MESA, Ariz. -- Cousin Eddie, Joe Maddon's RV, has been parked in Mesa for most of the winter. At some point in Spring Training, it will likely appear at Cubs camp.
What other surprises will the new manager bring? That remains to be seen. Maddon takes over this week as the 54th manager in Cubs history, and the first with his own Twitter account.
"The thing with Joe that really resonates with me is he succeeded in Tampa under some pretty long odds," Chicago general manager Jed Hoyer said of Maddon, who managed the Rays from 2006-14. "It's a bad ballpark situation; they don't have a lot of fans, they don't have a lot of payroll, and he always had to figure out a way to find an edge to keep the team loose, to keep the team cohesive. We're very different here, but there are some challenges here that don't present themselves everywhere."
Some of those challenges include the facilities -- there's no batting cage near the dugout at Wrigley Field. There's also that long drought of not winning, which hovers over the Cubs. What Maddon will find in Arizona is a state-of-the-art facility, which opened last year, and which several players have taken advantage of prior to the start of organized workouts.
The addition of Maddon and Lester has amped up expectations for Cubs fans, weary after five consecutive fifth-place finishes in the National League Central.
"There's a definite buzz [this year], which is nice," Chicago president of baseball operations Theo Epstein said. "We've asked so much of our fans the past three years. ... Now it's nice to transition to a point where we're building the organization and we're building a Major League team that can compete, and our fans deserve to get excited about it."