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.