It's never too early to talk about the upcoming season. -------------------- http://espn.go.com/chicago/mlb/story/_/id/11786485/joe-maddon-expected-become-chicago-cubs-manager Joe Maddon expected to join Cubs The Chicago Cubs are on the verge of hiring Joe Maddon as manager, as first reported by CBSSports.com. Two sources familiar with the situation confirmed the agreement to ESPN's Jim Bowden. However, three team sources told ESPN's Buster Olney a deal is not yet in place, though they say one is expected. Major League Baseball is sensitive to teams making major announcements during the World Series. The deal will be finalized and announced after the World Series, likely over the weekend, sources told ESPN.com. CBSSports.com initially reported the two sides had reached an agreement, but then reported Maddon was on the verge of a deal. The Tampa Bay Rays announced last Friday that Maddon had exercised an opt-out in his contract, which was due to expire after next season. Maddon managed the Rays for nine seasons, compiling a 754-705 record. He led Tampa Bay to the playoffs four times, won two AL East titles and made one World Series appearance. The Cubs have not made the playoffs since 2008 and have finished last or next-to-last in the NL Central in each of the past five seasons. -------------------- http://espn.go.com/blog/chicago/cubs/post/_/id/27922/what-would-a-maddon-coaching-staff-look-like What would a Joe Maddon coaching staff look like? CHICAGO -- As the World Series comes to an end, so too should the Joe Maddon saga. One way or another, the Chicago Cubs will either pull the trigger on a deal or pass on the former Tampa Bay Rays manager by the end of the week, according to industry sources. They owe at least that much to current manager Rick Renteria. As we await word from Wrigley Field, it’s worth examining what a Maddon coaching staff might look like. Remember, it’s not just the manager the Cubs said was coming back for 2015, they also invited almost everyone else back and already hired two new coaches in hitting coach John Mallee and first base coach Doug Dascenzo. Most skippers are allowed to choose their assistants, but the Cubs aren’t likely to fire their group to accommodate Maddon, according to an industry source. He’ll have to manage with most, if not all, of the coaches already in place, at least for one year. Let’s start with pitching. The Cubs kept pitching coach Chris Bosio, catching coach Mike Borzello and bullpen coach Lester Strode after dismissing Dale Sveum a year ago, so there is no reason to believe they would allow Maddon to move them out unless he insists his people from Tampa Bay would be better suited for the situation. That’s not likely to happen and would probably be a deal breaker the Cubs would win out on. Theo Epstein has stated in no uncertain terms he loves the “pitching infrastructure” that’s already in place. And it’s hard to imagine the newcomers would get canned before ever putting on a Cubs uniform, so Dascenzo and Mallee probably aren’t going anywhere either. Eric Hinske was moved to assistant hitting coach and its doubtful Maddon would make a stand there. That leaves a couple of options for him to bring in his own people. Bench coach is usually the place where the manager gets his guy, so Brandon Hyde's job could be in jeopardy. He worked for the Cubs in a non-uniformed role before taking over on the bench last season, so he could always be kicked back upstairs in some capacity. Another option for a Maddon guy could be as third-base coach. Gary Jones came over with Renteria from San Diego, so he could potentially be moved out along with the current manager. Those two spots are the most likely options for Maddon, at least for 2015. Would former Cub Dave Martinez be Maddon’s choice for bench coach if he isn’t hired by the Rays as their next manager? It makes all the sense in the world, considering both his ties to Maddon and the city. And both have the same Chicago based agent in Alan Nero. There’s always a chance Maddon simply accepts the entire coaching staff as is, given the unique timing of his potential hire. Plus, the Rays have stated they want to keep as much of their staff in place after they hire a new manager as well. But that new skipper might want his own bench coach, making Martinez expendable. No one is talking publicly about any of this yet, but behind the scenes these are some of the discussions that must be taking place if a deal with Maddon is to be done. Then the dominoes will fall. -------------------- I can't believe that right now I have more faith in the Cubs organization than the Bears.