On Friday, it seemed like another blow (in a bad way) to the crotch of the Cubs plans to dominate the National League for a decade or two.Â Just days after Andrew Friedman left the Tampa Bay Raymonds for SEVEN MILLION DOLLARS A YEAR to vice president and generally manage the Dodgers, the Rays manager, Joe Maddon opted out of his contract.Â Surely he was going to go to the Dodgers, too, which meant the two things keeping the rest of the league from being crushed under billions of dollars of Dodgers clout (Ned Colletti and Don Mattingly) would be gone, and replaced by one of the best front office minds, and the very best manager.
But then the Dodgers announced they weren’t going to dump Don anytime soon.
Then the Mets issued a statement that they weren’t going to dump Terry Collins to try to sign Maddon, and, because they have to issue a statement about everything, the Red Sox announced they were keeping John Farrell, their really good manager who just won the World Series 12 months ago—how big of them.
So I’m sure Ricky Renteria figured it was just a matter of time before the Cubs did the same thing.
Not so fast, Ricky.
The Rays think the reason Maddon opted out is because someone with the Cubs contacted someone close to Maddon’s agent, Alan Nero.Â I think they’re probably right.Â I also think they’ll never be able to prove it.
So, it really does seem like it’s gonna happen.Â (John Murray just ran into a Signs Now.)Â Maddon to the Cubs isn’t a good fit.
It’s a perfect fit.Â He’s a great manager, who deals with the parts of a game a successful modern manager has to.Â He understands advanced metrics, he’s a terrific runner of a bullpen and he handles players and their personalities better than anyone.
Three years ago the Cubs used backÂ channels to convince Theo Epstein that a move to the north side would be a good thing for him, and now they’ve done it with Maddon.Â See, you leave Crane out of the loop and shit gets done.
One thing that writers are making a big deal out of is that Maddon claimed to not know he had an out clause in his contract until the Rays told him.Â That’s probably true.Â But the Rays didn’t tell Maddon because they wanted to get out of his contract.Â They told him because they were legally obligated to notify him an action had taken place (Friedman’s departure) that triggered it.Â Plus, even if Joe didn’t know, his agent sure as hell did.
Some are worried what message this sends to the organization and to baseball in general.Â Renteria did a good job with the team last year but soon he’ll be out on his ass.
Here’s the message it sends.Â If we have a chance to get better, we will take it.
That’s all this is.Â If Renteria were an average outfielder, and the Cubs had a chance to get the best outfielder in the game, but they’d have to dump him to make room, they’d do it and nobody would bat an eye.Â That’s all this is.Â For his part, Renteria will get paid for two more years to not manage the Cubs.Â Hell, that’s the best job in baseball.
If the boldness of this move surprises you, you are easily surprised.Â Theo traded Nomar Garciaparra when Nomar was still a god in Boston.Â Had that move not paid off, he’d have been driven from town by an angry crowd carrying torches and pitchforks.Â Dumping Renteria for Maddon doesn’t register on any real outrage scale.
So what becomes of the Cubs coaching staff?Â I have a hunch Maddon and Chris Bosio will get along famously, and the Cubs just pried John Mallee away from Houston, so it’s hard to think either pitching or hitting coach will change.Â Eric Hinske played for Maddon in a World Series, and just signed on to be Mallee’s assistant hitting coach.Â That still leaves a few spots that Maddon can fill with his own guys, like bench coach, and the base coaches, but ain’t nobody going to mess with Lester Strode in the bullpen.
Ozzie Guillen wants to join the staff, and I can see that happening.Â If Dave Martinez gets the Rays job, I’ll bet Joe considers Ozzie for bench coach, if the Rays don’t hire Dave, Ozzie might well be the third base coach, with Dave wearing the corncob dress on the bench.
The Cubs do not lack for interesting things these days without these moves.Â With them?Â I’m going to need to install a mop in my pants to watch this team.