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Angels' Joe Maddon Says Cubs 'Wanted to Change Everything' Before Exit

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistFebruary 11, 2020

Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon looks out from the dugout prior to a baseball game against the St. Louis Cardinals, Sunday, Sept. 29, 2019, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Scott Kane)
Scott Kane/Associated Press

Los Angeles Angels manager Joe Maddon opened up about his departure from the Chicago Cubs during an interview with ESPN's Alden Gonzalez on Tuesday.

Maddon said changes from the top down led to the mutual decision to part ways with the organization:

"It was plenty. Philosophically, [President of Baseball Operations] Theo [Epstein] needed to do what he needed to do separately. At some point, I began to interfere with his train of thought a little bit. And it's not that I'm hardheaded. I'm inclusive. But when I started there—'15, '16, '17—it was pretty much my methods. And then all of a sudden, after '18 going into '19, they wanted to change everything."

In five seasons with the Cubs, Maddon led them to four playoff appearances, including a World Series title in 2016.

Maddon signed a three-year contract to become the new manager of the Angels in October, marking his return to the organization with which he was an assistant coach from 1994-2005.

Although Maddon helped the Cubs win their first World Series since 1908, he was criticized along the way, especially for the manner in which he used closer Aroldis Chapman during the 2016 World Series and the playoffs as a whole.

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Also, given the Cubs' youth and depth of talent, many expected them to develop into a dynasty of sorts, but they lost in the National League Championship Series the following year and fell to the Colorado Rockies in the NL Wild Card Game in 2018.

Chicago bottomed out last season with an 84-78 record that was not good enough to reach the postseason, marking the only time the Cubs failed to make the playoffs under Maddon.

That was likely a source of great frustration for Maddon, as was the fact that the front office "wanted to control more of what was occurring in just about everything," in his estimation.

Maddon didn't offer specifics regarding what types of directives the front office was handing down, but he did lament the fact that analytics have essentially taken over the game of baseball during his interview with Gonzalez: "I think somebody's got to stand up for our game and the way it is and it should be played, and what should be tinkered with and what should not. My conclusion is analytics and technology are slightly responsible for putting the game in a position where it's not as attractive to fans."

Leaving the Cubs for the Angels presents Maddon with a new challenge and also allows him to go back to where his MLB coaching career first started.

With L.A., Maddon will have a chance to manage the best player in baseball in outfielder Mike Trout, plus two-way star Shohei Ohtani and newly signed third baseman Anthony Rendon, who is fresh off a World Series title with the Washington Nationals.

The Angels have not reached the playoffs since 2014 and haven't been back to the World Series since winning it in 2002 when Maddon was a coach under manager Mike Scioscia.

Maddon helped bring the Cubs back to glory, and while the Angels' World Series drought doesn't compare, they are similar in that they're a big-market team with a fanbase that desperately wants to win.

The 66-year-old Maddon has won everywhere he has gone, and his arrival is a major coup for the Angels organization.

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