Joe Maddon is a rock star manager, in fact, he might be thee rock star manager in the majors. His tenure as manager of the Cubs has been tremendous. Last year’s 97 win season resulted in the Cubs reaching the National League Championship Series. He managed a team that most Cubs fans would have been happy with getting to .500 (81 wins) after the previous three losing seasons. As a result of 2015, the expectations were high for 2016.
Nevertheless, the Cubs and Maddon exceeded those expectations in April and May by playing .700 ball at 35-15. This was a fantastic record after losing Kyle Schwarber on day two on the season. June, however, saw more injuries creep in with nicks and scrapes to Dexter Fowler, Jorge Soler, and Tommy La Stella. The wear and tear of a season started to grind on the team as they went 16-12 that month. Currently, the team is 1-5 in July.
As for Joe Maddon, he still seems the same. He is still even keeled. He doesn’t get too high or too low. When a team wins, everybody looks good. When a team loses, the players and the manager get their fair share of criticism. This has been no different for the Cubs in their recent slump. Since June 19, the Cubs are 5 -12. In that span they lost four series to the Cardinals, Marlins, Reds, and Mets. People question Maddon’s handling of the bullpen, Maddon’s lineups, Maddon’s playing of the rookies, and Maddon’s handling of the starting rotation.
Here’s what I love about Joe’s reaction: He doesn’t care about anyone’s opinion of him or how he runs the team. He’s going to run it the way he wants. He’s got a pretty good track record of doing it.
I think the “Honeymoon” with Joe might be over for some fans. Then again, I think those fans very unrealistically expect too much from him, . He’s a manager. He doesn’t play. If you’re basing your evaluation of the manager on a 5-12 spurt, that’s 1/10 of the season. You are completely negating the job he did the other 40% of the season that allowed them to absorb this slump. That is mighty convenient. Add in the fact, there are still 79 games to play and the Cubs are 8.5 games ahead of their nearest division rival.
I think some fans forget about last year, too. The Cubs did not start playing their best baseball until August in 2015. I feel they should do the same again this year as they will play mostly division rivals down the stretch. Considering they have only played one poor series against a division foe, I expect they will be just fine down the stretch.
Most of the World Series champs from the past 15 years all have endured a losing month. 162 games is a long season and you cannot win every game or series. Yes, losing to the Reds is disappointing. Yes, they are playing poorly. There are still 79 games left. The odds are the Cubs will be just fine. Changes will be made, adjustments to players and the roster will be done.
Theo said this about winning earlier this year to Mark Gonzalez of the Tribune:
“We want to stay up there as long as we can, but we’re going to get down at some point. We still have vulnerabilities. We still have areas we need to get better. We still have challenges and (there’s) more adversity to come.
“We want to stay as locked in as we are right now. The game is very humbling. We’re aware that time is coming when there are going to be great challenges, and we almost look forward to it. That’s when you find out what you’re made of, more so than the good stretches like the one we’re on now.”
In other words, this is not a shock. The Cubs are finding out now what they are made of playing a bunch of prospects. I feel like Joe is managing the 2014 Tennessee Smokies out there, and at times, it’s pretty close. It’s a great experience for those kids that will benefit them in the long run, but Fowler will return as will Soler. La Stella came back yesterday. That is the team Joe will manage when they all return. And if history taught us anything the last year and a half, Joe’s pretty good at managing those guys.