Cubs Fire Joe Maddon: Once Again, It’s Never The GM’s Fault
Why was Joe Maddon fired from the Chicago Cubs? It’s kind of like asking why Philadelphia Eagle fans booed Santa Claus. There’s a lot of conjecture, probably some alcohol, and a lot of guessing. Let’s start with some facts and then make our way into speculation, shall we.
Fact: the team won 103, 92, 95, and 87 games the last four years.
Fact: Maddon won a World Series with the Cubs in 2016.
Fact: If I’d written that four years ago, I would’ve been a liar because the Cubs hadn’t won squat for 108 years.
Fact: he was heavily criticized on this very site for his handling of Game 7.
Fact: While Theo Epstein was with the Red Sox, Terry Francona was allowed to leave after leading the Red Sox to their first championship in 86 years.
Fact: It was Epstein who brought in the wildly inconsistent and injury-prone Yu Dharvish to the Cubs..
Fact: It was Epstein who brought in the highly-overrated Craig Kimbrel to be his closer after no one else wanted him.
Fact: Chicago was 13th in batting average and eighth in OPS.
Fact: Chicago was seventh in most important statistical pitching categories, including overall ERA, But their relievers were 13th in WHIP and 26th in runners caught stealing.
Fact: The Cubs were 29th in fielding percentage.
Opinion: pitching and defense are still important.
Fun Fact: Cubs starters didn’t balk. Not once. They also issued only three intentional walks.
Opinion: 377 wins and a World Series in four years is the kind of success any team would dream of, even a high-payroll team that views now as the window to win championships. Expecting a World Series win every year is unrealistic and childish. Epstein has seen two managers walk out the door within four years of a World Series win. The Giants didn’t fire Bruce Bochum after the 2011 season. Atlanta didn’t fire Bobby Cox after his Braves failed to win the 1997 series. But the urge by other general managers to blame the manager for decisions not made on the field is too strong. The Larry Lucchino/Epstein tandem changed the players on the field and the chemistry of the 2008 Red Sox and then challenged Francona to do a better job fixing their mistakes. This seems like a repeat of history.
It’s much easier to point the finger outward instead of inward. Epstein, the former boy wonder with the Red Sox and then the savior of Chicago, obviously still has some growing up to do.