Updated: Oct 4, 2019
It’s the big question on everyone’s mind, Should He Stay or Should He Joe, err Go? In this first round table discussion at Cubs DNA we’ll each give our thoughts on what’s the next logical step for Joe Maddon. The Clash summarizes this situation perfectly:
“If I go, there will be trouble
And if I stay it will be double
So come on and let me know...”
I think he deserves to stay and finish out this run with the Front Office. Joe has his warts, as all managers do, but I still think he’s the best fit for this group. In fact, I think he’s done his best managing ever with this group. Consider this, the team has been missing a leadoff guy since Fowler left. Zobrist was likely going to be that guy this year and he was gone most of the season. So he was left with imperfect options for most of the season. It wasn’t until Castellanos arrived and Zobrist came back that he could even think about moving Rizzo up there. Due to roster construction, Joe had to give meaningful starts to Descalso, Zagunis, Aducci, Russell, Robel Garcia, CarGo, and Tony Kemp. The early season bullpen was just as bad, Brach, Montgomery, Edwards Jr. , Maples, and Rosario all had ERAs over 5.50! Normally strong players like Kimbrel and Strop were just as bad. Considering the division was within 2 games with 2 weeks left in the season despite several key injuries and poor roster construction is a testament to Joe’s managing. He needs to stay.
I'm so conflicted. It's no secret that I'm a noted Maddonite--I've defended Joe probably at times when he didn't deserve it. I also feel Thed did Joe a great disservice this last season by neutering his ability to manage his way and making the entire team press and tighten up. That's right... I think a few petting zoos and literal clown shows could've helped a little. I also hate the idea that Joe might be used as the ultimate fall guy for this season because he's done so much for the team. Seeing the fans turn on him has been painful, to say the least. That said, I kind of want to see Joe get an opportunity where he'll be appreciated. Go to Anaheim and manage The Fish. Take Kapler's job and harness Harper's greatness. Go to San Diego and chill with Manny. And if a different voice can bring the Cubs back to form, I can accept someone new and root for Joe's success elsewhere. As long as that different voice isn't Girardi.
Joe Maddon is hands down one of, if not the best manager is Cubs' history. That said, it may be time to move on from him. Maddon's first year with the Cubs in '15 saw the Cubs go on a huge streak in the second half (50-25) and finish with 97 wins. The next season saw the team dominate the entire season and ended in the first championship in 108 years. 2017 may have been the first time the team started to falter. In the first half the team went 43-45 and required a trade deadline shot in the arm to get going and make the playoffs for the third year in a row. '18 we saw the Cubs trip up at the end of the season and lose the division tie-breaker and then the 1-game Wild Card game. Now, in his fifth season at the helm, Maddon has seen the team go on a long losing streak to end the season and be eliminated from the playoffs at the start of the final week. The front office, the players, and Maddon all deserve blame. We have also had three straight seasons of coaching changes and yet the team never fully improved upon what they set out to do the following season. In the end, it's much easier to replace the manager than a bunch of guys entering their final years of arbitration. Maybe bringing in a new voice can get those guys to their full potentials. Whatever happens though, Cub fans should appreciate the past 5 seasons that Joe gave us. He made this team exciting to watch on a regular basis and that is something we were never used to seeing. Thank you Joe!
Originally I was going to write that he should go. That I wanted him to rise to glory with another team that didn’t try to hinder his coaching style with mandatory rules announced at the beginning of the season. (Rules that seemed to change the CUBS DNA!). Then I started ruminating about what I thought was his greatest accomplishment. And while yes, the 2016 Cubs season was pretty darn amazing, I think his best move was that 2015 September day when Joe noticed a nervousness in his live wire short stop, who wasn’t yet El Mago. Javier was a Hendry first round draft pick, an inherited piece of the Cubs puzzle and making his second entry into The Show. He used his bat wildly and had become a bit of a polarizing prospect among fans. But that day he was just a boy sitting in an office with his boss, asking for advice and Joe simply said “Try Not to Suck”. Joe Maddon found a way to harness the El Mago energy into a perennial MVP candidate. He is still a free swinger, but he makes the most contact out of the zone! He tags! He steals home in the Post Season! He has an energy that cannot be contained but it was understood by his manager. That’s special. So yeah, I want Joe to stay, a season without him might just suck.
I'm back and forth on Joe. I am honestly not sure if there is a right or wrong reason here. On one hand, he's got a deserved reputation for being one of the best in the game. If he's a free agent, I'd imagine there are several young teams on the back end of rebuilding willing to fire their current manager to bring him on board. Much like the Cubs did back in 2014. He's got a fantastic managerial resume and reputation around the league.
All of that said, the Cubs have under performed for two years in puzzling ways. One of Joe's trademarks was keeping guys fresh, getting plenty of balanced rest, and his teams absolutely dominating in the second half. After seeing a swoon last year and a choke this year, one has to wonder if his message has worn thin. With Theo Epstein overhauling the coaching staff, there are signs that the front office might opt for an Aaron Boone Yankees type of hire, where the manager is basically a controlled variable by the front office.
I don't know which decision is the right one, but I can see it both ways. I would miss Joe terribly, but if a different manager gets the Cubs back on track, then whatever tears are shed would dry quickly.
I think there were miscues all around this season, but I think Joe should stay. The team plays best when Joe encourages the fun (see the Little League game and the whole 2015 season) and the team is loose. I just can't see any other manager out there who might be able to do the same with the players and have all the experience he's had. I'm pretty sure Joe will be gone in 2020. The vibe will definitely be different in the clubhouse, not sure if it will be good or bad, but I'll miss him.