Cubs

Cubs: Joe Maddon embraces loss of September off day

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Cubs: Joe Maddon embraces loss of September off day

Thanks to Saturday’s brutal weather conditions in Chicago, the Cubs will be without an off day during the final week of the regular season.

But instead of lamenting the loss of the last day to rest during what could be a playoff push, Cubs manager Joe Maddon said he’s more than happy with playing Kansas City in a makeup game on Monday, Sept. 28 at Wrigley Field.

“I love it, actually,” Maddon said. “We already have one off on Thursday before that. I don’t like too many off days in September. I don’t like too many off days period.

“I like off days, but not when they happen too frequently like it does in the beginning of the season. I think also with a young ball club it’s better to keep them playing.

[MORE: Blackhawks or Lightning? Joe Maddon conflicted for Stanley Cup Final]

Maddon has the cachet to say that, having managed a young Rays team to the World Series in 2008 and taking other youth-laden clubs to the playoffs during his nine-year tenure in St. Petersburg. Having rosters expand to 40 Sept. 1 provides an added cushion, too, plus the Cubs still have three off days in the season’s final month — including, as Maddon said, the Thursday before the makeup game against Kansas City. 

For a team featuring plenty of pennant race greenhorns like Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant, Starlin Castro, Jorge Soler and Addison Russell, Maddon believes getting getting that extra day of rest isn’t necessary.

“When you get to August you’re going to be a little bit tired, you talk about the dog days, it’s true,” Maddon said. “But then you get your second wind, you get to the playoff run and you catch your second wind and you’re fine. You show up to the ballpark and you’re fine, the weather lightens up a bit, it’s a little bit cooler, there’s a lot of adrenaline in the ballpark on a daily basis. So all that stuff is covered. And I’d rather play than not play.”

This, of course, is contingent on the Cubs actually being in the National League Central/wild card hunt come late September. So far, the Cubs are hanging around the wild card race, though it’s probably too early to make any sweeping conclusions about that position.

[NBC SPORTS SHOP: Buy a Joe Maddon jersey]

Maddon, though, expects his side to be competing for a playoff spot when that makeup game against the defending American League champions rolls around in the fall.

“We don’t plan on watching anybody else in October,” Maddon said. “We want to be there ourselves. … We are eager to see how June unfolds because we have been able to get certain things together. Our players understand what we’re trying to do now and we understand the players better.

“So let’s see how June pans out and then we can make some determinations after that, but I’m not going to back off. I really believe we are a playoff-caliber team.”

Podcast: In light of recent hitting coach turmoil, who’s to blame for Cubs offensive struggles?

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USA TODAY

Podcast: In light of recent hitting coach turmoil, who’s to blame for Cubs offensive struggles?

On the latest Cubs Talk Podcast, David Kaplan, Kelly Crull, Luke Stuckmeyer and Tony Andracki discuss the comments Chili Davis made after being fired as Cubs hitting coach, ask if the Cubs struggles on offense were Davis' fault or the players and what Anthony Iapoce will be walking into as he tries to gets the team back on track a the plate.

 

Listen to the entire podcast here, or in the embedded player below:

 

Texas Rangers hire Cubs' Shiraz Rehman to be assistant GM

Texas Rangers hire Cubs' Shiraz Rehman to be assistant GM

The changing of the guard continues for the Cubs this offseason. 

After the team hired a new hitting coach yesterday, it was reported today that they're losing a front office member: 

Rehman, who has been with the Cubs in the same position for the last seven years, will reportedly head up the Rangers' analytics department. According to the Chicago Tribune, Rehman's role was " evaluating existing systems, and recognizing and applying solutions in an effort to create competitive advantages for the organization." 

All reports indicate that he'll be doing similar analytic-based work with the Rangers.