A Difficult Goodbye, Why Change Was Needed, Coaching Staff, and Other Cubs Bullets

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A Difficult Goodbye, Why Change Was Needed, Coaching Staff, and Other Cubs Bullets

Chicago Cubs

Today is going to be so weird. The transition from the season always is, but the Cubs have moved on from their manager, their President is having his end-of-season presser this afternoon, there are so many player threads now to check in on as the offseason arrives, and it’s an offseason that figures to be critically important. Please bear with me as I get my bearings a bit on how/what we want to hit today and in the coming days. Might take me a bit to get my rhythm – I’ve been doing this gig a long time, but this particular set of circumstances is entirely new to my coverage!

  • I’m working on a personal farewell to Joe Maddon, but I’m definitely struggling with it. I mean, it’s not like yesterday’s news caught me by surprise, and yet I just can’t quite put all the words together on a guy who was so singularly transformative in what it was to be a Cubs fan.
  • I’m not sure Theo Epstein could have put the explanation for moving on from Joe Maddon much better than this, and it is what I would have said myself if the decision were left to me at this moment in time: “It really wasn’t anything about looking back on this season or the last five years,” Epstein told the media, per The Athletic. “The last five years as a whole could not have gone better. Joe did a wonderful job. He’s a fantastic manager, a Hall of Fame manager, and we accomplished everything that we wanted to accomplish overall. It’s just about looking forward to the next five years. We’re in transition at different levels of the organization, so sometimes you’re left with a choice between status quo or change. When you feel like change is necessary — this status quo is a great status quo. It’s status quo with a Hall of Fame manager. But sometimes change can still beckon. That’s just where we are.”
  • It’s not exactly “change for change’s sake,” but it’s an acknowledgement that *something* fundamental (ok, MANY somethings) needs to change going forward, because the whole of the results for this team have been less than the sum of the parts, and maybe the Cubs don’t know precisely why that is. With Maddon’s contract expiring, and with five years in the books, it just feels right and organic to explore whether making that change – together with MANY on the roster, nudge nudge – can help steer things back in a more positive direction in the results column.
  • With Joe Maddon departing, the Cubs will not only be on a managerial search, they will also have to figure out what they’re going to do with their coaching staff. Theo Epstein says he will meet with them tomorrow, but it’s possible it’ll be just to let them know they’re under contract and the organization is hopeful they’ll stick around until the next manager comes.
  • What makes this a unique situation is that you have three key coaches – bench coach Mark Loretta, pitching coach Tommy Hottovy, and hitting coach Anthony Iapoce – who are all only one year into their deals, and who were hand-picked by the front office to join the staff, not so much explicitly selected by Joe Maddon. So you’ve gotta believe the Cubs will kinda want to have it both ways: keep these three guys, but also still be able to get the manager they want. I tend to think this is becoming increasingly common (front offices mostly picking key coaches rather than a manager getting to bring in whomever he wants), so maybe it won’t be an issue.
  • I also would understand anyone who makes the argument that if you’re gonna make change, why would you stop at the manager? I get it. My only response on the other side is how many times are the Cubs going to overhaul the coaching staff in consecutive years? Maybe that’s part of the problem, too! (Hence, again, why it would be crazy to pin all or even most of this on Maddon.)
  • One other ancillary point about the transition: if the Cubs wind up going with a rookie-type manager, they might save upwards of $5 million from Maddon’s $6 million rate. I say split those savings between poaching a couple execs from the Astros and Dodgers, and then signing the best of the best minor league deal players out there to premium price tags. Then, you see, the Astros and Dodgers dudes can come in and help turn them into superstars. I am smRt.
  • Joe Maddon did make some tactical mistakes over his five years with the Cubs, but he was right far more often than he was wrong. Thus, I’ve got no beef with him feeling this way (defiant to the end) – you kinda have to have this edge about you to be successful:

  • I think the reply (which Rogers retweeted) is a *little* reductive, but there’s definitely a point here worth making:


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  • This is fun and indeed random:

Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.