Cubs: Joe Maddon’s Angels tenure continues to spiral downward

(Photo by Masterpress/Getty Images)
(Photo by Masterpress/Getty Images) /

The very last thing former Chicago Cubs skipper Joe Maddon needed right now was a dramatic distraction. In the second year of his deal as manager of the Los Angeles Angels, the three-time Manager of the Year looks like he’s spinning his wheels – and, now, he’s dealing with the fallout that comes with releasing a future Hall of Famer in Albert Pujols.

Now, as I wrote yesterday, had the stars aligned differently, perhaps Maddon would have managed Pujols with the Cubs over the last half-decade. Theo Epstein had an offer out to the slugging first baseman back in 2011 – but, as we know, things went a different direction. Maddon got a ring with the North Siders and completely changed the culture of the team.

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By the time his five-year stint with Chicago drew to a close, it was time for everyone to go their separate ways. But there is no questioning the lasting legacy Maddon left behind him, including four consecutive postseason appearances, three NLCS berths and that long-awaited ring.

Cubs parted with Joe Maddon and the Angels jumped immediately

Arte Moreno watched from afar as Maddon guided the Cubs to their most successful stretch in more than a century and promptly snatched him up following the 2019 campaign. While success came almost immediately when Maddon came to Chicago, though, it’s been anything but that with the Angels.

Since Maddon arrived, Los Angeles has gone 69-78. In last year’s pandemic-shortened season, the team finished fourth and missed the expanded postseason. 2021 hasn’t started any better, with the Angels heading into the weekend at 16-20 heading into the post-Pujols era.

"“There’s no suitable or good way to do this without offending somebody. Divorce is difficult,” Maddon said of the decision to cut ties with Pujols. “There’s never a good time to go through with the act. Sometimes, it organically just has to occur. Then you have to maybe absorb people that don’t understand it, or weren’t there with boots on the ground.”"

Look. From a purely statistical standpoint, you can’t question the decision. Pujols has been on a steep decline for awhile now and, given the breakout of Jared Walsh, the Angels had a better alternative on the roster.

But it’s undoubtedly a huge distraction right now – and just the latest reminder that, despite Moreno’s willingness to spend on big names, this franchise continues to miss the mark. Don’t forget, the Angels haven’t reached the postseason since 2014.

Maddon was supposed to remedy that. Instead, the team has continued to spin its wheels and continued wasting the superhuman talent of Mike Trout. The pitching is in shambles right now with a 5.23 ERA that’s worse than even that of the Cubs.

Next. Imagine Bryant-to-Pujols to end the 2016 World Series. dark

With one year left on his deal, barring a major turnaround, we might be rapidly approaching the end of the beloved former Chicago manager’s time in baseball. Whether it’s because of a flawed roster or something deeper, the Angels aren’t what they were supposed to be – and more often than not, it’s the manager who pays the price in these scenarios.