The Chicago Cubs will officially announce on Monday that they've hired Joe Maddon to become the next manager of their ball club. Earlier today, they relieved Rick Renteria, their former manager, of his duties to allow Maddon to take over the position.
The 60-year-old Maddon has been a target of the Cubs ever since he opted out of his contract with the Tampa Bay Rays. It was even reported, by multiple outlets, that Chicago hired Maddon before Game 7 of the World Series on Wednesday, however, other outlets could not confirm. Today, however, they officially hired the longtime Rays skipper, and with very good reason.
Maddon began his professional coaching career in 1981 and managed six seasons in the minor leagues, posting a record of 279-339 over that stretch. In 1993, he became a coach for the then-California Angels, and filled in as interim manager on multiple occasions.
In 2004, he was in the running to become the Red Sox manager, which eventually went to Terry Francona. Then, in 2005, Maddon was hired by the Rays, and the rest, as they say, was history. In his first two seasons with Tampa, the team lost a combined 197 games. But in 2008, he took the team all the way to the World Series. Although they were bested by the Phillies, Maddon won the AL Manager of the Year.
Since, Maddon has been one of the most respected managers in the major leagues. He has kept the Rays (with help from the front office, of course) in the hunt every year and is a leader in the clubhouse.
It was obviously a tough situation for the Cubs to fire Rick Renteria after one season with the team, even though they went 73-89, their first season since 2010 they didn't lose 90 games. However, it was worth it and necessary for the Cubs to fire him. It's not too often a manager as good as Maddon comes around, and when he does, you have to act on it. The Cubs did the right thing in doing so.
"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," Cubs President Theo Epstein said in a statement.
Maddon will be brought with the task of bringing the Cubs back to the postseason. The Cubs have one of the best farm systems in baseball (if not the best) and as their talent starts to come to the major leagues, a good voice in the clubhouse is definitely important. There is no better person to do so than Maddon, who has had to work with many rookies and young talent with Tampa.
The Boston Red Sox and Koji Uehara have agreed to a two-year, $18 million contract extension, the team announced late Thursday afternoon.
Uehara, who turns 40 next April, is entering his seventh season in the Majors since coming over from Japan. Over the past two years, he has been pitching with the Red Sox. They signed him to a two-year, $9.25 million deal during the 2012-2013 offseason. With the Red Sox, Uehara was named the 2013 ALCS MVP and was chosen to pitch for the AL All-Star team this year.
The right-hander had a solid season in 2014, but struggled down the stretch, allowing ten runs in 15 2/3 innings pitched in August and September due to arm fatigue. That should be a bit concerning for the Red Sox, who are now paying him to a $9 million average annual value. Overall, however, Uehara posted really good numbers, going 6-5 with a 2.52 ERA in 64 1/3 innings pitched, saving 26 games.
Over his six year career, Uehara is 15-15 with a 2.44 ERA in 350 1/3 innings pitched. He started serving as closer last season with Boston, and has since finished 90 games, over half his career total. Uehara relies on an excellent splitter and a good mix of pitches to rack up the strikeouts. Although he doesn't throw hard, Uehara has a career 10.6 strikeouts-per-nine ratio.
Uehara is likely the first of many moves to come for the Red Sox this offseason, as they look to retool their team back to their winning ways in 2013. Boston came out very well at the trade deadline, and a good offseason (including a signing of a good starting pitcher), should make them at least a contender for the postseason in 2015. There is little doubt that they will finish with 90 losses again.
The San Francisco Giants, defeating the Kansas City Royals, have won their third World Series championship in five seasons.
Madison Kyle Bumgarner was the story.
Bumgarner, almost singlehandedly, helped to clinch the San Francisco victory in Game 1, Game 5, and Game 7, pitching deep into all three games, including a historic Game 7 performance to take the title.
With the Giants winning 3-2 after four and a half innings, manager Bruce Bochy summoned Madison Bumgarner from the bullpen. Kaufmann Stadium erupted with boos. Bumgarner had crushed the Royals twice already, and the home crowd did not want him to do it once again.
Over the last nine World Series Game 7s prior to this one, the home team was 9-0. Bumgarner's job was to shut the Royals down for two or three innings to get the Giants to the back end of their bullpen. As it turns out, Bumgarner was the back end of the bullpen.
After allowing Omar Infante to single leading off, Bumgarner was nearly flawless. He retired 14 straight Royals to get closer to the Giants eighth title in franchise history.
After some shutdown pitching from Kansas City's bullpen of Kelvin Herrera, Wade Davis, and Greg Holland, Bumgarner entered the bottom of the ninth with a 3-2 lead. Eric Hosmer struck out and Billy Butler popped out.
Then stepped in Alex Gordon, arguably the best player on the Royals roster and one of the best in the American League. Gordon worked the count, then hit a shallow fly ball into center field, which Giants center fielder Gregor Blanco misplayed. It got past him and allowed Gordon to get to third base.
Salvador Perez had a chance to tie the game with two outs and a runner on third. He had a chance to be the hero. But Madison Bumgarner could not allow that. Perez, on a 2-2 pitch, hit a popup to third baseman Pablo Sandoval for the third and final out of the game and the series.
Madison Bumgarner was not just good in Game 7. He tossed seven innings of one-run baseball in the Giants 7-1 Game 1 victory. He tossed the first World Series shutout since 2003 in Game 5, allowing just four hits, striking out eight. And, just three days later after that 117 pitch performance, Bumgarner threw 68 more in his five shutout innings in Game 7.
Over his 21 innings pitched during the World Series, Bumgarner allowed just one run, good for a 0.43 ERA. Royals hitters batted just .127 against him. He struck out seventeen. Without question, Bumgarner was named the World Series MVP, the first pitcher to be named MVP since Cole Hamels in 2008.
On the other side of the field, it was a tough ending for the Royals. Kansas City, the long shots, had taken their first postseason birth in 29 years and lived it to the fullest. They came back in the AL Wild Card Game, they swept the Orioles and Angels, and they worked their ways into the hearts of Americans across the country. Losing Game 7, on your home turf, is definitely a tough one.
Bumgarner was not the only top performer from the team based in San Francisco. Hunter Pence hit .444 (12-for-27) with a homer and five runs batted in, along with very solid defense. Pablo Sandoval hit .429 (12-for-28) with three extra base hits and four runs batted in. Without Bumgarner's absolute monster series, either Pence or Sandoval would have been a strong candidate to win the MVP award.
Congratulations to the San Francisco Giants on winning the 2014 World Series!
St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Oscar Taveras has died in a car crash in his hometown of Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic tonight, according to multiple reports, which were confirmed by his agent. His car veered off the road. Taveras' girlfriend has also passed away in the accident. He was 22-years-old.
"Obviously, we have deep condolences to his family. We are still waiting for more details before issuing a full statement," Cardinals GM John Mozeliak told Jennifer Langosch of MLB.com.
Taveras was baseball's third-best prospect prior to the 2014 season and broke into the big leagues midway through this season. He was able to play in 80 games with the Cardinals and his future was regarded to be so bright. Over 248 plate appearances this season, he hit .239/.278/.312 with three homers and 22 runs batted in.
Many thought that Taveras would have an excellent career. He was just 22-years-old and definitely had the best of his career in front of him. He signed with the Cardinals in 2008 and has slowly developed into a player many thought would eventually turn into a superstar. Some compared him to Vladimir Guerrero due to his skill of effectively hitting pitches outside the strike zone.
One of the most touching things is that Taveras ended his baseball career on a high note. In Game 2 of the National League Championship Series against the Giants, Taveras lifted a dramatic pinch-hit home run in the seventh inning to tie up the game. The Cardinals would eventually win on Kolten Wong's walk-off homer in the ninth.
I send my condolences to Taveras' family and friends on their loss in a very sad day across baseball.
Longtime Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon has exercised an opt-out clause in his contract and will be leaving Tampa, Buster Olney of ESPN.com first reported earlier Friday afternoon.
Maddon was given an opportunity to opt-out of his contract when general manager Andrew Friedman left the team to go to the Dodgers, based on a special clause, as Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reported. He was allowed a two-week window following Friedman's resignation to make a decision, as he told Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.
Very early speculation was that Maddon could head to the Dodgers, due to his ties with their now-President of Baseball Operations in Friedman. However, Don Mattingly will continue to manage the team in 2015, Friedman said. Joe Maddon's availability will not change that. Other speculations included the New York Mets, but owner Jeff Wilpon told Heyman that they would not be changing managers. The Cubs also seem like they could be a fit for Maddon as well.
It's been a rough start to the offseason for the Rays, who have lost both their brains in the front office in Andrew Friedman and their brains on the field in Joe Maddon. It will take a lot to replace those two, as they were vital in the Rays continued success. It will be hard for them to come back into contention in 2015 without both Maddon and Friedman. But the Rays are a forward-thinking team and could be able to pull something off.
The only current managerial job that is open is of the Minnesota Twins, however, they appear to be close to finding a replacement as they have narrowed their search to three candidates. Even though the opportunities appear bleak, Maddon would still want to manage in 2015.
"I'd love to manage," Maddon told Rosenthal. If the right opportunity does not present itself, I would want to work. But I would hope it would be a managing position. If not, there are other things I can do that would make me an even better manager when I get the opportunity again."
Maddon's agent, Alan Nero, told Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times that he believed that Maddon will "manage somewhere" in 2015.
Maddon has been managing the Tampa Bay Rays since 2006. In nine years under the leadership of Maddon, the Rays have gone 754-705 (.517) and made the postseason four times, including an American League pennant in 2008. The 60-year-old Maddon is a native of Hazelton, Pennsylvania, and has won two American League Manager of the Year awards in both 2008 and 2011. His experience and leadership make him one of the most respected managers in the game.
One Giant Step: Unsung hero Travis Ishikawa helps San Francisco win game five, NL pennant against Cardinals
With the 637th pick (21st Round) in the 2002 MLB Draft, the San Francisco Giants selected outfielder Travis Ishikawa out of Federal Way High School.
Ishikawa was one of just two players from that 21st Round to make it to the major leagues (Andy LaRoche). He debuted in 2006 with the Giants, and went 7-for-24 over his first 12 career major league games. He came back in 2008 and played three more seasons with San Francisco, mostly as a utility first baseman. He is the owner of a World Series ring, which he earned with the Giants in 2010.
Ishikawa did not reappear in the majors in 2011 and bounced around with the Brewers, Orioles, Yankees, and Pirates since. The Giants re-signed Ishikawa to a minor league deal after Pittsburgh released him earlier this year. He played in 47 games, hitting a .274 clip with two homers and 15 runs batted in.
It was Ishikawa, the player who appeared in parts of seven seasons, that came up in the bottom of the ninth inning against Michael Wacha, with runners on first and second. The rest, as we say, is history.
As Ishikawa rounded the bases with Joe Buck shouting, "The Giants win the pennant!" and everyone going absolutely nuts, a familiar scene was pained in your mind.
The year was 1951. Bobby Thomson was at the plate with two runners on in the last half of the ninth inning. Thomson hit a home run to left field, now known as the "shot heard around the world." Thomson's homer clinched the National League pennant. Ishikawa's did the same. The difference, however, was that Thomson was a three-time All-Star over his career. Ishikawa will likely never be.
The Giants outplayed the Cardinals this series. They played real well under pressure, just like they did in 2010 and 2012, when they captured the World Series championships. The Giants may have gotten more bounces than the Cardinals, but that is what happens when you win a playoff series. Overall, they played better baseball.
The Most Valuable Player award did not go to Ishikawa. It went to shutdown starter Madison Bumgarner, who went 1-0 with a 1.72 ERA in 15 2/3 innings pitched, in which he allowed just three earned runs, striking out 12. Thus far, Bumgarner has been fantastic this postseason, going 2-1 with a 1.42 ERA in 31 2/3 innings pitched, striking out 28. When he has started, the Giants have been beaten just once.
Congratulations to the Giants on winning the National League pennant. They now take on the Kansas City Royals in the World Series. This is the first time since 2002 that both Wild Cards made it to the series. Once again, congratulations to the San Francisco Giants.
The Texas Rangers have hired Jeff Banister to become their next manager, they announced today.
The Rangers have been looking for a manager since Ron Washington's resignation prior to the end of the season. They narrowed the field to three, as interim manager Tim Bogar and Indians bullpen coach Kevin Cash were announced by the team to be finalists, along with Banister. They also interviewed two other internal candidates in Mike Maddux and Steve Buechele, along with three other external candidates: Red Sox bench coach Torey Lovullo, White Sox third base coach Joe McEwing, and former player Alex Cora.
Banister has been serving as the Pittsburgh Pirates bench coach for the past four seasons under Clint Hurdle and has been a prime candidate to become a manager. He has been with the Pirates organization for the past 29 seasons, ever since they drafted him in the 25th round of the 1986 MLB Draft. He made it to the big leagues for one at bat in 1991, singling.
From 1994 to 1999, Banister served as a minor league coach within the Pirates system. After working as both the Pirates major and minor league field coordinator before becoming the Pirates interim bench coach on August 8, 2010, a position he has held since.
"I want to thank the Texas Rangers for giving me this opportunity," Banister said in a statement. "I am elated to have the chance to make an impact on the organization, and I look forward to getting started on that task. "I also want to express my gratitude to the Pittsburgh Pirates for the last 29 years. My experiences in that organization have prepared me well for this new opportunity, and I thank all of the individuals who have poured into my life along the way."
Banister battled bone cancer in High School and was paralyzed from a home plate collision during a junior college game in Texas. The 49-year-old Houston native has come a long way since then.
He will have his work cut out for him. The Rangers finished 67-95 in 2014, battling a ton of injuries and underperformance. This was the team that did win the American League in both 2010 and 2011 and won 91 games in 2013, so there is a possibility that Banister can get them back on track.
Royal Flush: Kansas City barbecues the Baltimore Orioles to advance to their first World Series since 1985
The Kansas City Royals are representing the American League in the World Series.
The last time you could say that the year was 1985. George Brett was the third baseman and Bret Saberhagen won 20 games. Since that magical year, they have not been in the postseason.
Their miraculous run will continue. The Royals, now winners of eight straight since the beginning of the postseason, have swept the Baltimore Orioles, clinching their ticket to the World Series with a 2-1 win in game four. This team won the American League Wild Card Game, swept the American League Division Series, and now has swept the American League Championship Series.
This is a great accomplishment for many. First, Dayton Moore. The general manager of this club built this team from the ground up. The 47-year-old Moore grew up a Royals fan in Witchita, Kansas. And since 2006, he has been the general manager. They have posted a .500 winning percentage or better just twice, this season and last. And now, their homegrown talent brings them to the World Series.
Alex Gordon was selected by the Royals with the second overall pick in the 2005 MLB Draft, picked in the same draft as Andrew McCutchen, Ryan Braun, Troy Tulowitzki, Ryan Zimmerman, Justin Upton, Matt Garza, and others. That selection of Gordon was before Moore was GM. But it was the centerpiece of this World Series bound Royals team nine years later.
Mike Moustakas, Billy Butler, and Eric Hosmer added to Gordon through the draft. Salvador Perez and Yordano Ventura came through international signings. Alcides Escobar and Lorenzo Cain came through the Zack Greinke trade that sent the hurler to Milwaukee. James Shields was acquired from Tampa. And Jeremy Guthrie and Jason Vargas were all added through free agency.
The Royals barbecued (pun intended) the Orioles in this series. They won the first two games in Camden Yards by a combined score of 14-10. Then, they took their pitching home to Kansas City and won on consecutive days by a final score of 2-1. Their bullpen was absolutely their most valuable asset. They allowed just two runs (both in game one) in 16 innings. If the Royals were winning after their starter came out of the game, it would end up leading to a Kansas City victory.
Speaking of valuable, Cain, the former Brewers prospect, was the ALCS MVP. During the series, Cain was 8-for-15 (.533) with two doubles, an RBI, a stolen base, and a 1.548 OPS. He added to his fantastic performance with great defense in center field.
The Royals will be going to the World Series. How can you not love the sport of baseball?
The Los Angeles Dodgers have named Rays general manager Andrew Friedman their President of Baseball Operations today in a rather surprising announcement.
Former general manager Ned Colletti will remain in the organization as a senior advisor to president Stan Kasten. As for the club in Tampa, president Matthew Silverman will now oversee the baseball operations. Former vice president of business operations Brian Auld will now fill Silverman's role as president.
Here's the statement from Friedman, who remembers his time with the Rays.
“As I embark upon my next journey, I have only thanks and gratitude to the Rays organization and the Tampa Bay region for a wonderful 10 years together. I am truly grateful for the opportunity to have been part of something so special and for the passion and support of this exceptional fan base. The Rays organization is loaded with talent from ownership to players and everyone between. We were able to create together an unbelievable culture that no doubt will continue, and I am absolutely confident that the successes we achieved will continue into the future.”
The Rays front office will obviously be taking a significant blow with the loss. Friedman was promoted to general manager of Tampa Bay in 2005 at the age of 28. Since then, he has built the team from the ground up, with a minimal payroll. He has led the team to excellence. The Rays have made the playoffs four times since 2008, including winning the American League pennant that season, when Friedman won Sporting News' Executive of the Year.
Friedman was not under contract with the Rays, so there will be no compensation heading from Los Angeles to Tampa Bay.
Friedman has been able to lead the Rays to success with a very small amount of money to work with. Just two times during his tenure have the Rays payroll exceeded $70 million, which included the Rays' franchise-record $76 million payroll in 2014. Even with the Dodgers expecting to hold back on the payroll, Friedman can expect to have a payroll more than double that amount. You can only imagine all the freedom he will have to bring the Dodgers to postseason success.
There is some speculation that the Dodgers may attempt to acquire Rays manager Joe Maddon from the club to replace Don Mattingly, but Maddon "absolutely" wants to continue his tenure with the Rays.
"I want to continue to be a Ray, absolutely," Maddon told Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times. "They have to want me to be a Ray too. I’m really embedded here pretty well. The roots are pretty strong. We have a great infrastructure here. We have a great operation. We have great people. There’s so much to like. There’s only one negative. That’s the ballpark. It’s a big negative. But that’s about it."
Dodgers president Stan Kasten offered his praise for Friedman.
"Andrew Friedman is one of the youngest and brightest minds in the game today and we are very fortunate to have him join our organization," Kasten said. "The success he has had over the past nine years in molding the Tampa Bay Rays team has been incredible."