Former Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon became the hottest name on the managerial market since Terry Francona when he opted out if his contract after the departure of then-GM Andrew Friedman, and he officially was tabbed as the next manager of the Chicago Cubs on this very Monday afternoon. That part we all saw coming; what we didn't see, however, was that Maddon apparently made a genuine effort to remain with the Rays before ultimately deciding that their offer was much too far below his market value, according to CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman. While the validity of this appears to be there, the level of sincerity is left to be debated, and the end result is a reported 5 year, $25 million contract for Maddon to lead the Cubs' bright young nucleus against the Cincinnati Reds and the rest of an ever-strengthening NL Central. Exactly what ever Reds supporter was hoping for following one of the more disastrous seasons in recent memory (given the relative expectation levels). Groovy.
Maddon, for what it's worth, has also been stuck in the middle of casual accusations from the Rays accusing the Cubs of tampering, which should be a reasonably interesting story to follow moving forward. Until it isn't anymore, of course.
Lucky for Maddon, the Chicago media wasted no time whatsoever in attempting to establish his Windy City shelf-life, as Tribune writer Steve Rosenbloom penned this article about how long he'll have in town and posted it hours before the team even announced his hiring as official. The funny part about it - to me, at least - is that this is the first I've ever really heard of the baseball media in Chicago being bastions of "scrutiny and coverage," at least in the modern baseball era (read: since 1908). In fact, for the better part of 10 years, I've read infinitely more about Maddon and the Rays than I have about Beef Wellington, Micah Hoffpauir, Fontenot, Theriot, Whack fol de daddy-o, and Kosuke Fukudome combined. But whatever. Stand and deliver, though, for you are a bold deceiver, Joe Maddon.
Now that the World Series is done and gone, the baseballing world turns its eyes towards the inevitable subtractions and additions that will change the landscape prior to next season's first pitch. Qualifying offer decisions have been rolling in, and by 12:01 PM ET tomorrow morning, the Free Agency window will officially open for each and every team to feast upon. SI.com has a list up, this of their own Top 50 rankings for the game's newest unemployed future studs and their best potential fits team-wise. I think my favorite hot take about Ben Reiter's hot takes is that the Reds are the best fit for exactly zero of these players, yet I'll bet a dollar that the Reds won't be predicted to finish well in the 2015 standings, either. In other words, the team has no holes big enough to warrant a fit with any of the 50 best available non-contract players in the game, but they'll likely also be predicted to not be very good. Whammy.
Along a similar line of thought comes Mark Sheldon's latest over at Reds.com, where he mentions that the Cincinnati ball tossers and whackers will be on the lookout for some offensive help this winter, but that it's not likely to come in the form of a big, shiny free agent slugger. Included are some quotes from GM Walt Jocketty that basically echo what Reiter alluded to in the previous article, which is that the small money Reds are already big money'd out, and that any addition will either be of the minor variety or will require significant subtraction of existing liabilities to be facilitated. If Nori Aoki or Michael Cuddyer don't get your sugars up, you should probably start hoping that the trade winds start blowing, and blowing fierce.
Anthony Castrovince chimes in with his own thoughts on the Reds at MLB.com (as part of a larger article about how good the NL Central has become of late).
Donald Lutz got a scooter.
Donald Lutz also spat Fedora game.
Finally, Cincinnati native and long time hopeful future Red Kevin Youkilis called time on his career recently, according to Enquirer via Twitter via Pro Star Management via - presumably - Youk himself. That makes me terribly, terribly sad, though, since "Jack Hannahan, Cincinnati Red" was/is a thing.