The Chicago Cubs need to lock up Joe Maddon sooner rather than later

(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /

With Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon‘s contract set to expire at the end of next season, it’s imperative Theo Epstein finds a way to keep him in Chicago.

Throughout Joe Maddon’s tenure in Chicago, he has been subject to immense  criticism. Either he doesn’t manage the bullpen properly, his lineup needs to be consistent, he’s a narcissist or he has too much fun. The Chicago Cubs manager has never been given the credit he deserves for creating a winning culture in a town that hadn’t see a team in constant contention in some time.

Even after leading the Cubs to their first World Series title in over 100 years, he was attacked for “almost” blowing it with his bullpen decisions.

Through all of the backlash, Maddon has come out a winner.

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In 2015, Maddon took over a Cubs team that had finished dead last in each of the last five seasons. He immediately changed the culture throughout the organization, sped up the rebuild, and has led the team to three consecutive National League Championship Series.

Getting the most out of his players

Upon accepting his gig as manager of the Cubs, Maddon’s first stop was Puerto Rico. He went to watch a young Javier Baez play winter ball. He knew that a large part of his team’s future was in the hands of the talented free-swinging shortstop, and he wanted to get acclimated with his top prospect.

When Baez joined the club in September of 2015; Maddon’s advice? “Try not to suck.” That phrase became a rallying cry fo the whole team and is a perfect representation of who Maddon is as a manger.

Maddon’s loose and relaxed clubhouse environment has resonated with his energetic young core. He’s given his players the right to embrace their personalities along with embracing the likelihood of struggling as a young player. His natural ability to make players feel comfortable has allowed them to reach their full potential, a key in the team’s success over the past four seasons.

2018 has been Maddon’s best yet

This Cubs team has no business being in first place, yet here we are. A familiar feeling for fans has been to see their team leading the Central Division over the last couple of seasons, but this year has been different.

The roster has been riddled with injuries all season. Kris Bryant has spent a significant portion of the season on the disabled list. Last offseason’s free agent class of Yu Darvish, Tyler Chatwood, and Brandon Morrow has not had significant contributions. The starting rotation has not performed to their ability, and the offense has been streaky.

Despite all of that, the Cubs sit at a National League-best 68-50, two games ahead of the Milwaukee Brewers in the division.  A remarkable feat given the circumstances, and something that isn’t possible without Joe Maddon righting the ship.

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Maddon has showcased an ability to win despite what cards he’s dealt throughout his managerial career. A coach like that doesn’t come along very often, and when he does, you don’t let him out of your grasp.

Give Maddon a pen and let him write his own contract, he’s earned it.