A couple of Santa Rosa natives have played integral roles in building a contending baseball team. No huge surprise there. But when that team is a Major League Baseball club based 2,000 miles away — well, now we’ve got a story.
This is an amazing time for the Chicago Cubs. They have a loyal, championship-starved fan base, a dynamic and respected manager, and, most of all, a roster deep in young talent. That roster has been substantially influenced by Brandon Hyde (Montgomery High, Class of ’92) and Tim Cossins (Santa Rosa High, Class of ’88).
“It’s fun doing stuff with your buddies,” Hyde said by phone. “It’s fun figuring stuff out to this magnitude, especially where we’re going. And then (in 2014) we’re rated the top farm system in baseball. I’d like to think we had something to do with that.”
It would be hard to argue against it. Hyde spent a year as the Cubs’ minor league field coordinator, and another as the team’s farm director. He is now the first-base coach under manager Joe Maddon. Cossins (pronounced “Cousins”) has succeeded Hyde as Chicago’s minor league field coordinator.
Their ability to develop young talent was on display for the past several weeks in Mesa, Ariz., as the Cubs staged their spring training.
The Cossins-Hyde partnership is improbable, in that they didn’t really know one another growing up. Not that they were total strangers.
“I remember going to watch him play at Doyle Park, actually, when I was in junior high and he was in high school,” Hyde said. “I used to live kind of close to Doyle Park and I’d go to watch the high school games there.”
Each of them played baseball at SRJC after high school and Cossins, who remained close to the program, remembers hearing of Hyde when he was with the Bear Cubs. But they didn’t really get to know one another until several years later, after their minor-league careers had petered out and both were hired by the then-Florida Marlins.
The common connection was Marc DelPiano. Now the Miami Marlins’ vice president of player development, DelPiano had coached Cossins in the minor leagues and knew Hyde from Long Beach State. He brought in Hyde as a Single-A hitting coach and hired Cossins in a player development role, jump-starting two successful MLB careers.
Hyde’s path has been particularly varied, and his rise rapid. After two years as the Marlins’ hitting coach, he spent five years managing in the minors. The organization brought him up to the bigs in 2010 to be manager Fredi Gonzalez’s bench coach. Hyde left when Ozzie Guillen was hired to manage in 2012, but Cubs president Theo Epstein quickly snapped him up as minor league field coordinator.
Epstein later made Hyde his farm director, a front-office job that necessitated a move to Chicago. Hyde switched gears again in 2014 when he took over as Rick Renteria’s bench coach. And when the Cubs hired Maddon last year, Hyde survived the regime change and became Maddon’s first-base coach.
“I’ll be honest with you, I’ve really enjoyed everything I’ve done,” Hyde said.
And clearly, he’s done it all pretty well.
“I watched him manage and win a championship in Double A,” Cossins said. “The guy should be managing in the big leagues at some point, in my opinion. He’s that kind of baseball mind. And the piece that’s important, he’s not an ego guy. He wants to get it right.”