Trick or treat Cub fans?
Maddon will be named the Cubs 54th manager on Monday at the Cubby Bear, a Wrigleyville tavern near the Friendly Confines. The ballpark is not available due to construction. Maddon, who spent the past nine season with Tampa, became available when he was able to opt out of his contract due to a clause activated by Andrew Friedman’s departure to the Dodgers.
The two-time AL Manager of the Year went 754-705 in nine years with Rays, including winning the AL pennant in 2008. The 60-year-old led Tampa to the playoffs four times and is 13-17 in the post season.
In a prepared release, the Cubs announced the firing of Rick Renteria, who had been the manager less than a year. The Cubs went 73-89 under Renteria in 2014 while SS Starlin Castro and 1B Anthony Rizzo had bounce-back seasons. Cubs started out 13-27 in mid-May but played .500 ball the rest of the season despite trading away 40 percent of the rotation for the third straight season.
Cubs President Theo Epstein explained the circumstances that led to the hiring of Maddon and the release of Renteria.
“Last Thursday, we learned that Joe Maddon - who may be as well suited as anyone in the industry to manage the challenges that lie ahead of us - had become a free agent. We confirmed the news with Major League Baseball, and it became public knowledge the next day. We saw it as a unique opportunity and faced a clear dilemma: be loyal to Rick or be loyal to the organization. In this business of trying to win a world championship for the first time in 107 years, the organization has priority over any one individual. We decided to pursue Joe.”
“While there was no clear playbook for how to handle this type of situation, we knew we had to be transparent with Rick before engaging with Joe. Jed (Hoyer) flew to San Diego last Friday and told Rick in person of our intention to talk to Joe about the managerial job. Subsequently, Jed and I provided updates to Rick via telephone and today informed him that we will indeed make a change.”
Epstein praised Renteria for his time as the Cubs manager.
”On behalf of Tom Ricketts and Jed Hoyer, I thank Rick for his dedication and commitment, and for making the Cubs a better organization. Rick's sterling reputation should only be enhanced by his season as Cubs manager. We challenged Rick to create an environment in which our young players could develop and thrive at the big league level, and he succeeded. Working with the youngest team in the league and an imperfect roster, Rick had the club playing hard and improving throughout the season. His passion, character, optimism and work ethic showed up every single day.”
“Rick deserved to come back for another season as Cubs manager, and we said as much when we announced that he would be returning in 2015. We met with Rick two weeks ago for a long end-of-season evaluation and discussed plans for next season. We praised Rick to the media and to our season ticket holders. These actions were made in good faith.”
The Cubs have offered Renteria a choice of other positions with the team but he is also free to go as he has two years left on his three-year deal.
“Rick often said he was the beneficiary of the hard work of others who came before him. Now, in the young players he helped, we reap the benefits of his hard work as we move forward. He deserved better and we wish him nothing but the best.”