The Rundown: Maddon Should Bear Blame for Mediocrity, 3 Not a Magic Number, Trolling and Flopping
Swept in St. Louis, that stings quite a bit. I guess we can now consider Joe Maddon’s directive of a fast start nothing more than a pipe dream. The Cubs are in fourth place at 16-15 and playing every bit like a fourth place team, except for in games against the Brewers.
Maddon comes across as the ultimate cool cat when the team is winning, but when the team is mediocre, he sounds downright nuts.
Joe Maddon: “We needed something like a 20-foot python, a magician or a breakdancer in the clubhouse. Instead, I chose to hit Rizzo leadoff. I thought it might pick the boys up a little bit.”
— Patrick Mooney (@PJ_Mooney) May 1, 2018
Mind you, the Cubs were on a roll at the time Maddon decided to sit Albert Almora Jr. and Javy Baez and put Anthony Rizzo at the top of the order. Rizzo hit a first-pitch home run to open the game and that was all the offense the Cubs could muster and the Cubs haven’t won since. Of course Rizzo isn’t leading off every game, but I don’t understand the need for that lineup change (and so many others) when the Cubs were consistently winning at the time with mostly a set lineup. You never walk away from the table if you’re on a heater, or something like that.
Maybe Joe Maddon just isn’t all that. I’m certainly not suggesting the Cubs make a managerial change, or maybe I am, but this is not a team that should be playing .500 baseball. I suppose the Nationals’ and Dodgers’ poor starts give Maddon and the Cubs a little leeway here, I just don’t see the hunger to win games. I don’t see the swagger, either. Considering the Cubs overhauled the entire coaching staff over the winter and are still no better than they were at this time last season, it’s not entirely incorrect to point one finger at Maddon. Which finger you choose is entirely up to you. I know which finger I chose when Dexter Fowler gave the Cardinals their second straight walk-off win against the Cubs.
To suggest a managerial change is probably a little crazy and certainly some of the blame has to be pointed at coaches and players. Hopefully the Cubs can turn it around with upcoming games against the Marlins and White Sox. The Cubs should sweep those teams but if they split or lose the two series combined, Maddon should be held accountable.
Cubs News & Notes
With his team’s offense continuing to scuffle, Maddon inserted Willson Contreras into the leadoff spot Sunday to try to create a spark. Contreras went 1-for-6 with a run scored and two strikeouts. He is hitting .231 but is batting just .100 with runners in scoring position.
As has become a trend, the Cubs produced three or fewer runs for the 10th time in their last 11 games.
Maddon is expected to turn back to Albert Almora Jr., on Monday when the Cubs make a quick turnaround and look to snap their losing skid when they begin a three-game series against the suddenly surging Marlins at Wrigley Field. Miami has won four straight series.
Maddon was a fan of the St. Louis Cardinals while growing up.
Addison Russell is a premier defender, but he’s hitting .240 and is still looking for his first home run. The Cubs don’t necessarily need Manny Machado, and Russell is under control for three more seasons after 2018, but a Russell/Machado trade might make sense for both the Cubs and the Orioles.
Phillies hitting coach John Mallee “was totally surprised” by being replaced as the Cubs’ hitting coach after last season.
I’ve said it before, but perhaps the Cubs should consider calling up Chris Gimenez to be a personal catcher for Yu Darvish. You don’t want a $126 million investment to derail your pennant hopes.
Cardinals Twitter spent the night trolling Cubs fans, and rightfully so. Ouch.
How About That!
The Yankees extended their majors’ best winning streak to six games on Sunday, defeating Cleveland 7-4 on a Gleyber Torres walk-off home-run. The Yankees have won 15 of their last 16 games though they still trail the 25-9 Red Sox by one game in the AL East.
In a 9-0 rout over the Brewers, Chad Kuhl and Richard Rodriguez of the Pirates combined for the shutout while striking out 14 Brewers (Rodriguez struck out six in his two innings of work) while only allowing two singles and two walks.
The Orioles have now dropped 18 of their last 21 games.
Cardinals C Yadier Molina will miss at least a month following groin surgery.
Sunday’s Three Stars
- Max Scherzer – The Nationals ace, and two-time reigning NL Cy Young award winner struck out 15 batters while allowing just one run in 6 1/3 innings.
- Chris Sale – The Rd Sox ace struck out 12 Rangers across 7 innings and needed just 103 pitches to do so.
- Dexter Fowler – a two-run walk-off home run that swept the Cubs out of St. Louis gets Fowler on this list.
Hot Takes & Syrup
Flopping in baseball? Justin Verlander thinks A.J. Pollock got away with a flop in yesterday’s Diamondbacks victory over the Astros.
They Said It
- “There’s the blue Cardinal hat with the red ‘Stl’ on there. The moment my dad purchased that hat — this is not hyperbole — but I became a Cardinals fan in baseball and football, St. Louis Hawks, eventually the Blues and started following the (St. Louis U.) Billlikens for awhile. KMOX became my thing the moment my dad bought me that hat.” – Joe Maddon
- “We like to go into places and people kind of let their guards down a little bit. I don’t want to say they’re in for a rude awakening, but they find out real quick in the game that we’re here to fight and battle.” – Marlins OF Cameron Maybin
Monday Walk Up Song
Winning Streak by Glen Hansard. The Cubs sure need one, and today is a great day to start one.