Results tagged ‘ Rob Deer ’

1/19 Cubs notebook

Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts said the team may revisit the issue of whether to invite Sammy Sosa back. Sosa has not returned since he walked out after the 2004 season.

“With Sammy, it’s awkward,” Ricketts said Saturday. “I think over time, there’ll be a good solution for all this stuff, but obviously I think you saw what happened to the Hall of Fame voting this year. I don’t know. It would be nice to put this chapter to rest and just welcome back all the guys who were from that era that people suspected of doing whatever.”

There has not been much communication between the Cubs and Sosa since he left.

* Cubs manager Dale Sveum and hitting coach James Rowson were happy Brett Jackson accepted the drastic changes they suggested to the young outfielder’s swing during a workout in November in Mesa, Ariz. Jackson was promoted to the big leagues Aug. 5 despite leading the Pacific Coast League with 158 strikeouts. He batted .175 in 44 games with the Cubs.

Sveum said it may benefit Jackson that he hit “rock bottom.” The outfielder, who was the Cubs’ first-round pick in 2009, has been hitting more this offseason than in the past. He was still expected to open at Triple-A Iowa.

* The Cubs have the second pick overall in the June First-Year Player Draft, and even though there is a need for more pitching in the organization, they could chose a position player. Theo Epstein, president of baseball operations, said usually the best bets at the top of the Draft are position players.

“We will not neglect pitching in the Draft but we’ll take the best player available,” Epstein said.

* Tony Campana is very popular with Cubs fans. One fan asked Sveum why the speedy Campana couldn’t get a spot in the starting outfield. Sveum said Campana is fighting for one of the backup outfield spots, and that he has a hard time getting on base consistently. Expect Dave Sappelt to be one of the backup outfielders.

* Broadcaster Len Kasper said new assistant hitting coach Rob Deer was just like Adam Dunn in terms of high strikeouts, high on-base percentage. That was meant to be a complement. Deer said his philosophy as a hitting coach is: “Do as I say, not as I did.”

* Sveum said he wants coaches who aren’t afraid to say anything to the players. His philosophy? “Don’t ever think these guys know everything,” Sveum said.

* There are often unusual questions during Cubs Convention seminars and Saturday was no exception. One fan complained that the players weren’t paid enough to afford a haircut, and said Sveum looked as if he “sleeps on a park bench.” A youngster asked Epstein to promise he could get a Major League contract once he reaches 18. Epstein said yes.

A father from San Francisco asked Ricketts what he should tell his 8-year-old son, who is teased for wearing Cubs gear.

“I really believe we have the smartest guys in baseball building a championship team and it just takes time,” Ricketts said. “Your son’s 8; he’s got lots of time.”

— Carrie Muskat

11/27 Extra bases: Feldman, Stewart & Deer

The addition of Scott Feldman fulfills GM Jed Hoyer’s wish list this offseason as far as starting pitching. Feldman and Scott Baker join Jeff Samardzija, Matt Garza and Travis Wood in the Cubs rotation. Feldman was the Rangers’ Opening Day starter in 2010 and feels he can get back to how he pitched in ’09 when he won 17 games if he gets regular work.

“I think part of why he agreed to a one-year deal is that he has a lot of confidence in himself and felt like, ‘Hey, I know I can pitch better than I did last year and I can potentially use that as a spring-board,'” Hoyer said. “He showed a lot of confidence in wanting a one-year deal.

“I think last year, if you look inside his numbers, the numbers were not what he probably hoped but they were pretty misleading. If you look at his ratios and different underlying numbers, he’s one of the most unlucky pitchers in the game last year. While it wasn’t his best year, it certainly wasn’t nearly as bad as the ERA on the page says it was.”

The Cubs will announce a 40-man roster move later in the day Tuesday. They were at 40 before the addition of Feldman.

* Hoyer was asked about hiring Rob Deer as an assistant hitting coach.

“That’s a position a lot of teams are adding,” Hoyer said. “I think baseball teams in general are starting to realize the pitching coach has 12 guys and he has help from the bullpen coach, and the hitting coach has 13 guys and no help at all. Teams are starting to add a second hitting coach. Candidly, I’m sort of upset, looking back on the years in Boston and San Diego, I feel it’s a position we should’ve added long ago. Dale [Sveum] has a long relationship with Rob, and speaks incredibly highly of him. Our interactions with him are real positive. We’re excited to add him. He can really assist James [Rowson, hitting coach] well and add a nice element to our clubhouse.”

Some have pointed to Deer’s career .220 batting average and 1,409 career strikeouts as not seeming to be conducive to someone to listen to.

“On that note, I think mentioning a coach’s stats as a player is one of the least useful things you can imagine,” Hoyer said. “No one ever mentions Jim Leyland’s numbers or Tony La Russa’s numbers. I think coaching and playing are two very separate things. Just because a guy happened to strike out a lot or didn’t have a high batting average doesn’t affect how well he teaches at all. I also would note [Deer] was a guy who did get on base and had a lot of power. I don’t think a coach’s playing background says how he coaches and how he teaches.”

* Friday is the deadline for teams to decide whether to tender contracts to their arbitration eligible players. Ian Stewart is an interesting case as he recovers from wrist surgery.

“We’re still talking to Ian,” Hoyer said. “We got a report today on his wrist and how he’s doing. He’s taking light batting practice, hitting balls off a tee and it seems like the wrist is progressing nicely. We’ll continue those conversations throughout the week. There’s a decision to be made at the end of the week. We’ve had a good dialogue with Ian and Larry Reynolds, his agent, and we’ll continue to do that for the next three or four days.”

The Cubs’ other arbitration eligible players include Matt Garza, Jeff Samardzija, James Russell, and Luis Valbuena.

— Carrie Muskat

11/26 Deer added to Sveum’s staff

Dale Sveum and Rob Deer, teammates on the Brewers from 1986-90, are together again. The Cubs have hired Deer as an assistant hitting coach, and he’ll join Sveum’s coaching staff, working with hitting coach James Rowson. Deer, 52, batted .220 in 11 big league seasons with the Giants, Brewers, Tigers, Red Sox from 1984-93, and then played part of ’96 with the Padres. He hit 230 home runs, including 33 in ’86 with Milwaukee, and also led the league in strikeouts four times (1987, ’88, ’91 and ’93). Sveum, who is entering his second season as the Cubs manager, came up in the Brewers organization and played for the big league team from 1986-91.

How can Deer be a hitting instructor when he has such a low batting average and struck out so many times?

“I answer that a lot,” Deer told Milwaukee sportswriter Drew Olson in a 2006 interview. “I don’t teach the way I hit. I understand how to hit .300. I know what it takes. We tell the guys to be selectively aggressive. We want that to be their approach. We tell them, ‘Be patiently aggressive.’ That’s our motto. What does it mean? If you get a good pitch to hit and you take it, that’s your fault. We don’t ever want to take aggressiveness away. But, we don’t want to swing at bad pitches either. I’ll be the first to admit I don’t want them to hit like I did.”

— Carrie Muskat