Most interesting was this:
He plans a significant change for next year in his managing style with a shift to more on field coaching work, which is apparently tied to baseball ops president Theo Epstein saying he expects Maddon to be “re-energized” by the challenges after last season’s disappointing finish.
”That will be the part that will be different,” Maddon said. “I’ve always kind of stayed free of coaching because I really want to stay out of coaches’ way so they can do their job. I’ve always felt that is the right way to do it. But this year I’m going to get a little more hands-on involved in actually coaching. I think that’s where the comment came from. …. I actually want to do less before the game talking to the media and whatever and try to get on the field more often.”
Maddon had two coaches who, presumably, were hired either by him or to please him last offseason — Chili Davis and Jim Hickey — and both now are gone. Anthony Iapoce has replaced Davis and we have yet to learn who’s going to replace Hickey. Reading between the lines, Maddon has been somewhat of a hands-off manager since he’s been in Chicago — and up to 2018 you couldn’t argue with the results. With Hickey and another of Maddon’s favorite coaches from his time in Tampa, Dave Martinez, now gone, we’ll see if Maddon’s coaching style will make a difference in how Cubs players play in games.
The article also quotes Maddon as saying that Hickey did not leave due to any health issues, but didn’t go any further in specifying what the “personal reasons” were that prompted Hickey’s departure.
Regarding his contract status, Maddon told Topkin:
“Lame duck or free agent, are they synonymous terms? Players go into that year annually. Good players go into a season without a contract for the next year. Why would I feel any different as a manager than a good player does, a (Manny) Machado or a (Bryce) Harper, whatever. You could say “lame duck” or you could use “free agent.” I think they are both the same term.”
Maddon, 65 in February, said he definitely plans to keep managing beyond this season.
That’s certainly a different way of looking at things, and I suspect we won’t hear much more from Maddon on this topic during the season, especially if he’s going to be on the field with players pre-game instead of holding court with the media.
As Topkin notes above, and as I have long suspected, Maddon doesn’t want to retire after 2019. I hope the Cubs have a season that makes it worth Theo & Co.’s while to give him a contract extension.
One thing appears reasonably certain: We’re going to see a very different Joe Maddon in 2019 than we’ve seen the last four years, probably less T-shirt slogans and more hands-on coaching and managing.