Joe Maddon is Just Fine Without the DH - And Is That a Separate Edge for the Cubs?

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Joe Maddon is Just Fine Without the DH – And Is That a Separate Edge for the Cubs?

Chicago Cubs

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A few weeks ago, we were inundated with articles referencing the “increased momentum” towards a National League adoption of the designated hitter. For the first time, alongside comments from the commissioner and executives, the momentum of a DH actually felt real – at least, more so than usual.

However, since then, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred clarified his statements, admitting he should have been more negative in his tone when discussing the likelihood of a big change any time soon. As it stands, it would appear that the designated hitter will not be implemented for 2017 and may not even be a serious part of the upcoming Collective Bargaining Agreement negotiations.

Since these statements from the commissioner were released, I’ve gone back and forth on my reaction. I am, unashamedly,  a supporter of the National League designated hitter, but it doesn’t seem to have the widespread support that would make the move popular. I won’t rehash my reasons for an NL DH, once again, but I will add that among the peripheral, legitimate arguments, I’ve always felt that the current Cubs system was well-prepared for a change.

We know the Cubs have a ton of positional talent with huge offensive potential, both in the minors and MLB. Moreover, at least a few of them – Kyle Schwarber, Jorge Soler, Dan Vogelbach, Billy McKinney, for a handful of examples – aren’t necessarily top-line defenders. Thus, the NL adoption of the DH might give the Cubs a competitive advantage. Not that that’s a reason to support or not support such a huge, long-term, league-wide change, but it’s notable.

But is it possible that the current NL rules actually present even more of a competitive advantage for Chicago?

Well, Joe Maddon thinks so, and maybe we should, too.

In an article for ESPN, Jesse Rogers gets the skipper’s take on the current NL rules, and Joe Maddon says he prefers the status quo. Less concerned with tradition and more focused on strategic advantages, Maddon enjoys life without a DH. It suits him and his managerial style well, possibly providing a greater overall competitive advantage than the DH would, otherwise, since he’s exceptionally good at what he does.

With his knack for going “off-book” and his fondness for versatility, Maddon was seemingly born for the National League. However, if you can believe it, 2015 was his first season spent in an NL dugout. From his short career as a minor leaguer to his time spent as a coach with the Angels and Rays, Maddon has scarcely needed to keep his NL skills sharp. Of course, that didn’t slow him down one bit in 2015.

In his first season as a manager in the National League, Maddon won the 2015 Manager of the Year award. And while there are countless reasons to support that accolade (including what he does off the field), his actual on-field, game-time management of the Cubs is among the most important. His bullpen usage was mostly on point, players moved around the diamond with eagerness and vigor, and his quick trigger for pinch hitters and runners was successful and refreshing. With the pitcher batting in the lineup, the opportunities for Maddon’s creativity to shine were increased.

Joe Maddon is killer in the NL and, at least in the short-term, might do more for the Cubs than a DH ever could.

Author: Michael Cerami

Michael Cerami covers the Chicago Cubs, Bears, and Bulls at Bleacher Nation. You can find him on Twitter @Michael_Cerami