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Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Joe Maddon is on the hottest of hot seats

Patrick Mooney and Sahadev Sharma of The Athletic have written a fantastically revealing article about the 2019 Chicago Cubs.

The story, on the surface anyway, might be confused for one of those pre-Opening Day team philosophy pieces in which a bunch of players and executives talk about how they need to “go about their business” a better way, focus on the little things and all of that common, cliche-driven material. And yes, there is a fair amount of that in there.

But the larger arc of it is more revealing than that. The whole thing reads like a warning shot from the front office toward the players and coaching staff, with Joe Maddon standing out as a particular subject of rebuke. Indeed, it’s hard to read the thing without believing that, absent a super fast start and a return to championship form, Maddon is gonna be fired this year.

The article has been shared on social media a lot since going live yesterday, and most of that sharing has focused on little things like the Cubs wanting players to eat less fast food this year and batting practice being mandatory a certain number of days a week. But it’s bigger than that. The article doesn’t contain any incendiary quotes or veiled threats, but it seems pretty clear that Maddon is taking blame for the team not being focused in the past.

Wow, the Cubs got greedy really fast….

QLE Posted: March 26, 2019 at 06:18 AM | 97 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: cubs, joe maddon, theo epstein

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   1. Man o' Schwar Posted: March 26, 2019 at 09:59 AM (#5825332)
This is so dumb. Maddon led the Cubs to 3 straight NLDS (including 1 WS title), then won 95 games and within a game of reaching the playoffs again despite injuries to key players all year. If this is the unfocused Cubs bloated with Big Macs, I assume the focused Cubs will win 122 games and go 11-0 in the postseason.
   2. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: March 26, 2019 at 10:34 AM (#5825351)
The Cubs apparently don’t have the payroll space for additions or any minor league help on the way. So the only changes they can really make in the short term are management changes.
   3. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: March 26, 2019 at 10:53 AM (#5825360)
The Cubs apparently don’t have the payroll space for additions

You mean the owners don't want to accept any reduction to profitability.
   4. McCoy Posted: March 26, 2019 at 11:03 AM (#5825373)
No, no, no. Don't you see? It's the MLB debt ratio rules that are keeping the Cubs from spending.
   5. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: March 26, 2019 at 11:34 AM (#5825394)
The original source is behind a pay wall, and the linked article states "The article doesn’t contain any incendiary quotes or veiled threats, but it seems pretty clear that Maddon is taking blame for the team not being focused in the past."

I don't know if anything actually sourced in reality, or the athletic writers putting their own spin on it.

   6. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: March 26, 2019 at 11:53 AM (#5825409)
Good.
   7. Spahn Insane Posted: March 26, 2019 at 12:22 PM (#5825415)
This is so dumb. Maddon led the Cubs to 3 straight NLDS (including 1 WS title), then won 95 games and within a game of reaching the playoffs again despite injuries to key players all year.

Yeah, but I'm harking back to the Bill James piece BITD where he argued that generally speaking, managers are both hired and fired for good reasons. Maddon's strengths, specifically his track record of working with talented young teams and making his players feel at ease, were a perfect fit for the Cubs at the time of his arrival. Now, those guys are 4 years older, most of them have a WS under their belts, they've been through the wringer of multiple successive playoff appearances....Maddon's tenure has been a nearly unqualified success, and he's clearly the best Cub manager of my lifetime, but I'm open to the notion that his laissez faire let-the-kids-be-kids MO is no longer suited to where the team is now. And if that's the case, maybe it's time for the next phase.
   8. Man o' Schwar Posted: March 26, 2019 at 12:51 PM (#5825432)
Maddon's tenure has been a nearly unqualified success, and he's clearly the best Cub manager of my lifetime, but I'm open to the notion that his laissez faire let-the-kids-be-kids MO is no longer suited to where the team is now. And if that's the case, maybe it's time for the next phase.

I guess if I could think of a clearly better option than Maddon, maybe. But I'm not sure who it would be. Who are the available veteran managers with a track record of taking teams at this stage deep into the playoffs? Aside from Joe Girardi, I'm not coming up with anyone.

I'm not a fan of making a change just to make a change, particularly given the success they've had.
   9. I am Ted F'ing Williams Posted: March 26, 2019 at 01:17 PM (#5825448)
My guess is Theo wants David Ross to take over. Maybe Joe Girardi as plan B.

Maddon isn't stupid. He knows he's gone after the season. He's not going to do anything differently because if the Cubs win it all they won't meet his asking price and if they don't win it all he's not going to get a offer from Theo anyway.
   10. Jay Seaver Posted: March 26, 2019 at 01:35 PM (#5825463)
I wondered, when Maddon was hired, how his act would play with a veteran team and stars. In Tampa, there was always roster churn and players let go as soon as they got expensive, and the Cubs were young guys about to break through when he got there (or at least, that's how they were often presented), but it doesn't seem out of the question that he wouldn't connect quite so well with a group that doesn't need or want him to be the center of attention. It might be ridiculous, or maybe Epstein/Hoyer are getting out ahead of the clubhouse's needs starting to change.

Good chance it's nothing - it's kind of upper-management's job to crunch data and provide their employees with tools, and it's easy to skip over the job Maddon does distributing that. But I also kind of wouldn't be shocked if the players and front office, all of whom need healthy egos as well, kind of see Maddon's as being in the way when things start to go a bit less right.
   11. Tin Angel Posted: March 26, 2019 at 01:40 PM (#5825470)
I don't think you can wait too long. If they lose the first couple of series fire him and hire a motivator like Mike Matheny.
   12. Nasty Nate Posted: March 26, 2019 at 01:45 PM (#5825472)
Any parallel for this situation and 2017 for John Farrell?
   13. Jay Seaver Posted: March 26, 2019 at 01:59 PM (#5825485)
Maybe, although Farrell had a couple immediate down years after his World Series that Maddon hasn't. Plus, I think the public perception was that Farrell was Just Another Guy in a way that is not the case for Maddon (with Maddon probably the only active/recent manager who doesn't really get slotted into that category). Farrell didn't exactly have a line of suitors after he was let go the way Maddon will short of an implosion that can be easily laid at his feet this year.
   14. Zonk isn't Defacing the Nation Posted: March 26, 2019 at 02:06 PM (#5825491)
I have no idea if bringing in someone to yell at Bryant more will keep him healthy or screaming at Chatwood to suck less will matter.... but I will admit that at least in the latter case, it would make ME feel better.
   15. Jeremy Renner App is Dead and I killed it Posted: March 26, 2019 at 03:49 PM (#5825531)
Read the article. Maddon is basically sidelined. Epstein and others are more involved after doing a personal fact-finding mission in the offseason where they met with a lot of the players to get their perspective on why the team did not reach defined objectives. So they are supposedly changing how the team approaches games/series/season.

Really Maddon is pretty much off in a corner in the article saying Sure, fine, whatever
   16. Perry Posted: March 26, 2019 at 03:51 PM (#5825532)
Who are the available veteran managers with a track record of taking teams at this stage deep into the playoffs? Aside from Joe Girardi, I'm not coming up with anyone.


Mike Matheny is available.
   17. Jeremy Renner App is Dead and I killed it Posted: March 26, 2019 at 04:00 PM (#5825535)
Referencing the MLB poll Maddon came out as the most popular choice of manager players would most like to play for. But based on this article that rep clearly hurts him. The Cubs vets come across as wanting Maddon to be more of a tough guy. Lots of suggestions that the team has become soft
   18. Walt Davis Posted: March 26, 2019 at 04:48 PM (#5825561)
Maybe Theo has his eye on prying away Terry Francona. Other than that, there don't seem any ideal candidates. If #15 is right, then they'll probably just be looking for a young guy who will funnel whatever the FO wants done and there seem to be a ton of those guys around.
   19. Jeremy Renner App is Dead and I killed it Posted: March 26, 2019 at 05:00 PM (#5825570)
18

During the front office’s deep dive, Cubs players and officials fretted over a growing complacency – a team glossing over the finer points – more than a single explosive incident or a glaring clubhouse issue.

Typically, toward the end of spring training, Maddon gathers his veterans and talks about a “code of common sense.” That meeting is still on the agenda – but this time the players are taking charge.

Maddon’s hands-off style has been good enough for three Manager of the Year awards and nine seasons with at least 90 wins. But the Cubs want more from him.

“We all need structure,” Lester said. “You need to know what time you need to be places.


But after processing the feedback, Epstein and Hoyer are planning to go on more road trips this season. To promote communication and collaboration, the front office is expected to more regularly use a workspace in the Wrigley Field clubhouse
   20. The Honorable Ardo Posted: March 26, 2019 at 09:15 PM (#5825613)
The Cubs won the World Series with Joe Maddon as the manager. And now he's on the hot seat? How inane.
   21. The Duke Posted: March 26, 2019 at 09:17 PM (#5825614)
Ha ha! Mike Matheny ! Ha ha !

Is everyone crazy - he is a terrible manager. If that’s your choice they should keep Maddon in perpetuity
   22. Howie Menckel Posted: March 26, 2019 at 09:22 PM (#5825615)
I think that was a gag
   23. The Honorable Ardo Posted: March 26, 2019 at 09:23 PM (#5825616)
St. Louis didn't have a 108-year run of futility that became a cultural touchstone. Maddon has earned the privilege of having the job as long as he wants it.
   24. PreservedFish Posted: March 26, 2019 at 09:26 PM (#5825618)
The Cubs won the World Series with Joe Maddon as the manager. And now he's on the hot seat? How inane.


Agreed.
   25. Tulo's Fishy Mullet (mrams) Posted: March 26, 2019 at 10:03 PM (#5825622)
Maddon has earned the privilege of having the job as long as he wants it.


This is pretty dumb take.
Though, How long is a WS honeymoon? I suspect a lot longer for the Cubs. I'm not suggesting he's destined to be Phil Fulmer, or Bob Stoops, but I don't know if MLB/NBA as operating in this era, will put up with it.
   26. PreservedFish Posted: March 26, 2019 at 10:39 PM (#5825626)
4 years, 400+ wins in the uniform. But sure, treat him like he's Jim Riggleman, that makes sense.
   27. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: March 26, 2019 at 10:41 PM (#5825627)
The context matters - both for the expectations for the Cubs the last 4+ years, and how those years went and how things turn out. Maddon was always out there, and always has thought very highly of himself; being the guy to win it for the Cubs* has had a noticeable impact on his already tremendous ego. At some point, the Cubs have to figure out if he's taking more off the table than adding; I agree with those who interpret the original piece and everything that's come out since last year ended that the Cubs' FO seems to already know what they want to do.

No, the Cubs don't want to hire David Ross, IMO; and I doubt they'd want Girardi. They'll replace him with either of the in house guys - Venable or Loretta.

*And some of which they did in spite of him, though that horse is overbeaten IMO.
   28. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: March 26, 2019 at 11:35 PM (#5825639)
In four seasons with the Cubs, Maddon's lowest win total is 92.
   29. Petunia inquires about ponies Posted: March 27, 2019 at 03:10 AM (#5825649)
[12] Any parallel for this situation and 2017 for John Farrell?

This was exactly my first thought upon reading [8] - firing Farrell/Maddon would be a terrible idea, barring a subsequent hire like Cora.
   30. Zonk isn't Defacing the Nation Posted: March 27, 2019 at 08:18 AM (#5825661)
They don't want to pay him and they can't fire the gawd awful signings of the last 3 years. This isn't particularly complicated.
   31. jmurph Posted: March 27, 2019 at 09:11 AM (#5825673)
*And some of which they did in spite of him, though that horse is overbeaten IMO.

I don't know, I'd definitely watch a 30 for 30 on the head-to-head shitshow that was Francona vs Maddon.
   32. . Posted: March 27, 2019 at 10:36 AM (#5825687)
Theo Epstein has always had a talent for blaming other people for his mistakes, taking credit for other people's accomplishments, and getting the press to contribute materially to his efforts.
   33. . Posted: March 27, 2019 at 10:38 AM (#5825688)
But after processing the feedback, Epstein and Hoyer are planning to go on more road trips this season. To promote communication and collaboration, the front office is expected to more regularly use a workspace in the Wrigley Field clubhouse


LOL.
   34. jmurph Posted: March 27, 2019 at 10:38 AM (#5825689)
Theo Epstein has always had a talent for blaming other people for his mistakes, taking credit for other people's accomplishments, and getting the press to contribute materially to his efforts.

Seriously, when is he going to finally assemble a winning team.
   35. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: March 27, 2019 at 10:40 AM (#5825690)
To promote communication and collaboration, the front office is expected to more regularly use a workspace in the Wrigley Field clubhouse
Ugh. Even Thed is buying the "Water cooler conversation!!" crap?
   36. I am Ted F'ing Williams Posted: March 27, 2019 at 11:05 AM (#5825696)
They don't want to pay him and they can't fire the gawd awful signings of the last 3 years. This isn't particularly complicated.


QFT. But The Athletic isn't in the truth business.
   37. I am Ted F'ing Williams Posted: March 27, 2019 at 11:08 AM (#5825699)
But after processing the feedback, Epstein and Hoyer are planning to go on more road trips this season. To promote communication and collaboration, the front office is expected to more regularly use a workspace in the Wrigley Field clubhouse


That will give Theo exactly what he seems to want - more losses.
   38. I am Ted F'ing Williams Posted: March 27, 2019 at 11:10 AM (#5825700)
Maddon was always out there, and always has thought very highly of himself; being the guy to win it for the Cubs* has had a noticeable impact on his already tremendous ego.


The sentence is even more truthful when you replace "Maddon" with "Epstein".
   39. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: March 27, 2019 at 11:26 AM (#5825702)
Epstein is far from perfect, but his ego can't come close to competing with Maddon's. I mean, it's just no contest.
   40. eric Posted: March 27, 2019 at 11:27 AM (#5825703)
The Cubs won the World Series with Joe Maddon as the manager. And now he's on the hot seat? How inane.


Hedonistic adaptation.

Though, How long is a WS honeymoon?


For the Angels it was 16 years. But yeah getting rid of the manager of the Cubs teams that have been one of the WS favorites every year just seems like an act that could cause a lot more harm than good.
   41. Zonk isn't Defacing the Nation Posted: March 27, 2019 at 11:30 AM (#5825704)
Thed made plenty of bad individual moves - both in Boston and in Chicago, but FFS.... the man was at the helm - and is ALSO responsible for the moves that led to - the breaking of the two most infamous title droughts in baseball history.

I mean, yeesh... It IS possible to simultaneously acknowledge him as the most accomplished and successful FO creature of our lifetimes while still taking him to task for Crawford/Heyward/Chatwood/etc.

My preference at the moment would be that both Thed and Joe continue to be wearing Cubbie blue for the foreseeable future. My preference would also be that Tyler Chatwood retire because he wants to go be a Tibetan monk. I've learned to live with not always getting my preferences.

   42. jmurph Posted: March 27, 2019 at 11:32 AM (#5825705)
Yeah Zonk is obviously correct here about Theo. I was making fun of sugarbear's insane post above.
   43. Zonk isn't Defacing the Nation Posted: March 27, 2019 at 11:35 AM (#5825708)
Yeah Zonk is obviously correct here about Theo. I was making fun of sugarbear's insane post above.


Oh sure.... I no more fault anyone for that than I fault anyone for breathing. It's a perfectly natural and necessary reflex. My post was the same reflex.
   44. Jeremy Renner App is Dead and I killed it Posted: March 27, 2019 at 11:52 AM (#5825715)
Just offering that I could be doing the article a disservice as I didn't think it appropriate to share more content given that this came from a pay site. I think the Athletic does a lot of good work and anything that takes shots at Joe Maddon and also suggests that the Brewers success has the Cubs in a minor meltdown mentally is ok with me.
   45. . Posted: March 27, 2019 at 12:24 PM (#5825720)
It IS possible to simultaneously acknowledge him as the most accomplished and successful FO creature of our lifetimes


Not if one is sane, it's not. He's a favorite of the saber geek crowd, for pretty obvious reasons -- he was the first precursor wave of the "intellectual" invasion of baseball front offices, and general fanboyism -- but those kind of things aren't binding on the rest of us regular objective people.
   46. Zonk isn't Defacing the Nation Posted: March 27, 2019 at 12:37 PM (#5825723)
Yes, yes... the crowd is well aware of your distaste for intellect, SBB. You need not keep reminding everyone of your inherent predisposition against it.... at minimum - maybe just pick whether you'd prefer to state it directly or demonstrate it and go with that. It would save you some typing.
   47. Spahn Insane Posted: March 27, 2019 at 12:37 PM (#5825724)
Bear can't even get the facts in his throwaway comments right...the "'intellectual' invasion of baseball front offices" began years before the Red Sox hired Epstein ("Moneyball" came out about six months after Epstein was hired; obviously Billy Beane & Co. had set the process in motion well before then).
   48. jmurph Posted: March 27, 2019 at 12:39 PM (#5825726)
You, a Saber Geek: Team wins and playoff success and World Series championships are pretty cool.

Me, a sane, a regular objective person: *Something remarkably stupid*
   49. . Posted: March 27, 2019 at 02:02 PM (#5825755)
Yes, yes... the crowd is well aware of your distaste for intellect, SBB.


Nah, I love intellect -- which is why I exercise mine so frequently and study the workings of actual intellectuals so frequently. Nor of course do I consider San Diego law grads who, you know, aren't really that intellectual and work in baseball, intellectuals -- which is why I used disdain quotes in 45.

But it is rich to see the usual suspects line up four-square behind a guy who hired two awful managers, had three straight awful teams, lucked into an excellent manager after the second of his awful managerial hires, and is now blaming the manager he lucked into when the holes in his roster are starting to be exposed -- all because he's brought "intellect" to baseball. Fanboy never really disappoints.
   50. Zonk isn't Defacing the Nation Posted: March 27, 2019 at 02:12 PM (#5825758)
Meh, with the exile of the OTP - there's really no reason to bother with you anymore....

So long.
   51. . Posted: March 27, 2019 at 02:19 PM (#5825762)
As dumb and machine shop as the old-school guys could sometimes be, "intellectual" baseball has actually turned out to suck aesthetically (*) -- making it quite ripe for very well-deserved ridicule.

And baseball was never the intellectual, poetic exercise people like Bart Giamatti prattled and hackneyed metaphored on and on about. It's not a "pastoral" sport, it's a city sport, and it wasn't designed to go on and on and on forever -- it stopped when the sun went down. Etc., etc., etc.

(*) Not just on the field, but also in commentary. No complaint about pacing and the like is complete without reference to how much that's a reflection of the "intellectualization" of the sport.
   52. Zonk isn't Defacing the Nation Posted: March 27, 2019 at 02:30 PM (#5825766)
Annoying trifles dispensed with - and back to the matter at hand...

With Scioscia's exit - I believe that leaves Bochy and Maddon tied for the highest salary among MLB managers.... what's more - the next step down is fairly steep (i.e., Bruce and Joe both make 6m -- the next tier starts at 4m).

I've got no problem taking the Ricketts to task, but I would presume Joe would be looking for extension that would inevitably have him remain the highest paid manager in baseball. Would I particularly see that.... say.... extra ~3m a good allocation of resources?

Probably not. Not my money, so I prefer they spend it -- but at some point, the same kind of cost-benefit analysis is gonna have to apply to managers. Is ANY manager truly worth 30-50% more than the next level down? I tend to doubt it.
   53. . Posted: March 27, 2019 at 02:36 PM (#5825768)
Well, Dale Sveum will certainly be available. Depending on circumstances, Rick (*) Renteria might be.

(*) Or Rich. Whatever.

   54. Zonk isn't Defacing the Nation Posted: March 27, 2019 at 02:44 PM (#5825784)
The one thing I will say for Joe -- even last year's season-ending disappointment wasn't really a collapse. The Brewers just stopped losing, period. When the Dusty magic wore out - the team got really ugly and not only began sucking really quickly, but also became extremely unlikable.... collapsing in a vomitous pool of crappy baseball, sniping, losses, and shoulder chips. The final days of Lou weren't *quite* as bad, but still a pretty obvious and foreseeable pile of "I'm too old for this ####\".

If the Cubs win 90 games or so - and even just contend for a playoff spot until season's end - I will say that there is a case to be made for Maddon being at least special enough to warrant *some level* of compensation beyond all of his peers.... I'd still wonder if that *some level* is really as big as the spread currently at hand and likely in play next winter.
   55. . Posted: March 27, 2019 at 03:00 PM (#5825795)
I'm a subscriber to The Athletic and can testify that the "big ideas" that came out of all the "brainstorming" would do Michael Scott proud. I could post them, but am afraid the laughter might somehow make me botch the job.

   56. . Posted: March 27, 2019 at 03:12 PM (#5825799)
And one must note the irony in Jon Lester, he of the fried chicken and video game parties during Theo's 2011 collapse, now becoming an elder statesman valued voice in Theo's Big New Ideas about how best to make sure the younger Cubs go about their business.
   57. . Posted: March 27, 2019 at 03:21 PM (#5825807)
So for those of you keeping score out there, Theo's team had a collapse for the ages in 2011 and a pretty nice collapse in 2018 ... and both times the collapse was the "fault" of the very accomplished manager being too lax and letting the young guys run amok. Hmmm. One might reasonably question whether the common denominator in all of it is actually ... nah ... can't be.

   58. jmurph Posted: March 27, 2019 at 03:28 PM (#5825815)
Did his teams play in any of those other seasons you don't mention, y/n?
   59. Infinite Yost (Voxter) Posted: March 27, 2019 at 04:21 PM (#5825853)
My not-so-studied-opinion is that Maddon is the best field manager in the game, and firing him would be an unforced error. Maybe not of colossal proportions, but probably with some real downsides.

But hey. Someone should tell Joe how great it is in Seattle in the summer. No skin off my nose that way.
   60. Zonk isn't Defacing the Nation Posted: March 27, 2019 at 04:59 PM (#5825876)
Just to continue to reorient things back to reality.... I don't think he's gonna be fired.

His contract is up after this year. To be back next year, he'd have to be extended. He's tied for the highest paid manager in the game at 6m right now.... He's most certainly performed such that a pay cut is not in the cards - so, how many years and how many dollars? 4/30? Every team can afford that... of course, but we're talking the price tag of a fairly good reliever now.

Ergo, it's both reasonable for Joe to be expecting something like 4/30.... and reasonable for a team to wonder whether 4/30 is good allocation of resources, too.... it's entirely ALSO reasonable to wonder if 4/30 is a relative bargain.

Wasn't there an old Bill James or someone article (or maybe even a study) that placed a manager's value ceiling at something like 1-3 wins per year? If I'm remembering right - you could actually say that 4/30, using the old benchmark of ~7m per win, remains a bargain.
   61. Red Voodooin Posted: March 27, 2019 at 08:12 PM (#5825927)
Just to continue to reorient things back to reality.... I don't think he's gonna be fired.


It would be a total insult, completely tantamount to firing him, if they made him an offer that didn't make him the highest paid manager in the game. It's not really "reasonable" for the Cubs to be questioning his relative value unless there's some serious problem we can't see.

I suspect this is more of a d!ck-measuring contest, not just between Maddon and Thed, but between managers and GMs in general and their relative value compared to front office dudes. It's a battle that managers have slowly been losing for a couple decades now.

Unless the Cubs tank this year, it's hard to see Maddon being "fired" as much as Maddon might rather go play for an organization a little less committed to front office oversight the way the Cubs appear to be.
   62. SoSH U at work Posted: March 27, 2019 at 08:44 PM (#5825933)
Unless the Cubs tank this year, it's hard to see Maddon being "fired" as much as Maddon might rather go play for an organization a little less committed to front office oversight the way the Cubs appear to be.


As the lack of interest in Joe Girardi demonstrated this past offseason, I'm not sure there are many left who qualify.
   63. . Posted: March 27, 2019 at 09:30 PM (#5825943)
Add the colorful, independent manager to the cool things the "intellectualization" of baseball has eradicated from the sport.

Dueling, faceless algorithms engaging in non-action in soulless mallparks. Oh, joy.
   64. Jeremy Renner App is Dead and I killed it Posted: March 27, 2019 at 09:40 PM (#5825946)
63: Really? I thought the Cubs/Brewers going at it last September was pretty cool.

And Craig Counsell works for what in the analyst community is considered one of the most analytically oriented teams in MLB (Milwaukee has 3 data scientists on staff which what I understand is 3 more than any other team) and yet he helped make this parody video
   65. . Posted: March 27, 2019 at 09:46 PM (#5825949)
(Milwaukee has 3 data scientists on staff which what I understand is 3 more than any other team)


Yeah, well -- this is insane.

And apparently you haven't noticed the quality of the product declining in almost perfect tandem with the rise of the "scientists." Again, a feature shared by exactly zero of the other major sports.

and yet he helped make this parody video


You obviously didn't read my comment, or 62.

   66. The Yankee Clapper Posted: March 27, 2019 at 11:34 PM (#5825962)
But after processing the feedback, Epstein and Hoyer are planning to go on more road trips this season.

Just in case some of the players were unaware that Maddon was on the hot seat?
   67. Gonfalon Bubble Posted: March 28, 2019 at 06:53 AM (#5825971)
In four seasons with the Cubs, Maddon's lowest win total is 92.

In the previous 100 seasons, the Chicago Cubs reached 92 or more wins 8 times.

The last time the Cubs won 92 games in two consecutive seasons was a few years further ago than that: 1910-1911.
   68. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: March 28, 2019 at 08:46 AM (#5825982)
Yeah, but the Cubs’ history of incompetence and mismanagement, remarkable as it is, doesn’t have anything to do with Joe Maddon’s skills or fit as a manager in 2019 and beyond.
   69. . Posted: March 28, 2019 at 09:17 AM (#5825989)
According to sources briefed on the team’s plans, the Cubs are expected to implement these suggestions, which were suggested by both players and management:

---Holding mandatory batting practice four or five times a week.

This change is to give players a group activity to build their pregame routines around. Young players have also been encouraged to document their routines, writing down what they do before day games and night games and being mindful of their preparation when they are starting or not starting.


LOLOL.

   70. . Posted: March 28, 2019 at 09:21 AM (#5825991)
---Releasing the lineups on a series-by-series basis.

The Cubs are hoping to reduce the anxiety of certain players and keep them from feeling like they will be on the bench the day after an 0-for-4 game. While the lineups were usually predetermined – and routinely sent out to the group the night before the next game – the Cubs sensed players were pressing to get the big hit that might change Maddon’s mind, even though the manager and the front office do not believe in the “hot hand” phenomenon. The notice should also allow players to work ahead, take extra BP or focus on strength and conditioning.


LOLOL.
   71. . Posted: March 28, 2019 at 09:23 AM (#5825992)
---Spending more time in the dugout during games and being ready when the national anthem is sung.


Take that for data!!!
   72. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: March 28, 2019 at 11:06 AM (#5826064)
I gotta say, yeah, that does sound like several loads of crap. It's a bad combination of pop and organizational quasi-"psychology," gross speculation, and assumption of causality. If management at our firm started making analogous changes, I'd probably go elsewhere.
   73. jmurph Posted: March 28, 2019 at 11:11 AM (#5826068)
Right, this stuff all sounds dumb and also Theo Epstein is one of the most successful front office guys in the game's long history. Those things are not in conflict except in the addled mind of our resident idiot.
   74. . Posted: March 28, 2019 at 11:20 AM (#5826071)
I gotta say, yeah, that does sound like several loads of crap. It's a bad combination of pop and organizational quasi-"psychology," gross speculation, and assumption of causality. If management at our firm started making analogous changes, I'd probably go elsewhere.


If Murray Chass or Bill Maddon had wrote those things in a "How to Fix the 2006 Cubs" column, the ridicule from the Epstein fanboy types would have gone on for years.
   75. . Posted: March 28, 2019 at 11:22 AM (#5826072)
Right, this stuff all sounds dumb and also Theo Epstein is one of the most successful front office guys in the game's long history. Those things are not in conflict except in the addled mind of our resident idiot.


He's not what you claim him to be, and the fact that he'd come out with something this dumb on the heels of the 2011 collapse kind of shows that he just might be getting credit for things other people should be sharing credit for.

The Maddon hit list of ideas isn't just "dumb," it's blitheringly and witheringly inane. And not just on its face, but in conception. The idea that Maddon's leadership and performance with the Cubs has somehow been deficient because he hasn't done these things is virtually beyond satire.
   76. SoSH U at work Posted: March 28, 2019 at 11:26 AM (#5826076)
He's not what you claim him to be, and the fact that he'd come out with something this dumb on the heels of the 2011 collapse kind of shows that he just might be getting credit for things other people should be sharing credit for.


On the heels? If we're speaking geologically, I guess it was.
   77. . Posted: March 28, 2019 at 11:27 AM (#5826077)
On the heels? I guess, speaking geologically it was.


His finger-pointing actions in the face of the two collapses are almost identical -- and of course highly unbecoming by any honest measure. He happened to stick around for the next season this time, and his actions have moved beyond finger-pointing to farcical. The list in The Athletic story is among the dumbest things I've read front office types come up with in 30+ years of following sports.

   78. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: March 28, 2019 at 11:28 AM (#5826078)
If Murray Chass or Bill Maddon had wrote those things in a "How to Fix the 2006 Cubs" column, the ridicule from the Epstein fanboy types would have gone on for years.
You ain't wrong about that.
   79. SoSH U at work Posted: March 28, 2019 at 11:37 AM (#5826081)
His finger-pointing actions in the face of the two collapses are almost identical -- and of course highly unbecoming by any honest measure.


The end of the Red Sox 2011 season and the end of the Cubs' 2018 campaign bear no resemblance. The 2018 Cubs won 3 of their last 4, 6 of their last 9, 8 of their last 13 and 11 of their last 17. In other words, it wasn't a collapse.

   80. . Posted: March 28, 2019 at 11:39 AM (#5826085)
The end of the Red Sox 2011 season and the end of the Cubs' 2018 campaign bear no resemblance.


In Epstein's mind, they obviously do -- thus, the virtually identical back-stabbing reactions, this time with the circus farce follow-up thrown in for "good" measure.
   81. jmurph Posted: March 28, 2019 at 11:40 AM (#5826087)
He's not what you claim him to be, and the fact that he'd come out with something this dumb on the heels of the 2011 collapse kind of shows that he just might be getting credit for things other people should be sharing credit for.

Ha! Just quickly walk me through the Cubs win totals since then and maybe also do a Y/N if they won a ####### World Series.
   82. jmurph Posted: March 28, 2019 at 11:41 AM (#5826088)
Oh! And also let me know how many members of the 2013 World Champion Boston Red Sox were acquired during Theo's time in charge.
   83. . Posted: March 28, 2019 at 11:42 AM (#5826090)
Ha! Just quickly walk me through the Cubs win totals since then and maybe also do a Y/N if they won a ####### World Series.


Plenty of general managers have won the World Series. Brian Sabean, a far better GM, has won three this decade.
   84. Greg Pope Posted: March 28, 2019 at 11:55 AM (#5826099)
reasonable for a team to wonder whether 4/30 is good allocation of resources

Manager salary doesn't count against the salary cap (I assume). So while the Cubs are being cheap/frugal at the moment to avoid the luxury tax, they do have plenty of money. In other words, they can easily afford to spend 7.5M on a manager, but if they don't, that money probably doesn't go toward acquiring a player.
   85. jmurph Posted: March 28, 2019 at 12:14 PM (#5826116)
Plenty of general managers have won the World Series. Brian Sabean, a far better GM, has won three this decade.

Delightful! His teams have also made the playoffs 4 (four) total times since Theo's team won their first World Series in 2004. That seems bad, but I'm just a simple Theo fanboy, wandering through the world grasping for context-less numbers.
   86. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: March 28, 2019 at 12:16 PM (#5826121)
I'll ignore most of the other idiocy, but it's time to stop calling what happened to the Cubs in 2018 a collapse. In September, the Cubs went 15-12, which is a 90 win pace for the season. If they won 1 more game (16-11), that's a 96 game pace. They won 95, and lost a division tie-breaker. That's just not a collapse; the Brewers went 19-6 in September, which is just absurd.

---

The Athletic article doesn't claim to list out every change the FO made this year, although those examples are true. A key point that piece makes is that these are changes they made based on feedback from the players*. I fail to see how tightening up some rules when the players think they need it is either indicative of anything larger or an indictment of some new age philosophy.

*The anthem thing is a whole other thing, and dumb, and yet also the reality we live in.
   87. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: March 28, 2019 at 12:30 PM (#5826137)
A key point that piece makes is that these are changes they made based on feedback from the players*.
Well, not exactly:

the Cubs are expected to implement these suggestions, which were suggested by both players and management:
   88. . Posted: March 28, 2019 at 12:48 PM (#5826148)
His teams have also made the playoffs 4 (four) total times since Theo's team won their first World Series in 2004.


Sabean inherited a 71 pythag team and was in the playoffs the very next year and was consistently good/excellent for about the next decade. He didn't need to lose 101, 96, and 89 games just to build a playoff team. And then Sabean built another generation of players who won three World Series in five years.

And he never, ever, ever came up with something as inane as the 5-point "plan" set out in The Athletic.
   89. SoSH U at work Posted: March 28, 2019 at 01:09 PM (#5826167)
And he never, ever, ever came up with something as inane as the 5-point "plan" set out in The Athletic.


He intentionally forfeited his 2004 first-round draft pick to sign Michael Tucker hours before the Royals would have non-tendered him.
   90. . Posted: March 28, 2019 at 01:20 PM (#5826182)
I'll ignore most of the other idiocy, but it's time to stop calling what happened to the Cubs in 2018 a collapse.


It's only being called that because Epstein is acting as if it was that.

   91. PreservedFish Posted: March 28, 2019 at 01:26 PM (#5826190)
"It's someone else's fault I'm making this ridiculous argument"
   92. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: March 28, 2019 at 01:28 PM (#5826192)
How exactly is he acting like that? It's virtually the exact same roster as last year, minus a RP and PH or two. Talking about mostly superficial off the field changes isn't exactly a normal reaction to a collapse. Is it just because he didn't extend Maddon's contract? GMAFB
   93. . Posted: March 28, 2019 at 01:31 PM (#5826198)
Circling 10 or so trap games and challenging the group to win all of them.

The hope here is that the team will be treating, for example, a getaway day in Cincinnati like a Sunday night game at Wrigley Field. Maddon’s Meat Loaf mentality – “Two out of three ain’t bad.” – was fine when the team started 25-6, but it’s not in style anymore.


But if they played as if two out of three was good enough, how did they start out 25-6?
   94. . Posted: March 28, 2019 at 01:31 PM (#5826199)
How exactly is he acting like that?


Seriously?

Even Calcaterra, TFA's author, can see the obvious parallels:

When put together with other things in the article — things like (a) Maddon not getting a contract extension and thus being a lame duck; (b) top executives Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer making a point to travel with the team more on road trips and show up more in the clubhouse at Wrigley; and (c) a Theo Epstein/Jon Lester-driven narrative that makes references to both the Chicken and Beer and Bobby Valentine-era Red Sox — it all puts one in mind of the late Terry Francona-era Boston Red Sox. To be sure, it’s reported and stated much more more artfully than that. This is not an anonymously-source hit piece driven by a Sox chairman or VP with an axe to grind or anything. It’s a good article. But it makes one think that a message is being sent to and/or about Joe Maddon, even if it’s being sent more subtly than the kind of message you might’ve seen sent in, say, the Boston Globe back in the day.


One would have to be willfully blind to miss the obvious parallels. This is clearly how Epstein acts out when things aren't going well for his team. I've actually been somewhat charitable about The Athletic article; in point of fact it reads like the musings and ideas of a guy who has a bit of a screw loose. Panicky, jittery, back-stabbing, credit-hogging, wanting to create some kind of listening tourish, let's listen to all stakeholders Process, but having it result in a seriatim list of inanities. This is clearly how he tackles adversity or perceived adversity, which pretty much makes him a no sale for me. I wouldn't hire him.

Now, with that said, can the Cubs win this year even in the face of all this drivel and discord? Sure. That it might not be all that impactful -- might not -- it doesn't make it any less blitheringly inane.
   95. . Posted: March 28, 2019 at 02:09 PM (#5826224)
And of course, as the article makes clear, albeit not explicitly, all of this is essentially Epstein trying to stay "relevant" now that his budget is tapped out (*). Lashing out at others and invading the prerogatives of others because of your personal restlessness caused by your own incompetence -- another no sale managerial trait.

The Cubs’ young position players, the ones the team would be willing to deal anyway, had declining trade value. The final budget given to baseball operations would only allow Epstein to pick up Cole Hamels’ $20 million option and sign a few role players. More than four months later, essentially the same team reported to Arizona for spring training. That team, minus the recently demoted Ian Happ, is the same one headed to Texas to open the season Thursday.

So change is coming from within. Instead of chasing the big-name free agents, Epstein and Hoyer took a holistic approach, meeting with Cubs players in Chicago and their offseason homes, while trying to diagnose what went wrong in 2018 and how it could be fixed.

It’s hard to define playing with “an edge” and a “sense of urgency,” but you know it when you see it.

How can the Cubs manufacture improvement from within without actually switching personnel? They have some ideas, all of which have to do with an improved attention to detail.

According to sources briefed on the team’s plans, the Cubs are expected to implement these suggestions, which were suggested by both players and management:

[Cue the five-point Inane Delusions previously noted]


$52.5 million committed to dreck, the payroll tapped out, your final tank-"earned" first rounder unable to even make the team ... sure, you can see the reasons for panic -- but better leaders would undoubtedly resist the urge.

(*) In large measure because of the $52.5 million committed in 2019 to the triumvirate of Jason Heyward, Yu Darvish, and Tyler Chatwood.
   96. My name is Votto, and I love to get blotto Posted: March 28, 2019 at 03:58 PM (#5826350)
The poll on The Athletic (same one that named Harper as most overrated) has the question, "which manager would you most like to play for"? Maddon was the top vote-getter.

Maddon was also #2 (behind Kapler) in the question, "which manager would you least like to play for?"
   97. Zonk isn't Defacing the Nation Posted: March 29, 2019 at 07:48 AM (#5826556)
Joe keeps his job for another day!

Though, I suspect Face was ready to fire him on the spot after the 9th inning pitching change up 8.

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