Cubs Finally Get Pevey
And it's about time!
The Cubs have announced their minor league field staff for 2009, and while a lot of attention is given to the promotion of Ryne Sandberg from Peoria to AA Tennessee, there were some other noteworthy moves made as well.
First of all, AAA Iowa manager Pat Listach (2008 PCL Manager of the Year) accepted an offer to be 1st base coach with the Washington Nationals, and he will probably receive strong consideration to replace Manny Acta should Washington GM Jim Bowden decide to make a mangerial change during or after next season. The Cubs should have made Listach their 3rd base coach and infield coach a year ago, but oh, well...
Replacing Listach as Iowa manager will be Bobby Dickerson, who has served as the organization's roving minor league infield & bunting instructor for the past couple of years, beginning his year at minor league camp in Mesa in March, then traveling from city to city, spending a week at each affiliate during the season (April through August) before reporting to Fitch Park for the AZ Instructional League in September-October.
But before coordinating infield & bunting instruction, Dickerson was a very successful minor league manager with the Cubs, most notably as skipper of the Southern League Champion West Tenn Diamond Jaxx in 2002 and then the manager of what was arguably the best Cubs minor league team of recent times, the 2005 West Tenn Diamond Jaxx.
Bobby D's '05 Jaxx featured twenty (that's right, 20) future major leaguers, including Carlos Marmol, Ricky Nolasco, Sean Marshall, Rich Hill, Felix Pie, Ryan Theriot, Micah Hoffpauir, Eric Patterson, David Aardsma, Matt Murton, Renyel Pinto, Jae-kuk Ryu, Rocky Cherry, Luis Montanez, Jose Reyes. Buck Coats, Ryan O'Malley, Adam Greenberg, Casey McGehee, and Carmen Pignatiello, and it isn't much of a stretch to give Dickerson at least some of the credit for the players' development
In my opinion, Bobby Dickerson is the best manager in the Cubs organization, and his talent was somewhat misused the last three years while he served as a roving instructor. Not that he wasn't any good at it (he did a fine job), just that his talents would seem to be better utilzyed as a manager at the AA or AAA level. Hitting Coach Von Joshua and pitching coach Mike Mason return to Iowa in 2009.
As has been extensively reported elsewhere in the media, Ryne Sandberg has been moved up from Peoria to AA Tennessee, where Ryno will manage the Smokies in 2009. Sandberg seemingly had a rather frustrating season at Peoria in 2008, as he was thrown out of a number of games after being perplexed by the mediocre skill level of the umpires in the Midwest League. The umpiring should be better at AA, but I still am not sure how much longer Sandberg is going to want to travel around the hinterlands by bus. I think it's pretty clear he has his heart set on becoming a big league manager ASAP.
Buddy Bailey was the manager at AA last season, after having previously managed at Daytona and AAA Iowa and after serving as the organization's roving catching instructor in one other season. Bailey has been around the minors a long time (mostly in the Atlanta Braves and Boston Red Sox organizations), and he does a good job no matter what role he is assigned. So it isn't a "demotion" for him to move from Tennessee to Daytona. It is just a matter of making room for Sandberg at AA. Longtime Daytona hitting instructor Richie Zisk (he lives down there) and new D-Cubs pitching coach Tom Pratt (who was the pitching coach at Boise last season) will work with Bailey. A member of the South Side Hit Men in 1977, Zisk hit 207 HR in his 13-year MLB playing career.
2008 Daytona Cubs manager Jody Davis has been reassigned as the organization's roving catching instructor. I'm not sure if this is exactly the best role for Jo-Dee, especially since he was an "offensive-first" catcher in his playing days.
Jody's predecessor as the organization's roving catching instructor was Casey Kopitzke, and he actually was an outstanding defensive catcher in his playing days in the Cubs organization. But Casey quite obviously is a bright guy with a future as a manager, so he has been named the manager at short-season Boise for 2009. As Boise manager, Kopitzke will run Extended Spring Training at Fitch Park April-June and will manage the EXST Cubs. Kopitzke's pitching coach will be David Rosario (he was the pitching coach at Daytona last year) and the hitting coach will be ex-SF OF Desi Wilson (he was hitting coach at Peoria last season). Standing 6'7, the players really look up to Wilson.
Last year's manager at Boise was Tom Beyers, and he had been a long-time organizational hitting instructor in the Cubs and Dodgers organization before trying his hand at managing. Beyers spent a lot of time working with the Boise and Mesa hitters at Fitch Park last Spring, as he served as the de facto hitting instructor a lot of days. (Boise hitting coach Josh Arteaga apparently was not invited to return in 2009). With Casey Kopitzke taking over as the Boise manager, Beyers has been reassigned as hitting coach on Ryne Sandberg's staff at Tennesee, where the best Cubs minor league pitching coach (Dennis Lewallyn) will be returning for his third season.
Sandberg's replacement as manager at Peoria will be the organization's new guy, 46-year old Marty Pevey, who has been both a major league coach and minor league coach and manager with the Toronto Blue Jays over the past 13 years. Pevey was a catcher in his playing days (he got a "cup of coffee" with the Montreal Expos in 1989). Rich Bombard will return to the Peoria Chiefs as pitching coach in 2009, and ex-DET OF Barbaro Garbey will be the Chiefs hitting instructor (he was hitting coach at AA Tennessee last season).
The AZL Mesa Cubs play at Fitch Park after the Boise Hawks leave for Idaho in June, and the AZL Cubs will be managed by Juan Cabreja, who the manager for the DSL Cubs #1 team in the DSL last season. Cabreja replaces Franklin Font as the AZL Cubs manager, as Font has been reassigned as the organization's roving infield & bunting instructor (replacing Bobby Dickerson). Font seemed a bit over his head last year as AZL Cubs manager. Rick Tronerud returns as the AZL Cubs pitching coach, and Ricardo Medina returns as the AZL Cubs hitting coach. The avuncular Tronerud is the guy who is responsible for converting position players to pitcher at Fitch Park.
The Cubs will continue to operate two clubs in the Dominican Summer League (DSL Cubs #1 and DSL Cubs #2), with Alberto Garcia (a one Cubs minor league 1B) the new manager for DSL Cubs #1 (replacing Carbreja) and Venezuelan Franklin Blanco returning as manager of DSL Cubs #2 (Blanco was the Cubs coach assigned to the Twins/Cubs co-op team in the Venezuelan Summer League in 2007). Leo Hernandez returns as pitching coach and ex-MLB INF Ramon Caraballo returns as hitting coach for DSL Cubs #1, while Anderson Tavarez (who was a pitcher in th Cubs organization for several seasons) returns as pitching coach for DSL Cubs #2. Leonel Perez, who served as a player-coach ("mentor") at Daytona in 2008 after blowing out his arm following a conversion from catcher to pitcher a couple of years ago, has been hired as the DSL Cubs #2 hitting coach.
Carmelo Martinez will return as the Cubs Dominican Field Coordinator (he basically oversees the two DSL Cubs teams). Melo Carmelo was the temporaray manager of the Peoria club last August, the night of the big brawl at Dayton, when pitcher Julio Castillo got arrested for aggravated battery and SS Gian Guzman suffered a broken leg (Ryne Sandberg was at Cooperstown that weekend).
Besides Jody Davis being reassigned as the organizaation's roving catching instructor and Franklin Font being reassigned to the position of roving infield/bunting instructor, the organization's Hitting Coordinator (Dave Keller), Pitching Coordinator (Mark Riggins), and Outfield/Baserunning Instructor Bobby Dernier (with Sandberg, the other half of the Cubs "Daily Double" in 1984-85) return to the same jobs in 2009.
30-year old Danny Fatheree (Kerry Wood's catcher in HS) was re-signed to a minor league player contract for 2009, but he will probably once again actually serve as a player-coach ("mentor") for the young Cubs catchers at Fitch Park, helping kids like Matt Cerda learn the finer points of catching. I think Fatheree would make an outstanding manager some day. And 26-year old Korean OF Min-Kyu Sung (who played college ball in the U. S. at Nebraska-Omaha) will be back with the Cubs in 2009, serving as a player-coach ("mentor") wherever the young Korean kids (Rhee, Lee, Min, and Ha) are located.
One-time Cubs 3rd base coach and long-time minor league manager Dave Bialas continues to serve as the Cubs Minor League Field Coordinator, supervising the organization's roving instructors and the managers and coaches with the eight Cubs minor league clubs. Bialas reports directly to Oneri Fleita.
Player Personnel Director Fleita is a bilingual Cuban-American from Miami who was an All-MVC catcher at Creighton in the 1980's, where he played for Coach Jim Hendry. Fleita played briefly in the minor leagues with the Orioles, before becoming a successful minor league manager in the Baltimore system. Fleita was hired by Hendry as a minor league manager after Hendry was named the Cubs Player Development Director in 1994, and then Hendry appointed Oneri the Cubs Latin American Scouting Coordinator in 1997 after Hendry took over as the (combined) Scouting & Player Development Director. Fleita replaced Hendry as the Director of Player Development in 2000 when Hendry was appointed Assistant GM, and then Fleita was promoted to the position of "VP - Player Personnel" in 2007. He gives a lot of attention to the Cubs minor league operations in Latin America.