C.J. Wilson might not be the biggest loss from the Rangers pitching staff this offseason.
Word out of Chicago is that new Cubs G.M. Theo Epstein has Mike Maddux at the very top of his short list of candidates to replace Mike Quade, who was fired on Wednesday. Lending credence to that report is the fact that Maddux has also been mentioned for the opening in Boston, where they are likely working from a list that Epstein helped build before jumping teams after the Red Sox collapsed in September.
Maddux declined the Chicago Sun-Times' request for a comment about their report and his interest in the job, but it isn't hard to imagine why Epstein would be interested in Maddux. The Rangers have lowered their team ERA in each of Maddux's three years with the Rangers while changing the identity of the team from one that needed to outslug opponents to one that can hang in every phase of the game.
What's more, Maddux has overseen the development of pitchers like Derek Holland, Matt Harrison, Alexi Ogando and Neftali Feliz. Bringing young pitchers along is about much more than the big league pitching coach, obviously, but the final steps can be the most troublesome ones for pitchers with big arms and little polish.
Maddux also took C.J. Wilson from the bullpen to the rotation to top free agent on the market, another sign that he recognizes how to get the most out of each pitcher on his staff. Those kinds of skills, coupled with two straight trips to the World Series, make other teams pay attention so it was probably just a matter of time before the Rangers had to deal with poachers. Or deal with them again, since Clint Hurdle is now in Pittsburgh
Maddux's interest level in becoming a manager is a grey area. Some pitching coaches -- Leo Mazzone, Dave Duncan -- have never crossed over to be in charge of the entire team so it isn't a guarantee that Maddux wants the big chair. Should he want it, he's going to have a really good shot at getting it which means the Rangers should be prepared to replace him.
You'd hope that the organization-wide philosophies about pitching that have been put in place by Nolan Ryan would have them ready to move on without missing a beat. It's one of those things you aren't going to know until you try, though, and the 2012 Rangers might have to try for a third straight AL crown without one of the biggest reasons for the first two trips.