Cubs

After Sveum, is Maddux in play for Cubs?

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After Sveum, is Maddux in play for Cubs?

Dale Sveum didnt know Mike Maddux had withdrawn from the Red Sox managerial search until a reporter mentioned it to him on Monday night at Wrigley Field. They coached together in Milwaukee and remain good friends. They could be competing for the same job.

There are several subplots here, and Sveum and Maddux are at the center. Theo Epstein started researching candidates while he was working for the Red Sox. The Cubs are screening potential managers the same way they are in Boston.

Sveum who already interviewed at Fenway Park went through it again on Monday at Clark and Addison. Family considerations compelled Maddux to tell the Red Sox no thanks. The Rangers pitching coach is still scheduled to interview on Wednesday with the Cubs.

My wife and two daughters are together in the same state for the first time in three years and words cannot describe my happiness, Maddux said in a statement released to Texas reporters. The game of baseball has many sacrifices, but being apart from family is the toughest. I feel there is too much distance between the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex and Boston to see my family as much as Id enjoy.

What about Chicago? Sveum praised Maddux as perhaps the hardest-working coach in baseball, someone who will make a good manager someday, if not this year.

But Sveum, who will turn 48 this month, can make his own compelling case to be the next Cubs manager. Near the end of his 12-year career in the big leagues, he played for Tony La Russa, Lou Piniella, Jim Leyland and Joe Torre.

The Brewers hitting coach has been given many responsibilities during his six seasons on the Milwaukee staff, including 12 games as interim manager after Ned Yost was fired. That run helped clinch the 2008 wild card and convinced Sveum that he could do the job.

Sveum emphasizes video work and is comfortable with quantitative analysis. He also has the Boston connection with Epsteins inner circle. He was the third-base coach on the 2004 Red Sox team that reversed the curse. He knows what life is like in the big city.

When youre dealing with the Cubs and any major market, Sveum said, youre expected to win that year. Youre not expected to be rebuilding or doing anything other than thinking about winning the World Series.

The Cubs have a long-range plan that makes it seem unrealistic to sign Prince Fielder to a megadeal this winter. But Sveum would vouch for the first baseman, and his influence on a clubhouse.

You wish you had 25 Prince Fielders playing as hard as he does every night, Sveum said. The leadership that he brings by the way he plays is unmatched by anybody in baseball. (I) dont think I see anybody, day in and day out, play every single game as hard as Prince Fielder.

In keeping with Epsteins vision of bringing in the best and the brightest, the Cubs also announced the hiring of Joe Bohringer as pro scouting director. The 41-year-old DeKalb resident graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and has more than two decades of experience in professional baseball.

Throughout the organization, there will be new sets of eyes taking hard looks at the way the Cubs do business, trying to figure out why theyve gone so long without winning it all.

The million-dollar question, Sveum said. Being a baseball player and a coach for all these years, you always bring the Cubs up and why (they havent won). Its almost like a fluke that somebody with this kind of firepower hasnt won the World Series before.

A lot of times there is no formula. Sometimes it takes a lot of luck, a ball bouncing this way (to) win the World Series. You saw what happened to the Rangers this year. One little flyball could have been two feet (the other way) and they win the World Series.

Javier Báez joins Cubs All-Decade Team at second base, where El Mago was born

Javier Báez joins Cubs All-Decade Team at second base, where El Mago was born

With the 2010s coming to a close, NBC Sports Chicago is unveiling its Cubs All-Decade Team, highlighting the players who made the biggest impacts on the organization from 2010-19.

There may not be a player in baseball more exciting to watch than Javier Báez.

Whether at the plate, in the field or on the bases, Báez is a human highlight real. He’s one of the most powerful hitters in baseball; he has a cannon for an arm, exemplary defensive range and is a tagging maestro. He’s a dynamic baserunner who uses his elite baseball instincts to go station-to-station while magically avoiding tags along the way.

Yeah, there’s a reason Báez is known as “El Mago.” It’s not a matter of if he’ll make an incredible play each game, but a matter of when. Things come easy for the 27-year-old full of flair who makes the most difficult plays seem routine.

Báez is a career .270/.310/.484 hitter who’s hit 110 home runs in parts of six big-league seasons. One of those long balls came in his big-league debut (Aug. 5, 2014), a go-ahead blast against the Rockies in the 12th inning. The legend of El Mago was born.

Báez is the Cubs starting shortstop, though that hasn’t always been the case. Starlin Castro was the starter in 2014; Addison Russell claimed the title from Castro in the second half of 2015, holding it down until late in the 2018 season. Russell hit the injured list that August as the Cubs simultaneously acquired Daniel Murphy in an attempt to jump-start the offense.

By the time Russell returned, Báez was a clear-cut NL MVP candidate. The latter still bounced around the infield from time-to-time, but with Murphy entrenched at second, shortstop became Báez’s primary position. He’s been the starter ever since.

Báez has played 2,646 2/3 career innings at shortstop compared to 1,856 at second base (and 629 1/3 at third). He’s exclusively a shortstop these days, but the El Mago second base days aren’t forgotten.

Báez was the co-recipient of the 2016 NLCS MVP award (along with Jon Lester) and has started back-to-back All-Star Games (2018 at second, 2019 at shortstop). He was the runner-up for the 2018 NL MVP award, posting career highs across the board: .290/.326/.554, 34 homers, 111 RBIs, 129 OPS+.

And yet, it feels like Báez is only getting started. Nevertheless, his career to date has more than earned him a spot on our Cubs All-Decade Team at second base. With that, we'll leave you with this:

Anthony Rizzo joins Cubs All-Decade Team behind efforts on and off field

Anthony Rizzo joins Cubs All-Decade Team behind efforts on and off field

With the 2010s coming to a close, NBC Sports Chicago is unveiling its Cubs All-Decade Team, highlighting the players who made the biggest impacts on the organization from 2010-19.

You saw this one coming, right?

As the Cubs’ longest tenure player, Anthony Rizzo was a shoo-in for this group. He hasn’t relinquished his starting first baseman job since making his Cubs debut in June 2012. The guy’s longevity alone is impressive.

But besides that, Rizzo has been a model of consistency during his time on the North Side. Since 2012, he’s hit 217 home runs (averaging 27 per season) and hit 32 three times from 2014-17. The lone exception? 2015, when he hit 31. So close…

As a Cub, Rizzo is a .277/.376/.496 hitter with a 132 OPS+. He produces at a high clip each season, whether he’s hitting third, cleanup or leadoff, all while simultaneously playing stellar defense. The 30-year-old is a three-time Gold Glove Award winner (2016, 2018-19).

Rizzo is the guy who comes up huge in key moments but will be there to address the media after tough losses. He’s the de facto captain of the Cubs, the guy who suffered a nasty ankle sprain in September that could have ended his regular season. Instead, he returned four days later for a key series against the rival Cardinals, as the Cubs were fighting to keep their October dreams alive.

When he’s not leading his team on the field, Rizzo is giving back to the community off of it. He’s one of the most charitable athletes in the world and recently raised $1.3 million for children’s cancer research at his “8th annual Walk-off for Cancer” in his home state of Florida.

Rizzo was the first building block of the Cubs core which snapped their infamous 108-year championship drought, but he’ll be remembered for more than that. He’s a leader on and off the field, the clear choice for starting first baseman on our Cubs All-Decade Team.

Also considered: Derrek Lee, Bryan LaHair