Last November the Cubs didn’t have a formal press conference to announce the hiring of Rick Renteria as he we recovering from hip surgery. This year, they used a tavern across the street from home plate for the backdrop as Wrigley is under construction.
Sitting in The Cubby Bear on Monday afternoon, Cubs President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein introduced Joe Maddon as the Cubs 54th manager in franchise history. It was Epstein’s third hire in four years and marks the third straight season the Cubs will head to spring training with a different leader in the dugout.
“Joe is a combination of everything we look for in a manager, Epstein said. “I think everyone associates him with new school because he is is so open minded and progressive but this is an old school baseball guy with a wealth of knowledge.”
Considered one of the top managers in the game, Maddon became available after opting out of his deal with Tampa—a clause triggered when Andrew Friedman, executive vice president of Baseball Operations, left for the Dodgers. Almost immediately after the announcement was made public, Maddon was tied to the Cubs and within hours, there were rumblings coming out of the Rays camp about tampering.
“This is pretty special for me,” Maddon said of being named the Cubs skipper. “I feel pretty fortunate to be in this position.”
Epstein and Cubs General Manager Jed Hoyer interviewed Maddon at an RV park near Pensacola. Maddon said they talked philosophy on how this whole thing was gonna work. “That was the most important thing, that’s what I needed to know,” he said. “That we were philosophically aligned. At the end of the day unless we are aligned philosophically, its not going to work. And we are.”
Maddon didn’t need to be “sold” to join the Cubs and admitted he found Wrigley Field “magical” when he visited with the Rays this summer. He was also impressed with the Cubs scouting and player development departments.
The Cubs new manager was asked about the Cubs not winning for 107 years and questioned if he was wondering what he had gotten himself into. He swatted that remark into the gap for extra bases.
“I love it. How could you not want to be in this seat. This is a one-in-a-107-year opportunity for me right now. Im way too optimistic to worry about things like that. I don’t focus on stuff like that. I refuse to. I would have never been the manager of the Devil Rays in the first place if I thought that way. Why would you not want to accept this challenge? In this city, in that ball park, under these circumstances, with this talent. Its an extraordinary moment not just in Cubs history, but in baseball, in today’s game this confluence of all these items coming together at the same time.”
When asked about the coaching staff, Maddon said nothing had been finalized and they would sit down and talk about the coaches. “I know the staff that’s in place, we could co-habitat pretty well but we do need to sit down and talk.”
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.
Maddon’s Coaching and Managerial Record
1981—Manager of Idaho Falls, Pioneer League, Rookie League
1982—Manager-Salem Angels, Class A Northwest League Manager of the Year
1983—Manager—Salem Angels, Class A
1984—Manager—Peoria Chiefs, Class A
1985—Manager-Midland Angels, AA
1986— Manager-Midland Angels, AA
1987-1993—California Angels minor league roving hitting instructor
1994—Started as Angels director of player development, named California Angels bullpen coach on May 17
1995—California Angels bench coach
1996—California Angels bench coach, first base coach and interim manger for 22 games (8-14) when John McNamara was sidelined with a blood clot in his leg.
1997-2005—California Angels bench coach. In ’99, replaced Terry Collins as manager on Sept. 3 and went 19-10.
2006-2014—Tamp Bay Rays manager
2015—Chicago Cubs manager