Cubs Will Not Talk Extension with Maddon this Winter

Joe Maddon’s future with the Cubs has been a hot topic since before the season ended, with doubts circling as to whether he’d receive an extension of his original five-year deal. Alan Nero, Maddon’s agent, spoke confidently about the two sides sitting down this winter, but Theo Epstein put the kibosh on that while speaking to the media from the GM Meetings in California.

Epstein said there will be no discussions of an extension this winter, but that the team will re-evaluate things during the season. This follows with the issues pointed out during Epstein’s end-of-season press conference, most notably the team’s lack of urgency. Some of the criticism, such as being more intentional about winning on getaway days or after taking the first two games in a series, seemed to be aimed directly at Maddon.

As such, it makes sense that the front office would want to see whether and how the skipper takes a different tack this coming season. Though Maddon was on the verge of beatification following the Cubs’ World Series win, his teams have underperformed expectations the past two seasons (yes, even with all those regular-season wins). The offense’s guttering flame blew out completely toward the end of this season and Epstein wants to make sure it stays lit before anointing Maddon as the team’s acolyte beyond 2019.

“We’re not running away from Joe in the least bit,” Epstein said (per Tony Andracki tweet). “But given that we all have things we’re working on to get more out of this team and to be one game better than we were last year, this is the appropriate move.”

To his credit, Nero had a significantly better response to this latest development than back in October when he compared Maddon’s reaction to the Addison Russell news to Donald Trump reacting to Jamal Khashoggi’s murder. To be fair, Nero has maintained pretty similar rhetoric when he’s not being inflammatory.

So it sounds like everyone is on the same page in terms of expectations, but my concern here is how it impacts the clubhouse. Something like this could be a galvanizing force as the players rally around Maddon to ensure he stays around beyond next season. On the other hand, being asked constantly about their manager’s lame-duck status could grow tedious very quickly. Even worse, it could lead to uncertainty and anxiety.

As confident as I am in the ability of this team to block out some of that superfluous noise and press forward, having something like this hanging around doesn’t strike me as part of creating an optimal environment. But again, maybe it’ll electrify the Cubs rather than darken their skies like Schleprock’s perma-cloud.

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  1. Feels like Theo is holding Maddon over the players head. Get it together or the laid back days and over and a more strict manager is coming to crack the whip.

  2. This announcement from Theo, made at a meeting supposedly for GMs like Jed Hoyer rather than team presidents, has me scrating

    my head.
    For one thing, why say this publicly? Sure, communicate that to Maddon through his agent; but why bring up this to the media where it will only make rumors fly real or imagined.

    If I am Maddon, I would read it as saying if you don’t want to be back, find yourself something else. And that’s what I’d do be it managerial, another management role, media analysts on a team network or national one — or do something that he and his wiife Jaye probably have never done, enjoy the summer if money is no concern.
    I’d only come back to collect my paycheck.
    Maddon, with his experience, contacts, and success is in the driver’s seat.

    Thinking about Epstein and Maddon, their personalities and work styles are so different.
    Epstein, in many ways, is like “Trump — unceasing energy, always working, striving and on the job.
    Maddon, on the other hand, knows what can be expected from normal human beings and is a manager of people knowing when pressure is to be applied and when things need to be down-peddled as the season is a 162-game grind rather making each day the be all and end all.

    What I wonder is this: Does Epstein’s style reflect that of Rickets or not?
    If the former, then I worry about the long-health of the Cub organization?
    If the latter, then, one day, when Rickets himself becomes tired of the everyday urgency shows Epstein the door or, quietly behind the scenes, tells other owners to approach Epstein and offer him a job which Rickets will allow him to accept.

    Epstein has to drive a whole lot of people up the wall with his style.

    Oh yes, if I were Maddon and decided upon something else, I’d hand in my notice on Feb 13 or so leaving Epstein in a lurch.
    Perhaps, Theo might want to add the title “manager” to his resume as that might give him the much-needed opportunity to understand the job.
    Maddon, given the hand Theo dealt him in ’18’, did a masterful job.

    1. I’m not sure this is quite on base. The GM Meetings are not confined to 30 people with that exact title, hence the presence of all manner of agents and execs the whole time. And the Cubs have been very clear about Maddon’s position, from at least back to Epstein saying in August that an extension “was not a thought.” Remember that the current execs didn’t get extensions on their own original 5-year deals until September of the 5th year.

      And I’m not sure about the analogy of Epstein and Trump; unless Theo is actually sitting in front of MLB Network and constantly tweeting invective from a burner account. Although that would explain a lot of the feedback we get, so maybe that’s the case.

      And if I’m not mistaken, this is not the first time you’ve made mention of Epstein not understanding “normal human beings.” That couldn’t be less accurate. He’s specifically constructed an organization based on understanding how humanity impacts performances and that is evident in much of what they do and say. Epstein is very driven, but he’s not some maniacal whirling dervish who repels those around him.

    2. In my impression, Theo has simply strived for as much transparency as the organization can afford. In this, it’s not like Theo called a press conference to announce the non-extension of Maddon. Rather he was responding to a line of inquiry.

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