Maddon: As Dexter Fowler goes, Cubs offense goes


Maddon: As Dexter Fowler goes, Cubs offense goes

When Dexter Fowler gets on base, the Cubs are 27-12.

That's a .692 winning percentage. That also means Fowler has scored in 27 of the Cubs' 43 wins during the 2015 season.

It doesn't take rocket surgery to see the correlation. When the leadoff hitter reaches base and scores, that bodes awfully well for the team.

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But Fowler hasn't been getting on base consistently enough. He sports a career .361 on-base percentage, but was at just .308 entering play Sunday thanks in large part to a .232 average that is bringing the overall numbers down.

"I am [confident Fowler will rebound]," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. "His work's been great. He cares, he works and when he goes, we go. I've told him that - 'Hey, when you go, we go.'

"It's incredible when he gets on base and scores a run what our record looks like. It's going to come back to him and us regarding the offense.

"But the work's there. He's been playing really good defense, he's been playing a good game of baseball. He's just not been as effective as he can be from the left side."

Maddon's right. Fowler entered play Sunday hitting just .211 with a .660 OPS from the left side. Compare that to the splits as a right-handed hitter (.340 AVG, .833 OPS).

Fowler is a career .253 hitter from the left side with a .348 OBP and .757 OPS. He's always been a better right-handed hitter (.302 AVG, .824 OPS career), but Fowler clearly needs to get going against right-handed pitching for the Cubs offense to fire on all cylinders.

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After a hot first month of the season (.299/.372/.442 slash line in April), Fowler has hit just .208/.286/.357 since May 1 with 39 runs in 58 games.

But even during that time, Maddon's point still stands: As Fowler goes, the Cubs go. Since May 1, the Cubs are 20-10 when Fowler starts and scores a run, compared to 9-16 when he doesn't.

Joe Girardi steps down as manager for Olympic qualifying team to pursue MLB openings

Joe Girardi steps down as manager for Olympic qualifying team to pursue MLB openings

Joe Girardi’s name has come up for just about every managerial opening in Major League Baseball and it sounds like he is all in on pursuing that opportunity.

Girardi was set to manage USA Baseball’s Olympic qualifying team. He was named the manager of Team USA in August. His first tournament was going to be the upcoming Premier12 tournament, which is the first chance to qualify for the Olympics. Camp was set to begin on Oct. 21 and the U.S.’s first game is Nov. 2.

Instead, Girardi has stepped down. USA Baseball broke the news with a press release that announced Scott Brosius, a former teammate of Girardi’s on the Yankees, will take over.

The reason is the interesting part. He stepped down “as he pursues open managerial opportunities in Major League Baseball.”

At the very least, it sounds like Girardi is interested in at least one of the openings in MLB. He interviewed with the Cubs last week so this won't quell any speculation that he would come back to the North Side as a manager.

David Ross may still be the odds on favorite to fill the Cubs’ vacancy, but Girardi’s apparent interest in rejoining the ranks of MLB managers is certainly noteworthy. One would think if Girardi wants to get back into managing in MLB, at this indicates, he will get a job. Now the question is where he will land.

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Joe Maddon already has a new job, signs on with Angels

Joe Maddon already has a new job, signs on with Angels

Barring a Cubs-Angels World Series, the Wrigley Field faithful might not have much of an opportunity to welcome Joe Maddon back to The Friendly Confines.

It didn't take long for Maddon to find a job, as he reportedly agreed this week to join the Los Angeles Angels as their next manager. This was a widely speculated move after the Angels let go of manager Brad Ausmus just one year into a three-year contract immediately after the Cubs announced they were parting ways with Maddon. 

According to ESPN's Jesse Rogers, Maddon's deal will likely be for three years at $4-5 million a season:

Maddon came up as a coach in the Angels system, referencing his three decades there often during the course of his five years in Chicago.

Once the Cubs got rid of Maddon, it was obvious he would have plenty of suitors, as just about any team with a managerial vacancy would be interested in the future Hall of Famer. But instead of going to an up-and-coming team like the Padres or a squad on the cusp of the playoffs like the Phillies, Maddon opted to return to his baseball home.

That means he will most likely not face off against the Cubs over the next couple of seasons, as the Cubs hosted the Angels in 2019 and are not slated to play each other again until 2021 (which will take place in L.A.). Barring the aforementioned World Series meeting, Maddon and the Cubs likely won’t cross paths in Chicago for the next few seasons.

It also means Maddon will get to team up with the best player in the game (Mike Trout) and an exciting young two-way star (Shohei Ohtani) while inheriting a roster that otherwise has some major flaws. The Angels have struggled to build up a roster around Trout over his nine seasons, making the playoffs just once in 2014 and getting bounced from the ALDS by the Kansas City Royals that season.

But the Angels do have some intriguing prospects coming up the system — led by outfielder Jo Adell — and Maddon has experience taking a team and elevating them to contender status immediately. He also carries immediate clout that will help draw free agents to L.A., as he did in Chicago with Jon Lester.

Maddon will be reunited with former Cubs fan favorite Tommy La Stella, who was starring for the Angels earlier this season before a leg injury sent him to the shelf for several months.

In many ways, this is an ideal fit for Maddon, who will get to stay in a big market with a team willing to spend and a roster that at least has some incredible talent from Day 1. It would obviously be a difficult task to try to overtake the juggernaut Houston Astros in the AL West, but he accomplished a similar feat in Chicago when he led the Cubs past the Cardinals in Year 1 (and kept the Cards out of the playoffs for the next three years until their return to October baseball this fall).

The Cubs, meanwhile, have not yet announced a new manager, though David Ross still looms as the favorite to take over Maddon's former gig. Theo Epstein's front office interviewed Mark Loretta, Will Venable, Joe Girardi and Ross earlier this month and also planned to talk to Joe Espada and Gabe Kapler this week.

Epstein said the Cubs are "full speed ahead" to hire a new manager, so expect them to move quickly to finalize Maddon's heir.