We briefly touched on this subject Tuesday night, when Cubs GM Jed Hoyer wouldn’t confirm if pitching coach Jim Hickey would return for the 2019 season. Hickey was hired after 2017, when he replaced Chris Bosio.
The Cubs have already made one big change on Joe Maddon’s staff, firing hitting coach Chili Davis after only one season and now it appears as though they’ll have a new pitching coach in 2019 as well.
On Tuesday night, ESPN 1000’s Jesse Rogers shared this piece of information, reporting the Cubs weren’t ready to reveal their coaching staff. He brought up Hickey, which was surprising.
Cubs not ready to announce their entire coaching staff. Even admit it's later than usual for that to be up in the air. Still have to hire an asst hitting coach and we don't have complete confirmation that Jim Hickey is back. We'll see.
— Jesse Rogers (@ESPNChiCubs) November 7, 2018
On Wednesday morning, Rogers was more concrete on his reporting, as he joined the Kap and Co. Show on ESPN 1000. First, he starts off by bringing up the need of an assistant hitting coach, as Andy Haines left that position with the Cubs to be the Brewers hitting coach.
Rogers says that former Cubs player Chris Denorfia, who’s already in the organization, has interviewed for the job, while Eric Hinske is also a possibility to return to the assistant hitting coach role. Hinske used to be the Cubs first base coach in 2013 and from 2014-17, he was the assistant hitting coach.
But obviously the bombshell was still to come. Rogers not only brought up the question around Hickey, but confidently said that Hickey will not be the Cubs pitching coach in 2019.
ESPN 1000's Jesse Rogers this morning on pitching coach Jim Hickey
"I'm pretty sure Jim Hickey is not back…I don't believe Jim Hickey is back. I'm pretty much reporting that at this moment."#Cubs would have 3 different hitting & pitching coaches in 3 years if Hickey is fired pic.twitter.com/MbDZruknkw
— Pinwheels and Ivy Podcast (@PinwheelsIvyPod) November 7, 2018
Rogers even gives a suggestion as who could be Hickey’s replacement, mentioning Curt Young as a possible candidate.
This part was just speculation by Rogers, but he points out that a possible reason that the Cubs still haven’t made the switch is because Young is the current pitching coach for the Giants and they haven’t hired anyone to be in charge of their front office.
That is until now, as Farhan Zaidi has accepted the role as head of baseball operations for the Giants. So, if the Cubs really are planning to move on from Hickey, they now have the ability to ask permission to the Giants to talk with Young.
Also, there’s a connection to Theo Epstein, as Young was the pitching coach for the Red Sox in 2011. Epstein then left to run the Cubs and Young headed out to the west coast.
So, it looks like the Cubs are listening to their players because we all remember that there was a disconnect between the hitters and Chili Davis. And there have been some failures with the pitchers too, as Tyler Chatwood’s debut season with the Cubs was a massive failure and suggestions for Yu Darvish never stuck. Plus, the pitching staff saw an increase in walks, something Epstein pointed out after 2017 that needed to improve. It got worse under Hickey.
However, at some point, and it looks like 2019 will be the breaking point, players are going to have to produce because there won’t be anyone else to blame for their failures.