No Trick, Plenty of Treat for the Cubs with Joe Maddon

No Trick, Plenty of Treat for the Cubs with Joe Maddon

Today was a bit hectic.  I had an in-service day at school (no students, yay! But work anyway, boo) which I used, with the help of the wife, to clean up most of the lab storage room.  Then we had to go collect the kid from his school, walk two dogs in the crazy wind that was beating down on Chicago (did you see the madness along Lake Shore Drive?), and get ready for Trick-or-Treat action.  Except we couldn’t really because of said winds and stupid weather, so we just bought several bags of candy (yay near-post-Halloween sales!) and went home.

Meanwhile, while we were pursuing a diabetic coma, the Chicago Cubs had been engaging in some gamesmanship with the Tampa Bay Rays to strike down tampering charges in their own pursuit of one Joe Maddon.  It had been previously reported that Rick Renteria had been put on notice as a courtesy as the Cubs were negotiating with Maddon.  We got a better idea of the timeline with President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein’s statement as Renteria’s dismissal was announced.  The Cubs later released a statement that they would officially announce Maddon’s hiring on Monday.

This is probably as good a time as any to post this:

Yeah, I didn’t actually think the Cubs would go off and hang Renteria out to dry like that, but SAMSONITE!  I was waaaaaaaaaaay off!  The biggest fear wasn’t that Renteria would suddenly go off and win a World Series before the Cubs do, but that his dismissal would cause enough organizational upheaval that key employees would also quit.  So far, these are the only resignations that I saw…

Jose Castro left for Atlanta:

Castro, 56, who worked with current Cubs manager Rick Renteria in the Florida Marlins’ and San Diego Padres’ organizations before joining the Cubs last winter, has left to become the assistant hitting coach with the Atlanta Braves.

….

A source said that Castro and Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez are longtime friends and that Castro’s candidacy started well before Maddon exercised an opt-out clause in his contract with the Tampa Bay Rays.

…so that wasn’t really a problem since it sounds like Castro was going to leave anyway.  The other was Gary Jones:

 

It’s unclear to me whether this means Jones decided to quit because Renteria was dismissed, or if the Cubs decided they didn’t want to keep him, but I assume that’ll come out later on. Anno half-jokingly suggested Ozzie Guillen could take over there, since he was the third base coach on the 2003 Florida Marlins World Series championship team. As for the rest…

 

 

I’m looking at the coaches list (which very quickly has eliminated Ricky) and I can see the Cubs hanging on to several guys (assuming they want to stay) in Chris Bosio, recent hire John Mallee and guy-who-decided-to-stick-around Eric Hinske.  I don’t know if Maddon will keep Brandon Hyde around as his bench coach but Hyde used to work in the front office so he could just as easily be reassigned.  Jesse Rogers’ tweet doesn’t exactly name names, but I think those names are safe.  The collateral damage, then, was minimal thus far in terms of the coaching staff.

Then, of course, we have the fallout from around baseball and Cubs fans alike.  The feed on Cubs Facebook is pretty hilarious.   We also have Ken Rosenthal reporting about the potential tampering charges that the Rays may (or may not) file against the Cubs due to the incredibly convenient timing of the initial opt out and the fast negotiations.  Some fans think what the Cubs and Maddon did to Rick Renteria was unethical.  I will admit that I don’t like that Renteria was made to be the fall guy through no fault of his own, but look at it this way:

 

 

That tells you several things about this front office:

  1. They are always looking to upgrade even if it causes some temporary (or even long-lasting) strife.
  2. They do care about the individual (check out the timeline where Jed Hoyer flew to meet with Renteria soon after Joe Maddon opted out) but like Spock said in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few (or the one); and the front office will always ensure that the needs of the whole organization are taken care of above all else.
  3. If there’s someone that they absolutely must have, Theo and Jed will act swiftly to make it happen.

Cubs Den had a great quickie guest post about the tampering earlier.  My thoughts are that these executives are a bit too smart to get caught red-handed so easily, which was why Theo’s statement in the wake of Renteria’s firing was so well done.  He established a timeline, as Rosenthal also reported, that illustrated when the Cubs found out about the opt-out, when they went out to talk to Renteria to explain the situation, and when they finally got into contact with the agent to get the wheels moving.  Of course they could be fabricating all this, but I am going to say that will be very difficult to prove.  EVEN if there was tampering, I don’t agree that the Cubs will have to fear losing one of their top ten prospects for compensation.  I look at Ozzie Guillen’s trade to the Marlins, for example, and although the White Sox didn’t really want him anymore, they still grabbed some compensation in the form of two unremarkable prospects.  Theo Epstein was “traded” for the poor man’s Chris Carpenter, who was an interesting but hardly elite prospect.  Maybe the Cubs lose Dan Vogelbach but I wouldn’t bet on much more than that.  And that’s if the Rays and MLB can even prove anything, although MLB has a tendency to bend the rules to its benefit (see the Alex Rodriguez Biogenesis debacle).

MaddonRenteria1I have to double back and say that I don’t like how many people are quickly discounting Rick Renteria’s feelings in all this.  Yes, he did a great job.  No, he is not Joe Maddon.  Yes, he will still get paid rather well for two years even though he technically no longer has a job.  Yes, he will likely get more opportunities to manage when an opening comes up (the Minnesota Twins have the only vacancy and they seem to be interested to some extent).  Just like many other Cubs fans, I’m thrilled to have the Cubs being managed by Joe Maddon going forward.  But I think it’s okay to be thrilled about the future while empathizing for a guy who lost his job because he wasn’t Joe Maddon.  It’s what makes us human.  I’m sure the millions in severance pay dollars will help, but from a pure principle point of view, it has to be hurtful and frustrating for Renteria.  It’s akin to Joe Q. Public being passed up for promotion or losing his job because a big hot shot just became available.  Yes, it’s a business and that’s what happens to help the bottom line and to grow the business, but that doesn’t mean the person has to feel good about it, and you can’t really begrudge me for feeling bad for Ricky.  I didn’t think the Cubs had the gall to do this, but they proved me wrong.  Logically, given the brainpower running the franchise at the moment, they have a very good reason for this move, and we probably don’t have to explain what an excellent and respected (at least before today) manager Joe Maddon is.  And the good has to outweigh the bad, which as I outlined previously includes minimal collateral damage and hurting Rick Renteria’s feelings.  Feel bad for Ricky, but do look at the bigger picture, which hopefully includes a perennial contender.

I may also be rationalizing here, but I don’t believe that Joe Maddon is really at fault here.  The Rays were obligated to tell him he had an opt out and he chose to use it because he knew his own value.  At any moment any one of the 29 other teams could have fired their managers and replaced them with Maddon (well, maybe not the San Francisco Giants), but the Cubs saw an opportunity and reportedly went through the right channels to express their interests with about as much courtesy to Rick Renteria that they could afford.  I’m sure Maddon and Renteria respect each other but I don’t think they’re too personally connected.  In the real world, if Candidate A holds a position but his company chooses to hire Candidate B, who has a longer and more impressive track record, to take over that position for a huge sum of money, unless Candidate B is some kind of saint, he’s not going to refuse the money or the prestige of leading that company to growth.  Joe Maddon did something that most of the billions of other humans on the planet probably would have done in their own lines of work.  And after some reflection, I believe Rick Renteria will also be well-taken care of, even if he ends up not liking the Cubs for a few years.

Looking towards the future, let’s check out a video and some pictures of a literal rebuild in progress:

 

 

As Wrigley Field is rebuilt into something more modern and just as spectacular as the vintage ball park used to be, we have to remind ourselves that the Cubs under Tom Ricketts and Theo Epstein are always in the business of improving the Cubs and turning them into the powerhouse that this fan base deserves.  The Wrigley renovations, the building of an enviable farm system, and the switch into high gear with financial flexibility and the first wave of impact players gracing the big stage, along with the best available manager in all of baseball?

Yes please.

 

Please subscribe to our blogs (info here) and follow us on Facebook and Twitter!

Comments

Leave a comment
  • Based on what Ozzie has previously said, he's not coming here until the clubhouse is replaced. Also, I doubt that he's going back to his 2002 position.

    The difference between Maddon and Theo is that Theo was under contract, and the Cubs had to ask for permission, which was given only because it was supposedly for a promotion. As previously discussed, Maddon had an unconditional out. Any Tampa allegation has been written off as "sour grapes."

  • In reply to jack:

    Well, there's this...

    http://www.sportingnews.com/mlb/story/2014-10-27/ozzie-guillen-cubs-joe-maddon

    The tampering thing is hard to figure out but I think the Cubs are mostly in the clear.

  • In reply to Rice Cube:

    That was just an excerpt from the linked Sun-Times article. Going to that, it looks like Ozzie was spouting off about a lot of stuff before the fact, including how he was still a good White Sox. And while he was talking about patching it up with Jerry, Jerry indicated that it was mostly an act, in that he called Ozzie in and said "Florida wants you now, do you want to take that? Goodbye."

    I'm not sure that Theo and Jed want the specter of Ozzie's uncontrollable mouth around their PR apparatus, especially after he screwed it up with the Cuban refugee community a couple of weeks after getting the Fla. job. But, anything is possible.

  • In reply to jack:

    Honestly the Ozzie thing is just a joke, I'm guessing Maddon will have other ideas in mind, or they just keep Brandon Hyde. Ozzie isn't exactly a terrible coach either and if he's just the bench or 3B coach he's less likely to be in front of a mike anyway.

  • In reply to Rice Cube:

    Probably the more interesting issue was in radio reports that Tampa Bay isn't going to release its coaches, which limits Maddon's choices somewhat.

Leave a comment