Is that a tea leaf, or is the distance between Boston and Arlington really too great a burden on his family, whereas the distance between Chicago and Arlington is more doable? When it comes to family, you can never know for sure. There could be any number of reasons that the Boston Red Sox job didn’t feel like a “fit” for Maddux and his family, and the Chicago Cubs job might. Whatever the case, the Cubs will get a crack at Maddux today.
As with Pete Mackanin and Dale Sveum before him, Maddux, 50, will be put through the ringer of questions, scenarios, situations, quizzes, etc. from Cubs’ President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein and GM Jed Hoyer. After that, if the Cubs follow the same formula, Maddux will speak to the media.
Maddux, who acquitted himself excellently as the pitching coach of the back-to-back AL Champion Rangers and, before that, the Milwaukee Brewers, is considered by many the favorite to land the Cubs’ job. That belief is built on the strength of Maddux’s professional success, presumed amenability to statistical modeling, familiarity with the NL and NL Central, and, of course, his relationship with his younger brother, Greg Maddux. It also doesn’t hurt that Epstein and Hoyer are big believers in having a strong pitching coach.
And Maddux is already picking up endorsements. It starts with his current boss, Texas Rangers’ manager Ron Washington.
“He cares about what he’s doing, and he cares about the people that he’s doing it with,’’ Washington, who has worked with Maddux the last three seasons, said of his pitching coach. “He does a great job of hands-on. He does a good job of directing people and helping them find their way. I think that type of quality is what has separated him from other guys that have done his job as pitching coach.” It’s easy to see how those skills would translate to the manager’s chair, loathe though Washington may be to lose Maddux as his pitching coach.
“Since I’ve been with him, he certainly has a program for all his pitchers, both starting pitchers and relievers,’’ Washington continued. “Every day he makes them accountable for making sure they’re prepared [to work] and for what may happen that day during the course of the ballgame.
“I haven’t seen many guys that decipher things and get prepared as much as Mike does, and the way the Texas Rangers have come along with the pitching staff is a testament to that.”
Current Cubs’ hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo worked with Maddux for one year on the Rangers’ staff in 2009, and has nothing but kind words to offer.
“He’s a teacher, and he has the ability of winning people over,’’ said Jaramillo. “When you can do that, you can be an excellent coach and an excellent manager.’’ Jaramillo added that he believes Maddux is an expert in pitcher mechanics.
Perhaps the most important endorsement of all? Mike’s brother Greg thinks he’d make a great manager.
For my part, I’d like to hear a little more from Maddux, himself, but he certainly looks like a very attractive candidate. Even if you don’t consider his brother, Maddux is an up-and-coming, highly-effective coach, with whom other big-time organizations would like to speak. The “market” isn’t perfect, but if other big boys want a shot at a certain candidate, that’s suggestive of a solid candidate about whom we can be enthused.