USATSI_7860027_154511044_lowresWhen news of Joe Maddon exercising his opt-out clause and leaving the Rays first broke, it seemed pretty clear what happened and that it was Maddon pulling the levers.

The scenario may have played out something like this: The two sides talked about a new contract. Maddon wanted $5-6 million a year. The Rays believe a manager is for the most part just a guy executing a game plan generated by the front office and is not worth that much. Maddon realized he wasn’t getting the money he wanted, so he told his agent to quietly contact some other teams to see if that kind of money was out there. Maddon and his agent liked what they heard, so they told the Rays they were packing up and leaving.

A bit shady perhaps. But that this how these things work.

But then Maddon started telling the media about the negotiations and one piece of information (told by Maddon to multiple media members) came out and suddenly everything looked a lot different.

This raises several questions. Is Joe Maddon telling the truth? Why wasn’t Maddon’s agent aware of the opt-out clause (it’s kind of a big deal)?  Why did Matt Silverman bring it up?

Let’s assume Maddon is telling the truth and let’s assume the agent didn’t know (Alan Nero represents several managers and maybe an underling reviewed the contract and missed it). That makes the third question very interesting.

The early assumption is that Silverman, in the midst of his first negotiations as the head of baseball operations just made a colossal mistake assuming Maddon knew about the opt-out. That is certainly possible. But Silverman is not new to negotiations and that’s the sort of mistake the Rays don’t typically make.

So let’s assume for a second that Silverman didn’t just make a sloppy mistake. Why would he bring it up? The only answer is that the Rays wanted Maddon to leave.

Remember, Maddon and Friedman are friends, “great” friends, and Friedman may have been the one person Maddon was closest to in the front office. In some respects they were partners.

Now Maddon is managing a team with limited resources, in a stadium he never liked, and in a league he thinks is inferior. With Friedman gone, Maddon probably wondered why he was still giving the Rays a discount. His partner was gone and his relationship with the front office probably soured.

From the Rays’ point of view, they have a lame duck manager they aren’t getting along with (negotiations were described as “contentious”) and it is clear Maddon is just going to walk at the end of the 2015 season. Maybe the Rays just wanted Maddon gone.

The Rays could have fired him. But if they did that, they would have had to pay him his $2 million salary. So instead, “accidentally” bring up the opt-out and he walks. The Rays got what they wanted and they saved $2 million in the process.

Now ask yourself, based on everything we know about the Rays, which scenario seems more likely, that Silverman screwed up, or ran a trick play to perfection?

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27 Comments

  1. paco says:

    This from an organization that HATES to give up resources? Not buying it. If they wanted Madden gone, they may have been able to trade him. If there is as much interest in Joe as everybody seems to think, they could have gotten something for him.

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  2. Esse says:

    I agree with PACO. And I think Joe simply went turncoat on us. He made a bunch of pretty promises about staying for years to come ten days ago, then he goes Houdini. I think there's probably a delay or a no-go on a new stadium, so between that and the money (which he admitted), he picked up his marbles and stomped off home. Sadly disappointing.

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  3. Bo says:

    Please. Joe and his agent knew about the opt out and every other clause in his contract. What you are watching is investment banking, which is the part Joe was slow about grasping. This is not about baseball and building a community asset like good owners do, it's about buying low and selling high. Friedman sold high before the commencement of the real dealing when the team scores record low attendance and MLB either allows the team to move, Stu sale out, or MLB contracts the team, terminates the lease under that provision (which is surely in the contract) and hands Stu a check or a new team. There is no new stadium coming. Once Joe saw that it's not about baseball, he decided he could "sell high" too, rather than manage a team in the midst of the poo storm that is about to start. Good for you, Joe. Thanks for some great times. We wish you the best.

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    • Mr. Smith 1980 says:

      Money talks and you can't blame a fella for wanting as uch as possible; we all do.
      But if even a little bit of AF or Maddon leaving had the tiniest thing to do with the prospect of a team in decline then that's rat on a sinking ship behavior and not condonable.

      I'm a huge AF and JoMa fan, but if they left because the Rays look like they're in for a cruddy run because of their decision-making blunders then that love will soon be lost.

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  4. BB says:

    Regardless of the when, why and where's he's gone. Good rithens. Time to move on. Martinez is a good choice to carry on. Little to no actual transition for the team. We have lots of talent and unfortunately they didn't produce last year but that won't last. We've won before and we'll win again.

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  5. Woodrow744 says:

    Please, Cork. Grassy knoll stuff. And I humbly disagree with the phrase "genius move" in the title of your post. Nothing about this debacle has even the whiff of genius in it.

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  6. Dave L says:

    The Cubs would have given us something of signifigance for Maddon. Or wherever he ends up managing.

    Maddon or at the very least his lawyer knew-- thats not a boilerplate clause. And JoeMa's bosom buddy knew it as well and knew the Rays could not resign Maddon and there for he would follow him out the door.

    As I said yesterday, AF should have gotten something for Joe.

    If Silverman was the only one who knew why the hell didn't he trade Maddon for some long shot prospects at least?

    Anyone familiar with Maddons post game press confences where the media peppers him with questions. Usually about 3 or 4 times a week a media brings up some smart little stat or factoid and Maddon's quick retort is an incredulous "Really? I did not know that!" and then expounds eloquently on the whys and wherefores of the topic because usually he Did Know That.

    If Silverman thinks he is the wizard behind the curtain and Maddon is just executing his gameplan then we Rays fans are in trouble.

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    • Jim says:

      Why would anyone give us a significant player or trade for someone they could just sign outright in a year. No GM is going to rent a manager for a year hoping that he succeeds and then re-signs. What would happen if he sucked or bolted and the GM had traded a top prospect in return. Career suicide.

      Joe wants to test his value on the open market. He would have never agreed to an extension with any trade partner He wanted a ton of options on the table. He had more trade value to the MLB network than he had to a MLB team.

      AF should have gotten something for Joe? When? at the end of the season? See above. AF had to be shopping himself around, would you shit all over your closest work friends that you knew was also out the door also?

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      • Dave L says:

        After the end of the season before he left.

        Sternberg was his acquaintance before JoeMa ever was. He brought him into the game he obviously loves from Wall street.

        All he had to do was say Stu Im outta here and Joe will be too so as my last act I will trade him where he wants to go and I will get the most I can for him. Honestly your scat reference escapes me so I cant comment.

        Its clear that most of MLB has a much higher regard for Maddon's value than you do Jim. He is regarded as one of the best managers in baseball.

        That has value, Not Price or Shields like value. But value If Friedman was his best friend then why wouldnt he say 'hey Joe where ya wanna manage?' and work out a deal with them. Not every team can sign one Manager. You seem to think only one team will want him and be willing to pay what he wants.

        I think time will prove you wrong. Maddon will become one of the top 5 paid managers in MLB in the next few months.

        Two young prospects from the Cubs would be better than nothing.

        We got nothing. You are happy with that because it fits your negative narrative of Rays management since you have been posting here .

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        • Jim says:

          "Sternberg was his acquaintance before JoeMa ever was"

          Sternberg was his boss, Joe was his friend. Andrew wasn't going to trade and possibly hose a friend for to benefit a company that he was looking to leave. How hard is that to comprehend?

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  7. Gus says:

    I surmise that when the $ became an issue, Silverman told him he could walk. This is hardly genius. This is thrift. Short-sided thrift. Fur the cost of Escobar they lost Maddon. Even Cork can't spin that as genius. At $5m a year, he'd be the manager, pure and simple. Joe has all but said that in Topkins piece.

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  8. Political_Man says:

    That's the same line Freidman gave when attempting to sign Crawford before he took the Red Sox's money. I think it's possible that Maddon dropped that line knowing the Rays would give the standard "it takes two to tango" comment.

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  9. Johnny Ringo says:

    I am hoping with every ounce of my being that Maddon comes to the Cubs. I think he is the best manager in baseball, maybe in this last decade or so as well.

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    • ed says:

      good luck ,how many ws has he won , none, and he has only taken this team too 1. Maybe i'm still ticked that he walked away, but i didn't think he was the best when he was here or do i think he is now. Good manager, yes but that is about as far as i will go.

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  10. Dave says:

    If losing Maddon means replacing Shelton, then this could work out as a win.

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    • Tom Callahan says:

      Absolutely, the one thing I forgot to mention. There isn't a starting pitching rotation and bullpen in baseball that could make up for the Rays ineptitude at the plate, especially with RISP......Maddon also must bear some of the blame for this.

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    • Drew says:

      http://www.tampabay.com/sports/baseball/rays/rays-plan-to-retain-entire-coaching-staff/2203851

      F*CK

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  11. Tom Callahan says:

    Maddon deserves a lot of credit for helping the Rays become winners, but fact is his best days have been in the rear view for awhile. Maddon micromanages pitchers and the batting order down to a nat's eyelash, overuses defensive shifts, and generally is always to smart by a half when it comes to substitutions in general.

    Also, the combination of Maddon and Friedman have been keeping non-productive, lackluster players around because they're fan favorites, and they frequently have spent big $$$ to bring back players that do absolutely nothing during their second go-round, e.g. Pena, Balfour....then there's the fact that they let good ball players go that end up producing for other teams...Shields, Lobaton, etc,

    Still, there was obviously much more good than bad. Like old shoes, managers and coaches get worn out and their usefulness fades. Maddon brought the Rays as far as he could; overall he did a great job. I hope Maddon finds a team that he can take to the next level and the Rays find the same in their next Manager.

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    • Dave L says:

      You actually make the reverse case by your lack of examples to back them up. Your two in each case are really the only examples in 9 years.

      Frequently turns out to be only Pena and Balfour.

      Lobaton and maybe Chirinos and Fuld have produced somewhat. Shields wasnt let go because they thought he was declining, he was let go because he had maximum return value for the future.

      the list of guys who fell of the face of the earth after leaving here is much longer, in fact just about everyone else.

      They reason they keep mediocre guys around is they have only spare change in their purse to replace them, I think the fans have zero impact.

      Maddon's shifts were so successful that everyone else uses them. The lowest shifting team in MLB last year probably shifted more than the Rays did in 2009.

      If your point is that his time as an innovator has past, I think that may be true, but it doesnt diminish what he/they accomplished here.

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      • Tom Callahan says:

        I'm not making the reverse case by pointing out two obvious cases. True, the list of players no longer heard from is longer, but that doesn't negate the fact that (for example) bring Balfour back turned out to be an epic bust...we obviously would have been better off keeping Rodney, who actually made the all-star team this year.

        Still can't figure out why the let Kotchman go because he wanted a few extra $$$ and then paid Pena big $$$ to see him do nothing after opening day. Nor can I figure out why Kotchman isn't playing after being so solid with the Rays, but the Pena example, coupled with Balfour is a very good example of the Rays under Friedman/Maddon making stupid moves that any decent little league coached would have vetoed.

        Your point about not having enough money to get exchange mediocre players for better talent is spot on for the most part. But it's also true that the Ray's spent $43 million in 2008 and $78 million last year, with many players that looked promising in 2008, but ended up looking fat and comfortable toward the end of Maddon's tenure....let's hope the next Manager is able to wake some of the good guys up and show the door to the players that are no longer hungry to win.

        Finally, how many defensive plays could be made by simply staying with a conventional defense? The shifts didn't always work, especially last year. For the most part shifts are gimmicks that cover obvious weaknesses in your team; the same as using 9 pitchers in a game when you can't find a reliever to throw strikes.

        Nobody's perfect, even with all of that, Maddon was a class act, a cool customer, a much better acting Manager than most teams have. And I think with few exceptions he got as much out of the Ray's gas tank as any coach possibly could have. He will be missed, but I hope the Ray's can find a Manager that will get them to hit the ball and move to the next level.

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        • Dave L says:

          Ok but just to set the record straight, as bad as Pena was in 2012 for the Rays, Kotch was even less productive with the Tribe. Look it up. So we would have saved a few $$$ but been worse off.

          With any analysis I always include the cavaet, 'as opposed to what?'. And with the Rays revenue restrictions Plan B is often more disastrous.

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  12. Geoff Peterson says:

    As I understand it, the team had a duty to inform Maddon of the opt out clause once it kicked in. Silverman had no option to trade Maddon as the clause kicked in as soon as AF left. No genius, just following his legal duty. If Maddon's agent hadn't already told him about it though, he should be looking for a new agent. I hope he does go to Chicago but although he'll play in front of larger crowds, that team isn't close yet as the pitching is still woeful and the fans don't really care if they win or lose.

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  13. Jim says:

    Joe who? The manager that makes questionable in game decisions from his "gut"? The manager who makes his lineups based on spreadsheets? The manager that shifts his defense based upon spreadsheets? Is he taking the office printer with him? Don't let the door hit you in the ass...

    On the other hand, PLEASE LOCK UP JIM HICKEY. KEEP HIM AWAY FROM THE DODGERS. PAY HIM WHATEVER HE NEEDS and for at least 5 years. .

    And on a more positive note: Where does this leave "Sheltie"??? If he's so great then he's got to be on AF's list of gotta haves.

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  14. Jim says:

    How do coaching contracts work in MLB? Can a coach quit, and go to work for another team? Are there buyout plans in place if the coaches take other positions like in college football? Or must the contract be honored to the full length. I know that the club has to pay the coaches if they fire them, but is there anyway for a coach to walk away and go to another team.

    This all goes back to Jim Hickey. Can we sign him to a 5 year deal and completely lock him up? Or would it simply be him(or the dodgers) paying off the remainder of his deal, with MLB giving us a draft pick as a bone?

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  15. Mr. Smith 1980 says:

    I liked JoMa as the TB manager, but after writing this I'm not sure how much:

    For all of Joe's genius there did also tend to be the antithesis (arrogant stupidity, perhaps).

    His dramatic shifts changed the game, but by the end of his tenure his team was being destroyed by his own invention- and he was unable to adapt.
    Small ball turned to patience at the plate which turned to complete ineptitude.
    Stealing bases and bunting became endangered species.

    For ever match-up maneuver there was a backfire; i.e. a player who never got enough AB's to develop (*cough-cough* Johnny Gomes).

    For every Evan Longoria there was an Elijah Dukes... for every Soriano a Percival... for every Shields a Molina...

    Every action with Joe followed plainly Newton's laws of gravity... every action he made had an equal and opposite reaction

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