Today, a couple Cubs beat writers let it be known that Cubs bullpen coach Lester Strode was given his walking papers. Strode had been with the Cubs for 31 years, and had been the bullpen coach since 2007, having served in that capacity under Lou Piniella, Mike Quade, Dale Sveum, Rick Renteria and Joe Maddon.
The timing of this is interesting, in that following the hiring of David Ross as the new Cubs manager, Theo Epstein let it be known that he and Jed Hoyer would be discussing the coaching staff with Ross, and Ross knew and worked with Strode during Ross’ time as Cubs catcher. So it’s not too big a stretch to say that Strode is the first scalp on Ross’ belt.
It was funny typing that Strode had started in 2007, since it certainly felt as if Strode had been around for over a century, and Wrigley Field had been built around him. He was as much a fixture as the ivy on the walls, the scoreboard and the troughs in the men’s rooms.
So I think that at this point we can finally put any thoughts of Manager Ross being cuddly “Grandpa Rossy”, palling around in the clubhouse into the circular file, since Strode is a guy that could have been retained with no controversy or second guessing. Yet, here he is getting jettisoned as Ross forms the coaching staff in his own image.
I have no idea if the next guy can stand next to relief pitchers and read scouting reports any better or worse than Strode did, but clearly there was something there that Epstein, Hoyer and Ross saw that needed to be changed. And for now, that’s good enough for me.