Cubs GM: Criticism of Joe Maddon ‘nature of being manager in Chicago’

ORLANDO, Fla. – Joe Maddon took the North Side by storm in 2015, winning 97 games, knocking off the Cardinals in the playoffs and being named the National League Manager of the Year in his first year with the Cubs.

Two more deep October runs and a franchise-changing World Series later, he stirs as much criticism as his four most recent predecessors combined, for everything from leadoff-man decisions in April and May to bullpen decisions in October and November.

“I think it’s just the nature of being the manager in Chicago,” general manager Jed Hoyer said Tuesday during the general managers meetings, on the day that Arizona’s Torey Lovullo and Minnesota’s Paul Molitor were named 2017 NL and AL managers of the year.

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Hoyer and Maddon after the Cubs' Game 7 World Series win almost exactly one year ago.

“We’ve won 292 games in the last three years and been to three NLCS’s and won the World Series, and the manager who’s done that is getting criticized,” Hoyer said. “Almost by definition if he’s getting criticized that means it just comes with the territory.”

The Cubs’ victories in six postseason rounds the last three years are twice the number of postseason series wins for the franchise before that. And the Cubs’ 36 postseason games under his management compare to 31 in the previous 69 years.

“When you’re in the postseason, the spotlight is shone so much on managers in general, positive and negative, from hero to goat, from success to criticism – whatever it might be – that I just think that’s the nature of the game in the postseason,” Hoyer said. “Playoff managers are going to have a lot of scrutiny, and Joe’s had a lot of scrutiny, but I think the success kind of speaks for itself when it comes to Joe.”

Hoyer said it’s too early to talk about a contract extension as Maddon enters the fourth season of a five-year, $25 million deal.

“Listen, we have a great relationship with him,” Hoyer said. “But we would probably keep that private if we were talking about it.”

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Email: gwittenmyer@suntimes.com