managerial search and Magadan's fate is uncertain.  If the search becomes protracted this year, that would leave him twisting in the wind until that new manager is hired.  He is to speak with GM Ben Cherington over the next few days and it's entirely possible he may ask that team not pick up his option.  And while he is popular with the players and has been successful with the Red Sox, it's also entirely possible that Cherington may oblige him on that, knowing he can't guarantee Magadan's job security.  That fate will be decided by whomever is hired as manager.  Cherington himself said that new manager will "have a strong voice" in the decision.

Magadan went through this same scenario last year.  The Red Sox had a long, muddled search before finally deciding on Bobby Valentine, who lasted just one year.  Magadan agreed to stay on with the Red Sox, saying "he was under contract".  It was curious to me at the time.  Would he have stayed if he was not under contract?  We may get a chance to find out if the Red Sox make him a free agent this offseason.

When he was a player, Magadan had a disciplined approach as a hitter and that has translated to his philosophy as a hitting coach.  His team ranked first in both OBP and OPS as recently as 2011.  They also finished first in OPS in 2010 and in the top 3 in every year since 2007 when Magadan was hired.  Even in a frustating, confused season for the Red Sox, they still managed to finish 11th in OPS in 2012.

Some may question how much coaches can make a difference but we see it all the time.  We've seen it with Dave McKay here this season.  Dave Duncan and Don Cooper always seem to take on successful reclamation projects on the mound.  We've even seen a hitting coach here in Chicago transform a team as recently as 5 years ago. Gerald Perry took over as the Cubs hitting coach under Lou Piniella in 2007 and the team immediately jumped from 29th to 18th in OBP in his first year and then finished 2nd in OBP in 2008 (behind, who else? Dave Magadan's Red Sox).  The Cubs also finished 3rd in OPS and 1st in the NL en route to the division championship.  Unfortunately, when the Cubs got off to a slow start in 2009, Perry was the fall guy and got the axe.

Magadan, of course, is very familiar with the Cubs current front office, though he did not cross paths with manager Dale Sveum, who left the Red Sox after the 2005 season. The Red Sox expect to make a decision quickly and if Magadan becomes a free agent, I expect the Cubs to make a hard push to try and add him to their staff.

Filed under: 2013 Offseason Series

Tags: Dave Magadan


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  • Hopefully it doesn't work out that the Cubs are asked for compensation if they want to hire Magadan. I've seen that episode already.

  • They won't be entitled to that if they don't pick up his option, which is very possible. That's one thing to keep an eye on over the next few days.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Here's hoping for another busy and successful off-season for the Cubs, and for the Cardinals to lose.

  • Agreed. They should have lost to the Braves! Awful call on that infield fly.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Had there not been an (unnecessary) extra umpire on the foul line, that call never would have happened.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I bet that Umpire was once a NFL replacement Ref.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Even if bases loaded and one out, no guarantee they win the game

  • John,
    I've been out of the loop for a bit. Based kn Theo's comments and Cub Den analysis, it seems that there's a good possibility we could see as many as 4 veteran FAs on shorter-term deals-excluding the pen-. It sounds like 3B, OF, 2 SPs?

    The general tenor seems to be that they've figured a lot out about what they have and what they need. The offseason goal appears to be about improving the on-field product and potentially acquiring some additional deadline assets to buttress the farm, no?

  • In reply to Carl9730:

    It appears they'll do what they can to improve the club. I don't know if all the improvements will come via free agency. We could also see trades, especially for young, arb eligible and/or out of options players with upside,

    I don't expect them to sacrifice any long term assets or flexibility, of course. I think its too early to do that. But like you say, on short term deals, I wouldn't be surprised at all.

  • If Magadan doesn't become available, we could just off it to Gerald Perry. He's hitting coach for the Pawtucket Sox now. I'm sure he'd love to get away from the bus rides.

    As far as Listach's replacement, I'd like to try to get Omar Vizquel. He could take over the infield coaching from Sveum and would immediately get Castro's attention, even though I like what Dale's done with him and Barney.

  • In reply to SFToby:

    Good point! Put Perry on the short list too.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    You can't really read anything from him taking our OBP from 29th to 18th in his first year. That was the offseason of the Hendry spending spree. Totally different team.

  • In reply to Carne Harris:

    Soriano didn't exactly add to the OBP, nor did Ted Lilly or Jason Marquis. Mark DeRosa helped, but not enough to bring them from 29 to 18.

    And then what of the next year of bringing it from 18 to 2nd overall and first in NL in 2008? It couldn't have all been Fukudome and his great first half.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Those are excellent factual points, John.
    It's too bad Perry was scapegoated, but it seems to happen to hitting coaches a lot (e.g. Angels and Mariners this year).
    Whether Magadan, Perry, or someone else comes into the picture, I hope that Rowson gets to stay in the Cubs system. I think he has done well with the minor-league prospects, but hasn't had much of a chance to work with the big team.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Actually, Soriano had a .337 OBP that year. DeRosa .371. Cliff Floyd .373. Jason Kendall .362. Daryl Ward .436. 2007 to 2008 might be a testament to him as hitting coach, but can't help but see 2006 to 2007 as skewed with all those personnel changes.

  • Cubs players most likely to be traded this off season......

    LaHair, Marmol, Campana,......

    Don't be surprise if these Cubs get traded this off season.....

    Russell, Lake, Vitters...........

    and what about Soriano?.........he will be with us until the end of his contract.

  • In reply to CubsTalk:

    Russell would have to be a modified form of a Marshall deal. Russell hasn't reached the 'will be expensive soon' stage yet.

  • In reply to tim815:

    Russell is plain and simply NOT a good pitcher.

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    In reply to CubsTalk:

    I agree that LaHair, Marmol, and possibly Campana have some value and could be dealt. But Russell is still young and has great value to the Cubs given his salary, so I don't see him going anywhere unless he's part of a bigger deal for the team to secure an impact prospect or two.
    Lake & Vitters? These guys are not impact prospects yet so they have very little value to other teams. These two would have to be "throw-ins" as part of a much bigger deal.
    Marmol is the only guy I see with enough value to be desirable to other teams, therefore most likely to be traded.

  • In reply to AdolphoPhillips67:

    Lake is tradable. Not for anything significant, but maybe a decent A Ball starter now is the best we will ever get for him.

  • In reply to AdolphoPhillips67:

    Agreed, not much sense in trading Lake unless there is an old school team that values him highly. As long as you're not paying big money for him, what's the point? Maybe he figures it out and puts those great tools to use or maybe he doesn't, but trading him right now isn't going to bring back anyone of significance.

  • Dave Magadan would be a very nice fit, and there is always the Red Sox connection. Unless the Red Sox get John Farrell to be their next manager and that's a big if considering the Blue Jays will ask for a lot , I see Magadan leaving. The only Cubs who "may" get a decent return in a trade is Soriano. It looks like the TB Rays are sniffing around Soriano again, if Soriano mans up and realizes the Cubs don't want him and he's a DH then the trade will happen. I'm not holding my breath anymore, I'll believe Soriano will be traded when I see it.

  • In reply to Steve Flores:

    The Indians, with Terry Francona at the helm, is another possibility.

  • i love the possibility of getting magadan. hes an excellent hitting coach, already has a positive relationship with the front office and combining him with sveum is like having 2 hitting coaches, so they can even learn from each others styles making themselves and the players better. I also really like the idea of vizquel as a third base/infield coach. who better for castro/barney/valbuena to learn from than the best?

    on another note we've been focusing a lot on the pitching and third base holes in our lineup, and i know that john has touched on the outfield a little bit, but one name i havent heard at all is grady sizemore. i know hes been hurt and has a bad history of injuries and im not fighting for us to sign him i just think he should be looked at. if healthy you could plug him in right to start the season and dejesus in center and if proven healthy a month or so in you could switch them. he's lefthanded which this front office likes and is only 30 years old so it is very possible there is something left in his body. another positive is the fact that he will come extremely cheap and im 95% positive he'll accept a 1 year deal, meaning if hes just a little bit productive we will still be able to trade him at the deadline and if he is really productive then we'll be able to get good value for him. just something to think about

  • In reply to jshmoran:

    Tom and I mentioned Sizemore in our CF article. If he's healthy, could be worth a flyer.

  • John, thanks again for all your effort in posting all of the year's Cubs info. I am looking forward to the AFL and instructional league info. I really don't know much about them. I am learning much reading this blog. And I am glad to hear you and your wife had some down time and fun.

  • In reply to John57:

    Your welcome, John...and thanks for the kind words.

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    John, I hope you and the Mrs had a good time in Wisconson. There is nothing to be sorry for. All work and no play makes John a dull boy. BTW, great article. I agree DM would be a good fit.

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    Thanks Michael, I appreciate it. Golfing can be very relaxing when you accept the fact that you aren't all that good at it. That course was out of my league!

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to John Arguello:

    I agree. Golf is better when you can just accept that you suck. That's why they have scrambles.

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    The only thing I can really do well is drive and the long irons. I have no short game. I'd be better off using a fungo bat once I get within 125 yards.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    The key to golf is to make sure you're getting your money's worth by hitting that little sucker alot.

  • On the coaching end, my dream off-season has the Cubs grab Madagan to be the hitting coach, and Pete Mackanin to be the third base coach. Both bring a ton to a team, and even could help lure a free agent. The mindset of an Epstein/Hoyer player would love the chance to play for a coaching staff with Madagan, Mackanin, McKay, and Sveum.

  • In reply to Jim Weihofen:

    Good call on Mackanin. The more good baseball minds they bring in, the better.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    This does seem to be what they're doing on and off the field. With Rehrman's promotion, the Cubs' front office is essentially two GMs (Epstein, Hoyer) and three Assistant GMs (McLeod, Bush, Rehrman). Mackanin gives you two managers, and a former game manager (Quirk).

    Just wish we could have grabbed Eddie Bane, too.

  • John, as you look at coaching, what's the assessment of Chris Bosio's first year with the Cubs?

  • In reply to drben:

    I think he did some good things considering he didn't have much to work with. Consider that when he had his rotation in place before the trade deadline that the Cubs starting rotation was performing quite well.

    I like what he did with Cabrera, whom I think can be a reliever on this team for years to come. He also got Marmol back on track.

    Not everything worked out as planned, i.e. Volstad, Dolis, but I think overall there was more good than bad. We'll get a better idea once he has some talent to work with.

  • a little off topic as this is about scouting/front office personnel, but bob engle the guy who signed king felix is resigning from the mariners. he worked with wilken in toronto and has signed or drafted a number of very successful players. i hope the cubs take a look at him if he continues to scout guys and not retire and use his relationship with wilken (if theres a good one, wich im assuming there is) as a way to sway him to the north side.

    theres more on the situation here

    and here

    but i was wondering if anyone had any information about the situation that they'd like to share.

  • Magadan seems like a good choice, but then again so did Jaramillo. I'd still hire him, but I worry we'll find out about him what we seem to have found out Rudy - that he was the beneficiary of a hitter's ballpark. Can't find the team stats, but it looks like Boston didn't have one player in the top 40 for pitches per plate appearance.

  • In reply to Carne Harris:

    Magadan is a better fit for this team than Jaramillo was. Magadan's teams have been consistently near the top in OBP and that isn't directly affected by size of the ballpark. Last year was a transition year for them, lots of band-aids as the team scrambled to fill holes.

  • a little off topic as this is about front office/ scouting personnel but does anyone know anything about the bob engle situation in seattle, i know hes resigning and thinking about retirement but i think itd be great (if he decides not to retire) if the cubs got him. hes signed a lot of high profile guys.



    above are two links about the situation, but i was wondering if anyone knew if the cubs are trying to get in on him or if they arent interested.

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    Has anyone ever done a correlation between bad baseball teams with the ‘journalists’ that cover them? Last year Phil Rodgers ranked the Cardinals last before they ran the table. John, looks like you will continue the Tribune tradition of supporting a crappy team to sell papers. Shame on you. (Also, please don't brag about your resort experiences with your wife when many Chicagoans are struggling.)

  • In reply to Big Papa:

    Big Papa, the name of this blog is the Cubs Den. If you have an issue with John writing about the Cubs then please do us all a favor and find a Cardinals blog to post your stupid comments. Second, this is a website, how in the world does that have anything to do with selling newspapers? In case you haven't heard, the Tribune Co no longer owns the Cubs. Finally, those of us who follow this blog closely not only appreciate John's writing, but we are truly interested in his personal life. I look forward to reading his articles everyday and am happy to hear he had a nice weekend with his wife. Just because others are struggling does not mean he needs to hide the life he's living.

  • In reply to Ibleedcubbieblue:

    Well said. John's about the nicest guy around and made this year incredibly fun to read. I can't imagine this guy is anything but another team's troll.

  • In reply to Big Papa:

    In the first place, the Tribune doesn't exactly "support a crappy team". They are the ones that have been climbing all over Theo, et. al., for running the organization in this way (building from the bottom up). Take your snide elsewhere. John does a great job and all he did was apologize for no articles while vacationing.

  • I hope someone blocks this user...all of us that love coming to this site for our beloved Cubs and John and Tom's writing will feel the same way. Who says something like that? Total D.B. IMO...I love this site and its commentators and I hope John and Tom don't give this Big Papa a single thought. I feel like we're all a little family on here, and this guy needs to go.

  • In reply to copinblue:


  • How cool is this site? When you are blatantly insulting and condescending to the people who do all of the work on it, you stick out like a sore thumb. That's how cool...'nuf said.

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    Just a reminder you're allowed to escape every now and then for some R&R, Jon :)

    I always liked Perry as hitting coach...he obviously got a raw deal in '09...blamed for the Milton fiasco. Ridiculous.

    If the Cubs can replace Rowson I think they will...otherwise he'll be on a short leash next season.

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