Chicago Cubs: Javier Baez comments on team’s lack of preparation
Javier Baez commented on how the Chicago Cubs weren’t always prepared for games last season. It’s another sign that a managerial change was needed.
Throughout this past offseason and into spring training, we’ve dissected what went wrong with the 2019 Chicago Cubs, as well as what the transition from Joe Maddon to David Ross as manager could do to improve the team’s fortunes in 2020. Though Maddon’s departure at first appeared to be both abrupt and amicable, a lot has come out in recent days regarding how that wasn’t necessarily the case.
On Sunday, Javier Baez was the latest to speak, and he commented on how the team wasn’t always prepared for games last year:
"“A lot of players were doing the same as me, getting loose during the game,” Baez said. “You can lose the game in the first inning. Sometimes when you’re not ready and the other team scored on something simple, I feel like it was because of that. We weren’t ready.”"
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These comments provide yet even more proof that a change was needed on the field for 2020. Though the quotes from the article cited above don’t specifically mention Maddon, in light of all we’ve learned about his departure in recent days, it would seem to at least be a partial indictment of his leadership style towards the end of his tenure.
We still need to give Maddon credit for coming into Chicago before the 2015 season and changing the culture, which led to a World Series Championship in 2016. His relaxed, more hands-off approach earned lots of praise when the team was winning. It was exactly what the team needed, at the time.
Yet things change quickly in this game, and in order to sustain a winning culture, teams need to be willing to evolve. If Baez’s comments are any indication, the more relaxed atmosphere was no longer working. Though it may have loosened players up a few years ago, it sounds like it led to some lazy work habits towards the end of Maddon’s tenure.
It’s not that we should entirely blame Maddon for this. The players are grown men and should know what they need to do to prepare for games. Yet it’s also the manager’s job to get as much out of his players as he can. Maddon was not doing that towards the end.
In the article cited above, Ross was quoted as praising Baez for his insight. As Cubs fans, we should also be pleased that one of the team’s biggest stars is stepping up and becoming more of an outspoken leader. Let’s hope that his comments are an indication that the team will be working harder to prepare for games under Ross this year. The early returns from the first few days of spring training seem to show that this will happen.
I will always appreciate what Joe Maddon did for the Chicago Cubs. Yet just because he was the right leader for the team in 2015 and 2016, that doesn’t mean he is the right leader for the team now. One of the biggest challenges that David Ross faces for this season is to instill a stronger work ethic in his team. As Cubs fans, we need to have confidence that he can do that.