Maddon, the 54th manager in Cubs history, is being introduced at a press conference at the Cubby Bear, a bar across the street from currently-under-massive-renovation Wrigley Field, and you can watch in a variety of ways. It’ll be streamed on MLB.com, MLB Network, CSNChicago.com, CSN, ESPN News, and many more places, I reckon. You can also listen on ESPN 1000 and 87.7 The Game.
Or, if you’re not able to do any of that, you can just follow along with my live updates below. Heck, you should do that anyway, because I’ll be sure to intersperse my notes with pithy one-liners and useful bits of information. Or not. It’s live. I can’t know for sure until I get there.
I’ll just keep adding bullets below as the press conference goes on, and I’ll do my best to get the most important information:
- We’re 15 minutes away from the start. This should be fun.
- On Twitter, Sahadev Sharma notes before the press conference that there are plenty of front office folks in attendance, as you’d expect – but also pitching coach Chris Bosio. I wrote about Bosio this morning, as it’s possible the Twins will have interest in trying to pry him away from the Cubs.
- Theo Epstein starting things off thanking the folks you’d expect, including Maddon’s wife, Jaye. Nice touch.
- Epstein tosses it to Maddon quickly, who has a cool, casual look and vibe.
- Maddon says he interviewed with Theo and Jed 10 years ago, and he already knew that there was an alignment in philosophy. “It can’t work without that.”
- Maddon totally understands the relationship between front office and manager, and says it can’t be all about the manager.
- When the Rays visited Wrigley this year, and Maddon says that was the first time he’d ever really experienced Wrigley Field. “It’s magical.” He describes as like a computer-enhanced movie. That’s how perfect it is at Wrigley.
- Maddon was also struck by the talent on the field, and he says the player development and scouting must be outstanding in the organization – he could tell from the other dugout.
- Maddon says he wants to live downtown and be right in the center of everything, because he wants to connect with the community. Man, this guy is wild. And I love it.
- No one had to sell Maddon on the idea that the Cubs would be competitive soon. Instead, he said that he had to be sold on the people – that’s what matters, because you want to enjoy coming to work. The selling point was Theo and Jed, the players, ownership, Chris Bosio, the staff, etc. Hey, specific mention for Bosio there.
- To coach aggressiveness into a player or coach fear out of a player is a mistake. [EDIT: I believe Maddon’s point here was that you don’t try to change who a player is too dramatically. My feed unceremoniously cut out just before that comment.]
- When you’re trying to make a quantum leap in performance, you try and simplify things with players. You present a plan and a program to players and say this could happen.
- It’s hard to be highly specific on when young players are going to reach their peak, collectively. But “I know it’s going to happen.” You don’t want to put a finish line on anything, because then you’re setting yourself up for disappointment.
- “In my mind’s eye, we’re making the playoffs next year.” Although he’s not going to put a timeline on things, Maddon sees no reason why he wouldn’t be talking about the Cubs making the playoffs or winning the World Series in 2015.
- Epstein is asked what separates Maddon from other managers. Epstein cites that he’s a combination of everything we look for in a manager, and it’s not just his use of analytics, but he’s also an old school baseball type. He can coach any position.
- Epstein again discusses the decision to “do the right thing for the Cubs organization as a whole,” and taking advantage of the unique opportunity to get a guy like Maddon. Renteria did a great job, but we had to take the path that made the most sense for the Cubs.
- Maddon’s perspective on coming into this situation – vis a vis Renteria – is that he exercised a right in his contract, and that’s really the bottom line.
- It all happened very quickly, so Maddon and the front office still have to get together and figure out the coaching staff. Maddon is big on communicators, and the mental mechanics exceed the physical mechanics.
- Don’t ever forget, Maddon says, this is a game and it’s entertainment. That’s a message he wants to send the players. The game never changes, regardless of the date on the calendar.
- Maddon used his analytics information every day, but you have to use everything at your disposal. Your gut is sometimes the accumulation of everything that has come to you over the years. The numbers matter, but there are human beings involved. When a player is not playing up to his abilities, the number doesn’t really mean anything. Maddon says he’s very into the analytics side of things, but you have to balance it with the human being.
- Maddon talks about the meeting he had with Theo and Jed in the back of his winnebago. I am smitten.
- Epstein: We didn’t go after Maddon because he’s the big name manager, we just wanted this particular guy. We’re moving into a competitive time – we’re not all the way there – and when you’re going to compete you have to set your sights high. Having Maddon here doesn’t really change plans this winter, though it might make it a little easier. Players know Maddon has a great reputation and they want to play for him.
- Maddon says National League baseball is very cool. (Nobody’s perfect.) (Just kidding.) (Kind of.) (#NLDHSoonPlease)
- As the season goes on, Maddon likes to see his players practice less not more (less BP, in particular – too many swings by the end of the year).
- “I don’t really care about 0-30 or 2-25, because there might be hard contact in there or some bad baseball luck.” Yes. That.
- Maddon ends presser by thanking folks in Tampa Bay, several by name, and then offering to buy everyone a drink. This guy. I’m a fan.
- About that offer: