Chicago Cubs skipper Joe Maddon spoke to the media about a potential contract extension Sunday, saying he was ‘optimistic.’ Is he right to feel that way?
Last offseason, the decision to not offer Joe Maddon a contract extension was one of many storylines that dominated Chicago Cubs circles. That call placed a lame-duck label on the 65-year-old two-time Manager of the Year and raised more than a handful of questions regarding his future.
Prior to the Cubs series finale on Sunday, Maddon spoke on the likelihood he remains at the helm past the next two months, saying the optimism is ‘very, very high’ he’s on the North Side for ‘a couple more years, at least.’
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Entering Monday, Chicago holds a slim two-game edge over the St. Louis Cardinals and a 2 1/2-game advantage over the Milwaukee Brewers in the National League Central. Maddon’s ball club has absolutely dominated opponents at home, but a lackluster road showing has cost them dearly.
It’s not hard to make the case we’re enjoying the Golden Age of Chicago Cubs baseball – and Maddon’s work as skipper has undoubtedly played a huge part of that. He’s led the team to four consecutive postseason appearances (in four years) – something that had never been done in the franchise’s illustrious history and averaged just under 97 regular season wins in that span.
For his part, though, Maddon believes there’s more to what the Cubs brass is looking for than just wins and losses.
"“I think it has nothing to do with wins and losses,” Maddon told MLB.com. “If that’s the case, I would’ve signed the contract at the end of last season, if it came down to wins and losses only. Our success even to this point today — August whatever it is — it’s been pretty good. … To just reduce it to wins and losses, that makes no sense at all.”"
This aligns with what we heard from the team last winter, with Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer preferring Maddon take a more hands-on role than he had, working directly with players and his coaching staff. By all indications, that decision was motivated by players, who wanted to learn from their skipper – hardly a troubling sign, despite the team’s disappointing Wild Card Game loss to cap the 2018 campaign.
The Cubs entered the 2019 season with question marks – especially in the bullpen. Barring a historic collapse, dropping the blame at Maddon’s feet for the team’s various shortcomings would be short-sighted and probably more reactive than we’ve come to expect from the Epstein regime.
The front office has swung and miss on multiple free agent signings in recent years – and absolutely shoulder their fair share of blame for the team not blowing away the rest of the Senior Circuit like they did en route to their first World Series title in 2016.
Epstein and Maddon have accomplished a tremendous amount in just five years together. Can they continue that success for years to come? We’ll know soon enough.
"“It’s about the ability to work together,” Maddon said. “For me, too. Understand [that] I want to be somewhere where I want to work, too, and that I enjoy the exchange, which I do. Everything about what we do at the Cubs and where we do it at is — you can’t beat it. It’s impossible to beat it on every level. So that’s the allure for me.”"