Day two of the 30th Annual Cubs Convention continued Saturday afternoon with one of the more entertaining sessions of the weekend … Joe Maddon and his coaching staff.
The Cubs new skipper was front and center and did not disappoint during the hour-long session. Joe Maddon has a dynamic personality and as predicted he worked the packed ballroom.
With the exception of Henry Blanco, Maddon’s entire staff attended and once host Lin Brehmer was set straight on the coaching assignments, each coach briefly discussed his responsibilities.
The Cubs coaching staff for the 2015 season consists of Dave Martinez (bench coach), Chris Bosio (pitching coach), Lester Strode (bullpen coach/assistant pitching coach), Mike Borzello (catching coach), John Mallee (hitting coach), Eric Hinske (assistant hitting coach), Brandon Hyde (first base coach), Gary Jones (third base coach) and Henry Blanco (quality assurance coach).
Joe Maddon pointed out the Cubs have really, really good interesting players. And it’s all about the players and he feels the team has a good mix of youth and veterans.
Joe Maddon spotted one of the ‘A Shot and A Beer’ t-shirts on a fan asking a question and said he had to have one. And he asked if the Fire Marshall was on hand due to the overflow of people in the ballroom.
Maddon responded to the Sporting News’ prediction the Cubs would win the World Series and his first baseman’s guarantee of a division title.
“Never permit the pressure to exceed the pleasure, ever.” Maddon finds it interesting people run away from expectations and pressure. Maddon pointed out if those two words are used that means there is usually pretty good things going on.
Maddon is getting to know his coaching staff. He knows Dave Martinez and Eric Hinske. Maddon calls Hinske, ‘Pinske’ or ‘Ske’ from their time together with the Rays. At the end of the day it’s about the players. Maddon gets his confidence from the players.
Maddon met the minor league coordinators the other day and was able to talk to them about the young players. Maddon pointed out how young they are and how good they are.
Maddon does not see anything wrong with the Cubs having expectations. Every year the expectation is going to be makes the playoffs and go from there. Once in the playoffs, anything can happen. Crazy things can happen. He doesn’t like the one-game playoff, the one and done is exciting when a team wins but devastating when it loses. Maddon would prefer to win the division, like Anthony Rizzo wants, and stay away from the one-game playoff. Maddon said he will talk about the Cubs winning 90-plus games every year and making the playoffs every year.
Maddon is learning about Cubs fans and said that the team and fans have “to do this together.” Maddon added being a Cubs fan is interesting to him and he understands the past. He said there will be bad days this year and the team will need the fans positive support to “get this thing done.”
Maddon likes working with young players and the fact he can be with them for several years. And that gives him, his staff and veteran players a chance to help mold them into big leaguers.
Joe Maddon is a big fan of Wrigley and called the old ballyard the finest cathedral in all of Major League Baseball.
With the ownership, front office, young players and Wrigley, Joe Maddon really wanted to manage the Cubs.
Dave Martinez admitted it’s not easy standing next to Maddon in the dugout because his mind is constantly going. Martinez said Maddon, “Sleeps, eats baseball day in and day out, puts a lot of thought into this process.” Every day Maddon brings accountability to the field and the players believe in him. Maddon will get the most out of his players according to Martinez.
Martinez joked that when it drops below 70 degrees, everyone will see Maddon wearing his Elmer Fudd hat and hooded sweatshirt. Maddon stands on the top step of the dugout throughout the game.
Chris Bosio is excited about the opportunity that lies ahead for the Cubs. Bosio explained the team has been building for the last three years and it was painful. The Cubs traded big pieces but had to at the time. Bosio feels with what ownership and the front office has done everyone “sees what is possibly at the end of this rainbow.”
Bosio added that everyone playing Major League Baseball wants to win a World Championship and when the process began winning seemed so far away. Bosio feels the opportunity ahead of the Cubs is special and “they are going to try to take advantage of it.”
Eric Hinske spoke highly of his former manager. Hinske said that Maddon “commands men and leads men” and he’s honored to be part of his coaching staff.
Based on the players that came up last year, Brandon Hyde is excited for the upcoming season and for his new position on the staff.
John Mallee jokingly said he will take credit and look like a genius if the hitters perform well, but if they struggle it’s all Eric Hinske’s fault. Mallee thinks everyone will see improvements at the plate from Javier Baez and the other young players.
Maddon has not thought about lineups and hasn’t written one down yet. He has to get to know the players and see them “in person.”
The ideal leadoff hitter would have a high on-base percentage, a guy that looks over pitches and hopefully a guy that can run a little bit.
Joe Maddon is a big believer in scoring first because the team that scores first has a 70-percent chance to win the game. With a good leadoff hitter that can get on base and create havoc, the chance to score first obviously increases. And that’s what the Cubs are looking for in a leadoff hitter according to Maddon.
On who is going to play third for the Cubs of Kris Bryant, Luis Valbuena and Mike Olt, Maddon deflected the question back to the fan, and asked which one did he want to play third? The response, Kris Bryant. Maddon said Bryant is a good guy, he just met him a few days ago.
Maddon has taken suggestions for lineups in the past. He brought up the Tommy Tutone lineup he’s used … 876-5309. Chamber of Commerce in Tampa helped him with lineups and the Rays were 3-2 in those games.
Maddon became a really big Bruce Springsteen fan in the early-70’s, the club days after the Stones, Beatles, Motown and he promised music will be blearing out of his office on a daily basis.
“I don’t do anything without putting on the music first, that’s it,” Maddon said. “Music makes everything else happen.”
Maddon joked that superstitions play pretty good around the Cubs before admitting he doesn’t have any and he hopes he doesn’t grow any “around here.”
The shortstop question was asked and would he be willing to move Starlin Castro to another position because of the way Javier Baez played the position last year. Maddon said those kind of decisions are made in Spring Training. He doesn’t know the players well enough to comment. Maddon spoke with Eduardo Perez about Baez. Perez is Baez’s coach in Puerto Rico. Perez raves about Baez’s defense at short. Maddon hasn’t seen Baez play short. Mr. Castro, as Maddon referred to him, has done a good job making the All-Star team the last couple of years. Those are great problems to have, according to Maddon, who just met Addison Russell for the first time.
Chris Bosio was asked about Jose Veras and Bosio acknowledged Veras was a mystery to them. The Cubs had high expectations for him and he “never got the ball rolling out of Spring Training.” Veras lost his confidence, poor fastball command and asked to be removed from his closer’s role because he thought he was hurting the team. Bosio looks at that situation as a veteran guy looked at himself in the mirror and actually helped the Cubs in the long run.
The Cubs plan on playing matchups in the pen. Bosio thinks that is the way the game is trending, not to have a set closer but use the pitcher in the right situation. Bosio feels the team has the big arms and flexibility in the pen to make that work.
Maddon does not like to use a late-inning reliever for two innings because pitchers are not used to it, physically or emotionally. But he does like four-out relievers, pitchers that record the final out of an inning then three the next inning. “A four-out reliever is really a good guy to have,” Maddon said.
Teams break Spring Training with 25 players but it takes a lot more than 25 guys to win a championship because injuries happen. Maddon is not afraid to put a player in any situation. If a player is wearing a Cubs uniform he is going to play.
The players have to be accountable as part of ‘The Cubs Way’. Maddon does not like the entitlement program whatsoever. And he pointed out it is tough to make a living playing Major League Baseball, “it’s not that easy.” Those players that hold themselves to a high-level of accountability will be successful.
Maddon likes for the starters on his staff that are not pitching that day to greet his staff-mate on the top step when he leaves the field after each inning. All of the infielders will be on the mound when there is a visit from Maddon or Bosio to support the pitcher and talk strategy if needed.
All of the coaches have jobs and responsibilities. Maddon’s job is to manage the team, not to do a coach’s job. His first responsibility is to build relationships and trust with the players.
Joe Maddon plans on riding his bicycle to Wrigley Field. The day games may provide issues for him to ride his bike before the game because he’s not a morning person.
The session ended with Lin Brehmer explaining the Cubs’ job has driven other managers crazy and the came in planning to lead the Cubs to a championship but just end up leaving in a straightjacket. And before he could finish his statement, Maddon responded, “43 regular.”
2015 Cubs Convention
- Day One of the 2015 Cubs Convention: Let’s Go! The Excitement and Optimism is Back
- Day Two of the 2015 Cubs Convention: Ricketts Family Forum
- Day Two of the 2015 Cubs Convention: Baseball Operations with Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer