Chicago Cubs’ Joe Maddon could be key to Ohtani’s decision
The Chicago Cubs are waiting their turn to make their pitch to two-way starter, Shonei Ohtani. Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer have put together the pitch, but Joe Maddon could be the deciding factor.
The Chicago Cubs‘ Hot Stove season has been lukewarm, at best. But when you’re in the final group of teams with a chance to land potentially one of the best players to come out of Japan since Ichiro? Fans might not be excited, but we are here at Cubbies Crib. If the Cubs land him, the landscape of this team might change. But if the Cubs have any chance, Joe Maddon might be their best bet at landing Shonei Ohtani.
Maddon has always been an “out of the box” type of manager. In 2016, he played THREE pitchers in left field. Alternating between Spencer Patton and Travis Wood, and eventually Pedro Strop. Wood would again be called on to play left, and made a stellar play against the Mariners.
Different circumstances, but still relevant
Now, much of this was in a game that the Cubs were behind, while the other one was in a 7-2 lead in extra-innings. Maddon made do with what he had in that situation. But what if you had a pitcher that could throw in the high 90’s, while also being able to hit? It adds a unique element to a game that Maddon would love to see.
"“I’ve always been intrigued by the concept,” Maddon said. “I see nothing wrong with it. How you utilize it? I think a lot of that would be in progress. You’d have an idea of what you want to do, then you’d figure out more as you do it. But yeah, I definitely think it’s something that’s the wave of the future in a sense.”"
A man that’s not afraid to do anything
Since Maddon came to Chicago, he’s moved his young players around the diamond. Kris Bryant saw a good portion of time in left field his rookie season. Willson Contreras played some left field as well when he came up. Ian Happ was asked to play centerfield with hardly any experience out there at all. He’s gotten the good players on the field however he could find a way. That might be the case with Ohtani, as well.
The conversation around Ohtani is that he would pitch every fifth day while playing the field in-between. Many feel that’s why he would pick an AL team so he could be the DH. But he could still play the corner outfield spots as well in the senior circuit. But that could push out Kyle Schwarber or even Albert Almora if that was to happen.
Next: A trimmed down Schwarber looks good
If the Cubs get Ohtani, it would be a stunning turn of events. After the New York Yankees were the favorite just a few day ago, now the Cubs are one of the few teams left with a chance. Ohtani reportedly met with the Cubs today, but no word has come out as to the meeting.
The Padres are the one team that scares me for the number of ties to Ohtani. Will all of that make a difference? Maybe. But if Epstein’s pitch was on point, and if Maddon has any say in it, it might be a fun summer at Wrigley.