Joe Maddon: How AL Manager of the Year Can Turn Tampa Bay Rays into Winners
The Tampa Bay Rays have been winners over the last four seasons under Joe Maddon. Maddon's winning AL Manager of the Year in 2011, a season with few expectations, should attest to the dramatic effect he has in Tampa Bay.
Things will not get any easier for Maddon and the Rays heading into 2012. Budget restrictions, ticket sales and a plethora of external organizational factors will severely hamper the Rays ability to extend themselves past their current budget.
Luckily for Rays owner Stuart Sternberg, he has the best in the business working for him in head coach Joe Maddon and general manager Andrew Friedman.
Without Friedman and Maddon operating from the same sheet of music and seamlessly integrating the talented youth in the Rays' minor league system, the resulting success over the past four seasons may not have happened.
Whatever Maddon and Friedman are doing, it's worked thus far—to a point.
They Rays have had a taste of success and now need to get over the hump and to the next level. How many problems would winning a World Series solve for the young Rays franchise?
When trying to build a fanbase, success is vital.
Maintain the Fire
Joe Maddon is an intense manager. He is not over the top in his interactions with umpires but he is not afraid to mix it up with them either.
His fire and passion is on display every time he leaves the dugout to dispute a call with the umpires.
If Maddon is to continue the success he has had in Tampa Bay and build even further onto it he cannot get complacent. His passion and his belief in his team and system must continue to be unwavering.
Stick to His Guns
Joe Maddon has had his moments some Tampy Bay Rays fans would describe as questionable. Others, such as a disgruntled fan who created "joemaddonsucks.com," go above and beyond with their displeasure in his management style and decision making.
Maddon likes to utilize optimal situational matchups instead of conventional wisdom. The matchups he's been arranging do not always pan out, but they have made an impact in several instances.
Deciding to start rookie Matt Moore in Game 1 of the American League Championship Series is a perfect example of his fearless belief in himself and his system.
He knows baseball better than nearly everyone in the game and should should stick to his guns. The Rays need his leadership and his fearless management style to continue to build their identity.
Mentor the Youngsters
Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon has been an expert at cultivating the most out of the young talent brought up to the major league level. In a system such as the Rays, who rely on their minor league's for depth and filling roster holes, Maddon's skill set is a premium.
Maddon's ability to capture the best out of each and every player in his system will be essential in bridging the gap between the Rays and the higher money market teams in the American League.
Keep It Simple Stupid
The Tampa Bay Rays are built on the principles of fundamentals. Maddon believes tempering expectations, maintaining a loose environment and taking care of the basics will lead to bigger and better things.
He should continue to sell his methodical approach of daily self improvement and taking care of the basics as he continues to foster the young Rays team into an even more polished ball club.
Keep Things "Fun" and Professional
Joe Maddon is known for his antics as well as his loose managerial style. Whether it's organizing social events to allow players to bond or wearing a Tampa Bay Buccaneers helmet during a post game interview—Maddon has to continue doing what he is doing with his players.
As a result, Maddon has changed the culture of the Tampa Bay Rays organization.
It isn't just fun and games in the clubhouse, though, Maddon is a complete professional. He preaches and demands accountability, integrity, attitude, flexibility and consistency from his players.
The conducive culture he has installed allows for all of his demands to be met with ease.