With the Angels hire of former Chicago Cubs hitting John Mallee, we learn a lot about Theo Epstein and the influence the players have on the president
Continuing what could shape up as a busy offseason, the Los Angeles Angels announced the hiring of former Chicago Cubs hitting coach John Mallee over the weekend. Mallee will reunited with Joe Maddon, serving as his hitting coach – the same role he served in with the Cubs from 2014-17.
Of course, the high-water mark for Mallee’s Cubs tenure was the 2016 season, where the team rode a powerful offense to the first World Series championship in over a century. Chicago moved on following the 2017 campaign, opting to go with Chili Davis and we all know how that ended.
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This hire by Joe Maddon’s Angels has a lot to say about the Cubs – and it’s not entirely positive.
Through Mallee’s time with the team (2014 excluded), here is the Cubs team batting average and respective rank among the 30 big league clubs.
- 2015: .244 (29th)
- 2016: .256 (14th)
- 2017: .255 (16th)
The Cubs found ways to rank among the top five teams in the league in runs in both 2016 and 2017, despite sub-par batting averages.
Mallee started with this group from the start and was even a part of the rebuild. After the 2017 season ended in “at-the time” disappointment, the Cubs decided to move in another direction. Coaches have always been the easiest scapegoat when an organization needs change, and here was no exception.
This team went on to run Davis out of town in 2018 and then sported a team batting average of .252 in 2019, the group’s worst since 2015 – the first year of the Maddon era.
The argument that the coaching has never really been the issue is a very strong one and the idea is becoming exposed. Theo Epstein has been very protective of “his guys” over the years, and blaming them has always been his last choice.
The decision to move on from Mallee is no different. How did a group that won a World Series in 2016 with a young core not take a step forward in 2017? It can’t be the players right? Giving them the benefit of the doubt is what Epstein did in 2017 and 2018 and it shows the influence they have over him.
This organization has so much heart and passion poured into it, but the players have too much persuasion on the front office. Scapegoating coach after coach has only made things worse for this team. Accountability is being placed on the wrong people and that most certainly needs to shift towards the guys actually taking the field.
This hire of Mallee by Maddon really solidifies the idea that the Cubs have players with too much influence on the front office. By Maddon bringing back the hitting coach that helped end 108 years of drought shows that he was happy with his guy in Chicago, but one down year from “Theo’s guys” were enough to drive him out of town. This is very concerning as we see Maddon pack his bags for Southern California.
This has a feeling of a Lebron James or Tom Brady team. James working as a front office advisor and forcing his hand to get his guys. Brady driving his successor’s out of town because he’s not close to retirement. Both of these players have earned their influence from winning championships, and the Cubs are no exception.
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This Chicago Cubs team has so much to prove this season and hiring a ‘yes man’ in David Ross may help improve the culture, but certainly won’t change it. Epstein, along with many of us for rightful reasons, is in love with this group, and will do whatever necessary to improve things without doing anything drastic.
Coaching has been the scapegoat in Chicago, and Mallee reuniting with Maddon in LA should make that opinion a fact.