Still no word from the Chicago Cubs on the Joe Maddon, Rick Renteria situation – not that anyone should be expecting otherwise at this point. There’s just not much they can, or should, say publicly, especially in the middle of the World Series. Rick Renteria did offer a brief statement earlier today, though.
Some of today’s other developments …
- Buster Olney had Keith Law on his podcast today, and the two discussed the Cubs/Maddon situation at length. The money quote from Olney: “I don’t think there’s any question that he’s going to go to the Chicago Cubs …. I think this is basically a done deal.” Olney has been consistent in saying that this thing was going to happen from just a few minutes after he originally broke the Maddon opt-out story.
- Law described Maddon as an “ideal fit,” even has he expressed that he feels bad for Renteria. He praised the developmental job Renteria has done, even as he said he’s heard, secondhand, that some with the Cubs were frustrated by some of Renteria’s struggles with in-game management. Maddon, on the other hand, Law says, is an excellent tactical manager, and also works well with young players. The Cubs have to “strike while the iron is hot,” according to Law. It’s the best thing in the long-term.
- The timing is also perfect, according to Olney, because of the Cubs’ up-and-coming positional talent, combined with payroll flexibility to get some of the top arms that are going to be out there over the next few years. All in all, it’s a great listen if you’d like to get hyped up about the Cubs. These two guys have bought in, and believe the Cubs are going to be very good, very soon. Heck, Law said the Cubs could be an 85 to 90 win team next year if they get two solid starting pitchers.
- Also on the podcast is Tampa Bay writer Marc Topkin, who discusses the story from the Rays’ perspective, which is essentially that everyone thought an extension was getting done, and then suddenly there was a change of heart (hence the tampering speculation). One thing that Topkin’s comments made me think about, even if he didn’t say it directly: it is curious that Maddon would opt out of a deal worth $2 million in 2015 and then maybe sit out the 2015 season. He was going to be a free agent anyway after 2015, so, if he goes that route, he basically gave up a lot of money for no reason (unless the TV deal he can get is worth that much – I really doubt it). I suppose that, too, lends some circumstantial evidence to the tampering rumors.
- Topkin reiterated that the feeling around baseball is that if the bet is the Cubs versus the field (any other team and any other job), folks are taking the Cubs.
- Jesse Rogers wrote at length about Maddon and the Cubs, and it’s a very thoughtful take. Speaking with an anonymous executive, Rogers hears that a team involved in something like this – and it’s extremely rare – would not want to communicate anything at all with their current manager before it’s an absolute done deal with the new manager (or, before it’s clear there is no deal to be had). In any case, it’s an extremely tough spot to be in, especially when – absent Maddon (and maybe literally *only* Maddon) – it’s quite clear the Cubs are happy to have Renteria as their manager right now.
- Peter Gammons wonders what happens if Joe Maddon does end up taking the year off, and where he might land after 2015. He doesn’t focus on the Dodgers, but, man, it sure seems like they’d have to be the heavy favorite, right?
- In case you’re wondering how this ends if the Cubs don’t sign Maddon, it’s really not that ugly: they simply say that they owed it to the organization to at least explore the option – as they would with anything that could potentially make the team better – but, in the end, everyone involved decided that Rick Renteria was the best fit for the Cubs. In other words, I don’t think this is going to lead to much of a black eye for the Cubs either way.