Joe Maddon has averaged 97 wins in three seasons with the Cubs and he’s on pace for 96 more this season. He has never failed to reach the National League Championship Series in his tenure on Chicago’s North Side and he led the team to the ultimate prize at the conclusion of his second season. I mean, he’s no Mike Shildt, but that’s a really solid resume.
But in today’s win-or-die MLB, the teams at the top of the food chain haven’t shown much patience when it comes to the men managing their teams. Unless we’re talking about the Cardinals, who kept Mike Matheny around like a tub of sour cream that remained hidden in the back of the fridge until well past its expiry. And Maddon’s not perfect by any stretch, as more than a few Cubs fans will be willing to tell you.
Even with those flaws, none of which are particularly egregious when compared to the success he’s achieved, the only hot seat under Maddon’s rear end is in his Winnebago on a cold day. Theo Epstein spoke recently about not putting any thought to an extension beyond 2019, when Maddon’s $6 million annual contract is set to expire, but that’s simply a matter of saving talks for the offseason or such time as they become necessary.
So you can imagine the surprise when USA Today’s Bob Nightengale wrote Monday that “there are whispers [Maddon’s] job could be in jeopardy if they don’t play deep into October.” Citing several anonymous MLB execs, Nightengale posited that Maddon’s “fate is tenuous,” particularly since the Cubs are paying so much to helm a team with such high expectations.
Bear in mind that the thrust of the whole column was the free-fall in managerial salaries as front offices exert more and more control over baseball operations. That said, it’s asinine to think Maddon would be out of a job if the Cubs don’t make it to a fourth straight NLCS. Hell, they could miss the playoffs entirely and he should still have rock-solid job security.
Maddon addressed, and summarily dismissed, the far-fetched report in his weekly appearance on 670 The Score’s Bernstein & McKnight Show.
“Any time I have to worry about what Bob Nightengale writes or what anybody else writes, then I should just pretty much hang things up anyway,” Maddon said. “It means nothing. That is actually dumb. It’s hard to comment on something — a lot of times these guys write things in order to get a reaction and they’re looking to further this or get hits online, whatever you want to call it.
“I know Bob really well. I have no idea why he would write something like that, but it really doesn’t impact me whatsoever. It’s just something to write, and I can’t really be concerned about it.”
This isn’t the first time we’ve come across questionable information from Nightengale or USA Today, so none of this should come as a surprise. It’s a bit much to say that some of this recent report was fabricated, though it’s entirely possible that conversations or intents were misconstrued.
As stated above, it’s not as though Maddon’s got a lifetime deal. And should the Cubs determine that it’s time for a new voice to guide what should then be a much more veteran-laden team than the one Maddon came into back in those wide-eyed days of 2015, it’s possible that he doesn’t get an extension.
But that’s a far cry from “tenuous” and it’s certainly not something Maddon’s sweating.
“I’m fine,” Maddon offered. “I’ve got another year on my contract. That’s the way this thing work. When you have time left on the contract, then you have time left on the contract. That’s up to the people that are running an organization to determine when it’s an appropriate time to do things like that, not me.
“I’m very confident in what I do and how I do it, I think not only from the perspective of job security as well as employment security. Employment security would be industry-wide, the confidence based on what you’ve done in the past. This is something that organizations do. I have a contract. I’m fine. All I’m worried about today is putting the lineup together.”
Listen to the rest of Maddon’s appearance below.