Mike Napoli Bringing Party to Cubs as New Quality Assurance Coach

The Cubs are expected to name 38-year-old Mike Napoli as their new quality assurance coach, replacing Chris Denorfia. Napoli played with David Ross on the 2013 Red Sox team that won the World Series and then against his new boss as part of the Indians team that blew a 3-1 lead to the Cubs in the 2016 World Series. More than for his play on the field, Napoli may be best known for his shirtless strolls through both Cleveland and Boston during those Fall Classics.

To be fair, Napoli was a solid performer who mashed 267 dingers with a career .821 OPS over 12 years with the Angels, Rangers, Indians, and Red Sox. He was also a central figure in the clubhouse, a fun-loving guy who inspired the “Party at Napoli’s” t-shirts that became all the rage in Cleveland before Trevor Bauer lost two games and the Cubs walked away victorious.

According to Jon Heyman, the Cubs had actually pursued Napoli last winter, but he had only just retired as a player and preferred to spend a little time away from the game. Despite a lack of coaching experience, he’s familiar with both Ross and the front office from his Red Sox days and isn’t stepping into a role that requires a long resume.

Exactly how Napoli will go about assuring quality isn’t known at this point, though he does seem to fill some of the void left by the departure of strength and conditioning coach Tim Buss. While he may not strip down to a banana hammock for pre-workout stretching, Napoli clearly knows a little something about showing some skin. If the Cubs intend to move in a more serious direction on the strength side, which seems to be the case, perhaps Napoli can be a reagent for the clubhouse chemistry Ross hopes to create.

With previous announcements that Tommy Hottovy, Mike Borzello, Anthony Iapoce, and Will Venable will be back, this hire makes the staff nearly complete. Chris Young was also hired as the bullpen coach and MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian reports that Terrmel Sledge will be back as assistant hitting coach. That just leaves a base coach spot remaining to fill, something Bastian says the Cubs will be “patient” with.

That runs slightly contrary to Jed Hoyer’s statement that they wanted to complete the staff this week, though he did admit such a goal might not be realistic. The Cubs GM also talked about having guys on the coaching staff with whom Ross could go out and have a beer to blow off steam. This hire fits that bill to a T.

Anyway, I hope they make those Napoli shirts in Cubs colors.

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