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Oct. 11 Joe Maddon pregame interview

October 11, 2016

Q. You managed Matt Moore for a brief time. Can you kind of tell us about your experience with Matt and what makes him a good pitcher?JOE MADDON: Well, first of all, he's a wonderful young man. We had a great relationship in Tampa Bay. Came on the scene, pitched

Q. You managed Matt Moore for a brief time. Can you kind of tell us about your experience with Matt and what makes him a good pitcher?
JOE MADDON: Well, first of all, he's a wonderful young man. We had a great relationship in Tampa Bay. Came on the scene, pitched that really big game in Texas. Always had really good stuff. Real good stuff. Good fastball. Fastball velocity movement. Good breaking ball. And his changeup, when his changeup is on, he can be very difficult. He's just good. He's just a very good pitcher, great stuff. Works very diligently at his craft. And he's very bright. He's a very bright young man. He's got all the ingredients. And I know he had been hurt. He came back from his injury, had to be sent back to the Minor Leagues and fought through that particular moment. But great guy with great stuff. I think he's a military kid from back in the day. I think Fort Walton Beach, Florida. And then I think he grew up in New Mexico. Wonderful young man, great stuff, and he's a good friend.

Q. So, I doubt that you've ever been intimidated by a player. But if you were going to be, how high in the list would John Lackey be on the day that he pitches or the day that you have to go out on the mound and take him out?
JOE MADDON: Like when he walked on the bus today coming in with his hat pulled down over his eyes, the black cowboy hat? That's just who Johnny is. Fortunately, I've known him at another time. We grew up kind of together in the Angel organization, so I had that chance to build that relationship. He does have that look. He's all about that. It's not -- nothing's contrived or fabricated with him. That's who he is. He's definitely going to be ready to pitch today. He's been in these moments before. So of course I kind like that, we kind of like that. But it was obvious that he was that kind of a player pitcher when he began in 2002 with the Angels. He's done it with other teams since. He had that little bit of a hiccup this year. He was hurt for a small period of time, and nothing serious, obviously, but it's good, it's good to have him out there have his experience out there, his competitive nature. And we matched him up with David Ross today also to see if that makes it even a little bit better.

Q. I guess you could say that those of us in the media are like professional critics. You're in a business where you're second guessed. Do you ever second guess yourself, like maybe even last night or any other games that you've ever managed where you kind of wonder, hindsight, 20/20?
JOE MADDON: No, there's always the outcome bias component of all this; that you would think that if I had done something differently that it would have worked. That's what second guessing really comes down to.

For me what you do is you attempt to make your best guess or decision in advance of the moment. Now, if I'm -- if I'm going against what I really believe is the right thing to do based on whomever or whatever, then I would second guess myself. And even when things don't work out, that doesn't mean the decision was wrong, it means the other team has professional baseball players too. So, I've never -- I shouldn't say I never have. I don't know the last time was that I actually did. But, again, at the end of the day, because something doesn't work out doesn't mean it was the wrong thing to do. It just means it didn't work. The assumption is that the other team has Little League players or American Legion players or not players that are good enough to be in the Big Leagues, that's a bad assumption to make. Both sides are good, and sometimes it just doesn't work out. So the outcome bias component I'm really -- I've always kind of like chuckled at that.

Q. You obviously have a long history with Ben Zobrist. What's it been like having him in Chicago this year, what's he meant for the team?
JOE MADDON: Typical. He's a metronome. He comes out there every day. And if you watch his work, it's meticulous. Everything he does has a purpose to it, whether he's working in the infield or in the outfield. It's really -- he's 35 and he works as though he's 21. That's just who he is. Great shape, takes care of himself extremely well. And then the influence among the other group, his at-bats are probably -- are what is most influential among the group. Not expanding his strike zone, never out of the at-bat, never giving away anything. I think like guys like Javy having a chance to watch him is very beneficial for Javy. So, he's a baseball metronome. He just does this every day. It's a very consistent method of operation. And he's not tired. He's not tiring out yet. His game is still at a very high level. He made the All-Star team again. And he's great to be around. As you know, it's a candid conversation. There's nothing disingenuous about him. He is Ben. And I love him for it. And we have a great relationship and conversation just by being straight up with one another.

Q. I'm sure you've seen some of the data that suggests how difficult it is for the team with the best record in baseball to win the World Series. Curious, do you have any theories on why that is and what some of the land mines are that you would be most wary of?
JOE MADDON: I honestly don't know why that would be. It's just that baseball these days -- when was -- was that like actually pre Wild Card and divisions and things like that? I mean, when you are back in the World Series, you have to beat -- I mean, when you're back when there was no divisional play, you'd have to beat one team. You have the best record, you play the other best record. So you could have the best record and lose. But if it's more divisional, I just think it's -- the short series are difficult regardless. Seven games is still a short series, and anything can possibly happen. You take like the Yankees versus the Pirates, what, 1960 where there was tremendously lopsided scores where the Yankees bludgeoned them or the Pirates would win a close game and eventually win the World Series. So there's so many variables in play at that particular time that I think sometimes over the course of 162, it's -- that's one thing to establish yourself as the best team over the course of five, over the course of seven, a lot of -- maybe a lot your strengths could be negated over the course of a short period of time. I don't know. But I'm just saying I don't know why that is true. It's just that when you get to shorter series, the potential of a lot of awkward things happening or unsuspecting things happening and really making an impact I think are greater.

Q. Is this system not built for the best team to win?
JOE MADDON: I think that the system is built for the best team having a chance to lose (chuckling).

I think that's what it is. And it's fine. I think it's -- listen, I've benefited as a manager with my teams being the second Wild Card and getting involved in the dance. Beautiful. That's where nine equals eight came up a couple years ago. Just wanted to be a member of that nine players playing hard being a member of those eight teams, and I'll take it. Then when you're division winner, with the best record, you have the same opportunities as a team as the second Wild Card when it comes right down to it. They being at a greater disadvantage probably based on their pitching, having to use somebody significant in that Wild Card game, obviously. These are all obvious points. But at the end of the day, I don't -- I never take anybody lightly. But in five games? Anything can happen, man.

Q. Chapman isn't used very often in the middle of an inning. And when he has been, it hasn't gone very well. Do you have any qualms about using him in those sorts of situations like last night when you bring him in?
JOE MADDON: I didn't last night. (Laughter.) Last night, in a perfect world, he was -- as that inning began, I was hoping that he would have to maybe get four outs -- Belt Posey, Pence, Wood, Rondon, Rondon. That was the original game plan. It just didn't play out that way. So, you have two options there. You continue to not use him, and eventually possibly the lead goes away and then he becomes moot. Or you choose to use him in the event that all of a sudden he has a very nice night and then you're very happy you did it at the conclusion of the game. Strikes out Pence, which would be -- on paper you would think would be the more difficult moment, and then he has all the lefties coming up after that, and it didn't play out. So that's one of those moments in a five-game series. Gillaspie putting the ball against the wall against Chapman is one of the unlikely things in any series. Give the guy credit, man. He did it to Familia and he did it to us last night.

Q. Is there any -- most of the position players that you've moved around are younger guys that don't have a lot of experience. Is there anything with either field players or bullpen guys and changing roles that where maybe it helps to be a younger guy than somebody that's set in their routines and that?
JOE MADDON: I think that it's always somewhat easier to get a young guy to do that, as opposed to a guy that's been around for a bit. Zobrist does it now, but Ben had done it when he was younger. Javy's learned to do it young. KB's learned to do it young. I'm just talking about here right now. Back in the day I've had Chone Figgins, I've had Randy Velarde, I've had guys that did it when they were young. And so it just is built into their game plan. I like it. I think that what happens is when you get to the Minor Leagues, there's the old-school methods are that a guy's got to play one position and in order to get his game together to eventually achieve the Big Leagues and if you move him around it could retard his development. I think that's so false. Actually by moving him around, you can increase his chances of getting here sooner, I believe. Because you don't know, he might be a shortstop, but second base is open. We got a nice shortstop, second base is a spot that's open, but this guy's never turned a double play from that side; thus, we can't bring him up. That's the kind of moment. But his bat's ready. Those are the kind of things that I think from a Minor League perspective you really want to pursue, getting young, good athletes, players that can hit, getting them moving around a little bit because you don't know where the need is going to be on the Major League level when it comes up. And if he's unable to play that position, he's overlooked. So I think that it's wise to get good, young baseball players, moving them around in the Minor Leagues, move them around, make them bunt in the Minor Leagues, make them hit and run in the Minor Leagues, even though they're the 3 or 4 hitters, because they may not be that when they get to the Big Leagues. All those -- you talk about it all the time in meetings, but then you don't do it. And then guys get here and they're only prepared to do certain things. And then it kind of pigeonholes them in a sense where you can't really gain full utility of their abilities.

Q. So many plays in last night's game, as mentioned. Curious about a play in the top of the third inning first. I think it was first and third with only one out. Javy was at the plate. And it looked like initially he was going for the safety squeeze. Was that on his own, or was that your call going for the surprise?
JOE MADDON: Gosh, do I have to tell you?

Q. It's up to you.
JOE MADDON: It was assigned play. It was assigned play. And he's really good at it. It's unfortunate that it didn't work out. Yeah. It's things that we work on, we work on a lot. And, again, that's a perfect example. These guys aren't robots. I don't get upset. He got -- the thing that upsets me is when the guy doesn't get the sign. That's what upsets me. Now, you can't be upset if they are able to conclude what you're asking them to do, but when they -- if they get the sign and attempt to do the right things and they don't get it done, I'm good. But if they miss the sign, that's when I -- ask Davey. The only time I start cussing underneath my breath or if you see my hand over my mouth is because somebody's missed assign.

Q. ESPN had the stat last night that your Cubs and the 1924 Giants are the only teams to have two pitchers hit home runs in the same series. What does that say about the way your pitchers prepare through the season to be able to do that on an October stage?
JOE MADDON: I heard about that. That's pretty incredible, isn't it? Well, our guys do put a lot of time in. But I think I mentioned this yesterday, we have really good athletes as pitchers. You see Jake yesterday, Travis coming out of the bullpen. Travis had been a starter, Jason Hammel could really swing the bat well. Kyle maybe doesn't have the same power but moves the baseball. And Jon Lester is the guy that everybody makes fun of but might have the best technical swing out of the whole group. Actually, when it comes down to if you want to videotape these, all our five guys and break down their abilities on video, I think Jon Lester has the best swing. They work at it. They take pride in it. And they know I'm not always going to call for a bunt. That's the part -- this might be my American League training. I don't want to just give into the bunt sometimes. Who is on deck, what's going on, what part of the game is it. And you look at the pitcher that we're facing. Does our guy's skill set play against that pitcher, can they handle that guy. Give them a shot so they know we have confidence in them swinging the bat right there. They're not only going to just bunt. And on top of that, I'll say this, Jon Lester is one of the best bunters I have ever had, position players included. They work at it.

Q. Do you see any patterns to how Anthony Rizzo's been pitched or how he's going after pitches? It seems like he's been behind in the count pretty much three games straight.
JOE MADDON: They're targeting his patience. That's what I'm seeing. That's really what it comes down to. When you -- when you're as good as he is, they're going to put that target there. They're looking at who is hitting behind him. Like yesterday, that's why I wanted Soler back there to possibly get Anthony a better pitch. Zo's notoriously better at right -- I mean left than right-handed hitter, although he had good success against Bumgarner, 6 for 12, I think, mostly singles. So I think primarily they just target it for not pitching to them. They got to pitch to KB because Rizzo is there. So moving forward, I think the bigger, Anthony doesn't need more batting practice. He doesn't need more information. Just needs to stay within his strike zone, which he's very good at. So at the end of the day, if he just learns or just accepts more walks, he might see a better pitch or there might just be that moment in the game where they have to, they forced to pitch to him. But it appears to me as though they have chosen to not pitch to him.

Q. I know we talk so much about history, and you mentioned again the Yankees and the Pirates. Do you ever, like yourself, when have you time, kind of wonder what it would have been like to play in some of these older ballparks or if you were to have hypothetically managed against those teams?
JOE MADDON: I periodically will go online and I look up old ballparks, just the pictures. Recently I was in a -- when I was with the Angels, Rod Carew would talk about the Polo Grounds being right across the river at Coogan's Bluff. So I got a picture the other day. And when I sent in my lineup, I posted it with the -- to the other guys to look at. And you could see the juxtaposition of the two ballparks. It was outstanding. Crosley Field with the terrace. Always been interested in that. Old Connie Mack, I got there, got to Connie Mack. The old Yankee Stadium, of course. Worked there. The ballpark that really held intrigue to me before I came to the National League was Fenway. And I was always intrigued by Fenway because I always wanted to know what's beyond the left field Green Monster. Not the ballpark itself. What is beyond the fence. So when I first got there, I just walked down that street to check it out. All these old ballparks. Absolutely. I mean, Forbes Field on the campus of Pitt. I have -- listen, I wish I had to have that opportunity, but in some ways -- I listened to the radio a lot growing up, I listened to all the games on the radio, and the announcers are very good at painting pictures. And there's a lot of available information on the Internet. So I do. I do check out old baseball ballparks. The old Sportsman Park in St. Louis. All this stuff is fascinating.

Q. (Off microphone)?
JOE MADDON: Well, they used to actually warm up, like the starters would warm up down by home plate. I think that's a tremendous idea. I know you can't do that anymore. I think that would be awesome to have your starter warm up like right by your dugout where the fans could see your guy warming up. And wouldn't that be good for the pitcher? I mean, just to get in the field for the day? I mean, that's why I like bullpens on the field. I mean, everybody wants these sterile bullpens because they're out of play, whatever. But I like bullpens on the field. Because if I was a pitcher, I would. Because you could actually start feeling what's going on. And of course it's dangerous, guys run. I get it. I get it. If I'm an outfielder, I don't like it. But if I'm a pitcher, I do like it because I can get into the feel for what's going on a little bit sooner as opposed to a more sterile bullpen away from the crowd.

THE MODERATOR: All right. Thank you.