David Ross

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Bernstein: Cubs Hope New Coach Fills Perplexing Void

The Cubs have lamented their lack of leadership in the clubhouse.

Dan Bernstein
December 13, 2018 - 2:43 pm
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(670 The Score) We're all too used to coaching turnover being part of a Cubs offseason lately, with the latest position coming open being that of the right hand to manager Joe Maddon.

Brandon Hyde spent one season as bench coach after Dave Martinez left to manage the Nationals, and now Hyde is getting his own opportunity to do the same for the Baltimore Orioles. Maddon has already vowed to spend more time involved with actual coaching instead of delegating, responding to president of baseball operations Theo Epstein's marching orders for more intensity by vowing to forge better communications with his youngsters.

This could mean more quasi-managerial and administrative responsibility falls to the bench coach, so it's notable that the candidates mentioned so far all seem to fit a similar description, a former player not too far removed from the field. Mark DeRosa and David Ross have been approached, with the former preferring his life as a television star and the latter wanting to keep his advisory job to the Cubs' front office as it is to allow him to spend time with his family in Florida, the Athletic reported. Raul Ibanez is the latest name to surface, presumably ready to take on more day-to-day work than is demanded by his role as a special assistant to Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman.

This quest to find a 40-something has to be viewed in the context of general manager Jed Hoyer's comments to reporters at the Winter Meetings in Las Vegas, where he described a lack of leadership personalities in the Cubs' clubhouse as a "miscalculation."

"We felt like we got to a place where those things would maybe take care of themselves, because we had this group together for so long," Hoyer said. "We probably realized that wasn't accurate."

Those were strong comments about a locker room that has won 90 or more games in four consecutive seasons, played in three National League Championship Series and won a championship. Franchises at this point usually aren't hurting for leaders.

Anthony Rizzo will be 30 this season, his ninth in MLB. Jayson Heyward is the legendary orator who delivered the motivational weight room speech during the Game 7 rain delay in the 2016 World Series, an act already cemented in Cubs lore. Ben Zobrist will turn 38 in May and has earned multiple championship rings while compiling a total of 43.9 Wins Above Replacement.

And that's just among the position players, holding to baseball's conventional wisdom that such leadership can't be supplied by pitchers, who play only sporadically and are often more among themselves. Why is this still a vacuum to be filled -- even in part -- by another outside hire?

One would think that under Maddon's gentle and player-friendly guidance the environment would have been lending itself to the development of such attributes in any number of players, but Hoyer just admitted openly that it hasn't. That the Cubs still must look outside the organization for such a trait even after years of sustained success is curious, at the least.

Dan Bernstein is a co-host of 670 The Score’s Bernstein & McKnight Show in middays. You can follow him on Twitter @dan_bernstein.​