So now we get to take that collective deep breath and take all this in. The Chicago Cubs got Joe Maddon. The circumstances for how it took place were unfortunate in that Rick Renteria lost a job that he didn’t deserve to. But Theo Epstein said it, and it couldn’t be any more true. When it comes to doing right by one person, or the organization, the Cubs should win out every time.
With his hair a mess, shirt haphazardly buttoned, and the excitement of a first-time manager at the press conference, it’s hard to not like this guy. And no, I wasn’t there. I didn’t get a round on Joe so that doesn’t sway my opinion. This man knows baseball, and he’s ready to apply that knowledge in Chicago as soon as possible.
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Maddon has become known as a matter-of-fact manager, with great communication skills. He keeps things transparent, he keeps them simple. He approaches the game with a certain philosophy, and it was never about what the Cubs were going to be, it was about sharing that philosophy with those in the organization. Epstein and Jed Hoyer have had a specific plan from the start that, at times, has been very difficult to fathom as a fan. Three straight season in last? And this is the plan? Yes. Yes it is. And Maddon is completely on board with it.
When Maddon came to Wrigley this season, it was his first time inside the historic ballpark. Many of us have been there, some more than others. He’s been a baseball man for a long time, and has been to many baseball cathedrals. But he lit up when talking about Wrigley Field. If we had forgotten, that helped to remind us why we shouldn’t take it for granted.
Baseball has become a mesh of old and new. Some managers rely heavily on analytics, while some still use good old baseball acumen and gut feelings. Maddon brings the two together in a seamless blend. “Blink” moments he calls them. A mix of what he feels at that moment, but a measure of information he may have gathered just two days prior contributed to that feeling. If there is such a thing as calculated instincts, he’s got them.
He talked about sitting in the other dugout during the visit to Chicago and seeing the talent and progression of the players on the Cubs. It was very clear to him that the scouting and development of the organization was very good. That’s an indirect hat tip to Jason McLeod whose name should be mentioned more consistently with Hoyer and Epstein.
He also talked about what the future may hold with the coaching staff. He mentioned Chris Bosio on several occasions, and Bosio was present at the press conference as well. I’m reading those as “Bosio wants to be here, Maddon is inclined to keep him here.” Keep moving Twins. There’s nothing for you here.
It would be hard to believe after sitting down with Maddon that you wouldn’t be on board with him and his philosophy. It sounds like that is the plan with each of the coaches. Given that his staff in Tampa Bay is locked in there to stay, and the Cubs hired several new coaches, he may have to go with what he’s got. But those details will likely be hashed out very soon as he meets with the staff over the next few days.
Epstein believed at the end of this season the Cubs could win the division. Some people scoffed at him as if he was crazy. Maddon, based simply on who he is, believes they can win the World Series. He sets the bar high, because if it’s low, “you might hit your mark, and that’s not good.” h/t Joe Nowak, ESPN The Cubs odds to win the World Series went from 50-to-1, to 20-to-1.
It’s hard to say a manager is “perfect” for a job. But in the simplest form possible, Maddon is just that to the Cubs.