At nearly the same moment Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon said he’s feeling good about returning to the club next season, The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reported that the Los Angeles Angels would consider bringing the veteran back to Anaheim should he go on the market.
That, of course, would mean cutting ties with current manager Brad Ausmus after just one year of his three-year deal.
Maddon, 65, previously spent 31 years in the Angels’ organization. That time included almost two decades around the minor leagues as a player, instructor, scout and manager, and 12 years as a major league coach.
This season marks the final year of his five-year contract in Chicago.
Ausmus, 50, is wrapping up his first year with the club after four years managing the Detroit Tigers, then one as a special assistant to Angels GM Billy Eppler. He also had an 18-year playing career.
Maddon, coincidently, is no stranger to this situation. The Cubs brought him on in 2014 following one season of former manager Rick Renteria’s three-year contract; in that case, Maddon opted out of his agreement with the Tampa Bay Rays to make the move.
Entering Wednesday, the Cubs have lost seven straight games and are one loss away from postseason elimination with five games to play. The club nearly missed the postseason in 2018 and lost in the NL wild card game.
Maddon addressed his future with the team on Chicago’s 670 the Score, reiterating three times that he is “optimistic.”
“We'll make that over the next couple days and move it on from there. But I'm very pragmatic. I'm very optimistic," Maddon said, according to CBS Sports. "I'll just leave it with that. I'm very optimistic right now. I'm very optimistic about the future."
Is Brad Ausmus really at fault for the Angels’ struggles?
The Angels are coming off yet another underwhelming season, and have yet to win a postseason game in superstar Mike Trout’s career (the team has only once made the postseason with Trout, in 2014, and got swept in the ALDS).
Ausmus shouldn’t bear all the blame for this year, though. He took over for Mike Scioscia, who was around for a largely unproductive decade, and the team has logged four straight losing seasons since Eppler took over as GM.
The Angels were also overrun with injuries, and far more tragic situations, in 2019.
Andrelton Simmons, Justin Upton, Andrew Heaney and All-Star Tommy La Stella all missed significant time; Shohei Ohtani, even before requiring season-ending knee surgery, was only available as a hitter after undergoing Tommy John surgery; and Mike Trout is done for the season with a foot injury that required surgery. Additionally, of course, reliever Tyler Skaggs was found dead in his hotel room on a road trip to Texas in early July.
When the Cubs let Renteria go in 2014, they did not fault him for the team’s poor play, saying instead they believed Maddon was “a better option to take the team to the next level,” according to Rosenthal.
And, for what it’s worth, I think we all remember what happened two seasons later.
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