For the 14th time in the final decade (nicely, sixteenth if you happen to depend the two new assistant hitting coach positions simply created), the Chicago Cubs may have a new hitting coach or assistant hitting coach subsequent 12 months. This time, it is Dustin Kelly, who was promoted from his gig as the group’s minor league hitting coordinator. He replaces Greg Brown, who got here to the Cubs simply final 12 months, recent off being the Rays’ minor league hitting coordinator.
We knew typically why the Cubs have been making the change, at the least as President Jed Hoyer described it. It wasn’t essentially as a result of the offense had struggled as soon as once more – hitting coaches take waaaay an excessive amount of blame for that, particularly when there may be merely a expertise deficit. Instead, the entrance workplace felt like Kelly is likely to be connecting a little higher with the younger hitters who have been arising, and the Cubs needed to verify the hitting growth infrastructure was as built-in as it’s proper now on the pitching aspect. All levers pulling in the similar path, working seamlessly collectively up and down the system. Not to say Brown could not have been a part of that, however apparently Kelly would match even higher.
Still, that clarification left me wanting. Thankfully, there are extra particulars on the newest set of modifications, by way of Sahadev Sharma and Patrick Mooney:
This part is precisely what I used to be questioning:
Chris Valaika, who served as the crew’s assistant hitting coach in 2021 and beforehand labored as the group’s minor-league hitting coordinator, was employed away final winter to be the lead hitting coach for the Cleveland Guardians. Cleveland’s stunning playoff run was largely pushed by a formidable pitching workers, however Valaika was praised for getting the most out of a younger, scrappy offense that appeared to rapidly embrace his voice.
The Cubs hope that by going with Kelly, they can appropriate any missteps they might have made final offseason. But their analysis of Brown as an teacher has not completely modified. They nonetheless worth his experience. While initially it was believed that he’d take a job with one other group, the Cubs have been proactive in making an attempt to retain him. What function he’d fill, if he finally ends up returning to the group, remains to be to be decided, though it might be on the minor-league aspect. A decision is anticipated in the coming weeks.
The implication there may be that the Cubs could have felt that they made a mistake by letting Chris Valaika go, somewhat than giving him some sort of main promotion to maintain him round. And, in flip, the implication is that the Cubs could have feared one thing related might occur with Kelly in the event that they did not drive the challenge. It *might* imply the Cubs – and the trade – suppose very extremely of Kelly.
As for Brown, that is very attention-grabbing that the Cubs are nonetheless making an attempt to determine a solution to preserve him round. I’m certain that is very tough and awkward, and also you principally by no means see it occur. Again, it is suggestive of the Cubs genuinely liking Brown a lot, and him being “changed” as the hitting coach was much less about him and extra about Kelly. Given Brown’s background in participant growth, you’d hope the Cubs might discover a solution to preserve him in a important function on the minor league aspect.
As for Kelly, time will inform if he can stick round greater than a season or two. It looks as if the Cubs actually like him, and he is been with the group a couple of years already, so that they’ve had time to get to know him nicely.