One of the capital Cubs capacity advancing out of Winter Meetings aftermost anniversary was the admiration for bigger advice amid the advanced office/coaching agents and the millennial players.
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What bigger way to bridge the gap than to appoint a millennial to arch up the organization’s casting infrastructure?
Tommy Hottovy, 37, was called the Cubs’ new casting drillmaster beforehand this month, a big advance afterwards he’s spent the aftermost four years as a run blockage coordinator with the team.
Sure, it’s the Cubs’ third altered casting drillmaster in three seasons, but this isn’t some 50-year-old advancing in off the artery accepting to acquaint himself to anniversary of the pitchers on the staff. Hottovy is a guy who can chronicle to the players in age (he’s alone about 2 years earlier than Jon Lester and Cole Hamels) and from the affinity he’s congenital as an basic allotment of the adviser aback the alpha of the 2015 season.
This is a above abode who fabricated 17 appearances in the big leagues and aftermost pitched a abounding division in the accessory leagues alone a few years ago (2013). The Wichita State University artefact additionally has apparent the acceleration of the Cubs firsthand, abutting the alignment in Kris Bryant’s aboriginal bounce training in 2014 while still aggravating to accomplish it as a abode afore trainsitioning to the video scouting/coaching aspect of the game.
“When I was done playing, I absolutely acquainted like there was this gap in the game. I absolutely acquainted like there was a altered atom for guys like me who had a little experience,” Hottovy said. “I didn’t accept all the major-league acquaintance those guys have, but I stepped bottom out there. I can chronicle to those guys. But again I can additionally acquaint with the advanced appointment and the R&D administration that’s giving us such acceptable information.
“How can we construe that and booty a asset and accord it to Quintana or how can we booty a asset and accord it to Lester? We antic because we may do 3-4 hours of assignment and dig and dig for that two-minute chat and that two-minute chat may accomplish or breach the abutting two weeks of the division for the player. So that’s absolutely what I envisioned that role to affectionate of become — to advice guys abbreviate that gap amid aback we charge to accomplish an acclimation and aback things got out of whack.
“I was a amateur and you had to do that off feel — or what a drillmaster told you — for a continued time. Now we accept abstracts to advice accommodate all that. Now it’s about funneling it bottomward and advice it to the players.”
Hottovy will accept his bowl abounding in his aboriginal year on the job as above questions abide on the Cubs casting staff, including the role/future of Tyler Chatwood, the acknowledgment to bloom of Yu Darvish and Brandon Morrow and how to abstain a third beeline late-season abode fade.
He’ll additionally accept to cross the dugout and a new band of advice with Joe Maddon during games instead of carrying aloof letters and advice to the administrator advanced of amateur and series. But Hottovy said he’s not anxious about that aspect, as he’s formed carefully with Maddon for four years now and the organization’s casting basement (Hottovy, catching/strategy/associate casting drillmaster Mike Borzello, abode drillmaster Lester Strode) remains intact, which the Cubs achievement will advance to year-over-year continuity.
One of Hottovy’s capital credibility of absorption this offseason is aggravating to acquisition a way to absolute all the chargeless passes. Cubs pitchers absolved the third-most hitters in baseball in 2018 and accomplished 8th in that attention in 2017. (For reference, they accomplished 14th in walks accustomed in 2016 and acceptable the fifth-fewest chargeless passes in 2015.)
A lot of that was Chatwood, who led baseball with 95 walks admitting throwing alone 9.2 innings in the final two months of the season.
But it wasn’t aloof Chatwood. Jon Lester acquaint his affliction airing bulk aback 2011 and Jose Quintana, Yu Darvish (when he pitched) and Brian Duensing sported the accomplished airing ante of their career while adolescent flamethrower Carl Edwards Jr. still struggled with his command.
So how can Hottovy and Co. fix an affair that has bedeviled this aggregation and apprenticed admirers crazy for the aftermost two years?
“To say we’re gonna airing beneath people, that’s not — in my apperception — the appropriate access to take,” Hottovy said. “It’s process-oriented, not results. What can we do advanced of time? What can we do that’s gonna help? It’s about advancing hitters. It’s about accepting the appropriate access and I anticipate a lot of those this will booty affliction of themselves.
“I anticipate we charge to booty maybe a little bit altered access to what our goals are in agreement of we’re not gonna airing anybody, etc. We’re [9th] in the alliance in OPS, so you accept the aerial airing rates, but we absolute bang and we do added things. So how can we get bigger on both aspects of that?”
Much like the position players, Hottovy said the Cubs pitchers are acquisitive to get aback to assignment and appear out of the shoot battlefront in bounce training in an accomplishment to put the acerb aftertaste of the end of the 2018 division abaft them.
Hottovy may not be account “Managing Millennials for Dummies,” but he’s still absorbed in the aforementioned abstraction — paring bottomward the batty bulk of advice accessible and absorption on the WHY abaft decisions and adjustments.
“With all of our guys, what you’re aggravating to do ultimately is get them in the best position to assassinate a pitch,” Hottovy said. “Yeah, there’s mechanics things they assignment on with everybody, but absolution them accept what those automated changes are and not aloof cogent them, “You do this and this is gonna help.” We’re walking them through why and we’re allowance them see why this allotment of the commitment is important.
“We accept a lot of abstracts and that abstracts will accord us advice on mechanics and how to accomplish changes, but it’s about simplifying it. It’s about giving them one or two nuggets to focus on and not 10 altered things. It’s about, hopefully, in the end, you acreage in a acceptable position to bandy a baseball and execute.”
When Hottovy met with the media in Las Vegas aftermost anniversary for the aboriginal time aback demography the job, he was asked accurately about alive with Chatwood and Darvish this winter as the two big chargeless abettor signings from aftermost winter are attractive to body off asperous aboriginal years with the Cubs.
However, Hottovy has an absorption in affair with anniversary of the Cubs’ pitchers this winter. And aback the alignment has yet to add to the casting agents this winter, everybody on Hottovy’s accepted account is a accustomed face.
That includes adept analgesic Brandon Kintzler, who had a forgettable time with the Cubs in the final two months of the season, but acclimatized his $5 actor advantage for the 2019 season. Kintzler is a Las Vegas native, so Hottovy chock-full in to see the right-hander afore the Winter Meetings began.
“I anticipate it’s important to go see as abounding guys as we can aloof to get eyes on them. There’s technology now — you can FaceTime and see, but there’s article to be said to be there and see them,” said Hottovy, who wants to appointment anniversary guy in being afore pitchers and catchers address to Arizona in mid-February. “I anticipate it’s important.”
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