Theo stood up and took the blame of the season like a man. Well, actually he was sitting down but explained the season and how things went from bad to worse. The Cubs did announce that Joe Maddon will be back next year for the final year of his contract. He will be in a lame duck year but as Theo explained that is more common these days. Whether that was his way of justifying Maddon going into a lame duck year or what that was the justification. Theo did the right move to bring Maddon back because Maddon did a lot of right things this year. Maddon is still the only manager to manage the Cubs to a World Series and win in 108 years. No that does not give him a pass forever but there does need to be some patience. No one else has done that.
Maddon had made his mistakes. Does he manage a bullpen well? Not always. Some of us have good reason to question his moves. Is it possible he can give some of that to his pitching coach? Maybe but I don’t think he will. Maddon made 2 big mistakes this year with the bullpen and it cost him a lot. Maddon pitched Brenden Morrow 3 times in a row in early June which ended up being a time he got hurt. Morrow pitched until the middle of July but was ultimately out of the rest of the season. Theo explained that they signed Morrow to the years and money with the injury history in mind. Down deep I think Theo wished they had more arms in the bullpen to take the load off Morrow but at the end of the day when Maddon has a horse he rides them till they die, ask Aroldis Chapman. Maddons second mistake was letting Pedro Strop hit for himself in Washington which ultimately ended with a pulled hamstring. What would helps is the Cubs having more true gunslingers in the bullpen for Maddon to chose from who are reliable and throw strikes. They put too many eggs in the Carl Edwards basket and those eggs did not turn out well.
The Cubs finished the season (including the Wild Card game) with 40 games of scoring 1 or fewer runs. Theo said this is unacceptable and there is no one that will disagree with him. This does not fall on Chili Davis alone because Chili Davis did help put some players this year. I don’t believe he hurt anyone either. At the end of the day Chili has a hitting philosophy that he tries to get players to hit the other way instead of hitting over the shift. If a hitters approach is working there would be no reason to change it. There isn’t a major league player that will listen to a hitting coach if their current approach is working well.
Part of the Cubs problem is they have put more value in the players they have then what they might actually have. The Cubs have players that have not done as well as they have done in previous years (Happ, Contreras, Bryant, Russell) and the list goes on. Some of it can be narrowed down like Bryant was injured this year but he also had a lack luster 2017 as well. Although people are blaming that on the World Series hangover but at the end of the day great players find a way to make it work. There is no reason to continue to document Addison Russell’s troubles ( 40 game suspension) but he has been a shell of a player since 2016. Ian Happ’s home run production dropped (sophomore slump maybe). Wilson Contreras needs to focus on being the best catcher he can be and not the best in the league.
The Cubs need to find a way to have a more consistent offense. They will need to look at it through free agency and trades. Theo did say that speed on the bases was not high on the priority list but it was there. He would not promise they would find a prototypical lead off hitter either. Getting more offense in general is the biggest priority for the winter. Theo would not rule out bringing back Daniel Murphy. Murphy started out hot after the trade but did cool down. He did hit .297 with the Cubs after the trade but his defense was lackluster.
The Cubs were very impressed by Cole Hamels. The hope he is a part of the club next year. Hamels does have a 20 million dollar option for next year. Look for the Cubs to decline the option but workout a contract extension with him. Going into next season the Cubs starting rotation is a very good one with the idea that Yu Darvish will be back. If Yu Darvish did not get hurt they would have never went after Hamels. The Cubs are going to continue to get depth for the rotation so that will make spring training interesting. I don’t see who they can send Tyler Chatwood to at this point so he will be around. The Cubs also have Drew Smyly who will be fully recovered from Tommy John surgery. I do look forward to next year being a special year for the Cubs.