The Chicago Cubs officially introduced Joe Maddon as their new manager on Nov. 3. He is the 54th skipper in franchise history.
The Chicago Cubs officially introduced Joe Maddon as their new manager on Nov. 3.
Maddon made a bold prediction during his introductory press conference on Monday, saying the Cubs will make the postseason in 2015. He is the Cubs' 54th manager in franchise history, per MLB.com's Joey Nowak:
"The Cubs ushered in a new era of optimism with confidence and flair on Monday, introducing Joe Maddon as the franchise's 54th manager.
"With the highly-anticipated construction taking place at Wrigley Field -- Maddon's introductory news conference was held at the popular Cubby Bear bar nearby because of the ongoing renovation work -- and the already high hopes for the young Cubs, Maddon was talking postseason within a matter of minutes.
"'For me, I'm going to be talking playoffs next year,' Maddon said. 'I'm going to tell you that right now. Because I can't go to Spring Training and say any other thing. I'm just incapable of doing that. Why would you even report? It's all about setting your standards and your goals high, because if you don't set them high enough you might actually hit your mark.
"'We're going to set our mark high and I'm going to talk playoffs and World Series this year, and I'm going to believe it.'
"The former Rays manager agreed to a five-year, $25 million deal with the Cubs, who dismissed Rick Renteria on Friday following one season with the club. After three seasons focused on rebuilding, the Cubs shifted their direction to being more competitive with the hiring of Maddon. A two-time American League Manager of the Year in Tampa Bay, Maddon guided the Rays to six winning seasons in nine years in the tough AL East, reaching the World Series in 2008.
"Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein interviewed Maddon for the Red Sox's job in 2003, but instead picked Terry Francona, who had more Major League managerial experience. Francona led Boston to two World Series championships.
"'Comparing Joe now to when I interviewed him over a decade ago, he was always confident,' Epstein said. 'But it's now reached a new level, because he's done it and it's worked.
"'Joe is a combination of just about everything we look for in a manager. Everyone associates him with new-school because they've used analytics in Tampa and he's so open-minded and so progressive. But this is an old-school baseball guy with a wealth of knowledge..it's hard to find that. It's hard to find old-school and new-school in the same package.'
"The Cubs dismissed Renteria after one season not because of anything he did, but because of what Epstein believes Maddon can do. On Friday, Epstein said Maddon 'may be as well-suited as anyone in the industry to manage the challenges that lie ahead of us.'
"Maddon became available when he took advantage of a clause to opt out of his contract with the Rays.
"'We were caught with a dilemma on our hands,' Epstein said. 'In reconciling that, we had to think about what ultimately my responsibility is, and that's to do the right thing for the Cubs organization as a whole. I think we owe it to our fans to always try to have the best. It's a very unique opportunity when someone like Joe Maddon becomes available, and I don't think I'd be doing my job if we didn't pounce on that.'
"Maddon, 60, spent 12 years at the Minor League level as a manager or instructor before being promoted to the Angels' Major League staff as a bullpen coach in May 1994. He continued his move up, becoming the first base coach in 1995 and bench coach in '96. He never played in the big leagues after four Minor League seasons at the Class A level."
According to ESPN, Maddon is on board on a five-year, $25 million deal.
For his part, MLB.com's Phil Rogers believes the arrival of Maddon comes at a good time for the Cubs:
"His timing couldn't be better.
"After a three-year talent roundup by Theo Epstein's front office, the Cubs are far better positioned for a run near the top of the National League than any time in the last century, since the years when Frank Chance was their manager.
"They've never had this much young talent on the 40-man roster and coming fast in the farm system, and as a bonus, they've got two of their best veterans (Anthony Rizzo and Starlin Castro) locked up contracts and probably have more payroll flexibility than any other team. Oh, and for good measure, they are getting their revenue streams cranked up with a stadium overhaul and new broadcast contracts.
"...Maddon is as intellgent as he is detailed, and he is as inspring as he is detailed. He has figured out how to get the most out of his players, and it has as much to do with how he treats them as people as it does seeking platoon advantages of using the numbers provided by his analytic staff.
"'When you have talented players, which we do, you put them in the right situations, where they're not afraid of making mistakes,' Maddon said. 'Any player who plays for me, or us, can never be afraid of making a mistake. That's the worst thing you can do -- to coach aggressiveness out of a player, to coach fear into a player.'
"You can come up with a long list of players who have performed better for Maddon than any of the other managers they've played for. For starters, consider how much better Carl Crawford, B.J. Upton, Matt Garza and Yunel Escobar have played for the Rays than elsewhere."
Maddon has amassed a 781-729 (.517) win-loss record in 11 MLB seasons with the then-California/Anaheim (now Los Angeles) Angels and Tampa Bay Rays, per Baseball-Reference.com.
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