Quick Hits: Cubs, Breslow, Orioles, Hitting Coaches, Guardians, Tito

In an article at The Athletic, Sahadev Sharma makes five predictions for the 2022 Cubs, including one that Craig Breslow will emerge as a candidate for a future team president role. Breslow retired from pitching and joined the Cubs’ front office prior to the 2019 season as director of strategic initiatives and was promoted to assistant general manager after the 2020 campaign. Sharma points out that Breslow is from the same area of Connecticut as Mets’ owner Steve Cohen, which could have made him a nice fit for the lengthy front office search the Mets’ underwent in recent months, which concluded with the hiring of Billy Eppler as general manager. However, the Mets never actually reached out to Breslow, according to Sharma.

Some other notes from around the league…

  • The Orioles announced in November that they would be hiring two co-hitting coaches, Matt Borgschulte and Ryan Fuller. Jon Meoli of the Baltimore Sun profiled both of them this week to discuss their respective journeys. Borgschulte spent some time at Southeast Missouri State, where he worked with Dillon Lawson. The two will now be division rivals in the MLB, as Lawson recently became the Yankees hitting coach. During their time there, the school’s program developed a reputation as being at the forefront of using technology to improve pitch recognition using occlusion training, “where video of a pitch is cut off after around 20 feet, forcing a hitter to use that early portion of the ball flight to decide what type of pitch it is and whether to swing,” as Meoli describes it. Fuller, meanwhile, has been largely focused on biomechanics and swing planes. He was hired by the Orioles prior to the 2020 season with the aim of being the hitting coach in Low-A. However, after the pandemic wiped out the minor leagues that year, he ended up at the Orioles’ alternate site, working with players who were on the cusp of the majors. Successful showings from players like Cedric Mullins, DJ Stewart, Ryan Mountcastle and Austin Hays helped Fuller’s approach take hold in the organization, leading to his new position working with the big league club. The ability to maximize the potential of their young hitters figures to be an important detail for the Orioles in the coming years. The club has had five straight losing seasons and is firmly in the basement of the AL East, with their four division mates having each won at least 91 games in 2021. However, their rebuilding process has led to stockpiling young talent, with Baseball America placing them second only to the Mariners in their most recent Organization Talent Rankings. Turning those prospects into productive major leaguers will be key to helping the club climb out of the AL East basement.
  •  Terry Francona stepped away from his managing duties for health reasons in July but seems to be on the path to return to the dugout to helm the Guardians in 2022. He recently spoke with Dan Shaughnessy of the Boston Globe and provided some more details about his situation. “I had my hip replaced in August. That was a piece of cake. Four weeks later, they went in and redid my toe,” Francona said. “They put a rod in, two pieces of bone and eight screws. Technically, I’m still on crutches, but I haven’t been using my crutches for a while. I’m in a boot.” Tito then goes on to detail how he’s been managing this multitude of injuries since chasing down a fly ball as a 22-year-old and has since had over 40 surgeries in the subsequent 40 years.  “Twelve on each knee. That’s the majority,” he said. “I’ve had my toe done twice. Both hips. Both shoulders twice. Left elbow. Hernia. Neck. Back. Disk surgery. I’ve had four or five surgeries on my wrist and fingers, but they are just little ones. I don’t count those. Then I had the blood clot procedures. The last surgery, they put two stents in my legs and one in my stomach and I have better circulation now than I have in a long time.” Despite all of that, Tito played parts of 10 seasons as a player and has now managed parts of 21 seasons. And if all continues according to plan, he should be back for a 22nd.

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