Chicago Cubs: Don’t change for the sake of change
It seems to me that the Chicago Cubs’ issue the past two seasons has not been in the clubhouse or with chemistry. In fact, many have opined that Maddon’s finest managerial job came in this past season, as he guided a team riddled with injuries and free agent failures (signed by the same guy who doesn’t want to give Maddon an extension, Theo Epstein).
Maddon, if anything, was one of the bright spots this past season, guiding a sometimes rudderless ship to a 95-win season and an unprecedented fourth consecutive postseason appearance.
The fun-loving Cubs skipper is about as “new-school” as they come in terms of clubhouse relations, with only one actual baseball rule (which is about as old school as they come, I suppose): Respect 90. He organizes petting zoos on the field, special dress-up road trips and deflects almost all pressure off his beloved players.
In many respects, Maddon is the prototype for “new-school” managers; he just happens to be a bit older (and a bit more idiosyncratic) than most of the new guys taking over as skippers for other ballclubs. With all of the focus in the past couple seasons on rapport and communication with players, why would the Cubs look anywhere else for a manager when they have the best sitting in their dugout.
Why wouldn’t Theo Epstein give Maddon, the most successful Cubs’ manager in modern times, an extension? Love him or hate him, his teams have been extremely successful and his Cubs’ tenure has been one of the best in the history of the franchise.
To paraphrase and steal his own lines, Maddon will have to trust the process and not let the pressure exceed the pleasure in 2019, managing on the last year of his contract.
While I have no doubt that this guy is exactly the kind of manager who won’t care about that kind of thing, why not pay him his money and keep him in Chicago for the rest of this competitive window with the young core? No one else is going to do it any better.