Tampa Bay Rays: Why Keeping Joe Maddon Is Key for Rays Success
The Tampa Bay Rays need to keep manager Joe Maddon in order to continue to succeed in the American League East. Maddon’s laid back approach to leadership helped develop a young Rays' team into a calm, cool and collected contender.
With the loss of many key players during the 2010-11 offseason, the Rays were picked by nearly every expert to flounder and miss the playoffs in 2011.
Maddon stated on Twitter that he toasted to his team in April, “The best 0-6 team ever."
Following the season, it looks like he was right.
He led a record setting resurgence in which his Rays usurped the wild card leading Red Sox after trailing by nine games at the onset of September. Clearly, Maddon is doing great things with little expectations, and the second smallest budget in Major League Baseball.
Read on to see why Joe Maddon has been so successful, and what it would mean if the Rays were to lose him.
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Tampa Bay Rays' manager Joe Maddon is fearless. No matter what the outside pressures amount to, Maddon is keen on sticking to his guns.
In Game 1 of the American League Divisional Series, Maddon started rookie Matt Moore. Moore had only started one previous MLB game prior to Game 1.
He went on to perform remarkably in a seven-inning, shut-out performance.
It’s decisions like that which propel Maddon to the next level.
Little to Work With
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Joe Madden’s Tampa Bay Rays had little expectations heading into 2011. The loss of closer Rafael Soriano, first baseman Carlos Pena, outfielder Carl Crawford and eight other players to other major league teams was a devastating blow.
Those 11 players earned $67 million in 2011, $25 million more than the Rays’ entire payroll.
Maddon, though, has learned to get the most out of all the players on his roster.
As a part of the Rays' discounted organization, Maddon is an essential cog, to continue to foster and develop the exceedingly advanced talent the Rays' farm system has generated.
Fun and Community
Joe Maddon is most known for being a fun and entertaining manager. His leadership style is remarked to be loose and unobtrusive to his players. This has fostered a strong and unified community within the Rays’ clubhouse.
Maddon is a true player's manager.
He once wore a Tampa Bay Buccaneers' helmet throughout an entire postgame press conference.
He’s also referred to the banning of alcohol in the clubhouse as “asinine."
For a young team, this relaxed locker room atmosphere is crucial to building a winning environment. When the Rays were down by nine games entering September, they didn’t stress about it. They just went out and had fun.
Joe Maddon is the reason their comeback was completed.
At Home With the Rays
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Joe Maddon’s style of leadership is something he can get away with, so to speak, with the Tampa Bay Rays. The Ray’s market and fanbase in south Florida is similar to Maddon in their relaxed demeanor and beach-life attitude.
Bigger markets, such as the St. Louis Cardinals and Boston Red Sox, may not be as accommodating to Maddon’s antics. He thrives on his ability to manipulate roster options and game-time decisions. How much scrutiny would he be under if he were inserted into one of those bigger markets, where Hall of Fame managers like Tony La Russa were oft under fire for similar decisions?
Despite speculation, Maddon will likely remain the manager of the Rays for the foreseeable future. He said it himself, his job and career is not just about the money: “For me it isn't always about money. I really am humbled by that thought, but at the end of the day I am a Ray and I want to be a Ray."
It’s good to know the feeling is mutual in St. Petersburg.
Rays Without Maddon
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If Joe Maddon were to leave the Tampa Bay Rays for bigger pastures and bigger budgets, the Rays would lose the glue to their organization. Maddon’s contributions to the team have been incredible since 2008.
He was named the American League Manager of the Year in 2008 and 2011.
The Rays have won the American League East Division twice and earned three total playoff berths in the last four years under his leadership.
Without Maddon, the Rays will be hard pressed to find another unique, intelligent, fearless and determined leader to hold their organization of young prospects together.
The Rays’ players, fans and entire community will be shocked and disappointed if Maddon is not managing the Rays next April.