Joe MaddonWe have spoken at length around these parts about how losing Joe Maddon and Andrew Friedman may not mean much on the field. The Rays are a data-driven team with a clear idea of how they want to build a team and how they want that team to lineup and play on the field.

That is not likely to change much under Kevin Cash and Matt Silverman.

But the one area where thing will be a lot different is in the clubhouse and both Jayson Stark and Buster Olney feel the change was good for the Rays after spending time with the team.

Earlier this week on Buster Olney’s “Baseball Tonight” podcast, the topic of losing Maddon came up and Stark’s comments were eyebrow-raising (emphasis ours)…

“I thought this is a team that actually thinks that [losing Joe Maddon] might be a good thing,” said Stark. “They loved Joe Maddon there. Joe had become not just the face of the franchise, but the voice of their franchise. But I think they are really excited by the opportunity to maybe do it a different way … Alex Cobb said something very interesting to me … they are looking forward to playing more normal baseball, you know. No more penguins in the clubhouse and witchdoctors roaming around trying to get them out of slumps. ‘Let’s do it the way other teams do it and see if that works.’

Stark continued by saying “they are never going to be a quote-unquote normal team, but I just get the sense at times that they felt Joe was getting a little gimmicky and he was having a hard time topping himself. Maybe another team will find that more motivating than they were beginning to find it because let’s face it, those gimmicks didn’t get them out of their funk last year.”

This is the classic idea that sometimes you need to get rid of a good coach or manager simply because their voice had become white noise to the players. But in this case, it was even more than that. Maddon’s antics were getting old.

Olney referred to Maddon as a “celebrity manager” and compared him to Ozzie Guillen.

“The celebrity managers, it’s just over time, I know players and you know players, it begins to grate on them a little bit at times,” said Olney. “You start to hear, ‘Well, is it about him? Is it about us?’ and those things. And I felt like by the time Ozzie left the White Sox it was the right time, that they needed a change. And I agree with you just in talking with people. It just feels like now, it was a good time for Joe to leave.”

I think Maddon did try to make the team about him at times, and that is not necessarily a bad thing. When things aren’t going well, that can take pressure off the players. But at some point, things like parking a $300,000 RV outside The Trop smell like a look-at-me move just for the sake of making a look-at-me move.

And then there were things like the Joe Maddon gnome and the Joe Maddon glasses and the Joe Maddon Mr. Potato Head. Did anybody on the team have as many giveaways as Maddon? How many other managers in baseball would allow their team to turn their likeness into a Mr. Potato Head?

I know one that won’t. His name is Kevin Cash.

Joe Maddon Mr. Potato Head

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9 Comments

  1. Kevin says:

    As much as I believe Joe was a fan favorite, and still will be one of my favorite managers (on my favorite team in the NL) It's somewhat sad to read, but I think it's 100% correct, that the team will be better off going forward without so many gimmicks. Remember Alex Cobb isn't the first player to not praise the gimmicks, when asked by SunSports what Myers thought of them I believe he responded with either "Kinda dumb" or "Kinda stupid". At the time I thought it sounded a little more harsh than he meant, but maybe he wasn't the only player thinking like that.

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  2. Nick says:

    Lets be honest. The Joe Maddon giveaways were because other than Evan there was no gaurantee that any other player would still be with the team when it was time to give out their bobble head or other trinket. Any one is on the block for the right price.

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    • Rob says:

      I think it was more about marketability. Maddon got the most giveaways because he had the most marketable personality on the team. Now, there is only really one person on the team that fills that role - Longoria. If Price were still on the team, Astro would would be fall somewhere between Longoria and DJ Kitty in terms of marketability.

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  3. Gus says:

    When you are in the playoffs, winning 90 games + a year, you can have all the RVs and animals in the clubhouse you want. When you lose badly with a team many picked to go to the World Series, then you have the chance to loose the clubhouse. If Friedman had left the year before, I'm sure Joe would have a new contract and still be the manager. But trying to lever the organization, he just picked a bad time to be doing that.

    Thinsg get stale for almost any coach after 10 seasons or so. Maddon gave us 7-8 good years, and stunk up the joint in 2009 and 2014 (not all his fault, but he contributed to those seasons somewhat). As much as I hated to lose him at the time, over the winter I have come around -- especially when I see how the roster has beeb remade and the organizational/managerial "pets" (Molina, S-Rod, Peralta, Escobar) are gone.

    The interesting thing to me is to see if the Rays dial back on the shifts; I remember Balfour and Price in particular barking about some of those, and Price having a veto at one point. But Cash is all in with the front office, so not sure how or if we'll see real change there.

    But I'm with Cobb. He's the leader of the pitching staff. And if he is looking for more normal, then I'm with that.

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    • Josh P says:

      I'll give you 2014.. But i woudn't exactly say the Rays stunk up the joint in 2009 .. they had a winning record and were only 3 games out of the wild card...But good points non the less...

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  4. Mr. Smith 1980 says:

    The only misstep Maddon repeatedly made is a common one amongst many long-tenured managers; he developed a liking for some of his players that superseded the overall benefit of the organization. Most organizations can get away with a manager's favorite or two eating up roster space, but the Rays, with their limited payroll, cannot.

    Maddon should never be looked-back at in a negative light because he did the most important thing a manager can do; get young talent to believe in the system. The organization will reap the benefits of that for a long time, because they made that transition from jokes to jocks.

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  5. Dave L says:

    Lets remember the roles of the protagonists here.

    Friedman was the GM. He made 100% of the personnel moves. He decided who is on the roster, who gets called up, sent down, drafted, contracts etc.

    Maddon was the manager, he managed the games. Thats all.

    Joe always acted as if the 25 he was given that night was gods chosen ones who could walk on water. Thats his style 100% positivity.

    Regardless of who Joe liked or disliked he was limited to who who was on his bench every night. And he would promote them in a way that would make PT Barnum blush. Thats his schtick, and it worked mostly..

    If you dont like the personnel dont blame Cash (or JoeMa) blame MS (or Andy)

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  6. mep645 says:

    Joe must have had some input into who would be on the 25 man roster. Why else would Slomo (he was there only as King David's catcher), Escobar, SRod and other "pets" have been kept way beyond their freshness date. Joe was too nicey-nice and not always truthful about what was going to happen to a player. Certainly Joe knew who was being sent back to Durham the next day even though he talked up the player the night before as though he had a chance of being with the Rays.

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  7. Greg says:

    Reads a little like sour grapes.

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