Tampa Bay Rays: Joe Maddon Extended, and What He Means to the Team

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Tampa Bay Rays: Joe Maddon Extended, and What He Means to the Team
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On Tuesday, Mark Tompkin of the Tampa Bay Times reported on Twitter that Rays manager Joe Maddon had been given a three-year contract extension, which will keep him as the Tampa Bay skipper through the 2015 season. Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe tweeted that the deal will pay Maddon roughly $2 million a season.

Maddon, who recently turned 58, is the fourth-longest tenured manager in the major leagues behind only the Phillies' Charlie Manuel, the Twins' Rod Gardenhire and Maddon's mentor, the Angels' Mike Scoscia. Maddon to Tampa Bay nearly didn't happen, as he was nearly hired by the Red Sox heading into the 2003 season.

Maddon had brief major league managerial experience before joining the Rays for the 2006 campaign. In 1996, Maddon was the third manager of the season for the 1996 California Angels, leading them to an 8-14 finish to end a season in which they went 70-91. Maddon would become the Angels' bench coach again, with Anaheim hiring Terry Collins.

Maddon would again step in as Angels manager in 1999, following a 51-82 start that saw Collins fired. Maddon went 19-10 as manager, but was eventually replaced by Mike Scoscia, who had all of one year of professional managerial experience under his belt—a 65-74 season in 1999 with the Los Angeles Dodgers' AAA affiliate in Albuquerque.

As everyone who follows baseball knows, that move wound up being brilliant, as Scoscia quickly became one of the major leagues' best managers and would end up tutoring two very talented MLB managers, former Angels pitching coach Bud Black—now of the San Diego Padres, and his bench coach, Maddon.

Hired in 2006, Maddon was brought in with hopes that he could help change the culture and finally bring a winning record to the then Devil Rays. Plagued with vastly sub-par pitching for the first two seasons of his full-time managerial career, Maddon went 61-101 in '06, and 66-96 in 2007.

In 2008, everything changed, including the team name and jerseys—separating the bleak memories of the Devil Rays of the late 90's and early 2000's with a shorter catchier "Rays," and brighter uniforms that didn't look to be AAA quality. Finally equipped with a quality pitching staff, Maddon lead the Rays to a 97-65 record—five wins over their Pythagorean win-loss record.

The Rays made it to the World Series that year, falling to the Phillies in five games. However, the year was anything but a failure, as the Rays, armed with MLB's second smallest payroll at $43,820,598, proved that anything was possible. Maddon won Manager of the Year for his amazing work that season.

2009 was nothing very special, as the Rays finished third in the American League East at 84-78. The major thing, though, was that despite a few players having major regressions—namely Pat Burrell, Scott Kazmir and Andy Sonnanstine—the Rays established themselves as something much more than a fluke in 2008.

2010 saw Maddon's Rays again win the A.L. East, going 96-66. The Rays quickly dropped the first two games of the ALDS against the Texas Rangers by scores of 5-1 and 6-0. However, the Rays rallied, winning the next two games before falling in five to the eventual A.L. champion Rangers.

2011 looked like it might have been a bit of a lost cause for the Rays. Having lost Carlos Pena to the Cubs and Carl Crawford to the division rival Red Sox, the Rays would turn to rookie Desmond Jennings and reclamation project Casey Kotchman to help keep the team competitive. Maddon's work as manager in 2011 would net him his second A.L. Manager of the Year award.

In what was arguably the most exciting final day of the regular season ever—and easily the most covered, discussed, analyzed and re-hashed—the Rays squeaked into the playoffs, with the Orioles getting a walk-off win against the collapsing Red Sox, and the Rays getting a walk-off home run in the 11th inning by Evan Longoria. They would fall in the ALDS in four games, but that hardly seemed relevant after game 162.

In his tenure as Rays manager, Maddon in many ways has become what the Rays are all about. In addition to his pair of MOTY awards and everything he's done to earn those, Maddon is also a big part of the Tampa Bay community. As fellow Rays writer Yossi Feins pointed out in his recent article about Maddon, the Rays manager constantly contributes time and money to those in need in the Tampa Bay area.

Coupled with the amateur spending limits imposed by the new collective bargaining agreement, re-signing Joe Maddon become a priority, and quite possibly the best money the Rays could possibly spend in their next few budgets.

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