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A Good Signing for a Great Job

If you'd said the Rays would make it to the World Series under the guidance of Tampa Bay Manager Joe Maddon when he was first hired four years ago, anyone would have called you crazy. Anyone. The team was coming off a yet another dismal season while led by an outstanding manager, Lou Pinella. The idea that a managerial novice (sure, he'd been a fill-in skipper in two stints with the Angels, but that hardly counts) could come in and completely revolutionize the culture of a losing team with a horrendous home park and apathetic fan base seemed preposterous.

Yet that's exactly what Maddon has done. Now, he's getting a just reward, nearing a contract extension reportedly for the next three seasons according to the St. Petersburg Times, a move that will keep him with the franchise he's taken from the eternal doormat of the sport to the bring of a world title.

Just how good has Maddon been? Whether you like the Rays or not, his track record there is virtually unassailable. His career record in Tampa Bay is 244-283, an unbelievable mark when you consider that his first two seasons saw the Rays suffer 101 and 96 losses. He's shepherding in a monumental shift in the team's starting rotation, sticking to young pitchers despite struggles, constantly rebuilding their confidence and, in the case of Matt Garza last year, teaching them how to get more out of themselves for the good of the team.

Sure, last year could still be a one-year wonder, but it sure doesn't feel like it. Tampa Bay has a system with plenty of top prospects, and they have an owner in Andrew Friedman who continues to show a willingness to add high-priced pieces when it can make an impact for the club (see under outfielder Pat Burrell).

Who knows how long Maddon will last. After all, in baseball, one rough season can be your last, particularly once the expectations have been built up as they have been in Tampa Bay. Regardless of that, it's great to see Maddon get the credit he deserves, in contractual form as much as the plaudits of critics.

By Cameron Smith  |  May 21, 2009; 12:02 PM ET
Categories:  Rays  
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