Hours after bringing Mickey Callaway into the fold as the club’s new pitching coach, it appears the Angels are interested in adding veteran hitting coach John Mallee to their staff, according to a tweet from Bruce Levine of WSCR-AM (link). Mallee was most recently a hitting coach with the Phillies before a team-wide slump saw him replaced by Charlie Manuel in mid-August of the 2019 season. Previously, the 50-year-old has worked as an MLB hitting coach with the Marlins, Astros, and Cubs, helping Joe Maddon’s Chicago outfit to their World Series title in 2016.
- With the hiring of a new manager cleared from his offseason checklist, Padres GM AJ Preller now must turn to an even more urgent matter–the acquisition of more winning players to the team’s big league roster. As Kevin Acee notes in his piece for the San Diego Union-Tribune, the Padres still have a long way to go if they want to truly compete with teams like the Dodgers and Nationals. Interestingly, even one of Preller’s own players understands that his team, as currently constructed, might not stack up as a 2020 contender. “We’re not close yet,” one Padre told Acee. Readers should check out Acee’s article for his own assessment of where San Diego stands, though it is worth noting that the Padres could theoretically stand to improve in a few areas simply by shifting playing time allotments. San Diego’s tepid offense could be improved via a more full time-share for catcher Francisco Mejia, for one; Mejia’s rookie output (96 wRC+ in 244 PA) was much more encouraging than what the club has received from Austin Hedges in recent years (62 career wRC+), even if the value of Hedges’ sterling defense can’t be discounted.
- One of the chief challenges faced by new Cubs skipper David Ross will be, in the opinion of Steve Greenberg of The Chicago Sun-Times, how the former catcher handles tough decisions regarding some of his old teammates and good friends (link). Namely, Greenberg identifies Jon Lester and Jason Heyward as two players with whom Ross has a particularly deep relationship, as the new manager was the former’s personal catcher in Chicago and the latter’s mentor dating back to his time in Atlanta. Ross will be faced with being in the unique position of having to take the ball from Lester if–as he did at certain points in 2019–the pitcher struggles late in ballgames. Heyward’s own tendency to enter long Chicago slumps–to say nothing of his big contract–could also force Ross to endure some tough conversations in 2020.