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Does Joe Maddon fit in new generation of MLB skippers?

Chicago Cubs skipper Joe Maddon is one of the most creative managers in the game, but also the oldest. There’s a youth movement – can Maddon hold out?

When the Chicago Cubs hired Joe Maddon in the winter of 2014, management and the fans thought he was just the right man to lead a young Cubs team to the promised land. Boy, were they right.

Even though the Cubs fell short of their ultimate goals this season, Maddon helped the team reach the lofty goals set for him when they inked him to his five-year, $25 million contract. The Pennsylvania native led the Cubs to the postseason in each of his first four seasons, winning the National League Central twice, reaching the National League Championship three times and, of course, winning the World Series in 2016.

Times are changing

Joe Maddon is one of the most creative managers in big league history. His use of analytics and using pitchers like Tarvis Wood in the outfield to have him return to the pitch to a batter later in the same inning are just two ways Maddon is different from other managers.

We see his new-age style on a daily basis in a way we overlook more now – how he sets his lineup card. It’s pretty rare to see his club sport the same defensive alignment or even batting order more than once in a three-game series. Even a decade ago, such mixing and matching were considered taboo.

However, even though Maddon’s techniques are “new-age,” he’s still getting up there in actual age. The Chicago skipper will be 65 when the Cubs arrive at Spring Training in Mesa, AZ. next February.

Youngblood in the dugouts

With the recent hires of Rocco Baldelli by the Twins,  Brad Ausmus earning a second chance as a big league skipper with the Angels and David Bell getting the Reds job, it goes to show that teams are looking for younger (cheaper) managers to lead their teams.

There are already some young established managers as well. Gabe Kapler with the Phillies, Alex Cora with the Red Sox, Aaron Boone with the Yankees, AJ Hinch with the Astros, Dave Roberts of the Dodgers and Craig Counsell of the rival Brewers – just to name a few.

Managers like Cora, Roberts, Hinch, Counsell and Boone have all tasted postseason success, and in the case of Hinch, he even has a World Series ring on his shelf. Either Cora or Roberts will soon be able to say the same, as well.

What does this mean for Maddon?

Teams are starting to figure out Maddon’s tricks of the trade. With teams combatting his moves and thinking, it seems, at times, as if Maddon is over thinking things. Because of that, his team’s performance (at least in-game) has suffered from time to time.

Next: Five players who could be traded this offseason

Regardless of these instances, Joe Maddon is still a great manager with the ability to connect with his players and the fans, so as long as he wants to manage, there will be a team willing to sign him. The only real question that matters right now is whether or not said team will be the Chicago Cubs.

 

 

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