According to Patrick Mooney of The Athletic, the Cubs are planning to hire former Tampa Bay minor-league hitting coordinator Greg Brown as their new hitting coach. Brown is replacing Anthony Iapoce, who was let go after three years in the role, and will become the Cubs’ fourth hitting coach in six seasons. Taking it back to the start of Jed Hoyer’s tenure with the organization, Brown will be the seventh hitting coach in 11 seasons.
The Cubs are planning to hire Greg Brown as their new hitting coach, sources told me and @sahadevsharma. Brown previously served as Tampa Bay’s minor-league hitting coordinator. As an area scout, Brown signed Kiké Hernández and J.D. Martinez as part of Houston’s 2009 draft class.
— Patrick Mooney (@PJ_Mooney) November 1, 2021
Iapoce and John Mallee both served for three seasons, with Rudy Jaramillo, James Rowson, Bill Mueller, and Chili Davis getting just one year apiece. Jaramillo actually spent three total seasons as hitting coach, but just one under the Epstoyer regime.
And lest you think this is some new trend brought on by current leadership, you have to go all the way back to 2002 in order to find a hitting coach who’s lasted more than three years with the Cubs. Oh, how we all long for the halcyon days of Jeff Pentland (1998-2003). The first two of those seasons came when Billy Williams was the bench coach, which for some reason feels like way more than 23 years ago.
Anyway, Brown becomes the latest employee the Cubs have hired away from a progressive-minded organization in the last couple of weeks. And while that might not seem as important for a hands-on coach as it does for members of the front office, it’s evident the Cubs are trying to move in a new direction from the top down when it comes to their development philosophy.
Though it’s typically viewed as something that takes place with prospects, development can’t stop once a player has been promoted to Chicago. That seems to have been the case with the Cubs, at least to an extent, with Davis’s claims that he couldn’t connect with his hitters underscoring a general sense of reluctance by those hitters to change and adapt. Whether it was individuals failing to adjust or the front office stubbornly refusing to adequately balance the roster, Cubs lineups became far to easy to beat after winning the title.
Brown will now be tasked with changing that trend as the tip of spear, so to speak. New GM Carter Hawkins talked during his introductory press conference about taking all the available information and synthesizing it into digestible information that players and the coaching staff can undetstand. He was speaking about pitching at the time, but it’s pretty obvious the same principles apply to hitting.
As an area scout for the Astros — ding, progressive org alert — Brown was responsible for signing both Kiké Hernandez (6th round) and J.D. Martinez (20th round) in 2009. He later served as head coach at Nova Southeastern University for nine years before stepping down to join the Rays prior to the 2020 season. He’s got an eye for talent and is used to working with the kind of young hitters the Cubs will almost certainly be seeing more of here in the next few seasons, so the assumption is that the club feels he’s a great communicator.
For what it’s worth, he also seems like a positive dude on Twitter.
If all else fails, the Cubs can just hope Brown does a better job of telling hitters when to swing. Sorry, that’s an esoteric nod to the 670 The Score caller a few years back who thought that’s literally what a hitting coach did.