The Rundown: Maddening Molten Maddon Take, Cubs ‘Still in Play’ for Happ, Archer Being Scouted, Bryant’s Outlook
It’s said that the key to a healthy relationship is to never go to bed angry. If that’s true, I think I’m hurtling headlong to a divorce with Sun-Times columnist Rick Morrissey due to our irreconcilable differences. Though I suppose that would assume some sort of affection or goodwill in the first place.
I should have known better than to click the link, especially with it already being late and the headline setting off my hot-take Spidey sense. “The Joe Maddon Show, purportedly built for others’ fun, is about one man — him,” screamed at me so sloppily that the contrived vitriol actually dripped from my phone and made hissing noises as it hit my MyPillow.
Interestingly enough, I came to the column by way of someone on Twitter who totally dug it, as I’m sure some of you may as well. After all, Maddon is a frequent target for all manner of barbs and laments for his pitching usage and frequent lineup shuffling. Some even consider him a grandstanding charlatan. No matter how successful he and the Cubs might be, there will always be those who choose to be unhappy about it.
Morrissey’s column, which read more like a more carefully crafted version of a Facebook screed your weird uncle might post, was aimed directly at those folks who are convinced that the last three seasons have taken place wholly in spite of the manager. He presents Maddon as a wannabe celebrity whose only real concern with his day job is how it boosts his nightlife.
Is Maddon something of a camera-hound? Of course he is, you pretty much have to be if you’re going to operate in this media market. And all the gimmicks and games to alleviate pressure, which include but are not limited to Maddon being the center of attention? Maybe, just maybe, taking some of the focus off of his players has helped them. Oh, he did that stuff in the decidedly lower-profile Tampa market as well.
I could continue with this diatribe, but I’m tired and it’s super frustrating when the wheezing from the dead horse I keep beating actually sounds as though it’s laughing at me. Which is pretty much the case if I’ve fed it clicks. If you were smart enough to avoid the link above, I’ve pulled some highlights for you below. I’m sorry.
But the common denominator is a manager trying way too hard. The T-shirts with Joe sayings, the ever-spinning lineups, the themed dress-up trips, the lineups sent to Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder (we’ll get to that), the dye job, the groovy van and, yes, the mime at spring training — all of it, in the end, seems to be about one man’s deep need to be the center of attention. Taken individually, the gimmicks would be fun and harmless. Taken together, they feel like a lounge act, with Joe singing to the candelabra on his piano.
There’s something discordant about teammates laughing while a first baseman or an outfielder pitches. What’s the message? That your relievers need rest? That the team is going to have fun, no matter what? Or is it that your manager sees another opportunity to be unconventional in front of a big crowd?
I know why Maddon says he’s letting position players pitch during blowouts. I get the reasoning he says is behind it. I just don’t trust what I’m hearing. Because it’s always something with this guy.
Your grumpy columnist siren is wailing. Morrissey doesn’t know how to have fun. I get it. But Maddon’s fun seems like contrived fun meant for something other than team-building. Somebody’s brand-building, possibly.
And to think, this was apparently born of indignation over Maddon sharing his daily lineups with Vedder.
Cubs trade rumors
Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that the Yankees and Brewers are favorites to land Blue Jays lefty J.A. Happ. It was reported recently that the Jays had dropped their asking price for the 35-year-old after initially seeking top-3 type prospects in return. The Yankees have remained engaged and might want to counter the Red Sox picking up Nathan Eovaldi.
Sherman went on to say that the Cubs “might be in play” for Happ and that they’ve also checked on 27-year-old righty Marcus Stroman. He’d have been a pipe dream even six months ago, but a bum shoulder forced him to miss nearly two months this summer and his box score numbers aren’t great. With two more years of control and wicked stuff, he’d be a nice get if the Jays are willing to move him.
The Cubs were among several teams scouting Chris Archer recently, though I suppose that’s something we could say for just about every one of his starts over the last few years. In a very interesting wrinkle to the overall Archer talks, the Padres are said to have significant interest in swinging a trade. And as Jon Paul Morosi writes, San Diego is willing to part with one or two of its Nos. 3-5 prospects in a deal.
Other Cubs notes
I’m not sure how I missed it, but Kris Bryant apparently did receive a cortisone injection in his ailing shoulder. This came via Bruce Levine in an appearance with Mully and Hanley on 670 The Score Thursday morning. Though he was careful not to say he was fully convinced that Bryant will require offseason surgery, Levine heavily intimated as much.
And though I assume he won’t read this, I did want to let Bruce know that the Orioles reliever the Cubs might be targeting is Brad Brach, like the candy company, not Branch. Totally understand a little flub here and there, but after consecutive days of hearing it mispronounced, I figured it was something he was simply reading incorrectly.
Maddon may consider using newly acquired Jesse Chavez as part of his 9th-inning mix while Brandon Morrow continues to sit with “a lot of pain” in his right arm. Chavez has retired all 12 batters he’s faced as a Cub, six via strikeout, and 41 of his 55 pitches have gone for strikes.
Jon Lester scoffed at “analytic BS” following his poor start last week, and he was back at it again with a little less salt following a superb effort against the D-backs. Dude knew exactly what launch angle A.J. Pollock had on the homer than represented Arizona’s lone run. Several responses to Sahadev Sharma’s tweet apparently saw Lester’s humor flying over their heads at the same angle.
Lester was asked again about analytics and it was classic, "I think the perfect example was today. 42 degrees on the home run is supposedly not a home run and it went out. I already yelled at our guys in here for that."
— Sahadev Sharma (@sahadevsharma) July 25, 2018