Tag Archives: Joe Maddon

Levine: Jim Hickey To Interview For Cubs’ Vacant Pitching Coach Job

By Bruce Levine– CHICAGO (CBS) — Former Rays pitching coach Jim Hickey will interview for the same position with the Cubs on Monday, sources confirmed to 670 The Score. Hickey left the Rays at the end of this past season after spending 11 years in Tampa Bay, the first eight working under Joe Maddon before the latter took over as manager as the Cubs. The 56-year-old Hickey has already had conversations with the Cardinals and Red Sox about their vacant pitching coach positions as well, sources said. Hickey has compiled a quality resume in his coaching career. In Tampa Bay, the Rays finished in the top five of the American League in team ERA in eight of the past 10 seasons. Prior to his time in Tampa Bay, Hickey spent 2 1/2 seasons as Houston’s pitching coach. The Astros finished second in the National League in team ERA under Hickey’s guidance in both 2005 and 2006. Hickey is also widely respect for his work developing young pitchers and has a reputation for getting the best out of relievers who have fallen on hard times. That attribute could prove beneficial for the Cubs, who helplessly watched as reliever Justin Wilson flopped and lost his control after being acquired in a trade deadline deal. Hector Rondon has also gone through some ups and downs with the Cubs. Both could use some new direction. The Cubs’ job opened when they chose to not renew the contract of Chris Bosio over the weekend. Bosio has been contacted by multiple teams already about a new job, according to sources. If Hickey goes elsewhere, the Cubs may go with a lower-profile name in their quest for another pitching guru. The Cubs’ pitching support system is highly respected within the game. Bullpen coach Lester Strode, catching and scouting coordinator Mike Borzello and run prevention coordinator Tommy Hottovy are considered experts in pitching preparation and player relationships. Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score and CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.

Cubs’ Joe Maddon Savors His Time With John Lackey

By Chris Emma— CHICAGO (CBS) – Long before Joe Maddon saw John Lackey as a gutsy veteran, he got to know a young pitcher establishing himself in his big league career. Maddon was there for the baseball upbringing of a 23-year-old Lackey back in 2002 with the Anaheim Angels. As the team’s bench coach, Maddon could already see the fiery demeanor that would come to define Lackey’s 16-year career and also came to know the man behind the intense scowl. On Thursday night, the Cubs’ season ended with an 11-1 loss to the Dodgers in Game 5 the National League Championship Series. Lackey entered in the fourth inning of a 7-0 game and pitched two innings of relief before walking off the mound for what may be the final time in his big league career. Lackey turns 39 on Monday and just completed the final year of his contract with the Cubs. Maddon knows retirement is certainly possible for Lackey, so he took a trip down memory lane to 2002 with those World Series champion Angels. “John and I go way back,” Maddon began. “John and I were together with the Angels in the 2002 World Series team. At that time I was the bench coach. The bench coach has more liberties as opposed to the manager. So I used to be able to go out drinking with the boys a little bit back then. So John and (Brendan) Donnelly and (Ben) Weber, and all those guys, Adam Kennedy, great guys. I got to know them really well. “So it’s really special for me with John. I think that might be it — I’m not a hundred percent sure he’s not coming back next year. But the competitive component, what you see when he’s pitching right now, it’s nothing new. When he gets upset or the histrionics or gesticulations or whatever, that’s John. But he’s always been that dude. And if you’re his teammate, you absolutely love him. He’s got the biggest heart in the world.” Lackey is a three-time World Series champion with a career 188-147 record and 3.92 ERA. His was a big-game performer in the playoffs, registering a 3.36 ERA in 28 playoff appearances, including 23 starts. “Hopefully it’s not (the end of his career), but if it is, having that chance to be with him in that moment is pretty special for me,” Maddon said. “Maybe not special for him, but special for me.” Chris Emma covers the Bears, Chicago’s sports scene and more for CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @CEmma670 and like his Facebook page.

Emma: After Unfulfilling Finish, Cubs Must Fill Voids

By Chris Emma—

CHICAGO (CBS) – The excruciating roller coaster ride that is postseason baseball is something to behold, with a palpable buzz throughout a ballpark. Those lucky enough to be there hang with every pitch, each potentially a defining moment.

Wrigley Field had none of that in in Game 5 of the National League Championship Series on Thursday, when the Cubs were crushed 11-1 by the new kings of the senior circuit, the Dodgers. Ace left-hander Clayton Kershaw was spotted a run before he could take the mound and had a 7-0 lead by the third inning, with the biggest blow being a Kike’ Hernández grand slam, his second of three homers on the night.

The ballpark went from subdued to stunned in that back-breaking third inning, gradually emptying for good in 2017.

“Wait til next year” has different meaning these days in Wrigleyville. No longer is it made a mockery as the Cubs are likely still on the front of of their run of World Series contention. Anthony Rizzo is 28, while Kris Bryant, Javier Baez, Addison Russell, Kyle Schwarber, Albert Almora Jr. and Ian Happ are all 25 or younger.

“I looked at the birth certificates of the players playing positions tonight,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “I loved it. Heads up. We’re going to keep getting better.”

But next year’s Cubs need some changes, because this year’s group was badly exposed by the much better Dodgers. The Cubs pinned a 43-45 first half on the fatigue of last fall and conceded to being worn down this postseason, but there were fundamental flaws exposed by the end of this unfulfilling run.

A trade could be coming this offseason as president of baseball operations Theo Epstein looks to ensure a different result in 2018. The Cubs have a surplus of young position players and some glaring needs, starting in the rotation.

Jake Arrieta is likely to get a major contract somewhere other than Chicago, and John Lackey’s time in a Cubs uniform is expected to be over, seemingly by retirement. That leaves two voids in the rotation. Mike Montgomery may fill one, but Epstein may be looking to the trade market for another top-line starter. That’s where 23-year-olds in Happ or Almora could offer a strong return and be sold to the highest bidder.

For Epstein, the phone calls should start with an 813 area code to Tampa with the hopes of landing Rays ace Chris Archer, who’s a 29-yearold two-time All-Star good for 200 quality innings each season.

The Cubs also must identify a lead-off man for their lineup. Dexter Fowler was sorely missed atop the batting order in 2017. For all the talented hitters in their linep, the Cubs’ most effective lead-off man this season was Rizzo, whose presence is needed in the heart of the order.

There aren’t prime options available on the free-agent market, so perhaps the Cubs could get creative with a trade. Marlins outfielder Christian Yelich, 25, should lead that wish list. He has a career .369 on-base percentage and is controllable through 2022. Meanwhile, the Marlins are looking to unload salary under new management and start fresh.

What was clear throughout the postseason is that the Cubs need to make major changes in their bullpen, which doesn’t compare to what the Dodgers, Indians, Yankees and many more boast.

Closer Wade Davis and left-hander Brian Duensing proved to be the most reliable bullpen arms in October, but Maddon was left throwing darts blindly at the wall in crucial situations. The Cubs must invest in the bullpen to come back stronger next season.

As the party raged on in the visiting clubhouse, Maddon gathered his team around in the spacious home quarters and spoke one final time and brought closure to the season.

“I wanted them to know, listen, three consecutive years when there’s only one other game up on the scoreboard when you’re playing right now, I hope that’s not lost on anybody,” Maddon said. “That’s not easy to do.”

Then Maddon walked through Wrigley Field and by the smell of champagne overpowering the first-base concourse.

His 2017 Cubs were finished. He knows they need to be better in 2018.

“Our guys are so good at addressing needs in the offseason,” he said. “I really believe that’ll be fulfilled.”

Chris Emma covers the Bears, Chicago’s sports scene and more for CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @CEmma670 and like his Facebook page.

Cubs’ Theo Epstein Defends Joe Maddon: Criticism ‘Is Missing The Boat’

(CBS) Whether he intended to land there or not, Cubs manager Joe Maddon has found himself in the postseason spotlight. Twice in this National League Championship Series, Maddon has been ejected and then gone on a postgame rant in front of the national television cameras. Before and in between those histrionics in defending his Cubs, Maddon came under scrutiny for his tactical decisions regarding the use of his bullpen. One man who’s heard enough with such criticism is Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein, who defended Maddon in an interview on the Bernstein and Goff Show on 670 The Score on Thursday afternoon. “Anyone who thinks this series is about Joe Maddon or Dave Roberts is really missing the boat,” Epstein said. “It’s about the players executing and producing. Our whole organization is about the players. And sure, managers have an impact, but it’s largely overstated. The bottom line is when players produce, you get into favorable situations in the game, favorable matchups and you can do a lot of different things. And when we don’t play well, it can put a manager in a tough spot such as when guys in the bullpen, for example, who had really good regular seasons and pitched well down the stretch struggle in the postseason. It’s going to make any manager be in a tough spot.” The Cubs trail 3-1 against the Dodgers in the NLCS, with Game 5 looming at Wrigley Field on Thursday night. Chicago lost Game 2 when No. 5 starter John Lackey was asked to come on in relief in the ninth inning of a tie game. As Cubs star closer Wade Davis watch — Epstein confirmed Davis is and has been healthy — Lackey allowed the game-winning homer to Justin Turner. That decision led to much debate, which Epstein understands. Speaking generally and not to that decision solely, Epstein reminded not everyone in an organization is going to view each situation similarly. “Look, we’re obviously on record as saying we don’t always agree with everything that Joe does, with the same way he doesn’t agree with everything we do (in the front office),” Epstein said. “But the key to that kind of relationship is always being able to talk things through and try to use the collective wisdom of the whole organization in the end to get the right answer, to get better going forward. “But look what Joe’s done. You’re talking about a manager who’s got his team in the LCS three straight times. We have more regular season wins than any other club the last three years and we have more postseason wins than any other club the past three years. So that might be a little bit more valuable than the people looking at this like ‘This is Joe Maddon’s series, and when we lose, he’s lost.’ This is not the case.”

Ejected Cubs Manager Joe Maddon On Umpires’ Overturn: ‘Process Was Wrong’

By Chris Emma– CHICAGO (CBS) — Cubs manager Joe Maddon was given every chance to remain in the dugout for the conclusion of Game 4 of the National League Championship Series at Wrigley Field on Wednesday night. He was more focused on going down fighting for his team and getting his message across on what he considered a baseball injustice. In the eighth inning of his team’s tense 3-2 win against the Dodgers in Game 4 that staved off elimination, Maddon was ejected for the second time in this NLCS. This time, he was set off by the umpires overturning what initially had been ruled a strikeout of Dodgers outfielder Curtis Granderson, who swung through a low knuckle curveball from Cubs closer Wade Davis with two strikes. After Granderson and the Dodgers complained that he’d foul tipped it, the umpiring crew conferred and changed the call, which was non-reviewable. That sent Maddon storming out onto the field as Davis labored through a long inning en route to an eventual six-out save. He voiced his anger at just about every member of the six-person crew before finally getting tossed. Throughout the rant, the Cub showcased the replay on the video board that made it clear the final ruling was incorrect. Granderson ended up striking out on the next pitch after Maddon retreated to the clubhouse. Maddon vented postgame anyway after his on-field rage. “If Granderson hits the next one out, I may run out of the clubhouse in my jock strap,” Maddon said. “It was really that bad. You can’t permit that to happen. The process was wrong. The explanation was eventually — eventually —  it turned into hearing two sounds. “Not one of them saw a foul tip or thought it was a foul tip. It was based on two sounds. I totally cannot agree with that process whatsoever. When you have 40,000-something people, it’s late in the game. The other sound could’ve come from some lady screaming in the first row. I have no idea. But I can’t buy that process. “There’s no way – no way – I’m not getting ejected at that point. I got to make my point.” Contreras backed Maddon. “The ball never lies, so he struck out the next pitch,” Contreras said. Maddon’s rant came after he made the bold move to go to Davis in the top of the eighth inning with a 3-1 lead, asking him to save the Cubs’ season. Trust in the bullpen has been lost during a postseason of struggles, so Maddon gambled that Davis could get the job done. After allowing a solo homer to Justin Turner to cut the deficit to 3-2, Davis escaped the eighth inning with two Dodgers on by striking out Chase Utley. After walking Chris Taylor with one out in the ninth, he forced likely NL Rookie of the Year Cody Bellinger into a 4-6-3 double play. With the season hanging in the balance, Maddon managed like there was no tomorrow, and now there will be no tomorrow for Davis. After throwing 48 pitches – including 17 to earn the first of six outs – Davis is unavailable for Game 5 at Wrigley Field on Thursday, Maddon said. If the Cubs have a late lead, they’ll have to find somebody else for the save. The Cubs’ bullpen is fresh aside from Davis, with Brian Duensing the only other reliever to work in Game 4. He faced one batter and threw just two pitches. This means that Duensing, Carl Edwards Jr., Pedro Strop, Hector Rondon, Mike Montgomery and John Lackey are all available. If Maddon’s bold moves from Wednesday are any indication, the Cubs could even turn to an available starter to force a flight out to Los Angeles for Game 6. On this night, Maddon and the Cubs with a hard-fought win. After three games of lifeless baseball, the Cubs came out swinging back at the Dodgers. The energy in the ballpark was electric, building a palpable tension as Davis fought for those final outs. As Davis made his manager’s bet a winner, Maddon watched from the clubhouse in his jockstrap as the Cubs survived to play another day. Chris Emma covers the Bears, Chicago’s sports scene and more for CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @CEmma670 and like his Facebook page.

Cubs Manager Joe Maddon Ejected For Second Time In NLCS

(CBS) For the second time in the National League Championship Series, Cubs manager Joe Maddon won’t watch the game’s end from the dugout. Maddon was ejected as the Cubs led 3-2 over the Dodgers in the eighth inning of Game 4 on Wednesday night. Maddon was enraged after umpires huddled for several minutes and decided to overturn what had initially been ruled strike three on Dodgers outfielder Curtis Granderson, calling his swing through the pitch it a foul tip instead. Granderson had protested that he’d made contact off Cubs closer Wade Davis on a low breaking ball that bounced. Replays showed Granderson didn’t make contact, but after the initial ruling of strike three, the umpires ruled he had. The play was non-reviewable. Maddon cursed at the umpires and continually pointed at the left-field video board, which showed the swing on repeat. Granderson eventually struck out.

Maddon was also ejected in Game 1 of the NLCS for arguing after umpires awarded the Dodgers a run on a play at the plate when they concluded Cubs catcher Willson Contreras had blocked the path of the runner without possessing the ball.

Joe Maddon On Keys To Sparking Cubs’ Offense: Accept Walks, Use Whole Field

(CBS) Much criticism has engulfed Cubs manager Joe Maddon’s tactical decisions in a National League Championship Series that his team trails 2-0 to the Dodgers. Asked about his view in that regard ahead of Game 3 on Tuesday evening, Maddon responded, “We’ve been fine.” His focus is elsewhere, namely on helping spark a Cubs offense that’s scored a combined three runs in the first two games of the NLCS and only drawn two walks in that stretch. “We have to stay in our lanes,” Maddon said on the Spiegel and Parkins Show on 670 The Score on Tuesday afternoon. “I keep using that phrase, meaning we have to accept our walks. And the other part of it is we have to utilize the whole field. Because again, their lefties, for example like (Rich) Hill the other night, if you really get into pull mode with your right-handers, you’re playing right into his hands.” Maddon will adjust his lineup a bit in Game 3. He confirmed that veteran Ben Zobrist will be in the Cubs’ lineup, though Maddon wouldn’t say whether he’d be in the outfield or at second base. The lefty-swinging Kyle Schwarber is a near lock to start in left field as Dodgers turn to right-hander Yu Darvish. Cubs second baseman Javier Baez has been mired in a wicked slump, going 0-for-19 this postseason, so Zobrist could replace him.

Bernstein: Defensive Joe Maddon Needs Offense

By Dan Bernstein —
CBSChicago.com senior columnist (CBS) Whether it was his intention or not, Cubs manager Joe Maddon has made himself the focus of this National League Championship Series, which moves its stage to Chicago on Tuesday night with the Dodgers leading 2-0 and the Cubs hitters flailing ineffectively. Maddon got himself tossed from the first episode by taking a quixotic stand against a new baseball rule, and he has taken a pounding from critics across the baseball spectrum for his in-game decisions, specifically the questionable bullpen usage and ensuing explanations that have done little to help us understand his reasoning. It was all cute and quirky when he seemed to fall upward in last year’s World Series, the fact of the championship insulating him from harsher attention for some head-scratchers that have since even been pointed out by his own bosses, but now he’s the story. His attempt to push back Monday was misdirected at social media, saying” “Twitter doesn’t count at all. And really, as sportswriters you should do a better job than relying on Twitter to write a story, frankly.” Nobody seems quite sure what that even meant, considering that it has all been debated immediately and reasonably in real time by everyone from the most mainstream of media to anyone who happens to be watching or listening. It’s about what Maddon does and why he does it, not the method of communication. When every national and local postgame show makes the managerial calls the centerpiece of discussion immediately upon the game ending, the messenger isn’t the issue. And it may not matter if the Dodgers prove this much better in the series as they did over 162 games. Any manager can only work at the margins, giving better percentage chances at the periphery despite the degree to which every call is magnified in the postseason. Regardless, baseball often has a way of normalizing itself at time like this, as we saw in the Bronx on Monday when the Yankees came back to life with an 8-1 win that featured a pair of three-run homers in cutting the Astros’ series lead to 2-1. It was exactly the kind of thing Maddon and the Cubs need now at Wrigley Field, a massive pile of runs that overwhelms a rising chorus of doubt and recrimination. Dan Bernstein is a co-host of 670 The Score’s “Bernstein and Goff Show” in afternoon drive. You can follow him on Twitter: @dan_bernstein and read more of his columns here.

Cubs’ Joe Maddon Expands On Not Using Wade Davis: Had A Plan In Place, ‘Important Not To Dry Hump Him’

(CBS) A day after his decision to ride No. 5 starter John Lackey in relief with Game 2 of the National League Championship Series on the line backfired, Cubs manager Joe Maddon expanded a bit more on why he didn’t turn to star closer Wade Davis in the ninth inning of a tie game against the Dodgers. As Lackey — who allowed more home runs than any pitcher in baseball this season — allowed the game-winning homer to Dodgers star Justin Turner, Davis had physically gotten up in the bullpen and was moving around. But he hadn’t been instructed by the Cubs coaching staff to get warmed up, Maddon said. Davis was simply tossing a baseball on his own accord. Because of Davis’ big 44-pitch workload in Game 5 of the NL Division Series last Thursday, the Cubs had decided to only use Davis for three outs and in a save situation Sunday, Maddon said.

“That was all predetermined last night,” Maddon said Monday, a day after the Cubs lost 4-1 in Los Angeles. “Again, Wade was not warming up to come into the game. Wade was probably just testing his arm at that point. We had talked about it before the game. Up and in, for those who aren’t involved in baseball or professional baseball in general, when a guy has thrown too much, it’s very important not to dry hump him, as the saying goes. Get him up, then put him back down and then bring him back in later. So I wasn’t going to do that. Wade knew that going into the game. It was going to be with a save. If we caught the lead, he’s in the game.

“So whatever the narrative is, it’s really a false narrative. He was not coming into that game until we grabbed the lead. He was not going to pitch more than three outs. That’s it.”

Maddon also took issue with a reporter when informed that there was great criticism of his decision on social media, saying, “The moment I start worrying about that, I really need to retire.”

“Listen, this guy just do yeomen kind of work — I love that word — in Washington and was not prepared to go more than three outs,” Maddon said of Davis. “I don’t understand why that’s difficult to understand. And furthermore, you have to also understand that it wasn’t the last game of the year or the second-to-last game of the year. It was about winning eight more games. All these things are factors. I really hope you all understand that social media doesn’t count at all. Twitter doesn’t count at all. And really, as sportswriters, you should do a better job than relying on Twitter to write a story, quite frankly.”

The Cubs trail 2-0 in the NLCS. Game 3 is at Wrigley Field on Tuesday at 8 p.m. Cubs right-hander Kyle Hendricks opposes Dodgers right-hander Yu Darvish.

Listen: Cubs Fans React To Falling Behind 2-0 In NLCS On Spiegel & Parkins Voicemail

(CBS) After the Cubs lost 4-1 to the Dodgers on Sunday night to fall behind 2-0 in the National League Championship Series, there was much debate and criticism surrounding manager Joe Maddon’s decision not to use star closer Wade Davis with the game on the line. That much was made clear on the Spiegel and Parkins voicemail line, where callers reacted with much frustration and anger. If you’d like to leave a message, hit the voicemail line up at 312-729-3965.