Cubs name coaching staff for 2014
Bosio returns as pitching coach; 2003 batting champ Mueller named hitting coach
CHICAGO -- Bill Mueller hasn't worn a Major League uniform since 2007, but he's been eager to get back on the field. For Chris Bosio, who is returning for a third season as the Cubs' pitching coach, there's a lot of work still to do.
Mueller and Bosio were announced on Friday as part of new manager Rick Renteria's coaching staff. Bosio, bullpen coach Lester Strode, catching coach Mike Borzello and staff assistant Franklin Font all return from Dale Sveum's 2013 staff. Joining them will be Mueller, a former American League batting champion who will take over as hitting coach, plus player development director Brandon Hyde, who will be Renteria's bench coach. Gary Jones was named third base/infield coach, Mike Brumley the assistant hitting coach and Jose Castro the quality assurance coach. The Cubs have yet to name a first-base coach.
Jaron Madison, who joined the club as director of amateur scouting in August 2012, will replace Hyde as director of player development. Matt Dorey, who worked for the Cubs as a national and regional cross-checker this year, has been named director of amateur scouting.
Bosio's return will allow for some continuity. In 2013, Cubs pitchers finished with a 4.00 ERA and had two pitchers in the top 25 in the National League in quality starts -- Travis Wood (24) and Jeff Samardzija (19) -- who also both posted their first seasons with 200 innings. Samardzija ranked fourth in the NL in strikeouts, with 214.
"The win-loss record is what we play for," Bosio said on Friday, "but we've done some pretty good things the last couple years, especially with our pitchers being in demand from other clubs."
The Cubs have traded 40 percent of their rotation each of the last two seasons, dealing Paul Maholm, Ryan Dempster, Scott Feldman and Matt Garza, nearly all of whom reached the postseason. The Cubs' projected pitching staff for 2014 is young, and Bosio said that it will be key to get Wood and Samardzija to put together 200-inning seasons again.
"These are things that are not easy to do, especially if you haven't been there," Bosio said. "Being able to keep those guys out there every fifth day is huge for us, because we don't have a veteran staff that has done that the last four, five years."
However, having a pitcher total 200 innings doesn't guarantee anything. Bosio noted that the Reds had three of their four starters reach that mark -- and Mike Leake was close, at 192 1/3 -- and they came up short.
"There are a lot of things that have to happen for us [to get to the playoffs]," Bosio said.
That's where Mueller, 42, comes in. This will be his first full season as a Major League hitting coach. He held that job in an interim role for the Dodgers in the second half of 2007, the last time he wore a Major League uniform.
After an 11-year playing career that included two seasons with the Cubs, Mueller joined the Dodgers' front office. He spent the last six seasons as a special assistant.
"It's something that has always been inside me, to be near the field again and be a part of a team and be with a Major League club," Mueller said on Friday. "You never know when that opportunity might come or if it does. I've always tried to be as well rounded as possible and stay in the game and continue to be a student of the game so if an opportunity pops up, I could handle it and be ready to take it on. This was an opportunity that was hard to pass up, and I'm very excited about it."
General manager Jed Hoyer asked the Dodgers for permission to talk to Mueller, who picked Brumley, 51, as his assistant. Brumley, who spent the last four seasons as the Mariners' first-base coach, began his big league career with the Cubs in 1987.
Mueller compiled a career .291 average in his 11 seasons as a player, and batted .326 in '03 with the Red Sox, winning the batting title. It wasn't easy, which is something he'll stress to the Cubs' hitters.
"I had to work to get everything I achieved," Mueller said. "Going through the process of understanding my swing and breaking it down and understanding the strengths and weaknesses and all that good stuff was a process that I had to go through. I feel it helps with the relationship and the communication with these guys. ... I wasn't the best bat on the team. It was something I had to work very hard at."
Hyde, 40, enters his third year in the Cubs organization and begins his second stint as a Major League bench coach. He held that job with the Marlins under Jack McKeon for one and a half seasons. He has 11 years of coaching experience overall, including nine in the Marlins organization.
Jones, 53, joins the Cubs as third-base coach and infield coach after spending the last 11 years in the Padres organization. Castro, 55, joins the Cubs after spending the last 25 years as a Minor League hitting coordinator or hitting coach in the Royals, Mariners, Marlins, Padres and Expos organizations. He will be involved in scouting reports and defensive positioning, among other things.
Strode, 55, returns for his eighth season as Cubs bullpen coach and his 26th year in the organization. This will be Borzello's third season with the Cubs, with an expanded role of catching and strategy coach. Font, 36, is back for his 20th season in the Cubs organization, his third at the Major League level.
The next step for the coaches is to get to know one another as well as the roster. Mueller and Bosio both know Renteria professionally, but neither has worked with him.
"Everybody likes Rick," Bosio said. "He's a hard worker, very knowledgeable, very prepared. He's a baseball guy who's had to earn everything that he has in the game as a player and also as a coach. I expect, as we all do, a lot out of him. I'm sure he expects a lot out of himself.
"Rick Renteria is a hard-working, soft-spoken, intelligent baseball player, and those are the things he's going to bring as a manager. This guy has an internal burn, he's got a fire. He's a parent, he's a dad, he's a husband, he's a manager. We're looking forward to the challenge that Spring Training and the season brings us.
"He's very excited to be in Chicago. It's a special place, and he's aware of that, as all the other coaches are."