One of things I love most about Cubs Manager Joe Maddon (well, other than the fact that we can legitimately ask if he’s the greatest Cubs manager of all-time?) is his general flexibility with almost anything that comes his way.
For example, when the roster is tight thanks to injuries or whatnot, he’s fine letting his guys play different, even unfamiliar positions – remember Kris Bryant in center field? Travis Wood in left? Anthony Rizzo at third? And when new data/theory arrives, he’ll quickly switch up his strategies – he led the defensive shifting charge with the Rays several years ago … and then became one of the least-shifting teams in recent years with the Cubs.
That sort of consistent flexibility makes him not only an effective baseball manager, but also a really good leader (in general). So I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised to see that he’s already rolling with the punches, so to speak, after learning about the new mound visit rules instituted by Major League Baseball yesterday.
“I honestly don’t think it will impact us,” Maddon said, via CBS. “We just have to figure a better way or a different way of communicating. There are so many signs that do occur that you are not aware of. We will have to get a little more in-depth about signs. Not complicated, just more of them for different moments. It will be a new normal. You learn how to do it, and you do it. There will be a lot of arguing and consternation, but we will figure it out properly.”
Who wants to bet that 1) we see some complaints about the mound visit rules around baseball early in the year, and 2) few, if any, of those complaints come from the Cubs?
I really love this sort of attitude from Maddon. He is setting the tone, setting the Cubs’ position, and not making any excuses in the process. Will this be different? Yes. Will we have to change up? Yes. Will we let it affect us? No way, dudes. Just do you’re work and we’ll be fine. It’s the new normal and we’re going to figure it out.
Obviously, one of the biggest concerns with the new rule (six non-pitching change mound-visits per game (with some limited exceptions)) is that teams will more easily be able to steal signs from the catcher/dugout. Or, at least do it more often. But to that end, I suppose it’s good to know that the Cubs are in good hands with Joe Maddon … because he thinks he was better at stealing signs than most.
“I used to be really good at picking up signs from the other team,” said Maddon, via the Chicago Tribune. “There’s an art to it.”
It’s like hiring a criminal to help solve a case … they might just have some insight that regular detectives don’t. Maddon went on to admit that he’s lost the skill more and more in recent years (managing takes too much attention/time to be worrying about the other team’s signs), but if he can draw on what he learned in the past (if he was really as good as he says), I think the Cubs should be in a good position to ward off any increase in sign stealing on account of the reduction in allowable mound visits.
And if his precautions don’t seem to be working, guess what? … Maddon will be flexible.