Cubs

Should he stay or should he go? Cubs players have manager Joe Maddon’s back

Cubs manager Joe Maddon has said that seven to 10 years is the ideal amount of time to spend in any one job. With one year remaining on the five-year deal he signed heading into 2015, will Maddon, 64, make it into that sweet spot?

For that matter, will he be steering the Cubs ship in 2019?

There has been some speculation that a quick exit from the postseason could signal the end of his time in Chicago. Certainly, an anti-Maddon sentiment exists among a segment of Cubs fans.

The man tinkers endlessly. Except for when he sticks with a guy for too long. Look, he isn’t perfect.

Cubs manager Joe Maddon during one of eight pitching changes he made during Tuesday's wild-card loss to the Rockies. (Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

After a 2-1 loss to the Rockies in the NL wild-card game, one thing that became abundantly clear: Maddon’s players have his back.

“I just don’t see where he’s going to get heat from,” Anthony Rizzo said. “I think he’s managed his [expletive] off this year.”

Rizzo and teammates mentioned the injuries to Yu Darvish, Kris Bryant, Brandon Morrow and Pedro Strop. There were other hurdles and pitfalls along the way, too, yet the team managed to win 95 games and nearly capture the NL Central title.

“We still figured out a way to win,” Rizzo said. “That’s all credit to him. Without his leadership here, guys aren’t playing the way they play. [Rookie] David Bote is not coming up here and playing the way he plays without Joe’s leadership.”

Willson Contreras credited Maddon with helping to create a family atmosphere and a loving environment. Jay Baez expressed that even further.

“We love our manager,” Baez said. “The way he talks to us and the way he lets us do whatever we want, be us out there, I think has a lot to do with what we do out there. Because we’ve got to be ourselves.”

Kris Bryant made the point that more bad things than good things are being said about a lot of the Cubs — and about people in general.

“But that’s the world we live in now,” Bryant said.

“Joe always does a great job with us. He always has our best interests in mind. We won 95 games. I mean, that’s pretty impressive.”

They’ve done a bit more than that on Maddon’s watch, of course. There have been 387 regular-season games won in four years and — for the only time in franchise history — four straight postseason appearances. And you might’ve heard about that whole World Series deal in 2016.

Before the Cubs went their separate ways in the wee hours, their season suddenly over, they gathered and did a round of shots. After that were lots of hugs.

“It was very sincere,” Maddon said. “It means something. It’s about the culture that we have created. This is four years in a row in the playoffs. This is something we really believe we can sustain.”

But how much longer will Maddon’s guiding hand be a part of the equation?