I actually thought I would be happier today than I am. Truth be told I was never a big Joe Maddon fan. Don't get me wrong, I will always appreciate how he got the beloved a World Series win after 108 years. I thank him profusely for that event and it will always be the happiest week of my life, non family related.
When the Cubs hired him in the Winter before the 2015 season, I really wanted them to sign Joe Girardi. It was kind of a let down when they announced him, for me. Through the years I grumbled about his handling of pitchers, his bench, Albert Almora, and several other things, but I still always appreciated the fact that the team never quit on him and always were competitive.
So when the announcement came today, a surprise to nobody, that the Cubs and Maddon were going to part ways, the excitement I anticipated from that news didn't happen. Instead I'm worried about what's next. That could be my Midwest values, or my glass half empty personality I'm constantly being accused of by family and friends.
Maddon won 471 games in his five years and had a .582 winning percentage, 2nd only to Hall of Famer, Frank Chance (.664) in Cubs history. He is the only Cubs manager to lead his team to four consecutive playoff appearances. His 471 wins as Cubs manager puts him behind only the Dodgers with 484, and the Astros with 480, in his five years here. These are numbers that don't usually get guys fired.
As Jon Lester told Tony Andracki of NBCSports.com, "...He should be revered as a legend in this town for a long, long time. What he did for this organization. You talk about a rebuild, you talk about signings and you talk about all that stuff, he was the first guy to write his name on that paper. He believed. Him believing made other people believe. What he's done, not only for this organization, but for this city, it was huge."
Without a doubt, Joe Maddon coming to the Cubs brought many other free agents here too. The players loved playing for him and if everyone is honest with themselves, the fans generally loved him too.
But, here's the thing that keeps gnawing at me about him. The players didn't improve under his leadership, in fact many of them regressed. Albert Almora, Ian Happ, David Bote, Pedro Strop, and on and on. This team hailed as defensive superstars made more errors than any team in baseball this year. They made more outs on the basepaths than any team in baseball this year. And for the 5th straight season they struggled for ten key days in September.
The complete lack of situational hitting under his leadership has always been a concern. Running the same pitchers out there day after day until their arms fall off is another feature of his mangerial style. Falling in love with guys being out of natural positions because they are athletes and can fake it for a game or two is another. I'm worried about the future but I can't get over these issues of his past.
I'm absolutely sure he will have a job by tonight if he wants one, and I wish him all the best wherever he ends up, unless it is in the national league, then not so much. I just wish I was happier about his leaving.
So now what? Where does team Theo go from here, and does team Theo even go forward? Players not living up to their hype is not Maddon's fault completely, the front office has to take some blame themselves. There are plenty of decision to make regarding contract options, offers, and extensions and will Theo and Jed make them without a new manager in place to give his view?
There will be 863 names out there that want this job but I assure you Theo already has his two or three sniffed out. My thoughts are that these are the top serious contenders in no particular order.
Terry Francona (There may be an opt out for him with the Indians going thru an ownership shift, like Maddon had with Tampa.)
For David Ross fans, it's too early for him as manager but maybe not for bench coach for one of the above guys.
I guess we'll see what happens as the Cubs are now into another new era.