When I first heard about the news of Joe Madden opting out of his final year with the Tampa Bay Rays on Friday, I immediately thought — as I assume many people did — he would be following former Rays GM Andrew Friedman to Los Angeles.
But then Friedman issued a statement that said the Dodgers were sticking with current manager Don Mattingly, and the Maddon-to-the-Cubs frenzy ensued.
It was a similar feeling to when rumors began swirling about Theo Epstein coming to Chicago. Except that always felt like more of a pipe dream — at least until he was spotted in a Lakeview Starbucks.
But Maddon to the Cubs, that just seems to make a lot of sense. The pieces fit.
As long as the Dodgers are serious about keeping Mattingly as their manager, I think the most logical place for Maddon is in Chicago.
I read a lot of reaction about how it looks bad that the Cubs would simply discard Rick Renteria as manager. But this is such a special case. Maddon is one of the best — if not the best — managers in baseball. The Cubs have to take this chance.
Here is a roundup of some of the rumors/notes related to Maddon and the Cubs:
* The Cubs are the front-runners for Maddon, but many teams are interested, according to David Kaplan.
* The feeling is mutual from Maddon’s perspective, writes Gordon Wittenmeyer, as Maddon has the Cubs near or at the top of his list.
* Bruce Miles points out that the Cubs could have denied any interest in Maddon, but have not done so.
* When asked on Friday specifically about the Cubs by Ken Rosenthal, Maddon gave a pretty generic response: “I don’t know. I have to talk to people. I have interest everywhere right now. I’ve got to hear what everyone has to say.”
* Maddon raved about the atmosphere of Wrigley Field when the Rays came to Chicago earlier this season. “The fact the Cubs have not been in the playoffs often and you still get this kind of allegiance and following, it’s pretty impressive,” he said in August. “Quite frankly, I think the ballpark speaks to that a lot. I mean, on a Friday afternoon at 3 o’clock, this place is jammed. Where else would that happen? I don’t know.”
* Buster Olney reports that the Rays may investigate for tampering if Maddon ends up with the Cubs, according to what he’s heard from rival executives.
* The Boston Globe‘s Nick Cafardo speculates Maddon could still end up with the Dodgers, although the Cubs are a possibility as well. Cafardo said he texted Theo Epstein, asking if teams will fire their manager in order to hire Maddon, but received no response.
* Why did Maddon opt out? Jon Heyman offers some possible reasons, including stadium issues in Tampa, a preference to try managing in the National League, and the trade of David Price.
The Arizona Fall League continues on, even with Addison Russell gone. Jacob Hannemann and Dan Vogelbach each went 2-for-4, as the Mesa Solar Sox lost 9-4 on Friday.
Gerardo Concepcion gave up two runs in 2 innings, and Zach Cates added a scoreless frame.
Cubs infield prospect Danny Lockhart has taken the place of Russell, whom the Cubs decided to rest. Lockhart, drafted in the 10th round of the 2011 draft, hit .292/.352/.373 between Boise and Kane County in 2014.
* Kris Bryant was awarded the 2014 “MiLBY” for best offensive player. Considering all of the other many awards Bryant received this year, this doesn’t come as a huge surprise. Bryant had an amazing season.
* Phillies interim CEO Pat Gillick says his team likely won’t compete during the next two years. Pretty odd to hear a GM talk so openly like that, but it means the Phils will be starting a rebuild. The Cubs have been connected to LHP Cole Hammels before, and Gillick’s remarks will only fan the flames of those rumors.