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.