Joe Maddon expects Cubs to police their own clubhouse


Joe Maddon expects Cubs to police their own clubhouse

MESA, Ariz. – Joe Maddon’s feelings about kids running around the clubhouse can be summed up with two words: Don’t. Care. 

While the White Sox go viral with the Adam LaRoche retirement story, exposing issues about the organization’s power structure and clubhouse dynamic, the Cubs keep rolling along at Camp Maddon, where zoo animals, DJs and magicians are always welcome. 

“It’s not up to me – it’s up to them,” Maddon said, wearing a green “TRY NOT TO SUCK” T-shirt for St. Patrick’s Day at Sloan Park. “I have my own office. I’m considering getting a bird in my office. I’m worried about my bird.

“I (need) a bird that can handle not being attended to. I’m looking into the cockatoo right now, some parrots. I’ve always loved birds.

“So if, in fact, I actually go through with that, I’m going to have to pay more attention to the bird on a daily basis than what’s happening in the clubhouse.”  

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The White Sox vs. LaRoche will be the backdrop on Friday when the Cubs visit Camelback Ranch in Glendale, where executive vice president Kenny Williams asked a respected veteran player to “dial back” from “100 percent” the amount of time his 14-year-old son spends in the clubhouse. 

As intriguing as this White Sox team should be with elite talents like Chris Sale, Jose Abreu and Todd Frazier, it will be impossible to miss the perception gap between these two franchises.

“We’re all for kids on the infield,” Maddon said. “They do have their own lockers. We get them whatever toys they would like, put their names on their toys. It’s something we kind of advocate. Regarding actual children…”

The Cubs manager plans to hold his “Lead Bull Meeting” with a group of veteran players on Sunday, discussing everything from dress codes to travel issues to who belongs in the clubhouse. 

“My concept is once we leave that room, we’re all on the same page when it comes to policy,” Maddon said. “You know I don’t like the word ‘rules.’ I like to create policy and how we’re going to conduct ourselves, how we’re going to act.

“And then I believe it’s among the more experienced guys on your team to make sure that it’s adhered to. It’s not about me to do that. It’s not about the coaching staff to do that. It’s among the players.

“That’s a part of our overarching philosophy here, to treat you like a man, give you all the freedoms that you need. And in return, I believe we get greater respect and discipline.”

[SHOP: Gear up for the 2016 season, Cubs fans!]

Maddon views himself as an old-school guy who embraces new ideas, someone open to sabermetrics and social media and very comfortable with delegating responsibilities.

“The dictatorial component of this game, I think, is slowly fading,” Maddon said. “It was more prominent in football, maybe still is. We play 162 games, therein lies the difference with what we do here in our sport. We don’t play once a week.

“We play every day, where we’re in each other’s face every day. You can go out and practice three times a week and play three times a week and there’s a lot of time to massage whatever might be wrong. This game counts tonight, so you got to make sure that everybody’s heads are on right. That’s why I think it’s even more critical to include Major League Baseball players as a part of the policymaking.”

So Maddon will point his Lead Bulls in the right direction and get out of the way.

“I shouldn’t hear a lot of stuff,” Maddon said, “because it should be taken care of before it ever got back to me. And if it gets back to me, that means somebody’s telling me stuff that they shouldn’t be telling me.

“That’s the way any good organization should run. Whoever is absolutely managing it should be the last guy to hear about some stuff. It only should get to me if it absolutely gets to that point where it absolutely needs my attention.

“Otherwise, coaches (and) our players should handle that stuff. And that’s how you get a really good clubhouse.” 

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.