Joe Maddon Ranked 6th Best Manager in MLB

Though it’s admittedly unscientific and subjectively biased, Nick Cafardo’s recent managerial rankings in the Boston Globe do provide a little insight into how various skippers are viewed outside their own markets. Of course, we’re really only concerned with how one manager is viewed, since, despite the plethora of Bryce Harper posts, the purview of this moderately successful web log is somewhat limited.

The jury is out on Joe Maddon and has been for some time, alternately lambasting him for his bullpen usage and lauding him for guiding the Cubs to 95 wins despite unfavorable circumstances. There’s also that 2016 World Series victory people tend to forget, though it feels that some would use that as a shield to deflect even the most valid criticism.

Now in the final season of the five-year deal he signed prior to 2015, Maddon may be managing for his future in Chicago as the Cubs head into the 2019 campaign with a huge payroll that should probably be much larger. Or at least it could be much larger. Some have even theorized that a failure to go all-out this winter is indicative of the front office punting to give Maddon terrible field position for his final season, but c’mon.

I’m probably only asking this question to a limited audience, but do you really believe Theo Epstein would jeopardize an entire season — not to mention his own job — by handicapping his manager like that? Or that the organization would be able to maintain the narrative of a limited budget if that wasn’t really the case? If you do, I’d suggest removing the tinfoil hat.

If Epstein was really so disillusioned by Maddon’s performance or personality, it would have been much easier to show him the door after last season. Buyout be damned, this isn’t a time to be jacking around with the team’s competitive window. Because here’s the thing about firing or failing to renew a manager: You have to be sure someone better is there for the taking.

That’s why Maddon’s got a job in the first place and it’ll be the reason he’s no longer there should the Cubs choose not to extend him. And while it’s possible Epstein believes a former player like David Ross or Mark DeRosa could be ready for the gig, the of current or potential managers who could coax better results from the 25 men on the roster is a short one.

Cafardo lists only five names ahead of Maddon, all of which you can probably rattle off with relative ease. Well, you can probably guess three for sure. Consider the writer’s regional bias and a bent toward recent titles for the top spot. Head west for an unlikely contender for No. 2, then hop across the Bay for No. 4. The Boston connection is strong with the third manager as well, even though his team infamously blew a 3-1 lead in the World Series.

Rounding out the top is a man whose team was build in a similar manner to Maddon’s Cubs and that similarly fell short of the World Series the year after winning it. There really isn’t any need for me to be so coy with these rankings, it’s not as though Cafardo is dispensing any proprietary information that requires any manner of secrecy. You’ll see that in the blurb on Maddon, which is pretty generic.

Maddon reinvented managing in this era, combining the heavily analytics slant of the Rays when he ran that team to the big-market, high-resource Cubs, where he ended the franchise’s 108-year drought between championships.

So what’s the whole point of this? Again, it’s simply to share a little bit about how Maddon is viewed by those with a bit more distance from the situation and to point out that swapping managers isn’t just a binary move. All that said, I’d still not be surprised in the least if the Cubs opt not to re-up with Maddon beyond this year.

That’s less about his acumen as it is the friction both he and the front office have either denied or presented as part of a healthy working relationship. Maybe that’s true, but Maddon drew Epstein’s ire with some of his public comments about the blog post from Melisa Reidy’s that reignited the Addison Russell investigation — “Should I?” — and appeared to be the target of criticism of the team’s effort level.

At the same time, I’d be completely unsurprised by an extension for another two or three years. Maddon has guided the Cubs through their most successful stretch in over a century and it’s hard to imagine someone taking over and suddenly making them better. Does he need to do a little better with the ‘pen and find a way to not have Willson Contreras catch 1,100 innings? Yes. Are his flaws so egregious that they can’t be remedied? No.

I believe it’ll all come down to how this season goes, but not necessarily in terms of wins and losses. I mean, yes, that too, but how the Cubs play on getaway days or in the third game of a series in which they’ve won the first two will tell the tale.

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Evan Altman

Evan Altman is the EIC and co-founder of Cubs Insider and has proclaimed himself Central Indiana's foremost Cubs authority. He is a husband, father, homebrewer, and award-winning blogger with entirely too much pop culture knowledge. Evan's greatest accomplishments include scoring 400 points in Magic Johnson's Fast Break, naming all 10 members of the Wu-Tang Clan in under 3.5 seconds, and winning the Meese Literary Award at Hanover College.

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5 Comments

  1. I have zero problem with the Cubs giving Joe another few years. If the results of this season are what I think they will be, it will be a no-brainer!

  2. I’ve got to believe all the drama from the FO, Maddon to the “millenial players” and hitting coach non communication skills, whatever the personal reasons the pitching coach deemed as a necessity for him to move on has pretty well run it’s course for these guys. So many very good young players, some still top quality vets, this is a team that can win a lot of ball games. I think also, those that had to ” get their minds right”, figure some things out, grow and take the steps to get to the next level are cognizant of those facts. I’m guessing the reality that they got to play everyday, the league ain’t giving them nothing because they’re great “on paper” and potential and it’s not always milk and honey, your playing with the best players in the world, has/is sinking in. The Cubs aren’t unique in going through inner workings dis enchantments, every team goes through it. My feeling is they have or will get it out, hash it over, suck it up and move on. Should be a sizable chip on some very capable shoulders this season, they have some key guys healthy again, this is a very good team, they know it, but also know they’ve got to earn those wins, they don;t come easy!!

  3. I think you nailed it on the head when you asked “who you gonna get who’s better” (than Maddon). As much as I like Rossy, and even DeRosa to a slightly lesser extent – I’m not so sure that they represent an upgrade. Certainly there are things I would like to see Maddon do differently, but if it’s me, I’m not too quick to give him the boot.

    If they fail to at least make it to the NLCS however, it will be interesting to see how this plays out.

  4. Maddon sucks at managing.
    The only reasons he wasn’t fired after last season was that his team somehow won 95 games and how do you fire the only Cub manager to have won a WS in over 100 years after only 2 years removed from winning the title?

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