I picked up this morning's paper and saw the front page headline that Rays manager Joe Maddon had left the team.
When Exec. VP Andrew Friedman left the team to go the Dodgers, Times' sports writers went into overdrive to assure local fans that Maddon wouldn't be following him. Daily quotes in the paper about how Maddon loved it here, called it the best of all places in baseball to work, how Friedman said he was happy with Don Mattingly through 2015, etc.
But in the end, theoretically, it came down to money. The Rays were offering around $3mil per year and Maddon thought he deserved to be paid around $5mil like other top managers. After several rounds of counter-offers, the sides were pretty far apart. Maddon asked about checking his value with other teams, the Rays said -- not a chance.
So Maddon invoked an undisclosed opt-out his agent, Alan Nero (who will be getting more clients after this sucker punch) slipped into the last contract negotiation. Maddon had a two week window in which to decide to opt out of his contract if either Friedman, head of baseball ops Matt Silverman or principal owner Stu Sternberg left the team. In other words, Nero realized that if any of these guys left, it meant the team would most likely go into low budget free fall and didn't want his client damaging his worth on the open market by being tied to a sinking ship.
Like I said -- dude's gonna be getting a lot of new clients after this one.
So Joe's shopping himself around now. I personally think he's going to take a year off, do some color commentary for ESPN or someone, then slide into the Dodgers job. That way the Rays can't scream TAMPERING like they are already threatening to do if he gets hired anywhere they deem suspicious.
And in the Does this clown even read what he writes? department, local sports tool Tom Jones manages to make Debbie Wasserman Shultz look clear headed.
In his Don't Panic article today, Jones writes that we (the fans) will miss Maddon but "...but I'm not all that sure that the team itself -- the actual Rays on the field -- will." Ouch. He goes on to call Maddon "best skipper in the game" but then says all he did was make out line-up cards and call for pitching changes and bunts. Ouch again.
Make up your mind dude. Either he has value to the team or he doesn't. F*ck!
I'd be willing to take this ass clown's opinion for meaningful, but this is the same idiot who thought the race cars in NASCAR had air conditioning, roll down windows, and doors that opened. Yeah, I know, he's only a sports writer, why should he actually know anything about sports? Duhr.
Jones also manages to throw Joe Torre under the bus by mentioning that Torre never won a Series outside of his time with the Yankees. As Jones says -- "...it's all about the players." He then talks about how the Rays are loaded with talent. Yeah. Talent that ended up in next to last place this year. Build a team around disappointing Evan Longoria and disappearing Will Myers? And all that pitching? Where's James Shields now? Oh yeah, playing in the series for another team. Where's David Price? Playing on another team. Where do you think these young studly pitchers will be when their contracts come up on a team that doesn't have any money? Yep. Playing for other teams.
I never liked that Maddon inculcated the Rays with this perpetually aggrieved attitude. I didn't like the head games or his air of intellectual superiority. But he was a good tactician. He played a lot of crazy stunts that worked often enough to give him some validity. Jones says that no one had heard of Maddon before the Rays hired him. But that isn't true. Maddon was on the short list for Boston's head coaching vacancy before Theo decided on Terry Francona. So people in the know, knew of Maddon, just not ignorant morons like Jones.
So Joe's gone. And the Rays are currently looking at a group of bench coaches and water boys to helm the team. If that was a viable approach, teams wouldn't be paying these managers $5mil to just fill out line up cards.
And Larry Rothschild would still be coaching the team.