Renteria hiring official as Cubs turn attention to coaching staff

Renteria hiring official as Cubs turn attention to coaching staff

While the Rick Renteria hire was anti-climactic, it's a solid hire and he has gotten some raves from players and his manager.  He was the favorite early on and that support just never seemed to waver as other candidates came and went.

The attention now turns to who will help round out his staff.  It seems the Cubs will keep a few coaches on and may recommend a few others.  The focus will be to create the best possible learning environment to guide what will arguably be the Cubs best wave of young prospects to reach the majors since the mid to late 80s.

There are certainly some interesting ideas being floated around, but first, let's start with the man at the top, Rick Renteria..

Not a whole lot is know about Renteria as a person.  I've heard that he'll make the Cubs a more aggressive, energetic team on the bases and we have all heard that he is considered a great coach.  Carrie Muskat quotes Bud Black in her most recent article for the Cubs website,

Ricky is highly regarded in our game from people in and around baseball -- general managers, managers, coaches and players," Black told MLB.com in February. "In time, he's going to get an opportunity to manage. He's a great baseball guy, has a great baseball mind, is passionate about the game. He's done a lot. He's played, he's coached and he's managed in the Minor Leagues. He has a great feel for players."

Players were equally effusive,

"It's a tough day for the Padres to lose someone with the knowledge and the energy Ricky brings," San Diego catcher Nick Hundley said. "The city of Chicago is getting a great baseball guy, someone who comes to work each day with the kind of passion and energy that's tough to match.

"When you're dealing with someone on a daily basis, six months during the season, two months in Spring Training, you want to know your boss is going to be consistent and is going to have your back. We have that here with Buddy [Black] and the Cubs will have that with Ricky."

He has his players' back -- now that should be music to Anthony Rizzo, Starlin Castro, and all the Cubs young players' ears.

Meanwhile, what about handling the tough Cubs media?  We mentioned that in a previous piece at how that should not be underestimated.  After all, you can say you have your players' back, but what happens when you get grilled day in and day out?  Can you resist the temptation to deflect the heat?  Former Padres pitcher Jake Peavy thinks Renteria will handle the media just fine,

“Chicago can be a tough town media-wise, on either side of town,’’ Peavy said. “Me knowing Rick, he’s a professional and he’ll handle that. He’s very truthful and honest.’’

Peavy also praised Renteria for his teaching and communication skills.

Rounding out the staff

We know that three Cubs coaches will stay on: Chris Bosio, who just signed on to stay for at least 2 more years while Mike Borzello and Lester Strode will also remain.  Borzello received a lot of credit for improving Welington Castillo's defense last year.

Bruce Levine has thrown some interesting names into the ring,

Alex Cora and Mariano Duncan have been favorites for Renteria"s coaching staff. Bosio remains for two plus (Henry) Blanco possible.

None of those names should sound strange to readers here.  We've been big fans of Mariano Duncan because of his work with Daytona hitters.  We've seen many Cubs hitters progress at that level, particularly with their approach and plate discipline.  Javier Baez gives Duncan a lot of credit for his improvement, even texting him to say thank you after he left for Tennessee,

"He said, 'Thank you for having patience with me for the whole year. It means a lot to me,'" Duncan said. "I texted him back and said, 'Thank you for listening and making the adjustments.' When I texted him back, I said, 'Don't thank me for that. I get paid to do that and to try to develop you guys and make you a better player.' All the credit should go to him. He works so hard and he listens. He did everything he is supposed to do on the field."

Duncan's attention to detail and preparedness was a big key,

"The only thing thing I'm concerned about with him is to pay attention to detail and come every day to play the game right," Duncan said. "He had a little bit of a problem in the beginning, but he made the adjustments and you see what kind of year he had.

"One thing I texted him was that the only thing I want from him is when he goes to the big leagues to stay humble, and when he gets to the big leagues, be the same Javy that he is right now in the Minor Leagues," Duncan said. "He texted me back and said, 'I promise I'll do that.

The only downside to hiring Mariano Duncan would be not having him there to develop young budding stars -- but many of those stars will join Duncan soon if he is indeed hired.

Cora was acquired in 2005 by Theo Epstein's Red Sox and is familiar with the FO's philosophy.  Blanco was known for his leadership ability as a backup catcher for the Cubs and his catching experience could help take Castillo to the next level.

Meanwhile, Gordon Wittenmeyer speculates that A.J. Hinch could still be factor,

Hinch could yet figure into the Cubs’ larger plans as they fill out Renteria’s coaching staff with a strong emphasis on player development skills — assuming the former Arizona Diamondbacks manager and former big-league catcher would take a coaching job.

That’s how highly he is regarded by the Cubs front office. And he has a strong relationship with Renteria.

It's highly questionable as to whether Hinch would leave his job as VP of Professional Scouting/AGM of the Padres to serve as a bench coach, but you won't hear me complaining if he does.  That would be a major coup for the Cubs and give the Cubs two great teachers in the dugout as the Cubs begin promoting their highly touted prospects.

 

 

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  • I for one hope that Duncan stays in the minors. Even though the Cubs have some teaching issues at the major league level, in the long run they'll probably need more teaching in their pipeline than up top.

  • In reply to Matt Mosconi:

    True, but it would be nice for those guys to have a familiar face.

  • In reply to Matt Mosconi:

    Duncan can only be in one place and I hope it's in Wrigley waiting for the young stars that already know and trust him. The Cubs probably have a young hitting coach in mind looking for an opportunity at Daytona.

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    In reply to 44slug:

    I think that's pretty important. They've shown an ability to find guys like Duncan and Buckner (and Magadan) and should be able to replace Duncan at the A+ level if he is promoted. They key to baseball seems to be not finding someone good and riding them forever but an ability to replace folks who, inevitably, move on.

  • In reply to Matt Mosconi:

    I would prefer to see him in Chicago. I would think that it's every coaches desire to make it to the majors and think it's only a matter of time before some other MLB team offers him a spot on a big league staff.

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    In reply to Matt Mosconi:

    I love what he does down there, but if you think about it, it would be kind of Boston-ish to keep him down there if he's qualified to move up!

  • In reply to Matt McNear:

    Well-played, sir!

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    Great day to be a Cubs fan, imo. I feel reall good about this hire as well as the coaches you point out.

    As Felzzy says, Onward!!!

  • In reply to bocabobby:

    It is a good day. Looking forward to the season. But then again -- I always do.

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    I think if/when McLeod moves on, the real push to bring Hinch into the front office will begin. They are clearly very fond of his baseball acumen and would love to find a way to add his mind to their brain trust.

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    In reply to Mike Moody:

    Just read the Mariano Duncan quotes. Baez comes off looking so good in that. The more year hear about him, the more you wonder where the makeup concerns came from. What a good kid. He is going to succeed.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    He is a good kid. He's a bit of immature at times -- but hey, weren't we all at that age?

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I'm still there!

  • In reply to 44slug:

    LOL!

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    You laugh John, but the other day my wife threatened divorce to remarry an adult. I told her that sounded boring.

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    Renteria is of Mexican descent, Duncan is Dominican, Cora is Puerto Rican, and Blanco is Venezuelan. Now all they need is Rafael Palmeiro (Cuban) to be the hitting coach, and I think they'll have fairly well covered Latin America.

  • In reply to Chris Trengove:

    Ha! Nice observation.

  • In reply to Chris Trengove:

    We will just have to hope that Chris Pieters, the kid from Curacao doesn't make it to the majors.

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    John,

    Given the names discussed, as well as those not yet mentioned, who do you think will be the new hitting coach?

  • In reply to Chris Trengove:

    Out of those names it's Duncan since that is his job in Daytona, but I'm not sure he's the guy or he'll coach somewhere else.

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    Thanks for the input. I think hitting coach may end up being the most interesting hire. Obviously, he'll have to buy in philosophically, but he'll also have to be on the same page communication-wise with Renteria, in order to avoid another Sveum/Rowson disconnect.

  • So now that the manager is in place, when do you think we'll start seeing some action in the free agent/trade market? Will it be this weekend or probably not until after winter meetings in December?

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    In reply to Ike03:

    My guess: things will be pretty quiet until Tanaka is decided. Cano is a possible exception to that, but we're not in on him.

  • In reply to Ike03:

    Next week would be the earliest, probably. It's when the GM meetings start. Didn't use to be a time to make moves but it has been in recent years. Winter meetings are in early December, I believe.

  • If Duncan is as good as Baez suggests then he should be in Chicago. It's much more important to have effective coaches at the major league level, and the big four all have had Duncan coaching them already.

  • In reply to Paulson:

    Both are important, but the fact that those players will/should be in the majors soon might shift the balance a little.

  • Davey Lopes would be a good first base coach/infield instructor. All of his teams SB% improved because of how he teaches. Not sure if he is available to come over.

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    In reply to Stugots:

    I enjoyed Lopes as a player. He and Morgan were the two premier NL second basemen of their era. Morgan was the statistically better of the two, but is such a tool, and Lopes is one of the most likeable guys in the game.

    And Lopes was exactly the type of player I was talking about in my story about the Hall of the Very Good a couple weeks back on this site.

  • I can remember Alex Cora crying after Warren Morris took Tommy Morrison deep to win the '96 CWS like it was yesterday! Still love Alex Cora! Joey too. I'm a fan of all the names and look forward to seeing this staff get filled out!

  • In reply to Ben20:

    Honestly, I can't complain about any of the names being thrown out there right now.

  • John,
    What is the purpose of the GM meetings that are next week? These are not meetings that we could expect trades to take place are they? That would likely come in December correct?

  • In reply to Holy Cattle:

    GM meetings are really meant in large part to discuss rules and procedure. Boring stuff for most fans, but not for baseball people.

    However, more agents have been showing up and it seems teams have used that time for trades and signings more in recent years.

  • Interesting names... I think I like all of the names mentioned in this article... We could be seeing a good group of coaches... The key hiring here is the hitting coach, IMO... We need someone to help Castro and Rizzo bounce back, as well as helping the up and coming guys like Mike Olt, Alcantara, Baez and Bryant.

  • In reply to Caps:

    I feel the same way. Lot of good names here and if they got all of them, I'd be happy.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Read my post below only 30 seconds apart lol.

  • In reply to Caps:

    Ha! That works.

  • We can probably hire all of the names here... Say...

    Mariano Duncan - Hitting Coach
    Alex Cora - 3B Coach
    Henry Blanco 1B Coach
    AJ Hinch Bench Coach

    And Bosio, Borzello and Strode can keep their old jobs.

  • fb_avatar

    Wow. Check out the Cubs Facebook page. I'm sure Renteria is reading that and asking the Padres if he can have his old job back.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Those comments are always, well...interesting.

  • It sounds like the Cubs have instilled their 'way' from the rookie level all the way up. That said, it would be my hope that the Cubs continue to hire quality coaches who are all preaching and teaching the same things. If they do bring up Duncan, one would hope that someone of equal value would replace him. A+ is such an important step for hitters, and it sounds like Duncan made a huge impact on a pair of the Cubs' biggest prospects.

    I think if the Cubs continue to put emphasis and scouting and player development and enrich that talent with quality coaches at the lower levels, fans of the major league team will be enjoying sustained success for years to come.

  • In reply to 2015HereWeCome:

    Well, the Red Sox pulled it off. I didn't see them as World Champions.

  • I am pretty nervous about this hire. I am so glad it is finally done. The whole process seemed odd. We didn't get our first choice nor our second and third choice. If he was early favorite. Then why did they wait a month in a half to give it to him. Not sure if Mr. right or mr. Right now instead. Besides couple guys I think there is a noticeable drop off. If the cubs want rick to be successful they better find the right coaches to put around him to help. I truly hope he is successful.

  • In reply to WaitTilNextYear:

    I don't think that's the case. Who says he wasn't the first choice?

    A lot of false info out there about Ausmus being the favorite. He was not.

    The same goes for Lovullo. He was due diligence but he would have had to have blown them away to beat out Renteria.

    No need to make more out of this than there is, Renteria was the guy and everyone else was there just in case one of them knocked their socks off. There was mixed opinion on Ausmus and the Cubs never interviewed Girardi or Lovullo, so to call them favorites is inaccurate. Even if Girardi were available, the Cubs would have interviewed at least the first 3 candidates (Acta, Hinch, Renteria) anyway and it's not out of the question Renteria would have been hired anyway.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Joe was available. It would be end of story. If not the favorite why did it take 6 weeks?

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    In reply to WaitTilNextYear:

    Miles reports they were doing their due diligence on him.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    I would say 6 weeks is due diligence.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Theo's statement pretty much said everyone after the Renteria interview was due diligence. I don't have a ton of information on this but I think we can see how this went down. Renteria was always the favorite and they were hoping to get at least one other finalist. I think that was Hinch. We know they were pretty satisfied early on because there were reports that they were already preparing for 2nd interviews -- before they got to Martinez, Ausmus, Wedge, and potentially Lovullo.

    And while I think there's always a chance Theo could just be doing some PR, I find that he does that a lot less than it's assumed. He's a pretty honest guy.

  • In reply to WaitTilNextYear:

    Due diligence. They've done all 3 of their manager searches the same way.

  • In reply to WaitTilNextYear:

    Maybe the whole process only started after a late in the year realization that Sveum wasn't the answer going forward and FO had to figure something out. It's kind of a variation of the best player available.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    I agree just because best player available doesn't mean a good player. Let's hope for the best.

  • In reply to WaitTilNextYear:

    I think that is fair, but I kind of like his chances.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    I am rooting for him, just nervous.

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    My guess is this quote is repeated about 1.5 billion times over the next three years: "I'm usually a pretty positive individual. It'll be pretty rare that you won't see me with a smile on my face."

    When are Cubs managers going to learn to say: "This is going to be the most miserable experience of my life. I already have three dozen psychiatrists on retainer to run a Prozac IV into my arm at a moment's notice. If I somehow make it through this experience, I plan to retire with what's left of my hair to a beautiful rubber room outside of Manitoba."

  • I think this line as much as any line is why the Cubs liked Renteria so much...

    "Engage the human being first...Players need confidence."

    This sounds a lot like what I wrote about with Francona the other day (and Maddon for that matter).

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    As I said the other day, the key to winning in Chicago is create a positive and fun atmosphere for the players. And communication is one of the building blocks to do that. Call me the eternal optimist, but I think the Cubs made a fantastic move in hiring this man.
    As a father of four myself like Renteria, I loved his line today, where he said I have four kids, so I have been in youth development for my whole life. I can relate.

  • You may be an optimist but I don't think you're untethered on this one. There's some real positives that key members of the FO believe Renteria ("R") possesses and for now at least, that's good enough for me. I think the terms frequently raised in support of his R's candidacy on this site match many of the key attributes Theo laid out in his press meeting following Sveum's release. Let's see if R can execute and bring the Cubs Way to a major league ball field to you soon.

  • Hinch as Bench Coach would be a coup, but it seems like a bit of a stretch.

    It seems Hinch really wants another shot at Managing a team. Maybe Theo can convince him that the best way to get their is to be visible as a a Bench Coach for the Cubs for a couple of years

  • In reply to Ghost Dawg:

    It does seem like a stretch. I hope its true, but I'm having a hard time believing he'll leave that job.

  • In reply to Ghost Dawg:

    Or be a bench coach while waiting for McLeod to be stolen away and then move up to the front office. Either way, it doesn't seem likely he'll bite.

  • So is there a realistic chance that we can also get hinch?

  • Was just reading an article on Yahoo! that Curtis Granderson is likely to reject the Yankees qualifying offer,.....

    Would actually love to see him get an offer from the Cubs - if the price were right and they could avoid overpaying him.

  • I'm thinking Dave Roberts, Tim Flannery or Sandy Alomar, Jr. for bench coach. Carmelo Martinez for hitting coach. David Bell stays as third base coach and infield instructor. No idea for first base coach and outfield instructor, because the Cubs had the best one in Dave McKay.

  • In reply to Cleme:

    I suspect Renteria will have some flexibility to go outside the organization to fill out at least some of the organization and I haven't heard that Dave Bell's coaching "WAR" is irreplaceable, assuming there were ever were such a thing.

  • fb_avatar

    John, I know this has probably been discussed, but do we have a solid picture of Renteria's views on metrics and use of defensive shifts? I have to imagine he's open to both or he wouldn't be the Cubs manager.

  • I think Theo did a pretty good job of hiring a new coach, problem is they are asking him to play the role of manager, for which he is not prepared to be. Not unlike, Quade or Dale, they both came in with high expectations and confidence they could do the job. I think Rick will do better simply because of his people skills which the other two lacked. But in the end the job will prove to be too much for him. The third hire will be a manager along the lines of Girardi, Maddon, Tito, or someone like that.I expect 3 1/2 years of service from Rick before he is replaced. Enjoy your time in Chicago Rick.

  • Though I would hate to lose Duncan at Daytona where his successes are critical to the ongoing process, I think he should be moved up. I don't want to risk someone else luring him away from us as others surely know his success as well. Perhaps Buckner to Daytona if he would want to make the move?

  • It is very probably that Rentaria told at least one person that when he got his first managers job that person would be one of his coaches.

    Surely some reporter could ask Rick that question.
    I still don't understand why you can't have more than one hitting coach.

  • Seems like Renteria's #1 thing will be changing the "attitude". if he can get this team to believe they are winners and get them to play like it. that would be huge..

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