The Rundown: Epstein Reportedly Visits Maddon in Florida, Bumgarner Dominant in Shutout
Major League Baseball usually likes to keep the news on the World Series while it’s going on, so we’re most likely going to have to wait to hear any definitive news on the Joe Maddon Watch.
But in the meantime, Gordon Wittenmyer said he heard from a source that Theo Epstein flew down to Florida over the weekend to speak with Maddon.
However, according to Wittenmyer, Maddon’s agent Alan Nero said that didn’t happen.
In other news, Wittenmyer also mentions that former White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen would be open to coaching with Maddon. “He’s a very good baseball man. And he’s not a guy who’s going to be looking behind his back thinking I want to take his job,” Guillen said.
Part of the reason I think people are so excited about Maddon: Not only is he a great baseball mind, but he would make following the team more fun, providing thoughtful quotes and an insightful personality.
Adding Guillen to the mix (if it ever happened) would make things even more interesting. I would be open to the idea of Guillen joining the coaching staff, but I wonder how it would go over with most Cubs fans.
Bumgarner pitches shutout
The Giants are one win away from winning the World Series after beating the Royals 5-0 on Sunday. It was rematch of Game 1, with James Shields up against Madison Bumgarner. And once again, it was Bumgarner coming out on top.
Bumgarner has been absolutely unbelievable in the playoffs. He gave up only four hits and struck out eight in Sunday’s shutout.
Here’s your friendly reminder that Bumgarner is only 25 years old. If the Cubs were smart, they’d draft somebody like him.
Shields enjoyed playing for Maddon
Sunday’s other starter, James Shields, pitched well — much better than some of his previous playoff appearances. But after what was possibly his start with the Royals, could he be reunited with his former manager Joe Maddon?
He doesn’t seem opposed to the idea. “I enjoyed playing for him,” Shields told Gordon Wittenmyer.
And on the Cubs being interested in Shields: “I guess it’s better to be liked than not liked.”
The Cubs may go after Shields regardless of whether Maddon becomes manager on the North Side. He would probably be the second option after Jon Lester, however, because Shields will require draft pick compensation.
* The Giants have previously rewarded key players with new contracts (e.g., Hunter Pence and Tim Lincecum), so it’s very possible they re-sign Pablo Sandoval this off-season, writes Jon Morosi. The lack of other third-base options can only help lead to this outcome. Last week, Bruce Levine reported the Cubs may be interested in signing Sandoval.
* The Pirates have said they’d like to retain Russell Martin, but they will weigh the risks, according to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review’s Travis Sawchik. At 31 (32 in February), Martin might be seeking at least a four-year deal. I could see the Pirates passing on Martin because of his age, and if so, I’d love to see the Cubs take a shot at signing him. Martin was a 5.5-WAR player in 2014.
* Awful, awful news out of the Dominican Republic: St. Louis Cardinal rookie outfielder Oscar Taveras and his girlfriend were killed in a car accident on Sunday. Taveras, only 22, was the Cardinals’ top outfield prospect, and he hit a home run just as recently as Game 2 of the NLCS.
The incident is difficult to process. You can’t help but wonder what could have been with Taveras, who looked like a future star. It’s a moment that makes you stop and realize that baseball is just a game. There are more important things in life.