The Chicago Cubs made the right decision to retain Joe Maddon for the fifth year of his contract, as letting him go would have been asking for negative repercussions.
Joe Maddon is the Chicago Cubs’ second-most winning manager in franchise history, minimum four seasons with the team. His .597 winning percentage only trails Frank Chance‘s .664.
Chance managed the Cubs for eight seasons, from 1905 to 1912. He managed 1,176 games in those eight seasons, while Maddon has managed 649 games in his four with the Cubs.
If Maddon lasts another four years with the Cubs, he will manage a minimum of 1,297 games (barring more Game 163s). So, what’s my point?
Essentially, Maddon has a chance to become the winningest manager in the history of the Chicago Cubs. The club averaged 97 wins in his four years in Chicago. They’ve made the playoffs every season, winning a World Series along the way.
And yet, it took a Theo Epstein end-of-season press conference to squash speculation of Maddon’s potential dismissal from his duties with the Cubs.
"“Joe’s status with the team remains unchanged,” Epstein said at a news conference. “He’s the manager of this team. I’m very happy about that.”"
Did the Cubs come short of expectations this season? Sure, but blaming Maddon for the team’s issues is tremendously unfair. Maddon is the team’s manager, so it would be hard to say he deserves zero blame. The point here is blaming one person for the 2018 season’s outcome is foolish.
Blame goes all around, not to one person
If anything, Maddon, Epstein, general manager Jed Hoyer and the players all deserve some blame for this season.
The front office signed Yu Darvish, Tyler Chatwood and Brandon Morrow last winter to solidify the pitching staff. Darvish finished 1-3 with a 4.95 ERA in eight starts; Chatwood led MLB with 95 walks in 103 2/3 innings.
Morrow posted a 1.47 ERA in 35 games (30 2/3 innings) converting 22 of 24 save opportunities. Still, Epstein and Hoyer signed Morrow knowing his extensive injury history. An arm injury ultimately ended his season in late July.
Maddon managed to win 95 games despite these issues, not to mention Kris Bryant‘s shoulder injury that affected him for much of the season. Willson Contreras, Addison Russell, Ian Happ, Albert Almora and Kyle Schwarber all struggled offensively at times.
At what point does Maddon stopped getting blamed and start getting appreciated for his efforts this season? There is only so much he can do from the dugout; it’s up to the players to produce on the field.
Epstein’s declaration of Maddon’s job being secure is a start, but it should not have been necessary. The Cubs have been a dominant team since Maddon arrived. If the organization knew what was good for them, they’d reward him with a contract extension as soon as possible.