It took all of about three minutes for Chicago sports fans to fall in love with new Cubs manager Joe Maddon. In his introductory press conference at the Cubby Bear, the spry and entertaining 60-year-old opened with a quick story about meeting Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer in his beloved RV (the Cousin Eddie) and closed by offering to buy the entire press conference a drink. On Monday, Maddon became the 54th manager in franchise history, when he agreed to terms on a five-year contract through the 2019 season.
A two-time AL Manager of the Year during his nine seasons with Tampa Bay (2006-14), Maddon joins the Cubs after guiding the Rays to four postseason appearances (2008, 2010-11, 2013), including the organization’s lone World Series appearance in 2008 when he earned his first Manager of the Year award. He earned the honor again in 2011.
Here’s a quick look at some of the highlights from Monday’s press conference.
(Photo by Stephen Green)
The Cubs and left-handed pitcher Tsuyoshi Wada came to terms on a deal for the 2015 season on Monday.
The 33-year-old Wada made 13 starts for the Cubs in his first major league action of his pro career. The southpaw went 4-4 with a 3.25 ERA in 69.1 innings. He signed a minor league deal with the Cubs last offseason and spent a majority of the season with Triple-A Iowa, where he went 10-6 with a 2.77 ERA (113.2 IP) in 19 appearances (18 starts) en route to earning Pacific Coast League All-Star honors. He received a call-up in late July and was part of the rotation for the remainder of the season.
Following a nine-year career with the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks in the Japan Pacific League, Wada signed a two-year major league deal with Baltimore in December of 2011. He suffered an elbow injury during Spring Training of 2012 that led to Tommy John ligament replacement surgery in May. He returned to action in June of 2013, and made 19 starts for Triple-A Norfolk that season, going 5-6 with a 4.03 ERA (46 ER/102.2 IP).
Wada went 107-61 with a 3.13 ERA (503 ER/1,444.2 IP) in 210 games, all but three as a starter, for Fukuoka from 2003-11, striking out 1,329 batters while walking just 395. He recorded 36 complete games, including eight shutouts, and was named the league’s Most Valuable Player in 2010, a season in which he was 17-8 with a 3.14 ERA (59 ER/169.1 IP) in 26 starts.
The Cubs today announced the firing of manager Rick Renteria. The 52-year-old led the club during the 2014 season after being named skipper on Nov. 7, 2013. He was the 53rd manager in franchise history.
Cubs President Theo Epstein released the following statement:
Today we made the difficult decision to replace Rick Renteria as manager of the Chicago Cubs. On behalf of Tom Ricketts and Jed Hoyer, I thank Rick for his dedication and commitment, and for making the Cubs a better organization.
Rick’s sterling reputation should only be enhanced by his season as Cubs manager. We challenged Rick to create an environment in which our young players could develop and thrive at the big league level, and he succeeded. Working with the youngest team in the league and an imperfect roster, Rick had the club playing hard and improving throughout the season. His passion, character, optimism and work ethic showed up every single day.
Rick deserved to come back for another season as Cubs manager, and we said as much when we announced that he would be returning in 2015. We met with Rick two weeks ago for a long end-of-season evaluation and discussed plans for next season. We praised Rick to the media and to our season ticket holders. These actions were made in good faith.
Last Thursday, we learned that Joe Maddon—who may be as well suited as anyone in the industry to manage the challenges that lie ahead of us—had become a free agent. We confirmed the news with Major League Baseball, and it became public knowledge the next day. We saw it as a unique opportunity and faced a clear dilemma: be loyal to Rick or be loyal to the organization. In this business of trying to win a world championship for the first time in 107 years, the organization has priority over any one individual. We decided to pursue Joe.
While there was no clear playbook for how to handle this type of situation, we knew we had to be transparent with Rick before engaging with Joe. Jed flew to San Diego last Friday and told Rick in person of our intention to talk to Joe about the managerial job. Subsequently, Jed and I provided updates to Rick via telephone and today informed him that we will indeed make a change.
We offered Rick a choice of other positions with the Cubs, but he is of course free to leave the organization and pursue opportunities elsewhere. Armed with the experience of a successful season and all the qualities that made him our choice a year ago, Rick will no doubt make an excellent major league manager when given his next chance.
Rick often said he was the beneficiary of the hard work of others who came before him. Now, in the young players he helped, we reap the benefits of his hard work as we move forward. He deserved better and we wish him nothing but the best.
We have clung to two important ideals during our three years in Chicago. The first is to always be loyal to our mission of building the Cubs into a championship organization that can sustain success. The second is to be transparent with our fans. As painful as the last week was at times, we believe we stayed true to these two ideals in handling a sensitive situation. To our fans: we hope you understand, and we appreciate your continued support of the Cubs.
Manager Rick Renteria’s 2015 staff has been finalized. (Photo by Stephen Green)
The Cubs announced their 2015 coaching staff Thursday, and it includes a few new faces as well as a member shifting roles in manager Rick Renteria’s crew.
John Mallee has been named the new hitting coach, while Doug Dascenzo will take over first base/outfield coaching duties. Last season’s first base coach Eric Hinske will shift to assistant hitting coach.
Chris Bosio (pitching coach), Brandon Hyde (bench coach), Gary Jones (third base/infield coach), Lester Strode (bullpen coach), Mike Borzello (catching and strategy coach), Jose Castro (quality assurance coach) and Franklin Font (staff assistant) return to the coaching staff in their previous roles. Eric Hinske will shift from first base/outfield coach to assistant hitting coach.
Mallee, 45, will replace Bill Mueller as the team’s hitting coach. He’ll begin his fifth season as a major league hitting coach. He previously served as a big league hitting coach with the Marlins (2010-11) and Astros (2013-14). Overall, Mallee has 19 seasons of experience in pro baseball. Prior to moving to the big leagues, he spent eight-plus seasons as the Marlins minor league hitting instructor. A Chicago native, Mallee also served as a minor league hitting coach within the Brewers and Expos organizations starting in 1996. He spent two seasons as an infielder in the Phillies system from 1991-92.
Dascenzo, 50, joins the Cubs as first base and outfield coach, marking a return to the organization that drafted him in 1985 and for whom he played five big league seasons from 1988-92. Dascenzo served as the third base coach for the Atlanta Braves in 2014, his first as a coach at the big league level. Prior to joining the Braves in 2013 as a minor league outfield/baserunning instructor, he spent 13 seasons as a manager or coach in San Diego’s system. Dascenzo spent seven years in the big leagues as an outfielder and has spent the last 16 years as a coach or instructor starting in 1999.
Bosio, 51, returns for his fourth season as the club’s major league pitching coach. Overall, this is his third stint as a big league pitching coach, previously coaching in the majors for Tampa Bay in 2003 and Milwaukee in 2009. A veteran of 11 big league seasons, the righthander worked as a special assignment pitching coach in Seattle’s system from 2000-02, including a stint as Triple-A Tacoma’s pitching coach, before joining Lou Piniella’s staff in Tampa Bay.
Hyde, 41, enters his second year as bench coach and fourth in the Cubs organization. This is his second stint in the role, previously serving as bench coach for Jack McKeon and the Marlins from June 23, 2010 through 2011. Overall, Hyde has 12 years of coaching experience, including nine seasons in the Marlins chain. Hyde joined the Cubs in December, 2011 as minor league field coordinator and was named director of player development on August 29, 2012.
Jones, 53, returns for his second season as third base coach and infield coach after spending the last 11 years in the Padres organization. Prior to joining the Cubs, he had one year of big league experience as the first base coach for Oakland in 1998. Jones has 15 seasons of experience as a minor league manager, earning four minor league manager of the year awards. He originally signed with the Cubs as a non-drafted free agent in 1982.
Strode, 56, returns for his ninth season as Cubs bullpen coach and his 27th year in the Cubs organization. Prior to his current role, Strode spent 11 seasons as the organization’s minor league pitching coordinator (1996-2006), two seasons with the big league club as a pitching assistant (1994-95) and five seasons as a minor league pitching coach (1989-1993). Strode pitched professionally in the minor leagues for nine seasons (1980-88).
Hinske, 37, shifts to assistant hitting coach after joining the Cubs staff as first base/outfield coach for the 2014 campaign, replacing Mike Brumley. His 12-year major league career (2002-13) included 2002 American League Rookie of the Year honors with Toronto and three-straight World Series appearances bookended by championships with Boston in 2007 and the New York Yankees in 2009. Hinske was originally selected by the Cubs in the 17th round of the 1998 Draft.
Borzello, 44, enters his fourth season with the Cubs and his second in an expanded role of catching and strategy coach. Prior to joining Chicago, he spent four seasons (2008-11) with the Los Angeles Dodgers as their bullpen catcher, a stint that followed 12 years in the New York Yankees organization starting in 1996 (roles included bullpen catcher and batting practice pitcher). Overall, Borzello has 19 years of experience with three major league clubs.
Castro, 56, returns for his second season as the club’s quality assurance coach after spending the previous 25 years as a minor league hitting coordinator or hitting coach in the Kansas City, Seattle, Florida, San Diego and Montreal organizations. He also served an interim stint as Seattle’s major league hitting coach in 2008.
Font, 36, returns for his 21st season in the Cubs organization, his fourth at the major league level. Font played in the Cubs system for six seasons from 1995-2000 before becoming a Single-A Daytona staff assistant in 2001. He served the Cubs as a minor league manager, hitting coach and coordinator from 2002-11.
(Photo by Duane Burleson/Getty Images)
The Cubs claimed left-handed pitcher Joseph Ortiz off waivers from the Rangers Monday, moving the team’s 40-man roster to 40 players.
The 24-year-old Ortiz went 2-2 with a 4.23 ERA (21 ER/44.2 IP) in 32 relief appearances for the Rangers in 2013 before being limited to only 15 minor league appearances last season due to a fractured left foot. The southpaw began the 2014 season on the 60-day disabled list and made two rehab appearances with the organization’s Rookie League club in Arizona in July before completing his campaign with 13 relief outings with Double-A Frisco (0-2, one save, 4.50 ERA).
A native of Venezuela, Ortiz originally signed with Texas as a nondrafted free agent on August 28, 2006. He is 18-15 with 31 saves and a 2.44 ERA (87 ER/320.2 IP) in 217 relief appearances covering eight minor league seasons.
The Cubs agreed with Eugene (Ore.) Friday on a new Player Development Contract to become the organization’s Single-A Northwest League affiliate. Eugene previously was affiliated with the Cubs in 1999-2000. The contract runs through the 2016 season.
“We are looking forward to working with Allan Benavides and the entire Emeralds organization, and are eager to begin working with the local community,” said Jason McLeod, the Cubs senior vice president of scouting and player development. “The Eugene ballclub offers a first-class facility at the University of Oregon—one of the most impressive facilities in short-season baseball.”
The Eugene Emeralds have been an affiliate of the San Diego Padres since 2001. The club began play as an independent team in the inaugural Northwest League in 1955, and has since partnered with nine major league organizations in its 60-year history. A three-time Northwest League champion, the Emeralds moved into their current ballpark, PK Park, in 2010.
“The Emeralds could not be happier to announce this new partnership with the Cubs,” said Emeralds General Manager Allan Benavides. “We are excited to introduce a new brand of baseball at PK Park and look forward to a long-lasting relationship as the Cubs Northwest League affiliate.”
(Photo by Brian Kersey/Getty Images)
The Cubs recalled infielder Mike Olt from his rehab assignment in Single-A Kane County Friday. He will be available for the club this afternoon when it begins its series against the Pirates.
The 26-year-old Olt was a member of Chicago’s Opening Day roster and batted .139 (26-for-187) with 12 homers, four doubles and 30 RBI in 72 games before being optioned to Triple-A Iowa on July 22. Despite spending the last six weeks in the minor leagues, Olt is still tied for the National League lead among rookies in home runs and is tied for sixth in RBI.
Olt batted .302 (32-for-106) with seven homers, nine doubles and 24 RBI in 28 games before suffering a hamstring strain. He rehabbed the last two days with Kane County, hitting a home run in each game.
He was acquired by the Cubs last summer from Texas as part of the trade that sent pitcher Matt Garza to the Rangers. Olt was originally selected by the Rangers with the 49th overall pick of the 2010 draft (supplemental round).
Jorge Soler will make his first major league start Wednesday. (Photo by Stephen Green)
The Cubs recalled outfielder Jorge Soler and infielder Logan Watkins from Triple-A Iowa Wednesday afternoon, placing outfielders Justin Ruggiano and Ryan Sweeney on the 15-day disabled list with left ankle inflammation and a left hamstring strain, respectively.
Soler, 22, was the organization’s No. 5 preseason prospect, according to Baseball America and ranked the No. 49 prospect in all of baseball prior to the season. The right-handed batter and thrower combined to hit .340/.432/.700 (AVG/OBP/SLG) with 23 doubles, 15 home runs and 57 RBI in 200 at-bats over 62 games this season across three minor league levels.
The 6-foot-4, 215-pound player started the 2014 season at Double-A Tennessee, where, despite being slowed by hamstring injuries, he batted .415/.494/.862 in 65 at-bats over 22 games to earn a promotion to Triple-A Iowa on July 24. In just more than a month with Iowa, Soler batted .282/.378/.618 with eight homers and 29 RBI in 32 games.
Soler originally signed a nine-year major league deal with the Cubs in June of 2012 out of Cuba. He entered the 2013 campaign ranked by Baseball America as the No. 3 prospect in the organization and batted .281 (59-for-210) with 13 doubles, eight homers and 35 RBI after being limited to 55 games with Single-A Daytona due to a left shin fracture. He was named to the World Team in the Futures Game that year (though he did not play due to injury) and recovered to participate in the Arizona Fall League with the Mesa Solar Sox, playing in 20 games.
Overall in 151 career minor league games, Soler has batted .307 (167-for-544) with 300 total bases, 108 runs scored, 43 doubles, three triples, 28 home runs, 117 RBI, a .383 on-base percentage, a .551 slugging percentage and a .934 OPS.
Watkins, who turns 25 on Friday, returns to the Cubs for his second stint this season. He hit .300 (3-for-10) with a double and three RBI in four games with the Cubs last week before being optioned back to Iowa after the game on Sunday. At Triple-A this season, he is batting .256 (83-for-324) with 21 doubles, four home runs and 38 RBI in 103 games. He was the organization’s 2012 Minor League Player of the Year.
Ruggiano, 32, is batting .281 (63-for-224) with 13 doubles, six home runs and 28 RBI in 81 games with the Cubs this season.
Sweeney, 29, is batting .251 (52-for-207) with nine doubles, three home runs and 20 RBI in 77 games.
The Cubs today placed shortstop Starlin Castro on the bereavement list and placed right-handed pitcher Edwin Jackson on the 15-day DL with a right lat strain. Infielder Logan Watkins and left-handed pitcher Zac Rosscup have been recalled from Triple-A Iowa.
Both Rosscup and Watkins, who will wear uniform No. 45, will be available for the Cubs this afternoon when they resume their suspended game with the San Francisco Giants at Wrigley Field at 4:05 p.m.
Rosscup, 26, joins the Cubs for his fifth stint this season and has no record and a 7.50 ERA (5 ER/6.0 IP) in seven big league relief outings. He began the year with four scoreless appearances but allowed five runs in 2.0 innings covering three appearances during his last big league stay and was optioned to Iowa on July 20. With Iowa, Rosscup is 2-0 with four saves and a 2.10 ERA (7 ER/30.0 IP) in 29 relief appearances.
Watkins, 24, joins the Cubs for the first time this season after batting .256 (81-for-316) with 20 doubles, one triple, four home runs and 38 RBI in 101 games with Iowa this year. The left-handed hitter made his big league debut with the Cubs last season and batted .211 (8-for-38) with one double in 27 games.
Castro is batting .284 (141-for-496) with 31 doubles, one triple, 13 home runs and 64 RBI during his 2014 All-Star season. Bereavement list rules allow for a stay of a minimum of three days and a maximum of seven days.
Jackson is 6-14 with 6.09 ERA (94 ER/139.0 IP) in 26 starts for the Cubs this season.
(Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty)
The Cubs today acquired right-handed pitcher Jacob Turner from the Miami Marlins for minor league right-handed pitchers Jose Arias and Tyler Bremer.
To make room for Turner on the 40-man roster, outfielder Ryan Kalish was designated for assignment.
Turner, 23, was originally selected by the Detroit Tigers in the first round (ninth overall) of the 2009 Draft and was the centerpiece of the July 23, 2012, five-player trade that sent pitcher Anibal Sanchez to Detroit. After starting 2013 at Triple-A New Orleans, Turner joined the Marlins at the end of May and went 3-8 despite a 3.74 ERA (49 ER/118.0 IP) in 20 major league starts. Turner has split the 2014 campaign between Miami’s rotation and bullpen, going 4-7 with a 5.97 ERA (52 ER/78.1 IP) in 20 appearances, 12 as a starter.
After making his big league debut for Detroit with a brief three-start stint as a 20-year-old in 2011, Turner entered 2012 ranked as Detroit’s No. 1 prospect by Baseball America. Upon joining the Marlins organization in July, Turner made two starts for Triple-A New Orleans before earning a promotion to the Marlins, for whom he went 1-4 despite a 3.38 ERA (16 ER/42.2 IP) in seven starts.
The 6-foot-5, 215-pound Turner is a native of St. Charles, Mo., and was drafted by the Tigers out of Westminster Christian Academy after being named the 2009 Gatorade Player of the Year in Missouri. He made his professional debut in 2010, pitched in the Futures Game in 2011 and made his big league debut a couple of weeks later on July 30, 2011, at 20 years, 2 months and 9 days, becoming the youngest Tigers pitcher in more than 30 years.
Turner is 9-21 with a 4.77 ERA (140 ER/264.0 IP) in 53 major league appearances (45 starts) covering the last four seasons with Detroit (2011-12) and Miami (2012-14).