Maddon navigated the Cubs to 97 wins and an unexpected trip to the NLCS. And he knows next year the noise from outside of the organization will be different and a lot louder.
The Cubs “are the target” and he wants his players to embrace being the target. Maddon told Comcast SportsNet, “Of course, we are the target. Of course, you are, so why deny that you are? You’re the target, OK? Embrace it. Seriously, embrace the target. And process it properly and move on. But to deny it? To say that’s not true? It is true.”
Maddon explained the players should not alter the way the think or prepare, but “once you admit to it, then you kind of disarm it a bit.” Maddon pointed out “to say it’s not true gives it more power.”
“People are really going to be looking at us now,” Maddon said. “Of course, people are going to be predicting all these grandiose things for us. And that’s great, cool, because that probably means we are pretty good. But then how do you go about achieving those (things)? That’s why you can’t get caught up in this outcome society. You have to just really focus on today.”
Maddon stressed to his players last season the importance of focusing on winning that particular day. Not to look ahead. Maddon is going to use the same message next season. He wants the focus to be on the day not “trying to win 2016.” He believes that philosophy is the “best way to win eight more games next year.”
All week Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer have talked about the importance of winning the division next season, avoiding the Wild Card Game and get into the post-season tournament. Once in, anything is possible and the more times the Cubs play deep into October the better the odds that eventually the team will reach its ultimate goal.
The focus from outside the organization is on the Cubs winning the Series. Maddon is not going to allow his players look beyond the regular season.
“Regardless of how good we are on paper, theory and reality are two different things,” Maddon said to Patrick Mooney. “We’re going to go through bad stretches next year, regardless of these beautiful names. We’re still going to go through problems. How do we react to them? And how do we keep those windows of failure to a minimum? Because it’s going to happen. It happens to everybody every year. So how do you process that? How do you get to the next moment that makes it better?”
Addison Russell happily surrendered his No. 22 when the Cubs signed Jason Heyward. Russell was one of the first Cubs to jump on Twitter to welcome his new teammate.
Russell announced via the Twitter machine Wednesday that he will wear No. 27 moving forward. Russell’s favorite athlete growing up “hands down” was Eddie George. Heyward replied and thanked Russell “for passing along the No. 22” to him. Heyward reminded Russell of the ‘IOU.’
Christopher Kamka posted a reminder that the Cubs’ 21-year old shortstop finished behind Kyle Schwarber last season for the most pitches per plate appearance. Cubs projected starting eight pitches per plate appearance in 2015: Heyward – 3.84; Zobrist – 4.02; Bryant – 4.06; Rizzo – 3.92; Schwarber – 4.24; Soler – 4.00; Montero – 4.07; Russell – 4.12
Starlin Castro was traded to the Yankees a little more than a week ago. Castro said good-bye and thanked Cubs fans last Saturday. And Wednesday, the Yankees posted a photo of Castro in the other pinstripes.
Castro is excited to be a Yankee according to his new manager.
Joe Girardi discussed Castro and said he thinks his new second baseman “has a great set of hands” and a very good arm. Girardi feels the Yankees have stabilized their up-the-middle defense with Castro at second and Didi Gregorius at shortstop. The Yankees now have, according to Girardi, two shortstops out there that will help them tremendously from a defensive standpoint.
News, Notes and Rumors
• Comcast SportsNet asked what’s next for the Cubs after Jason Heyward signing?
• The Reds, White Sox and Dodgers completed a major trade Wednesday. Todd Frazier is no longer the third baseman of the Reds. Frazier ended up on the South Side and instantly made the White Sox a better team on paper. Frazier was traded to the White Sox in a three-team deal with the Dodgers. The White Sox sent 2B Micah Johnson, RHP Frankie Montas and OF Trayce Thompson to the Dodgers and the Reds received INF Brandon Dixon, INF Jose Peraza and OF Scott Schebler from the Dodgers.
• And the three-team deal might have given the Dodgers the prospects to pull off a trade with the Marlins for Jose Fernandez according to Ken Rosenthal.
• The Cardinals announced Wednesday that catcher Yadier Molina had to have a second thumb ligament surgery Tuesday. The procedure he had on the thumb in October “didn’t take” according to Jenifer Langosch. Molina is expected to miss most of Spring Training.
• Randal Grichuk had sports hernia surgery according to Jennifer Langosch. The Cardinals expect Grichuk to be ready for the start of Spring Training.
• Mike Scioscia told Mike DiGiovanna that the Angels would prefer to add a left-handed hitting left fielder. Scioscia did not rule out the team signing Yoenis Cespedes or Justin Upton, but he thought the Angels’ lineup would benefit with the addition of a lefty bat.
• Owner Arte Moreno told the team’s beat writers Wednesday that the Angels “did not make an offer to Jason Heyward” and his club is not in serious talks with Yoenis Cespedes, Justin Upton, Alex Gordon or Chris Davis. And Moreno said the Angels “are probably gonna be out” on Cespedes, Gordon and Upton.
• The Indians made two additions to their roster Wednesday that might have taken them out of the market of trading for an outfielder. 1B/OF/DH/C Mike Napoli agreed to terms with the Indians on a one-year, $7 million contract that includes a $3 million incentives package. Napoli is expected to be the Indians every day first baseman according to Ken Rosenthal. And the Indians signed OF Rajai Davis to a one-year contract believed to be for $5.25 million plus incentives.
And last, but not least, NL Cy Young Award winner Jake Arrieta really likes the moves his team has made this off-season. Arrieta tweeted Wednesday, “It appears that the Cubs might win a few this season. Makes me want to put on cubby blue lipstick and give Theo a big kiss.”
This Day In Cubstory
2014 – Cubs traded Justin Ruggiano to Mariners for Matt Brazis
2012 – Cubs signed free agent Drew Carpenter
2010 – Cubs signed free agent Kerry Wood
2002 – Cubs signed free agent Troy O’Leary
1999 – Cubs signed free agent Andy Larkin
1996 – Cubs granted free agency to Leo Gomez
1996 – Cubs selected Miguel Batista off waivers from the Marlins
1995 – Cubs signed free agent Mike Campbell
1992 – Cubs signed free agent Jose Bautista
1990 – Cubs signed free agent Dave Smith
1990 – Cubs released Randy Kramer
1989 – Zach Cates, born
1982 – Juan Mateo, born
1981 – Cubs released Steve Dillard and Mike Lum
1979 – David Kelton, born
1978 – Alex Cintron, born
1971 – Dodgers selected Chris Cannizzaro off waivers from the Cubs
1959 – Marvell Wynne, born
1931 – Cubs selected Lance Richbourg off waivers from the Braves