Reports surfaced late Wednesday night that the Chicago Cubs have offered their vacant manager’s position to Brewers coach (and former interim manager) Dale Sveum. He is expected to accept the offer and a deal could become official very shortly.
While this is obviously great news for Sveum, who was one of my favorite players growing up, it’s even better news for the Texas Rangers. Pitching coach Mike Maddux had interviewed for the Cubs job as well, and for a while it appeared he would be the choice. Maddux had also been mentioned in connection with the still vacant Red Sox job, but he pulled his name out of consideration there a week or so ago.
Maddux is widely-regarded as perhaps the best pitching coach in all of baseball right now. Prior to coming to the Rangers in 2009, he served the same role for the Brewers. The biggest reason for the Rangers success in the past two season has been the improvement of the pitching staff. For years, it was accepted as fact that this franchise could never have an average staff, let alone a great one, due to the heat of the Texas summer and the hitter-happy ballpark they play in.
It may be pure coincidence, but over the past three seasons under Maddux’s tutelage, the Rangers have ranked in the upper half of team ERA each year. In 2009, Texas posted a team ERA of 4.38, but that number dropped to 3.93 in 2010 and again to 3.79 last season. In the season before Maddux took the Rangers job, Texas ranked dead last in the league in ERA, coming in at 5.37.