Will Epstein and Maddon Finally Bring a Winner to Wrigley?Added - Dec. 26, 2014 - Comments
The Chicago Cubs have had a lot of Hall of Fame players throughout their history. And they certainly generate a lot of revenue at the box office. So then how has this team not won a World Series since 1908, or appeared in the Fall Classic since 1945? Furthermore, what has precluded the Cubs from reaching the .500 mark in any of the last five seasons? Well these things are not so easy to answer. But then again, if they can be answered at all, it will be by the guys are in charge right now.
Theo Epstein had to deal with the American League version of the Cubs, as the Boston Red Sox had not won the World Series since 1918, and as the general manager of the team defeated the "Curse of the Bambino" with the world championship in 2004, following it up with another one in 2007. So he knows what it's like to deal with a fan base that hasn't seen real success in a while.
Joe Maddon had gained a reputation, and a well-deserved one, as the one manager in baseball who could probably do more with less. When you are the pilot of the Tampa Bay Rays, you have no choice but to operate on a limited bankroll. All Maddon did during his tenure with the Rays is guide them to four appearances in the playoffs and the 2008 American League pennant. But he had a clause in his contract that allowed him to become a "free agent" after the 2014 season, and he exercised it, taking a big offer from the Cubs in what was considered a major coup by Epstein. In the process, Rick Renteria, who guided Chicago to a 73-89 record last season, was abruptly let go. When the Cubs had an opportunity to get Maddon, it was too good to pass up.
Everybody knows that the Cubs sell out a lot of games at historic Wrigley Field. They know they are in a major media market and have a lot of bankroll behind them. Epstein has tried to plant the seeds for future success with young players, but it is time to make a move. Thus, the Cubs are considered to be one of the contenders for any number of high-priced free agents, including pitchers like Jon Lester, James Shields and Max Scherzer. In fact, an article in the USA Today that analyzed the free-agent market predicted they'd have the inside track on at least two of those three. But nothing has happened as of yet. The Cubs have the money, and it will be interesting to see in what direction they throw it as they tried to avoid their sixth straight fifth-place finish in 2015.