Two Steps or Die: The Maddon Extension Watch will run every Sunday…

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. In 2008, Papa Joe and the Rays will either take Two Steps forward, earning Maddon an extension…or he will be fired.

New name and a new attitude this week. I decided I am going to make this a little less arbitrary, or at least now I am going to try to define how I arrived at each week’s tick mark. I said last week that I did not want to place a number on how many wins Papa Joe needed in order to earn an extension. Obviously Stuart Sternberg and Andrew Friedman will judge a number of factors before making a decision. Each week I will take a look at how Maddon is performing in each of five categories. While this list is likely not complete, I do believe these are the most important factors in determining whether or not Joe Maddon can be a winning baseball manager.

Is there an important category I am leaving out? Let me know in the comments

  • Wins: 2-0 in Spring Training. Nobody ever wants to place too much emphasis on spring games, but last year the Rays started 1-14. It’s true. You can look it up. Gaining confidence is a big step for the young players, so why not start now.
  • Fundamentals on the field: No errors in the first two games. Four double plays. Two hit batters. 1 runner picked off of second.
  • Consistently competetive: N/A
  • Avoid prolonged slumps: N/A
  • Control the clubhouse: Players have spoken openly about how much calmer the clubhouse is this season. They seem happy and are openly speaking of playoffs. Maddon has even implemented the daily joke to be delivered by somebody different each day…Sounds as if he is not going to let Scott Kazmir’s personal wishes dictate who pitches on opening day.
  • Summary: So far Joe Maddon has made all the changes that we had hoped for. He appears more forceful and a little less forgiving. Now we just need to see this translate into wins on the field.
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1 Comment

  1. Robert Rittner says:

    "MLB.com: In past years with the Rays, the emphasis has been on evaluating and player development. While that will always be a part of any organization, how will your job as a manager change now that the emphasis is on winning games?

    Maddon: I would say the difference would be that somebody is not going to have as much rope. My style won't change. ... You're not going to give someone as much rope."
    __________________________________
    One of the questions raised about Maddon is whether this quotation suggests that he has been lax in the past. I think one of the professor's questions has been on that path.

    This response from today's Chastain posting suggests to me that Maddon is not talking about conduct or following rules but rather getting playing time or staying on the team. I am not sure that is the case, but I do think it is very easily read that way. Players will not get as much rope to fail, will not have as much time to prove themselves, as in the past.

    The fact that he said something similar in the past may have nothing to do with this year's statement; last year's might very well have been addressing the other issue of conduct.

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