Cubs Manager Joe Maddon and The Bigs very own Eugene McIntosh
CHICAGO- There's been a growing buzz about the relationship between Cubs manager Joe Maddon & President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein. In a recent conversation with the media, Epstein referred to Maddon as "remarkably consistent." Whether he was blowing smoke or not only Theo knows but it was the truth.
"I do my job...that's what I've done. Theo and I get along wonderfully and I respect his intelligence so much. Jed is a big part of that too as well as all of those guys. I have no issues with anything. I'm here to do my job and try to stay in my own lane and I feel good about it," Maddon said.
In his fifth season at the helm, Joe has delivered two wild card berths, two division titles, three trips to the NLCS, a pennant & a 2016 World Series title, obviously, Joe has exceeded expectations. (Not to mention he has a restaurant "Maddons" on the corner of Waveland and Clark that has a four-star Yelp rating)
Maddon is in the final year of his contract & is the highest paid manager in baseball at $6 million, a pretty penny indeed, but the question seems to remain will the teams inconsistent tendencies outweigh Joe's price tag?
One thing's for sure, the guys in the clubhouse have his back and enjoy what he brings to the family. When I asked a few of them to describe Maddon in one word, they all started with big smiles before expanding on their thoughts.
#JHey Jason Heyward- (Consistently Inconsistent) "He believes there's always more than one way to do things. Always about the approach & the process not the result. If you get after it the right way with the right mentality the results will show up. Be yourself and stay in the moment. That's him in as many words."
#ELMago Javier Baez- (Smart & Positive) "He's just always positive no matter what...good or bad. I love to play for him."
#Addie Addison Russell- (Exotic) "His thought process is exotic. The type of style & the way he talks to the guys you know. It's not the norm but he puts it across to where we understand it and we're all on the same page. So exotic would be the word."
#CJ Carl Edwards Jr.- (Brilliant) "The guy knows baseball. He's like a god that's why I say brilliant. I mean not too many managers are gonna do the things he does & succeed at it."
#TheNatural Kris Bryant- (Unique) "Joe definitely dances to the beat of his own drum."
#Stropie Pedro Strop- (Crazy & Fun) "He's always upbeat and has a cool attitude whether we're winning or losing. From themed road trips to all the different sayings...I love it man. He's fun."
#ALJr Albert Almora- (Leader) "I can think of so many words but in my case he's the only manager I've ever played for in the big leagues but the way he goes about it...he leads us but it's not very vocal so he lets us go out & be us. That's a big leadership role. He's the captain of the team. We're the ones playing but he deserves a lot of credit as well. He does it real quiet and that's pretty cool."
The consensus is Maddon doesn't have the quintessential manager swag/demeanor but the fact still remains that he gets the job done. Before Sunday's finale of the Cubs vs White Sox Crosstown Series Joe touched on the difference between the role of the manager of the past versus today.
"The game itself is still the same for me because you play it according to your skill level. If you've got guys that run you run more. If you've got power hitters you play for the power game. You have contact guys you might hit & run more. Pitch inside the same thing. You've gotta know your guys, what is their limit & when do they start losing their effectiveness. Within the bullpen you try to define roles as well as you possibly can. That's all the same. When I started out in the 1980's, the responsibilities of the manager communicating with the public were minimal compared to what they are right now. And beyond that information has exponentially jumped also...there's so much more to consider. You still have this inner instinct & expertise based on years of doing it and you combine that with all this new stuff that's coming out. I think it's to your best advantage as a manager today to take what you've learned and incorporate it with what you're hearing right now analytically wise and try to create this method on a daily basis that makes sense to both sides. You have to answer to your heart as well as your head."
Those that know Joe well know that that is Joe down to the bone gristle. Take parts & pieces of the classic managerial way of working and add them to his philosophical approach to add his on spice to it. The result has been four consecutive 90+ win seasons and looking to make it five. Only time will tell if that's enough to satisfy Theo and crew.