John Farrell Possibly ‘Frontrunner’ to Replace Jim Hickey, Which Would Be…Interesting

As the Cubs go about the business of replacing pitching coach Jim Hickey, who stepped down Tuesday due to personal reasons, they may turn to a familiar face. Former Red Sox manager John Farrell spent four years as Boston’s pitching coach during Theo Epstein’s time there and currently has two sons working in the Cubs organization, not to mention another who pitched for the Cubs in 2018.

Jeremy Farrell is a minor league infield coordinator, younger brother Shane is an area scout, and Luke logged 31.1 innings this past season before being DFA’d and claimed off waivers by the Angels. The numerous ties are too strong to ignore, which is why Farrell’s name popped up in both the Chicago Tribune and St. Louis Post-Dispatch as a potential successor to Hickey. The latter even said Farrell “appeared to be the frontrunner” for the gig.

But are the ties that bind strong enough to blind us to some potential problems that could arise from Farrell’s hiring? He’s certainly qualified and knows the Cubs’ players and staff fairly well, whether from personal experience or from spending the last year as a scout for the Reds. He’s also an Epstein guy and a former manager, both of which could engender a sense of distrust among the staff.

While you’d like to believe existing relationships are strong enough to survive ego battles, you’ve got to admit that bringing in a man of Farrell’s stature and connections would be quite interesting in light of Maddon’s uncertain future. It would also represent even greater front office influence on a staff that has already seen the addition of Anthony Iapoce, who had previously served as assistant to the GM before leaving to be the Rangers’ hitting coach.

We’ll see what comes of this whole thing soon enough, but bringing Farrell aboard — even if he’s the most qualified person for the job — could be more than a little awkward. It could even be seen as a shot across Maddon’s bow, a more tangible one than what to this point has just been rhetoric.

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