MLB NEWS: Joe Maddon
When Joe Maddon resigned on October 24, he closed the chapter as the Tampa Bay Rays only successful manager in franchise history.
The first ten years as the Devil Rays were abysmal. Managers Larry Rothschild, Hal McRae and Lou Pinella never topped 70 wins in a single season. From 1998 to 2007 seasons which includes Maddon’s first two seasons, the Devil Rays finished in last place in the A.L. East nine of those ten seasons. Pinella managed to finish in fourth place with a 70-91 record.
In 2008, they changed to the Rays and their magical season began. The nucleus of the front office was formed by owner Stuart Sternberg, who recruited Maddon, Andrew Friedman and Matt Silverman. Friedman succeeded Chuck LaMar, the team’s first general manager, in 2005. Silverman became president of baseball operations.
Maddon used Sabermetrics to mold and shape his team leaning on dominant pitching and defense with an opportunistic offense to scrap the Rays into the A.L. pennant. The Rays narrowly defeated the defending World Champion Boston Red Sox in a 4-3 series win. The Rays would come up short against Charlie Manuel’s Philadelphia Phillies.
The Rays would not finish the season under .500 again until this season where they finished fourth at 77-85. As seasons progressed, the Rays had to depart with their star players to build for the future to control their thrifty ways.
The Rays 2008 ace James Shields, along with starter Wade Davis, was traded to the Kansas City Royals in a multiplayer deal in 2012. Shields is now pitching for them in the World Series against the San Francisco Giants.
David Price, who pitched out of the bullpen in 2008 as Maddon’s secret weapon for the postseason, won a Cy Young Award in 2012 after taking over as team ace from Shields. Unfortunately Price’s contract situation, the team’s inconsistent play and stock rendered him expendable as the Rays sent him to the Detroit Tigers in a three-team deal.
Don Zimmer, a senior advisor to the Rays whose MLB career spanned seven decades, passed on June 4 at the age of 83. He was a popular figure in the clubhouse who served with the team for 11 years, his longest tenure with any team having served 13 franchises.
Friedman departed the Rays on October 14 to become the president of baseball operations for the Los Angeles Dodgers. Silverman was promoted into Friedman’s place.
With Maddon’s departure, he leaves the Rays with a 754-705 record with a .517 winning percentage, a pennant and four postseason appearances.
The efforts of Maddon, along with Sternberg, Friedman and Silverman, made a once woeful franchise to a respectable one. Maddon’s accomplishment is special because he was the first successful coach of this franchise. You can’t say the same thing about Tony Dungy, Jon Gruden or John Tortorella, world championships aside as the Buccaneers and Lightning have enjoyed success prior to their arrivals. Maddon deserves to be enshrined alongside Al López and Tony La Russa as Tampa’s greatest baseball figures.
While the team’s future is currently uncertain, the next manager will have to make the bold decisions to stabilize the pitching and invigorate the bats to become successful again.
I part by saying. Thank you, Joe. Thank you for everything you’ve done. Thank you for making this community believe wherever this team may go.