Every now and then, it’s good to push a Joe Maddon button.
Tuesday seemed the right day since the subject of Maddon and the whole tired idea of “set lineups” seemed to be in play for the umpteenth time in various public circles.
As you know, Joe doesn’t believe in the set lineup, and that bothers some fans.
Well, here are a few things.
• Nobody in today’s game believes in the “set lineup,” and that’s a good thing.
• Those who deride Maddon for his lineup alchemy are the baseball version of flat-earthers and science-deniers. With all of the data on matchups and advantages/disadvantages available today to even the most casual of fans, a big-league manager would be derelict in his duties if he trotted out the same eight position players in the same order every day.
“Honestly, it’s such a non-sophisticated conversation,” Maddon said before Tuesday night’s game against the Miami Marlins. “It really is. I don’t know how it begins. I’ve heard it from old baseball dudes. I think fathers pass it down to sons on occasion. It’s like teaching your kid how to drive a stick shift. It just gets passed along.
“I try not to comment on it because it’s such a poor discussion. There’s no sophistication to it whatsoever. It makes zero sense. It doesn’t belong in today’s game. And actually, it never belonged in anybody’s game except that back then, you had to be small to hit first or second. They had uniforms that were probably like 32 (inch) pants and 40 shirts, and if you fit into that, you hit first or second. That’s just the way it was back in the day.
“It goes with dress codes and making first and third outs at third base. Really, it’s a boring argument. I can’t get caught up in it. Now that you asked the question, thank you very much.”
You’re welcome, Joe.
Maybe fans long for the nostalgia of the days when Leo Durocher trotted out the likes of Kessinger, Beckert, Williams, Santo, Banks and the rest on a daily basis and won all those pennants from 1966-72.
Maddon, on the other hand, went with 130 different starting eights in 2016, and the Cubs won their first World Series in 108 years.
He added he has a lot of talented position players for whom he needs to find playing time.
“When you have the roster that we have, that permits you do to these things,” he said. “B, when you got everybody bought in, in the clubhouse, it matters. The only way you get that done is everybody participates. If you sit people for a week or 10 days at a time and then you ask them to play and anticipate something good, that’s a really horrible assumption.”
Players seem to be buying in. Albert Almora Jr., who had a nice run at leadoff hitter recently, said players come to the clubhouse every day willing to roll with the changes.
Team president Theo Epstein said the lineup changing gets mischaracterized.
“I think it’s out of a desire to put every player in a position to succeed,” Epstein said. “Sit them when they need to and protect them against matchups that he doesn’t think are going to work out for them as well and make sure they’re in there in a prominent spot when he likes the matchup. And keep them rested to they can thrive all season long. It’s a bit of a red herring because we’ve a lot of games the last three years and six weeks.
“Whenever we’re winning, no one ever talks about how we’ve overcome moving guys around the lineup.”
• Follow Bruce’s Cubs and baseball reports on Twitter @BruceMiles2112.