Joe Maddon Speaks: Wants More Pitching, Baez as an "Everyday Player," Heyward and Chili, More

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Joe Maddon Speaks: Wants More Pitching, Baez as an “Everyday Player,” Heyward and Chili, More

Chicago Cubs

Earlier today, Cubs Manager Joe Maddon addresses the media on a number of relevant Cubs topics, and I’ve collected his comments alongside some thoughts of my own down below. It makes for a good opportunity to remind you to follow the Cubs’ beat writers on Twitter this week. They are on the scene and getting the goods.

(BTW: If you’re noticing the lack of “Kyle Schwarber might lead off again next season,” it’s because we discussed that idea in its own post right here.)

  • According to Mark Gonzales, Maddon likes the Tyler Chatwood signing, but sees it as a “great first step.” To me, that’s a more interesting comment than it appears on its face, because it’s further confirmation the Cubs aren’t done adding to the rotation. After all, Maddon gets what Maddon wants:

  • And if Maddon wants another sure-fire starter to push Chatwood back in the rotation, then it sounds like that’s exactly what he’ll get. To that end, we discussed the Cubs’ interest in Danny Duffy earlier today, as well as their on-going pursuit of Alex Cobb. In semi-related news, the Tigers might be willing to consider moving from Michael Fulmer, Yu Darvish was tipping his pitches in the World Series, and Jake Arrieta wants $200M and is getting interest from the Nationals and Phillies, among others. PITCHERS.
  • The rotation isn’t the only spot in which the Cubs have improved, of course, as they’ve also added Brandon Morrow to the bullpen (still not official, pending a physical). Consider Maddon a fan:

  • But like the rotation, Maddon doesn’t seem to think the Cubs should stop there with one addition in the bullpen. In fact, according to Carrie Muskat, Maddon believes it’s going to get even “better before we’re done with the offseason.” Again, you can say, “Well, duh,” but it’s not like what we, as fans, want/expect the team to do is always going to happen. But when the manager throws his hat in the ring for another starter/reliever, you can bank on this front office (a.k.a Santa) working to make it happen.

  • With every additional comment, it becomes more clear that Maddon wants to wield one of those dominant bullpens in the playoffs next October (after working through a rough playoff stretch in that respect this year), and given how many options there are in free agency right now (and trade for that matter), it seems like the front office is doing their best to put one together.
  • In later comments, Maddon did concede that while most of his discussion with the front office were about adding bullpen talent, he knows that this front office has shown the ability to uncover gems along the way (specifically citing free agent Brian Duensing).
  • Switching away from pitching, Joe Maddon says he hasn’t written down a lineup yet, but doesn’t expect any trades/signings to upgrade the offense this winter:

  • Instead, it sounds like all “upgrades” will have to come from within, but given the glut of young positional talent locked up behind “starters” (Ian Happ, Albert Almora, and Javy Baez, to an extent), Chili Davis is here to squeeze something extra out of them.
  • Of course, there’s also the issue of Jason Heyward, who is in Arizona working on his swing, and whom Davis is already working with:

  • We watched some video of Heyward’s swing the other day, and while it didn’t look too different to our untrained eyes, I can’t say I know more than Davis, so I’ll let him go to work. Given the progress Heyward *did* make last season (at least relative to 2016) and the injection of a new hitting coach, it’s okay to be cautiously optimistic … but I would really guard your feelings/expectations. Something has just flat been messed up with Heyward’s swing, and various hand/wrist injuries haven’t helped.
  • You probably can expect to see a little bit more Baez this year:

  • If Zobrist continues to move back into more of a utility role, Baez could really see another jump in his chances at the plate this season. To be sure, he did get 508 PAs last year (while posting a career best 98 wRC+ (113 wRC+ in the second half)), but that’s in part because Addison Russell was out for a month and a half – which is not something you can *count* on in the future.
  • And, finally, for the masochists among you, here’s Joe Maddon discussing how he *would have* worked in Shohei Ohtani, had the Cubs landed the two-way player in free agency:

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Author: Michael Cerami

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