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.
I do 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.
- Wins: 7-1 (spring training)
- Fundamentals on the field: Through 8 games. 18-22 in stolen bases. Opponents are only 3-5 in steals. The Rays have committed only 2 errors, have no passed balls, have turned 9 double plays and have the highest fielding percentage (.993) in spring training.
- Consistently competetive: N/A
- Avoid prolonged slumps: N/A
- Control the clubhouse: Nothing to report
- Summary: Nobody wants to place too much emphasis on spring games, but 7-1 is 7-1 and for a team that is trying to build a winning mentality, that sure beats the hell out of 1-14 like the Rays were in 2007. The Rays now have the best record in all baseball and people are starting to notice as it usually takes the Rays a month to reach 7 victories. The Bradenton Herald has a story this morning on Maddon and how he has always played to win but for the first time he feels like he has a lineup he can compete with. There is almost a sense of relief in the voice of Maddon while reading the article. The confidence is finally there. Will it mean more wins in 2008? We’ll see. In the meantime though, we have to believe that if the team had to make a decision on Maddon’s contract now, they would renew him. So the meter goes up one notch.