Written by: Matt Shock (@shockwave_music)
Edited by: Curt Ashcraft (@cashcraft740)
Follow us on Twitter! @OS_Report
Call me crazy, but I feel as if I’ve been here before. Yes, a little less than a year ago I sat at this very computer and openly complained about the hiring of Rick Renteria as the next manager of the Chicago Cubs. I questioned why they didn’t go after a big name manager. I questioned just what in the world Ryne Sandberg did to tick off Theo Epstein, ruining his chances of becoming the next Cubs manager. And here I am now…wondering…
For those of you that haven’t been paying attention to baseball lately (and judging by the attendance, you haven’t), Joe Maddon opted out of his contract with the Tampa Bay Rays and decided to test the waters of free agency and see what the rest of baseball had to offer. His time on the open market lasted just eight days. Now, he is set to be announced as the fifty-fourth manager of the Chicago Cubs on Monday…may God have mercy on his soul.
This whole week, I’ve really gone back and fourth on the possibilities of Maddon taking the helm in Chicago. Would he be able to succeed in Chicago? If Lou Piniella (that’s Sweet Lou to you people) couldn’t get it done in Chicago, can anybody? Did Renteria improve the team enough to deserve another year with the Cubs? Is there a manager who would look better in a Cubs uniform than Joe Maddon? Literally, every possible question was fair game, but I still haven’t made up my mind.
Those in Major League Baseball seem to share my mixed feelings. Some are saying that Maddon is a perfect fit for the Cubs. Others charge that he left Tampa Bay with his sights set on Chicago and is therefore some kind of bad guy for taking an acting manager’s job. Personally, I’d like to tell those people to shove it. You want job security in baseball, then win more games. If the Cubs make the playoffs, then maybe we’re not having this conversation.
Now I’m not going to sit here and act like every Cleveland Cavaliers fan was acting earlier this week. I’m not going to act like we’ve won the World Series just because we got a big name manager who has actually had success elsewhere. I understand that we actually have games to play AND win before we are to be crowned champions. I understand that the Cubs have a long road ahead of them still.
At best, the Cubs are maybe halfway through this thing they call a rebuild. All the expensive talent has been sold off (except for Edwin Jackson, who is just expensive and was brought in as part of the rebuild…but that’s for another article), the farm system has been filled with promising talent, and many of those prospects are starting to break into the big leagues. But nobody knows if any of them will amount to jack squat once the scouting reports come in and the pitchers know what not to throw to them. Oh yeah, let’s not forget, the Cubs desperately need pitching as well.
We don’t yet know the exact terms of the Maddon deal, but I’m pretty sure that his contract isn’t going to cripple the team’s chances of going hard in free agency this off-season. He is just a manager, not a starting pitcher.
Speaking of starting pitchers, I fully expect the Cubs to go after big name pitchers this winter, thereby giving Maddon some talent to work with. My personal preferences: Max Scherzer and James Shields. Yes, Jon Lester is out there, but he is also old. His time has come and gone. Let his overpriced and overworked arm be someone else’s problem.
All in all, I think that hiring Joe Maddon was the right move for the Cubs. Maddon has proven that he has the energy and the experience to work with a team full of young and unproven talent…which is exactly what the doctor ordered for Chicago. Sure it may seem like Rick Renteria was screwed over in the process, but he really wasn’t. The Cubs offered him another job in the organization…and…need I remind you…he still has two years of guaranteed money left on his deal. Yes, you read that correctly. Rick Renteria can literally sit around his house in his underwear and still collect a paycheck. We should all be so lucky.
Will Joe Maddon be the manager that finally brings a World Series title to the North Side? Only time will tell. But if I’m being honest, I like the direction in which the Cubs are headed right now. I like that they’re finally willing to start spending some money to improve this team. And yes, I like that they’re hiring a manager that I’ve actually heard of before.
Go Cubs Go!