The Astros took a break from their World Series beating yesterday (Go Nats!), which gave a few teams – including the Cubs – cover to reveal and/or announce a new manager for next season: Padres hire Jayce Tingler, Phillies hire Joe Girardi.
The Angels, by contrast, had already announced Joe Maddon as manager a while back, and instead took yesterday’s off-day to formally introduce Maddon back into Anaheim with a press conference.
Here’s the full video, if you’d like to watch:
I’m not going to break down everything Joe Maddon said – we already know a lot of what he believes, anyway – but I did think we’d find some closure in a few highlights from the afternoon.
- The first 8-10 minutes of Maddon’s introduction is a reminder of the close ties he has to the Angels – far more than the Cubs. I think I always knew that deep down Maddon wasn’t a “Chicago” guy and that’s obviously fine, but the light in his eyes as he retells story after story of his time spent in this organization is pretty revealing. This is always where was he going to end up.
- Speaking of which, one of the first bits of managerial news was Maddon’s intention to bring “the alumni” back into the organization. He says he’s seen other teams around the league benefit greatly from that and thinks the Angels should, as well. The Cubs, you’ll note, have guys like John Baker, David Ross, Tommy Hottovy, Kerry Wood, Matt Murton, Chris Valaika, Ryan Dempster, etc. in the front office/coaching staff right now. And they also have a bunch of dudes – like Rick Sutcliffe, Lee Smith, Billy Williams, Fergie Jenkins, etc. – who role through Spring Training most years. Perhaps that was a bit of an outgoing compliment to his former team?
- Perhaps … but it wasn’t all compliments for the Cubs.
- After that, Joe Maddon hammered home a message we’ve heard from him before: the balance between heart and analytics. According to Maddon, if you abandon either one for the other, you’re going to lose. And I’ve always respected that about him. He understands the importance of both sides of the game, even at a time when going all-in on analytics was more than acceptable. However, he did say that’s what he was able to do well … WITH THE RAYS!
- One of the strangest moments came immediately after, as Maddon was complimenting(?) Angels owner Arte Moreno: “There’s not a more passionate owner regarding how much he loves the game than this man right here [Moreno]. And I’m definitely going to listen to Arte – I already have … We’re going to bunt this year, guys!”
- I don’t know if that was a (1) joke, a (2) direction from Moreno, or (3) Maddon saying that is something he wants to do more, but wasn’t able to in Chicago because of the analytics. Shrug. Whatever. Go bunt your heart out, Joe.
- Maddon says he sees some similarities between the Angels team he’s taking over today and the 73-win Cubs team he inherited back before 2015.
- And here’s how he ended the press conference: “We had a great five years [in Chicago], culminated in the World Series victory. Not this year, but last year we had a really good year with 95 wins … And then this year, a lot of it at the end of the year had to do with … we were kinda banged up when we lost all those games at the end, but nevertheless, it just wasn’t clicking at the end of this year like it had been the last couple years – that’s not to say I couldn’t have stayed there, of course I could have, but I have nothing but warm fuzzies about my five years in Chicago. You look at the number of wins, number of losses, three straight trips to the NLCS, which means you’re almost in three consecutive World Series … but I will say this: I’ve already had a lot of outreach from my guys in Chicago and … wow I could not be more proud of that group. I wish them nothing but the best. And the ultimate goal – you want to talk about a pipe dream – is that we play them in the World Series and beat ’em. That would be my pipe dream right there.”