Chicago Cubs: Pressure should be on Theo Epstein, not Joe Maddon

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(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /
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Chicago Cubs
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Chicago Cubs: Maddon doing the best he can with what he has

In recent weeks, I have seen a ton of criticisms of Maddon’s lineups. Some of them are fair.

It seems rather questionable to continue to bat Albert Almora at the top or middle of the lineup when he has been one of the least productive hitters in baseball over the course of the last calendar year.

In a similar vein, fans have grown increasingly frustrated with continued playing time given to Addison Russell, as his latest mental blunders and generally unabashed cluelessness have done very little to distract from his character issues.

But while Maddon was, to the dismay of many fans, supportive of Russell during his suspension for violating the MLB’s domestic violence policy, he has since been uncharacteristically open with the media about Russell’s need to improve immediately.

Meanwhile, it was Epstein and the front office’s decision to stick by Russell during Spring Training, saying the organization should share in some of the responsibility for his actions. Since he returned from his suspension he has had a permanent spot in the big-league clubhouse until Wednesday, when he was optioned to Triple-A Iowa.

With Russell scuffling, Maddon turned to Robel Garcia on Tuesday for a start against Giants left-hander Madison Bumgarner. The results: hitless in four at-bats, with three strikeouts.

Chicago’s other option at second? That would be another Epstein addition, Daniel Descalso, who has been lauded for his leadership but has seen all of seven plate appearances this month and is hitting .181 on the season.

As for the outfield situation, what else is Maddon supposed to do? No, Almora should not be hitting anywhere near the top of the lineup. He probably should not be in the lineup at all.

But as long as the front office abstains from calling up Ian Happ or acquiring an outfielder, there are no real winning options. If Maddon reshuffles by moving Kris Bryant to the outfield, then David Bote starts at third, and Bote is hitting just .213 since the start of June (as of Wednesday).

Remind me again how this is all Maddon’s fault?