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.

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12 Comments

  1. zenny says:

    Let's hope this woulda been more applicable last year.

    The McHat is great, tho.

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  2. Devil Ray Guevara says:

    I dont think there was any real doubt about the team picking up Maddon's option. I mean look at the team's record. Worst in baseball. What would he have had to do in order to not have the team pick up his option? Lose 120? That might have done it. But even then. I really believe there was no pressure on Maddon to win games in 2007. The only thing that would have kept the team from extending the deal is if Maddon had lost control of the clubhouse. Hard to do with a team so young.

    This year though the team spent money on free agents and on in-house players. the core of the team is mostly intact. they traded for a starting pitcher. the team has now given Maddon a roster he can compete with in the AL East. If he doesn't at least show that the team can be competitive then the axe will fall.

    ultimately the scale is going to sway based on how well the team is doing but also on how players react to Maddon and what the front office say publicly about Maddon.

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  3. mark says:

    "Madden Death Watch" ??

    I think the whole idea of this feature is kind of entertaining (and the McHat is classic) but the title is a little extreme.

    There has got to be a better name to call it than that!

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  4. Devil Ray Guevara says:

    it is extreme, but was kinda meant that way to be silly and also catchy.

    I was going to just call it FireJoeMaddon.com, but that implies that I am rooting for Maddon to be fired. I am not. In fact, I am completely neutral on the idea right now, which makes this good.

    Maddon Death Watch also sounds like I am rooting for his demise, but I was hoping that it was so far in one direction as to not be taken seriously.

    Having said that, I am open for other ideas, that get the point across and are still catchy.

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  5. Robert Rittner says:

    How about the Maddon extension watch, or is that not catchy enough?

    Or how about the even more apt "Drive to contention" watch which places the emphasis where it belongs?

    I think that people who need extreme titles to get interested need some form of viagra for their minds to operate and are flaccid without it.

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  6. Devil Ray Guevara says:

    Unfortunately, this is what we are dealing with when we are trying to appeal to people outside the standard Rays fan.

    like i said. i do understand the concern (contempt?) and I am open to ideas. so keep em coming. and in the meantime, i will try to come up with something.

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  7. Littlefield says:

    oh come on. this is idiotic. nobody thinks Joe Maddon is actually going to die and nobody thinks that you want Joe Maddon to die.

    The hat is awesome. the idea is cool. look forward to it.

    keep the name.

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  8. Anonymous says:

    title is a little over the top, but it didnt really bother me. i got the point. i tried to think of an alternative. got nothin'. it's fine.

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  9. mark says:

    You know, I never said anything 'had' to be changed - it was just a suggestion. Food for thought.

    Also, question for devil ray guevara, what do you mean by; "this is what we are dealing with when we are trying to appeal to people outside the standard Rays fan" ??

    Is there such a thing as a standard Rays fan to begin with?

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  10. Robert Rittner says:

    I am resisting, with great difficulty, the urge to expound on the issue of debasing public discourse by appealing to the lowest common denominator rather than encouraging people to elevate the level of discussion. In the end, the pandering to "the standard" is ineffective and self-defeating; it simply keeps that level receding further and further; there is no sating the beast.

    Of course DRG is not referring to actual death. That has nothing to do with the case.

    I could understand such a vile title if you really had it in for Maddon. I would disagree and still consider it mean-spirited, but at least recognize it grew from antipathy. I could also understand if Maddon had done something to earn such an attack, along the lines of FJM's evisceration of certain writers whose stubborn resistance and irrational misrepresentations of statistical analysis earns contempt.

    But neither fits this case. Do you really want fans who need this kind of sensationalism to contribute here? Haven't you seen examples in the past on this site when exactly this kind of writing elicited increasingly vituperative and destructive comments that ended discussion rather than promoting it? Or vain attempts at clever retorts that degenerated into vulgarity and "your mama wears combat boots" style insults?

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  11. Devil Ray Guevara says:

    when we are dealing with mechanisms such as feedreaders and search engines, a garden-variety headline might not catch the attention of somebody that is just skimming the headlines.

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  12. Robert Rittner says:

    I want to come at this a totally different way.

    I am a Rays' fan. I enjoy conversation about the Rays and expect disagreements. I have been very critical of decisions the Rays have made: keeping Upton in the minors too long, signing Micelli and trotting Harville out there over and over, overusing the sacrifice bunt for examples.

    I also recognize that in arguing about the Rays, some players will be criticized, and in discussing who should make the team or who should start, some players inevitably will be attacked as incompetent to set them off from the favorite. I also realize that the manager, coaches and management team are legitimately subject to criticism when people disagree with their moves.

    But this is a Rays site, and while it should invite forceful critiques, I do not like when its approach is negative. The implication in the headline, whatever its purpose and apparently quite contrary to the actual opinion of the author, is that the Rays are going to lose and we expect Maddon to be fired. To me, that is a loser's headline, and I do not like my team to be labeled a loser, or for the implication to be that they will fail.

    Just as Sternberg and company has asserted one of its goals has been to change the culture here, to expect excellence, I think our blogs should mirror the confidence. I am not talking about mindless fandom, but self-respect. Why are we mocking ourselves?

    I would not participate in the discussion about Maddon's tenure-i.e. the substance of it-because it can only become a magnet for negativity and nastiness.

    I do not want any Rays site to be Pollyanna. We should criticize specific decisions. But I also do not want any Rays site to fall into a resigned posture or to approach the team and its personnel as if we expect failure. That is cutting at the core of the team, not specific aspects of it, and is destructive, not constructive criticism.

    Stay sharp, stay critical, stay detached even. But, unless your view really is that the current management team is on the wrong track or is fundamentally inept, don't give aid and comfort to the enemy by self-debasement.

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