Embrace The Target: Cubs manager Joe Maddon brushes off criticism from Aroldis Chapman and Miguel Montero

Embrace The Target: Cubs manager Joe Maddon brushes off criticism from Aroldis Chapman and Miguel Montero

President Barack Obama called Joe Maddon from Air Force One and invited the Cubs to the White House.

Clemson football coach Dabo Swinney dug the "Embrace The Target" and "Try Not To Suck" messaging so much that he asked the Cubs manager to shoot a video to show his team before beating Alabama in the national-championship rematch.

Maddon could retire tomorrow and start working on his Hall of Fame acceptance speech. Leading the Cubs to their first World Series title since 1908 will guarantee his Cooperstown plaque.

So at a time when his Q rating should be soaring, why is Maddon getting second-guessed by players like Aroldis Chapman and Miguel Montero and pestered about how he managed Game 7?

"Honestly, I find it humorous that people want to go there," Maddon said Wednesday during his "Thanksmas" dinner at The Salvation Army Freedom Center in West Humboldt Park. "After all, we won 103 games. We had to beat the Giants, Dodgers and Indians to win the World Series… and people want to focus on one moment where I totally disagree with them and I can't convince them of that.

"There's nothing I can do about perception and interpretation. That's in the brain and the mind and the heart of the beholder.

"I would prefer that everybody would understand the magnitude of running the gauntlet of the Giants and Dodgers and Indians and how difficult it was to get to Game 7."

You know it's going to come up at some point during this weekend's Cubs Convention at the Sheraton Grand Chicago. Set up a few microphones and pack enough Cubs fans into a hotel ballroom and there will be awkward moments during the Q&A sessions.

But the Chapman questions have been asked and answered. It's really not about the reactions on Twitter or managing from the press box anymore.

It's whether or not Maddon has to clear the air with any relievers who felt marginalized while Chapman threw 97 pitches in Games 5, 6 and 7 combined – or address any underlying issues that compelled Jason Heyward to call a players-only meeting in a Progressive Field weight room during that rain delay.

"I'm always open about conversations with anybody," Maddon said. "I don't really feel it's necessary to have any conversations. After all, we did win the World Series. And everybody did participate and everybody had a role.

"There were certain things said – whether it was Miggy or with Chappy at the end of the year – that really brought light to it. Otherwise, I think for me it turned out pretty well."

[MORE CUBS: Jake Arrieta's future and how Cubs plan to build their rotation for 2017 and beyond]

After the team's championship parade and Grant Park rally, Montero went on WMVP-AM 1000 and complained about the lack of communication while being stuck in a three-catcher rotation and wondered why Maddon leaned so hard on Chapman.

"I'm sure we'll talk," Maddon said. "Miggy likes to talk."

Maddon could laugh about Montero's brutal honesty and odd sense of timing, because the veteran blasted a grand slam in the National League Championship Series, caught the final two innings in the World Series and will be a part of the defending champs.

Chapman didn't show much appreciation for the way Maddon welcomed him after a midseason trade from the New York Yankees – and a 30-game suspension under Major League Baseball's domestic-violence policy.

During the conference call to formally announce his five-year, $86 million contract with the Yankees last month, Chapman said through a translator that Maddon misused him in the playoffs.

"It's too bad he had to say that," Maddon said. "There's really nothing to it, as far as I'm concerned. We had talked about his usage and he was all for it. I just know one thing – that we could not have won it without him.

"He was about as big a part of that run as anybody was, so I'm grateful for everything that he had done here, and I just wish him nothing but the best in the future. But everything that occurred in those last couple games was planned out in advance.

"And as it turned out, it turned out pretty well."

Maddon can publicly take the high road now – and flip up his World Series ring finger later.

"It's unfortunate that they felt they had to discuss it that way," Maddon said. "But from my perspective, I appreciate everything they've done."

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


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.