Cubs' Joe Maddon says nothing 'dumb' about offseason approach

ByJesse Rogers via ESPN logo
Wednesday, December 12, 2018

LAS VEGAS -- In an effort to connect better with his players after a disappointing finish to last season, 64-year-old Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon's winter reading this offseason includes a book called "Managing Millennials for Dummies."

The made-up-sounding title is anything but, as former Cubs hitting coach Chili Davis along with the Cubs' front office have intimated there were times when it was difficult to communicate with the team's young players. Maddon wants to change that.

"I'm in the middle of that [book] right now," Maddon said on Day 2 of the winter meetings. "And you always think this for dummy's thing is really rudimentary written; it's really well written and researched. I'm learning about traditionalists, baby boomers, the Xers, the millennials. And I'm really starting to understand this a little bit better."

Maddon is leaving no stone unturned entering the final year of a five-year contract, as the Cubs already have announced the 2016 World Series-winning manager won't be getting a contract extension anytime soon.

"I totally understand where [Theo Epstein is] coming from," Maddon said of the team's president. "I am not offended. I don't feel badly about it. I get it. ... I'm excited. I'm really excited about all this. If you have a lot of self-confidence, things like that do not bother you, and I do. I'm going to do my job. I might alter it a little bit, like getting out on the field more often. What we've done over the last four years I feel pretty good about, feel strongly about, and I think you'll see that trend continue."

The Cubs have made the postseason all four years under Maddon, but the 2018 edition ended quickly, with the team losing the National League Central Division playoff and the wild-card game on consecutive days. Maddon intends to be more hands-on, in part because he has a new coaching staff, and also to ensure the team is putting its best foot forward every day.

"I expect more out of myself," Maddon stated. "I love challenges. I've already been writing different items down going into camp. ... It's just what you're supposed to do. It's not like it's anything new. It should not be a surprise when you have high expectations, like we do, and you don't meet them, you've got to do something about it. And so like I said, we've had great conversations and the planning has been really good."

Once again, Maddon pushed back on any notion that he and Epstein aren't on the same page, and he believes his status as Cubs manager will take care of itself.

He was asked if he would like to stay in Chicago beyond next year.

"Absolutely," Maddon said. "That's my plan. Again, how could you not love that opportunity or the gig? The gig is the best. My players, the people I work with, I could not ask for more -- it's impossible."