STORY BY COLTON WARREN
When you listen to Joe Maddon talk about Wrigleyville, every move that landed him on the North Side of Chicago now seems calculated.
The Chicago Cubs officially announced the hiring of Maddon on Monday. At this point, a press conference was merely a formality.
Cubs fans have been abuzz even before they announced Rick Renteria’s firing five days ago.
Just a week before that, Maddon opted out of his contract with the Tampa Bay Rays after nine seasons of crafting regular contenders out of raw talent and young stars. The small-budget Rays traded their ace away at the July trade deadline, amid a wide open pennant chase, and Maddon’s boss, Andrew Friedman, bolted last month for the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Cubs fans immediately called for Maddon to be the 54th manager in club history.
Maddon’s acquisition has Cubs fans filled with legitimate hope. A new manager, a rebuilt “cathedral,” as Maddon called Wrigley Field, and a core of young talent on the rise has Cubs fans dreaming of postseason success, and it seems to be coming sooner rather than later.
Maddon’s hiring also shows the Cubs are back to being buyers on the free agent market.
With a loaded free agent class hitting the market this offseason, last week’s game seven felt more like Opening Day rather than the day baseball went away for a few months.
Expect an exciting offseason from the North Siders. They will be in clear pursuit of a top-tier starting pitcher, or even two. They could be in the market for another power-hitting outfielder. Even someone like the San Fransisco Giants’ Pablo Sandoval poses an interesting story line.
Come April, the Cubs’ young prospects will have another full season under their belts, and Cubs fans in Iowa know the kind of talent those guys have with the Iowa Cubs close by. Javier Baez and Jorge Soler have a few games behind them and will be able to build on their experience this offseason. Kris Bryant will be ready to join them in Chicago early next spring.
And the positive momentum for our beloved Cubbies continues to build. No matter where they come from, Cubs fans’ calls of “There’s always next year,” may be ringing truer and truer after their 107th consecutive season without celebrating a World Series title.