The big news of the offseason to this point has been the replacement of Chili Davis with Anthony Iapoce, but we now know there’ll be another change in that regard. Andy Haines, who served as assistant hitting coach in 2018 after being a roving instructor the previous season, has been hired by the Brewers as their head hitting guru.
ESPN’s Jesse Rogers, who yesterday broke the news of Brandon Hyde’s return as bench coach, was first to report that Haines was leaving Chicago.
Cubs news today: Hearing asst. hitting coach Andy Haines is taking a job as the No.1 guy for another team. Could mean 6 diff hitting coaches in 3 years for the Cubs, unless they bring back Eric Hinske. He was here during the John Mallee years and when they won the World Series.
— Jesse Rogers (@JesseRogersESPN) November 3, 2018
So much for continuity, huh? As Rogers notes, this means the Cubs will have employed six different hitting coaches over the past three seasons. Even for a role that is often praised or maligned far more than is actually the case, that kind of turnover isn’t helpful. But that’s what’s so interesting about the mention of Eric Hinske.
A member of the Cubs’ coaching staff for four seasons, Hinske spent three years as assistant hitting coach and is credited with getting Anthony Rizzo to crowd the plate. He left after the 2017 season to take the top job in Anaheim but found himself unemployed after Mike Scioscia stepped down as manager. Rogers actually let slip that Hinske was out of a job prior to any public announcement from the team, so perhaps he knows a little something as it pertains to Hinske’s future.
The affable former big leaguer is obviously very familiar with the Cubs hitters and he’d immediately have credibility with them. He’s also familiar with the clubhouse culture and comes across as a guy who’s good at keeping players loose, something that may have been missing to some extent last season. As much as things like plate approach and launch angle are discussed in regard to a coach’s role, a coach needs to be able to gain his players’ trust and ensure that they’re willing to consume and digest what they’re saying.
In that regard, Hinske seems like a perfect fit to re-join the staff. I suppose we’ll find out soon enough.