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Maddon was considered a top candidate for the Red Sox manager position in 2004.
Unfortunately, Maddon is expected to sign an extension with Tampa Bay before the start of spring training, so Cardinals fans can cross him off their list of potential candidates.
While he is still under contract for the 2012 season, if John Mozeliak could pull it off, Joe Maddon would make a lot of sense for the Cardinals. Maddon took over a struggling Tampa Bay team during the 2005 offseason, and after just two seasons, led them to the World Series in their first playoff appearance in franchise history.
The Tampa Bay organization is built around its farm system and prides itself on being successful with young players. They needed a manager who could coach those young players and draw out the best in them. Maddon has proven to be that manager.
The Rays have not finished with fewer than 80 wins over the past four seasons after 10 consecutive seasons of failing to win more than 70 games. Some may argue a limited sample size in their case against Maddon, but given the Cardinals’ youth movement, he is definitely worth a shot.
Also keep in mind that Maddon has had all this success while competing against the likes of the Red Sox and Yankees on a regular basis.
Now the question is, given all that success, why would Maddon want to leave Tampa Bay? For starters, there is that cavern of a stadium in the middle of St. Petersburg. The low-hanging catwalks beneath the ceiling have actually cost the Rays victories, and even with the team’s recent success, the commute from Tampa to Pinellas County makes it difficult for fans to justify traveling out to attend Rays’ games.
In an article published by the Tampa Bay Times on July 20, Maddon agreed with ESPN’s John Cruk in his criticism of Tropicana Field after a series of stadium issues that affected the national broadcast of consecutive Rays games.
"[Kruk is] right. We do need a new ballpark…this ballpark is improper for major league baseball," Maddon said in the article written by Marc Topkin. "You shouldn't play with all these obstructions and all these caveats … It's run its course. It was here for a moment. It served its purpose. And now it's time to move on … To deny that, everybody has just got their head in the sand, period."
As for the location, Maddon also fired a shot in the direction of St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster, who has been adamant about keeping the team in Pinellas County and plans to hold the team to its lease on the Trop, which runs through 2027.
With a mayor who appears to be hell-bent on keeping the team from building a new stadium closer to the city and an ownership staff that is unwilling to stand up and do what is best for the franchise, the situation appears to be perfect for Maddon to jump ship for another organization.
In St. Louis, Maddon would be playing in front of sell-out crowds almost every night, the Cardinals' roster is similar to Tampa’s with respect to their corps of young players and up-coming prospects, and he will be working with a front office staff that has shown a willingness to spend money and pull the trigger on key trades to improve the team.