The snows and ice have arrived, and I am not looking forward to this morning’s drive to take The Littlest Girl to school. One thing about working at home that I have never taken for granted is not having a commute, and now taking her to school downtown a few days a week has reminded me of the privilege. At least now I got lots and lots of podcasts. Back when I actually commuted I just listened to the radio like a chump.
Oh, that reminds me: the Boston Globe Spotlight podcast on Aaron Hernandez is freaking awesome.
- We discussed the “Joe Maddon as a free agent” aspect last night, but I do think you should check out the full Maddon interview here for a little more on what’s to come:
#Cubs Maddon plans on coaching more and talking less (which covers “re-energized”), figures “lame duck” = “free agent,” says Hickey’s departure not health related. Also, #Rays did well in ‘18, and really need that new stadium to survive in Tampa Bay. https://t.co/XUO4fKpB0Z
— Marc Topkin (@TBTimes_Rays) November 26, 2018
- Note that Maddon underscored that he expects to spend more time doing on-field coaching – more hands-on – than he has in the past, which is apparently owing to the front office’s desire for a re-energized Maddon. I don’t want to read *too* much into the situation, but when you pair this with the explicit decision not to extend Maddon this offseason so that he could go into 2019 with a focus on 2019, it’s hard not to conclude that the front office is trying to light some kind of fire under Maddon. Is that a commentary on how they felt he did his work last year? Is it a question of his role in the coaching changes and significant turnover? Again, I’m not going to speculate on those fronts. But it’s pretty clear that the front office is challenging Maddon to do more hands-on work in 2019, and they want to see something before they would engage in new contract talks.
- Recall some previous comments from Theo Epstein on the situation: “To me, the story really is I am excited about Joe being all in on 2019,” Epstein told 670 The Score. “He is going to be right in the middle of everything that is going on with the team. He will be deepening his relationship and communication with players and continuing to be committed to getting the most out of these guys. We recognize what a pivotal year it is for our players and their development as a whole. He is renewed, rejuvenated and ready to attack the season.” With more context now, you start to get a picture, don’t you?
- On the coaching staff front, Maddon told the Tampa Bay Times that Jim Hickey’s departure for “personal reasons” was not health-related, but wouldn’t get into specifics. Best wishes to him on whatever it was, and here’s hoping the Cubs get their new pitching coach in place soon.
- Eric Hinske won’t be returning to the Cubs as the assistant hitting coach, as he’s taken that job with the Diamondbacks. Hinske departed the Cubs last year to be the lead hitting coach with the Angels, but then lost that gig when the Angels decided to move on from long-time manager Mike Scioscia.
- Cubs special assistant (and former outfielder) Chris Denorfia is a candidate for the job – or some other role on the coaching staff – according to Patrick Mooney.
- Maddon was in Tampa Bay for his annual Thanksmas event.
.@Cubs manager Joe Maddon in St. Pete today for his annual #Thanksmas event with @PDQFreshFood – serving food to the homeless. Maddon has kept close ties since his time as Rays manager. pic.twitter.com/oY0xk8x2lV
— Jennifer Holton FOX 13 (@jennholtonFOX) November 26, 2018
- Cubs shortstop prospect Nico Hoerner ranked 13th in the Arizona Fall League this year, according to MLB Pipeline. Given the competition and the fact that he was in the league the same year he was drafted? Dang that’s high praise.
- Gallagher Way at Wrigley Field is looking festive:
- Given yesterday’s thing about the Brewers having the best top four in baseball, I got a good chuckle out of this:
The top of the Braves' lineup is pretty devastating: Ronald Acuña, Ozzie Albies, Freddie Freeman, Josh Donaldson. Others in the NL who come close to matching:
– Nationals: Eaton, Turner, Soto, Rendon
– Cubs: Zobrist, Bryant, Rizzo, Baez
– Rockies: Blackmon, Story, Dahl, Arenado
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) November 26, 2018
- Amazon is doing Cyber Monday deals all week, so you can shop the continuation right here. I just got a humidifier, because I am old!
- And Fanatics extended its 30% off deal through today.