The Chicago Cubs fail to enter the postseason for the first time in five seasons. Whammy. The Cubs part ways and do not re-sign manager Joe Maddon. Double whammy. How did we get here?
What went wrong?
We believe that Joe Maddon was the sacrificial lamb for this disappointing Cubs season. Given, some mistakes were made on his part, but with that much talent on one team, not all the blame can go to the management.
Taking a closer look at the performances of Yu Darvish and Kris Bryant provides examples of how stars didn’t live up to expectations coming into this season. Statistically, Darvish had a mediocre season with an ERA of 3.98, the second-highest of his career. Overall, this isn’t a bad ERA, but for what the Cubs paid to sign him, expectations were definitely higher.
Kris Bryant is another star who follows this trend. Bryant recorded a .282 batting average for the 2019 season. Again, this isn’t a generally bad number, but for the 2016 MVP, expectations were higher.
In the big picture, the stars of the team didn’t live up to their potential this season and it cost the Cubs a playoff run.
The 2019 season wouldn’t be complete if we didn’t mention the injuries that plagued the team late in the season.
In early Sep., Javier Baez suffered a fracture in his thumb sliding into second base, taking him out of the game. Baez wouldn’t return to the starting lineup for the remainder of the season. 15 days later, Anthony Rizzo, statistically the best Cubs player this season, sprained his right ankle in a game against their rival, the Milwaukee Brewers. Rizzo would go on to make one final surprise start, before returning to the bench. Seven days later, just when the Cubs needed a run to sneak into the playoffs, Kris Bryant sprained his right ankle. This injury would keep Bryant off the field for the rest of the season.
Injuries hit this team at the worst possible time, just when they needed a playoff push. Many credit missing the playoffs as the last straw in Maddon’s role as manager, but is it entirely fair?
The team wasn’t completely terrible, but their performance obviously wasn’t strong enough to get them to the postseason, resulting in Maddon being the scapegoat for everyone else’s faults.
In all seriousness, the entire pitching staff struggled throughout the season, and it would have been more reasonable to look into a new pitching staff instead of replacing Maddon as a whole. Even with the acquirement of Craig Kimbrel towards the trade deadline, the Cubs’ relief and closing pitchers continued to disappoint.
The players themselves can’t get fired, so, unfortunately, Maddon took the hit. We think all Cubs fans agree on one thing, a change was needed this offseason, but was losing Maddon the answer? Only time will tell if this move pays off in the long term.
Where did Maddon end up?
On Oct. 16, Maddon reached an agreement with the Los Angeles Angels for a projected three-year, $12 to $15 million deal. However, the Angels are looking into to an investigation from the DEA after the death of Tyler Skaggs, with evidence coming to light that Angels employees were possibly aware of Skaggs’ opioid use and did not notify commissioner Robert Manfred.
Maddon has history with this organization. He was signed as an undrafted catcher in 1975 and stayed in Los Angeles for the next 31 years, serving as a player, coach, and manager during this time.
Who will be the new manager?
A fan favorite, former catcher and 2016 World Series champion David Ross, was selected for the role of the Cubs’s new manager on Oct. 23. Ross’s lack of managerial experience leads us to believe there will be more struggles for the organization. Ross also was a teammate with a majority of the players on the team, which could make for a confusing “boss” relationship.
On the other hand, Ross has experience being in the position of a player, which we think could potentially give him insight into how best to reach them.
As Cubs fans, we thank Joe Maddon for everything he has done for the Cubs organization. We wish him the best going forward. We are hopeful that next year the Cubs come back rejuvenated and ready to win.