The Tampa Bay Rays may be able to keep somebody from firing up FireJoeMaddon.com but they can’t stop me from tracking Joe Maddon’s chances of being the Rays manager in 2009.
Last year the Tampa Bay Rays picked up Joe Maddon’s two-year option. In reality it was a one-year deal as few teams are willing to enter a season with a manager that only has one year left on his contract. Make no mistake, a decision regarding Maddon’s future will be made following the 2008 season. Depending on how the Rays perform on the field and how management feels Maddon performed in the dugout and in the clubhouse, they will either grant Maddon an extension following the 2008 season or the will fire him.
In Maddon’s first two years at the helm of the Rays, we have seen glimpses of what we had heard from the Angels organization. That is, Joe Maddon is an excellent talent evaluator and great developer of young talent. What we still don’t know is if Joe Maddon can be a winning major league manager.
While the emphasis in his first two seasons has been on player development, there has been a noticeable lack of W’s in the standings. In each of Maddon’s first two seasons, his Rays have finished with the worst record in baseball becoming the first team to have the top pick of the June amateur draft two years in a row (until recently, the top pick alternated leagues each year).
Is Joe Maddon the right guy to lead the Rays out of the cellar and into the playoffs? Stuart Sternberg and Andrew Friedman will make the decision following the season and I will track Maddon’s progress during the season.
My first inclination was to start at about 30%, but I am going to give Maddon the benefit of the doubt. At this point he has the backing of the front office. Still the chances of Maddon returning for 2009 are 50-50 right now. There is a clear indication that the team needs to start winning more games. He doesn’t need to make the playoffs for an extension, and i am not ready to put a number on how many wins he needs, but he does need to show considerable improvement.
This feature will run weekly from now until the end of the season. We may change the exact day of the week, but for now it is a Sunday feature.