The Cubs announced last night that pitching coach Jim Hickey will be departing the organization. Per the team, he advised the club that he was moving on due to “personal reasons.”
Whether or not the underlying reasons are known to the team, they haven’t been disclosed publicly. It’s also unclear what’s next for Hickey. Regardless, the move leaves the Chicago club in need of top staff members to handle both their hurlers and their hitters. (The Cubs previously dismissed Chili Davis as hitting coach.)
It’s the second-straight winter in which the Cubbies have gone hiring these important positions. While coaching staff turnover is hardly unusual, this level of churn is clearly suboptimal. And it comes as manager Joe Maddon enters a contract year. The organization already has made clear it won’t lock him up to a new deal before the start of the 2019 campaign.
Hickey brought high expectations with him to Chicago when he joined the club about 13 months back. He had worked with Maddon before with the Rays and had a strong reputation. While the Cubs’ staff finished with an exemplary 3.65 cumulative earned-run average, third-lowest in baseball, it graded out as a middle-of-the-pack unit by ERA estimators. Of course, those broad-based results do not necessarily reflect well or poorly on Hickey’s efforts, the merits of which are all but impossible to assess from the outside.