Two weeks ago it was announced that Joe Maddon, former manager of the Tampa Bay Rays, would become the manager of the Chicago Cubs.
And then part of the sports world overreacted.
Yes, Maddon is a good coach – the man responsible for the mass number of defensive shifts that go on in today’s game.
Yes, Maddon is the guy that brought the Rays out of the basement of the best division in baseball, the AL East, took them to numerous playoffs and to a World Series.
“So why can’t he do the same thing in Chicago?” people are asking.
Because it’s the Cubs! The same team that hasn’t won a World Series since 1908.
The Ottoman Empire was still in power at the time if that provides any extra context as to how long it’s been for the Cubs.
It’s the same franchise that hasn’t even played in the World Series since 1945 (they lost that one by the way.)
The same franchise that’s been cursed by the billy goat, crossed paths with a black cat, and interfered with by Steve Bartman. Of course I had to include him in this, right?
Maddon will also be the club’s fifth manager since the start of the 2010 season. Not exactly a great trend.
“Do you think (big name free agent) is going to the Cubs now?” people are asking.
Not if they would like to have a successful season is my response to that.
Theo Epstein may be a great GM, he is the one that ended an 86-year title drought in Boston, but this is different.
Boston has always been relevant, for the most part. You can normally find the Red Sox near the top of the American League.
The Cubs have not been that way.
You don’t hear the Cubs mentioned as one of the teams the big-named guys in baseball want to play for year in and year out.
Think of the players that the Cubs have had over the years, and have still not been able to win it all.
Ernie Banks. Ryne Sandberg. Andre Dawson. Sammy Sosa. Kerry Wood. Mark Prior. Even Bruce Sutter, Rick Sutcliffe and Greg Maddux played in Chicago for times in their careers’.
Think of the managers they’ve had, as well.
Lou Piniella. Dusty Baker. Don Zimmer.
Okay, so maybe the Cubs haven’t had the greatest managers in the world. But if those three couldn’t lead Chicago to a title, why should it be any different with Maddon?
Chicago’s current roster isn’t exactly set up to win right now, anyways.
Starlin Castro, the young shortstop who was so highly talked about before entering the league in 2010, has been a bit of a let down, especially defensively. Castro has ranked in the bottom half of the league in fielding percentage and errors committed every year he has played for the Cubs.
And no one else on the roster is exactly a “household-name.”
Anthony Rizzo would most likely be the next-best player on the team, but after that there isn’t a lot of great talent in the field.
On the mound it doesn’t get much better for the Cubs.
Jake Arrieta led the team in Wins and Strikeouts, which, as an Orioles fan I can tell you, was a fluke. Travis Wood has shown promise thus far in his career, but except for his rookie season when he made just 17 starts, has never had a winning season.
Jason Hammel and Jeff Samardzija, the two big-name pitchers for the Cubs at the start of the 2014 season, were both traded to the Athletics near the trade deadline.
So to answer the question from earlier about what the chances are of a big free agent signing with the Cubs this offseason let’s look at the top five free agents ranked by mlbtraderumors.com.
Max Scherzer and Jon Lester top the list and I don’t see either of them signing with the Cubs. I see Scherzer either resigning with the Tigers or (sadly) going to the Yankees and I predict Jon Lester will rejoin the Red Sox.
Next are James Shields and Hanley Ramirez.
Ramirez has been a piece of work, to say the least, since joining the Dodgers, as well as injury prone. I don’t see his personality fitting well with Maddon, so he’s a no.
Shields interests me. He has played for Maddon before and has done nothing but play for small market teams. So out of any of the top free agents he seems the most likely to go to the Cubs. However, now that he has gone to the World Series twice and not come out on top, I doubt he wants to go to a rebuilding organization.
Finally we have Pablo Sandoval, coming off his third World Series title in five years. He’s not going to the Cubs, simple as that.
So, calm down about the Cubs, people. They’re called the Lovable Losers for a reason.
And that’s not changing anytime soon.