It's been quite comical to see the internet blow up with Chicago Cubs fans' bold predictions about World Series glory in the wake of the team signing former Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon to guide their team.
If social media posts are to be believed, the Wee Bears are going to sign ALL the free agents of consequence this off-season and, guided by Maddon, they're bound to win about 155 games before breezing through the playoffs to their first World Series title since before powered flight, radio and most other modern conveniences.
Now, I'm not trying to say that Maddon's not a good manager. I admit, when former St. Louis skipper Tony La Russa retired after the 2011 World Series, I thought Maddon would have been an excellent choice to replace him. But let's not pretend that Maddon is such a great manager that he can take a team that has lived in last place for the past several seasons and turn them into the 1927 New York Yankees.
That's certainly not what happened when the Cubs hired Dusty Baker to be their savior. Nor is it what happened when Lou Piniella was brought on board to guide the Cubs to the World Series promised land.
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The Chicago Tribune ran a story Monday guessing how long it will take for the honeymoon between Maddon, Cubs fans and the Chicago media to be over. That piece quoted Pinella as saying that, for him, it was over after exactly one loss. There's not a lot of patience to be expected from folks who have suffered since 1908, I suppose.
So let's not spoil the Cubs fans' fun by pointing out that Maddon's career winning percentage is only .517 and that he's finished in first place only twice in 14 years. His average finish, actually, is third place. (Mike Matheny of the St. Louis Cardinals has a .566 career winning percentage and has finished first in two seasons and second in the third of his three seasons as a major league manager.)
Oh, I know, Chicago fans. That's because Maddon didn't have all these great young players you've been telling us about for two or three years, right? I remember when you told us how Kerry Wood, Mark Prior, Shawon Dunston, Jody Davis, Ryne Sandberg and so on were going to be the guys who were going to put you over the top. (There were also a ton of lesser known players who elicited similar enthusiasm.)
Still, you're the big city, rich Cubs and Maddon was stuck in low rent Tampa Bay where he didn't have the resources Chicago can muster, right? Have you heard of David Price and James Shields? Those two were aces of two different playoff teams in 2014. But for several years they were on Maddon's staff. Perhaps you've heard of Evan Longoria, Ben Zobrist, B.J. Upton and Carl Crawford.
The cupboard hasn't exactly been bare for Maddon. We'll see if the Cubs prospects turn out to be as good as the players he had during his tenure in Tampa Bay.