While the Cubs have not been very active in free agency this winter, they’ve made several moves to bolster their staff with former players. Bob Tewksbury was hired as a mental skills coordinator, Craig Breslow added Director of Strategic Initiatives to his title as “Smartest Man in Baseball,” Aaron Sele is now a special assignment scout, and Brad Mills took over some of the duties vacated when Tommy Hottovy was promoted to pitching coach. Do you sense a theme here?
There are of course other former players in several key spots throughout the organization, since that’s usually how it works. But since shifting their organizational focus to pitching a couple years ago, the Cubs have been very intentional about bringing in former pitchers to work in different capacities. And with player development now taking a more aggressive stance, particularly with pitchers, it makes sense to bring in new voices and fresh perspectives.
The newest and freshest of those is Josh Zeid, who announced on Twitter that he was joining the Cubs as a pitching analyst in the player development department. Once a flamethrowing righty, Zeid debuted with the Astros in 2013 and pitched a total of 48.1 major league innings over two seasons. He retired from professional baseball a little less than a year ago after struggling to break back out of Triple-A with the Mets, Tigers, and Cardinals.
I am so excited to announce that I have accepted a position within the Player Development department of the @Cubs organization as Pitching Analyst. Looking forward to joining an incredible staff and great organization.
— Josh Zeid (@Josh_Zeid14) February 9, 2019
Despite relatively limited MLB experience, Zeid’s baseball journey leaves him well suited to work with prospects coming up through the system. He won a gold medal with the US Youth National Team as a 16-year-old in 2003, pitched in college for traditional powers Vanderbilt and Tulane, and was named to the 2017 All-World Baseball Classic team as a member of Team Israel. In addition to his successes, Zeid has also experienced plenty of struggles as he tried to make it back to the bigs for three seasons before retiring.
A quick perusal of Zeid’s biography reveals some other interesting facts that may also contribute to his aptitude for this new gig. The first is that he recently completed his college degree at Tulane roughly a decade after leaving to pursue his baseball career. Though some might see that as insignificant, I look at it as a desire to follow through and complete what he started no matter how long it takes.
This next bit might be even more of a reach, but I think being married to a doctor of neuropsychology might be a boon as well. Zeid has a practical understanding of the game’s mental side from his playing days and he’s no doubt gained more knowledge from his wife, Stephanie, as a result of her expertise. And at only 31 years old with his time on the farm still fresh in his mind, he should be able to relate to the players with whom he’s working.
It’s impossible to say how someone with little to no coaching experience will be able to impact young players coming up through the system, but everything about Zeid points to this being a good hire for the Cubs.