Joe Maddon, Cubs tirade-free after ejections against Cardinals


Joe Maddon, Cubs tirade-free after ejections against Cardinals

Joe Maddon didn't put anybody on blast after the Cubs-Cardinals game Saturday.

There was no tirade directed at the umpires. Instead, Maddon essentially took an "all's well that ends well" approach after he and Cubs closer Hector Rondon were ejected in the ninth inning of the Cubs' win over the Cardinals.

Rondon hit St. Louis pinch-hitter Greg Garcia to lead off the ninth and was immediately ejected after umpires warned both teams in the eighth inning. It was the third Cardinals batter the Cubs hit on the afternoon.

None of the hit-by-pitches were all that controversial, but after Friday's shenanigans, the umpiring crew at Wrigley Field decided not to mess around.

"The umpire came up to me and said, 'I know it wasn't on purpose, but you have to go out and take it,'" Rondon said after the game.

[MORE: Cubs make another statement Saturday win over Cardinals]

Garcia came around to score on Matt Carpenter's home run as the Cardinals plated three in the ninth to mount a comeback.

"That's just an interpretation by the umpires," Maddon said. "Obviously not trying to do that there. The umpires have the ability to exercise their own baseball acumen and judgement in that moment.

"There was a lot of pressure coming from the other side to do what eventually happened. I'm not going to pass judgement - I'm a very non-judgmental person - partly because it worked out in my favor."

Maddon said he watched the Cubs' near-implosion in the ninth with a full glass of Mollydooker wine in the Cubs clubhouse.

After letting the Cardinals have it Friday evening, Maddon knows it looks bad that Cubs pitchers hit three St. Louis hitters Saturday, but insists it was all just a coincidence.

"Of course it was," Maddon said. "I know nobody wants to believe me. You're not going to believe me - all of Cardinal Nation, God bless you - I know you're not going to believe me and I get it.

"There's no way for me to sit here and even attempt to ameliorate your concerns. None of that was intentional. It just happens; it's part of the game. But again, go ahead and lay it on me, man. I'm OK with it."

[NBC SHOP: Gear up for the home stretch, Cubs fans!]

Kris Bryant actually enjoys the heated nature of the last two games against the Cardinals as these teams continue to duke it out for the division.

"It's baseball. It's fun," Bryant said. "It adds excitement of where we're at in the season ... We were all just playing hard and emotions were shown.

"That's OK. It's OK for baseball. It's OK for the rivalry. We want to win.

"Today, we got them and they're going to get us again. It was just a good time."

Cubs executive Jason McLeod reportedly linked to Giants' GM opening


Cubs executive Jason McLeod reportedly linked to Giants' GM opening

Is this the offseason that Cubs executive Jason McLeod finally becomes an MLB general manager?

According to Bruce Levine, the Giants are reportedly interested in McLeod, the Cubs senior vice president of scouting and player development, for their vacant general manager position.

McLeod joined the Cubs' front office in 2011 alongside Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer. Before the Cubs, he spent six years in the Red Sox front office and two in the Padres' (with Hoyer, who was San Diego's general manager from 2010-2011). 

Of course, the Giants' reported interest in McLeod doesn't necessarily mean that he will interview for the job. However, it's worth noting that McLeod interviewed for the Twins' general manager job in 2016; he also withdrew his name from consideration for the Padres' general manager job in 2014. 

In addition to the Giants, McLeod's name has been linked to the Mets' general manager vacancy. This is more speculation, but the point is that it seems to be only a matter of time before McLeod is hired as general manager elsewhere.

For what it's worth, though, McLeod is under contract through 2021 and has previously said that he is grateful to be with the Cubs. 

“I’m exceptionally grateful,” McLeod said. “All of us are. Look at where we are at this moment in time with this team," McLeod said in 2016. "I can’t imagine a better environment, a better culture to work at in baseball.

"We’ve been together a long time. We’re friends. We’re good. We embrace the fact that we are good. And we challenge ourselves to be even better.”

Cubs have new hitting coach in Anthony Iapoce

Cubs have new hitting coach in Anthony Iapoce

The Cubs are heading into a new season with a different hitting coach for the second straight winter, but the most recent choice is a familiar face.

Anthony Iapoce is set to join Joe Maddon's coaching staff this week after serving in the same capacity with the Texas Rangers for the last three seasons. The Cubs confirmed the move Monday afternoon shortly after the news broke out of the Rangers camp.

The Cubs fired Chili Davis last week after just one season as the team's hitting coach.

Entering the final week of the season, the Rangers fired manager Jeff Banister, leaving Iapoce and the rest of the Texas coaching staff in limbo.

As such, Iapoce is rejoining the Cubs, where he served as a special assistant to the General Manager from 2013-15 focusing on player development, particularly in the hitting department throughout the minor leagues.

Iapoce has familiarity with a bunch of the current star offensive players on the Cubs, from Willson Contreras to Kris Bryant. 

Both Bryant and Contreras endured tough 2018 seasons at the plate, which was a huge reason for the Cubs' underperforming lineup. Bryant's issue was more related to a left shoulder injured suffered in mid-May while Contreras' offensive woes remain a major question mark after the young catcher looked to be emerging as a legitimate superstar entering the campaign.

Getting Contreras back to the hitter that put up 21 homers and 74 RBI in only 117 games in 2017 will be one of the main goals for Iapoce, so the history between the two could be a key.

With the Rangers, Iapoce oversaw an offense that ranked 7th, 9th and 14th in MLB in runs scored over the last three seasons. The decline in offensive production is obviously not a great sign, but the Rangers as a team have fallen off greatly since notching the top seed in the AL playoffs in 2016 with 95 wins only to lose 95 games in 2018, resulting in the change at manager.

Iapoce has worked with an offense backed by Adrian Beltre, Elvis Andrus, Shin-Soo Choo, Nomar Mazara and Joey Gallo the last few seasons.

Under Iapoce's tutelage, former top prospect Jurickson Profar shed any notion of a "bust" label and emerged as a budding star at age 25, collecting 61 extra-base hits with a .793 OPS in 2018.

When the Cubs let Davis go last week, they provided no update on assistant hitting coach Andy Haines, who just finished his first season in that role and is expected to remain with the team for 2019. The same offseason Iapoce left for the Rangers, Haines took over as the Cubs' minor league hitting instructor.