Moskos is next step in Cubs' 'reimagining'

November 16th, 2021

CHICAGO -- Plenty of pitchers in need of a personal revival, or sometimes simply career survival, wind up in the Driveline Baseball warehouses outside Seattle. That was the case for Daniel Moskos three years ago.

Moskos had an offer to keep pitching in the Mexican League, but the former big league reliever wanted to leave no stone unturned in his last push for a job in affiliated ball. He embraced the training methods, dove into the data and threw for scouts during the annual pro day that January.

"It was kind of the same old, same old," Moskos said. "It was just like, 'Hey, you know, we like you, but we've got guys higher on the list.' And so, I kind of saw the writing on the wall."

Something happened while Moskos was training at Driveline, though. He "fell in love" with the innovatative development taking place in the pitching and hitting labs at the facility. When he was offered the opportunity to stay there as an intern on the instruction side in 2019, he seized the chance.

"Obviously, it looks like it worked out really, really well," Moskos said. "But it was a leap of faith at the time, because I still felt I was capable of playing."

It did work out. Moskos was speaking Tuesday morning as the new assistant pitching coach for the Cubs. He had just wrapped up his first meeting as an official member of manager David Ross' staff, which still has pitching coach Tommy Hottovy atop the Major League pitching group.

After this past season, president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer said the team planned on "reimagining some things" with its pitching infrastructure. Adding Moskos offers a glimpse into what Hoyer and Chicago's leadership group envisions.

Hoyer has emphasized the need to have seamless collaboration up and down the organizational chain in terms of communication. Assistant general manager Craig Breslow, the team's director of pitching, oversees the staff across all levels, with the goal of creating synergy with training methods and messaging.

From the Major League staff on down, Hottovy said the idea is to have staff members that can "own and dominate" a particular area. At the MLB level, part of Moskos' responsibilities will be to focus on the pitch design component: helping pitchers develop and make adjustments at the highest level.

"His background as a player," Hottovy said, "playing in the Major Leagues, plus his knowledge from what he learned [at Driveline] -- how to use information, how to maximize pitch grips and shapes, how to make minor tweaks and stuff like that -- I think he's really going to bring a unique perspective of what we can do.

"The amount of information that is available to a Major League pitching coach now is insane. So I think having -- from from my perspective -- guys that can really support our group and own one area ... it'll make us the best version of ourselves and get the best version of the players that we can."

The restructured pitching group no longer features longtime coach Mike Borzello, who departed after last season after most recently serving as the associate pitching, catching and strategy coach. Hottovy said, "Borzy always and will forever have his fingerprints all over everything" that the Cubs do on the pitching side.

Also moving on is Brad Mills, who focused on advanced scouting and run prevention. Hottovy called Mills a "bright star in the game," but the Cubs are looking for different ways to more evenly divvy up the daily game-planning, maintenance and development duties.

Hottovy said Alex Smith, the team's assistant director of Major League data and development, will continue to search for information and trends on both the pitching and hitting side. With Moskos now in the fold, Hottovy and bullpen coach Chris Young can better focus on their own areas of expertise.

"When Tommy talks about guys having their own skill set that they bring to the table and being able to dominate that sector, it's essentially to take something off of the head guy's plate," Moskos said. "That's how, to me, I view being a truly complementary piece."

When the Cubs overhauled their player development leadership structure after the 2019 season, Moskos was actually on their radar. While he was working at Driveline, Chicago was among a group of MLB teams that approached him about a coaching role.

Moskos' decision then came down to the Cubs or Yankees, and he chose to follow one of his mentors, Sam Briend, New York's director of pitching. Moskos coached remotely during the 2020 season, and in '21 he served as the pitching coach for a Double-A Somerset team that led Double-A in team ERA (3.38), among other categories.

"I will never take credit for it," Moskos said. "It's the guys that put up the numbers, the guys who put in the work. I was just happy to be a part of it -- super proud of them."

And Moskos feels these are "exciting times" when it comes to the crop of young arms either in the Majors now or coming soon for the Cubs.

"It's not going to have the name power that everybody wants," he said. "Maybe you're not going to see Jake Arrieta or Yu Darvish up on top of the locker, but that doesn't mean that you can't get better performance value out of these guys."

That is something the Cubs are hoping their revamped pitching group, now with Moskos in the fold, can accomplish, beginning with next season.

"We're not satisfied with with OK or decent," Hottovy said. "We really want to push the envelope. We want to find ways just to continue to improve."