The Chicago Cubs decided they needed to begin a major overhaul Thursday, dismissing pitching coach Chris Bosio, hitting coach John Mallee and third base coach Gary Jones after falling short of another trip to the World Series.
The team quickly moved to replace Bosio with Jim Hickey, who worked as manager Joe Maddon’s pitching coach in Tampa Bay and remained with the Rays after Maddon moved to Chicago, according to multiple reports. Hickey was let go by the Rays after the season.
The team also hired former Red Sox hitting coach Chili Davis for the same position in Chicago while also bringing in former Red Sox third base coach Brian Butterfield to replace Jones
“It’s about someone else being able to add something different or new,” Maddon said on a conference call. “The guys that are not going to be here next year are fabulous. These are really horrible conversations.”
The Cubs ranked second in run scoring in the National League but averaged just 2.5 runs per game in the playoffs, which ended in a five-game defeat to the Los Angeles Dodgers in the National League Championship Series. Maddon cited situational hitting as a problem all season, and the Cubs think they may have addressed it with their new coach.
“Chili has a good method regarding situations in general,” Maddon said. “We’re just looking for a slightly different voice with a little bit different approach that we feel can augment our hitters moving forward.”
The Cubs were near the bottom of baseball this year in getting a runner home from third with less than two outs, though they did improve in situations in the second half. The Red Sox were top 10 in the same category and first in baseball in moving a runner from second to third with no outs.
“A lot of it is based on availability,” Maddon said of hiring Davis.
Davis and Butterfield became available when John Farrell wasn’t retained in Boston, otherwise Mallee and Jones might still be with the Cubs. That wasn’t the case with Bosio, who wasn’t going to be brought back.
“We just thought it was time for a different voice at this particular moment,” Maddon said. “I don’t want to get too deeply into it.”
The Cubs were last in unintentional walk rate, but Bosio’s dismissal had more to do with behind-the-scenes issues than any performance-based statistic.
Only last week Maddon had backed his entire coaching staff, but the Cubs were still playing when he was asked if he wanted them all to return.
“That was a really awkward question,” Maddon said. “We’re in the playoffs, and I thought that was the only way I could respond.”
The Cubs also promoted minor league hitting coordinator Andy Haines to assistant hitting coach. That job was left vacant when Eric Hinske left for the hitting coach position with the Los Angeles Angels.
“The guys that are leaving are near to my heart,” Maddon said.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.