Joe Maddon on Andrew Friedman’s departure: ‘I want to continue to be a Ray’
There was a major shakeup in the front office of the Tampa Bay Rays on Tuesday when it was announced that executive vice president and general manager Andrew Friedman was leaving the team to assume the role of President of Baseball Operations with the Los Angeles Dodgers, speculation immediately began that skipper Joe Maddon may be lured by his former boss to join him on the West Coast.
After all, with Friedman and Maddon running the show in Tampa, the Rays have reached the playoffs four times and made one trip to the World Series in in nine seasons, a remarkable feat given the competitive disadvantage the Rays faced playing in a division with the high-buck, high-rolling New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox.
Maddon has only one year remaining on a three-year deal with the Rays, so as soon as the Dodgers made the announcement that Friedman was coming on board, speculation immediately began that Maddon may soon be joining him, possibly as soon as the 2016 season.
Not so fast, says Maddon. In fact, the skipper says he hopes to sign an extension with the team in the coming offseason.
“I want to continue to be a Ray, absolutely,” Maddon said according to the Los Angeles Times. “They have to want me to be a Ray too.”
Maddon indicates that he has established roots in the Tampa community and even though it may appear enticing from the outside, he considers Florida his home.
“I’m really embedded here pretty well,” Maddon said, who has compiled a highly respectable 754-705 record during his tenure with the Rays. “The roots are pretty strong. We have a great infrastructure here. We have a great operation. We have great people.”
While singing the praises of the community, the fans and the organization, there is one thing, however, that Maddon wishes would change about the organization sooner rather than later. Getting out of Tropicana Field, considered by most to be the worst stadium in Major League Baseball.
“There’s so much to like. There’s only one negative,” Maddon admitted. “That’s the ballpark. It’s a big negative. But that’s about it.”
With a recent agreement reached between Rays and the city of St. Petersburg in hand, legitimate talks regarding a possible new stadium — something the Rays desperately need — finally may be able to proceed.
Either way, count on Maddon, who went out of his way to praise Friedman, to nevertheless stick around for a while, as his words imply he has no intent nor plans to jump ship anytime soon.
And that’s a good thing for the Rays.
Maddon is widely considered to be one of the most knowledgeable managers in the game, a tactician and manager of egos who is admired and respected by his players, not only for his baseball I.Q., but also for his quirky personality and eccentric ways, traits that he adeptly utilizes to keep the clubhouse loose and the team playing its best.
Whether or not he changes his mind down the road is one thing, but as of now, Maddon is a Rays guy. And somehow, that seems perfectly fitting.