This weekend as the Cubs play the White Sox the Cub fans are on Joe Maddon watch. Maddon who led the Cubs to their first World Series win in 108 years has been on the hot seat all season. This has been a Cubs season that has been up and down.
The Cubs started out the season going 2-7. After that, they put wins together and went 27-11 which put them 11 games over .500. The Cubs were in 1st place by 1.5 games and looked like they were on a roll. Since May 23, the Cubs are 17-24 going into tonight’s game with the White Sox.
So will there be an upswing in the Cubs bipolar season? At this point it is hard to say there will be. It looked liked signing Kimbel was a good shot in the arm for the Cubs but that only lasted a couple of games after he was signed. The Carlos Gonzalez experiment is over with a whimper has he elected for free agency after being DFA’ed last Saturday.
So what is the fix?
This is not something trading for a player can fix. It is something more deeper than that. On October 3, 2018 Theo Epstein talked about the Cubs needed a leadership change in the clubhouse. So all off season the fans looked for what change was coming. Then the changed happened, the Cubs signed veteran infielder Daniel Descalso. The signing at this point is looking like a true waste with Descalso hitting just .186 in 156 at bats.
So that was not a fix. What the Cubs fans has seen in the first 88 games of the season has been something you would expect from Single A South Bend. The Cubs have missed cutoff men on throws, base running mental mistakes and mental mistakes in the outfield. Players watching home runs just to see it hit off the wall and it turns into a long single. Their big lead off hitter is Kyle Schwarber and he has an OBP of .326. Clearly this is where Ben Zobrist would have helped the Cubs but continues to be on the restricted list while dealing with his divorce.
No doubt the Cubs are doing an injustice to Schwarber by having him lead off and need to find a true lead off hitter but so do most teams. So what will help?
It may be time for the Cubs to look at replacing Joe Maddon. I am not a fan of replacing a manager in mid season unless a change will give the team the best chance to get to the post season. I believe if the Cubs make the right hire they could be a post season team and go for a deep run.
On July 15, 2018 The St. Louis Cardinals fired Mike Matheny just before the All Star Break after he started the season 47-46. They replaced him with Mike Shildt who finished the season 41-28 as the Cardinals fought for a Wildcard spot and just missing out to the Colorado Rockies.
The Cardinals were a mess at the start of the season in 2018. The inmates truly ran the asylum until Mike Shildt took over. The players needed a change of message and a change of voice. I believe the Cubs need this too.
Who should take over?
Mark Loretta would be an easy choice because he has sat beside Joe Maddon all year. He is already in the organization and knows the players personalities so just to move down the bench would be easy. I don’t know if Loretta is someone that could take the Cubs to a postseason and have a disciplined team. He has never been a manager before at the big league level but then again neither was Mike Shildt.
David Ross is another choice. He was the veteran leader the Cubs had in 2015 and 16. His veteran leadership was on display in game 7 of the World Series in a conversation with Anthony Rizzo that was heard on TV since Ross was miked for the game. Going from a veteran leader to a manager would be difficult. David Ross also has a nice job with ESPN and is enjoying family time so I doubt he would change so soon after retiring.
Joe Girardi is a World Series winning manager who knows how to manage different personalities. Girardi was able to handle the New York spotlight and kept a very disciplined team. Girardi would be a true leadership change in the Cubs Organization. He is the type of person you could bring in and feel you have a chance to get to the post season. If Girardi would accept the Cubs job in midseason it would give the Cubs the jolt they need,
I do believe it is time for Maddon to be replaced. Maddon has seemed very disconnected from the team for a while now. Yes this year he has tried to be more involved but it may be too little too late.