In a surprise move Friday, the New York Yankees replaced fired pitching coach Dave Eiland with the Cubs' Larry Rothschild. The Cubs longtime coach had survived several managerial regimes, but will now coach for former Cub Joe Girardi in the Bronx.
Rothschild was not known to be on the Yankees list of candidates, but he cited personal reasons for making the switch.
Per Wallace Matthews report on ESPN: "My reasons for pursuing and accepting this opportunity are personal and family-based, as the Yankees hold spring training in, and travel several times a year to, my hometown of Tampa. The chance to spend increased time with my family was something I wanted to explore and I am grateful for the opportunity to have done so."
Rothschild had been the Cubs pitching coach for so long that it's almost like replacing Richard Daley as Mayor. But after nine years, he will move on and the Cubs will be in the market for a new coach.
Does this signify nothing more than what was stated, family reasons, or is this a sign that the Cubs are rebuilding and Rothschild wants no part of it?
Perhaps a more interesting question is will Greg Maddux be taking over the role? We'll look at Maddux and other potential candidates in this piece.
When Maddux joined the Cubs front office, he said at the time that he wasn't interested in being a coach or field manager, and it was widely assumed that he wanted to learn the front office in a possible effort to eventually become a GM in the majors.
In fact, when the Ricketts family bought the club, there were some calling for Jim Hendry to be replaced by Maddux. Now that it appears that Hendry is going nowhere (much like the Cubs), perhaps Maddux will go in a different direction?
It's unlikely but not impossible. After all, it's in the genes. Greg's brother Mike is the pitching coach for the Rangers and has done a good job, so we'll see.
But wouldn't a combination of Ryne Sandberg as manager and Maddux as pitching coach have been interesting?
Meanwhile, Carrie Muskat and others are already tweeting that Maddux is not part of the mix.
Strode, the current Cubs bullpen coach, was a longtime pitching coach in the farm system. He was the pitching coach for the Peoria Chiefs in 1990-1991 and was the Cubs' minor league pitching coordinator for eleven years.
Strode's background seems eerily similar to current manager Mike Quade, who toiled for years in the minors. Maybe that will earn him sympathy votes from Quade. Strode has been in the Cubs system for 22 years and was the Cubs' Minor League pitching coordinator from 1996-2006.
Iowa's coach Mike Mason would be another logical candidate to join the Cubs minor league coaching staff and eventual minor league roster (once the contracts of Fukudome, Zambrano, Soriano, and Ramirez get traded or expire).
The Cubs Triple A pitching coach has already coached guys like Andrew Cashner, Thomas Diamond, Jeff Samardzija and a host of other young pitchers who are expected to be a part of the major league club, so this would be likely choice.
Mason has been the coach at Iowa for the past three seasons. He served as the Kansas City Royals minor league pitching coordinator in 2007 and as their Minor League Pitching Instructor for three seasons before that.
He also spent 10 seasons as a pitching coach in the Royals minor league system and one year in the Phillies system.
Riggins has been a coach for 26 years and was named the Cubs minor league pitching coach in 2008, after spending many years in the Cardinals organization. But we won't hold that against him.
Riggins has been given credit for the development of young Chris Archer. Here's what Sean Kernan of the Daytona Beach News-Journal wrote about what Archer said after the Cubs acquired him in the Mark DeRosa trade:
"I did look at how the Cubs develop pitching, and Mark Riggins did a great job when he was with the Cardinals, so all things considered I'm not going to say any organization is better than another, but I'm really glad I'm with the Cubs," Archer said with special emphasis on those last seven words.
He said Riggins took him aside during fall instructional league and said, "We're not going to try to fix three things at once. We're going to work on one thing and get it right, then move on to another."
He is a smart guy who is known to be well liked within the organization. He may be the favorite for the job.
Lewallyn has been the Class AA Tennessee Smokies pitching coach since the 2007 season started. He served as the Arizona Diamondbacks minor league pitching coordinator from 2002-2006.
New bench coach Pat Listach was the manager in Tennessee in 2007 with Lewallyn as his pitching coach.
I highly doubt that the Cubs will go outside the organization or pay the big bucks to sign a pitching coach, but the former Atlanta Braves and O's pitching coach Leo Mazzone is available and is said to be interested in returning to the big leagues.
Mazzone lost some of his cred when his O's didn't perform well, leading to speculation that much of his success in Atlanta may have been tied to Maddux, Smoltz and Glavine. Still, if the Cubs wanted to make a splash, they conceivably could go in this direction, though it probably isn't going to happen.
Meanwhile, forget about about Mike Maddux, he's not leaving Texas.