Tag:Joe Maddon
Posted on: September 25, 2011 11:03 pm

NL MVP? Give me a day (or three)

I see Scott Miller went with Ryan Braun over Matt Kemp for National League MVP.

Today I agree with him. Yesterday I didn't. Friday I did.

He had to decide today, because our editors demanded a column. I have until Thursday, the day after the regular season ends.

Braun or Kemp?

Their numbers are similar. Braun took his team to the playoffs. Kemp played in a tougher ballpark, and with much less support in the lineup.

I've heard the arguments. I've heard from Kemp fans who say I'm crazy to even consider anyone else, and from Braun fans who want to know how I could vote for someone whose team hasn't played a meaningful game in months.

Normally, I wouldn't. Until last week, I barely considered Kemp as MVP.

He's having a special season. He deserves to be considered.

As of today, I'm not voting for him. Tomorrow, maybe I am.

All that matters is what I think Thursday. And we're not there yet.

As for the other awards:

AL MVP: An equally tough choice, but Scott's right, it's Justin Verlander. No single player has dominated this season the way he has.  I was a Curtis Granderson supporter when September began, I've been swayed by Miguel Cabrera, Robinson Cano and Jacoby Ellsbury, but it's Verlander who should (and likely will) win.

NL Cy Young: I hate to go against Roy Halladay, but I love to go against Scott. So it's Clayton Kershaw, in a very, very close call.

AL Cy Young: I love to go against Scott, but I'm not crazy. It's Verlander, and it's not close.

NL Manager of the Year: Kirk Gibson, and with apologies to Ron Roenicke, who did a fantastic job, it's not close.

AL Manager of the Year: Joe Maddon, whether or not his Rays end up in the playoffs.

AL Rookie of the Year: Jeremy Hellickson.

NL Rookie of the Year: Craig Kimbrel.

Posted on: September 23, 2011 12:06 am
Edited on: September 23, 2011 12:06 am

Rays: We need to run the table

NEW YORK -- The way the Rays made up ground on the Red Sox, you'd figure that they've been winning every game.

They haven't.

They have a chance in this wild-card race because they've played well . . . and mostly because the Red Sox haven't.

The Rays have swept just one series all month. They've had just one five-game winning streak, and none longer.

Now they figure they need one.

The Rays were sure they needed to beat the Yankees on Thursday, and they did, 15-8. They're sure they need to sweep the Blue Jays this weekend and home, and they believe they'll need to sweep the Yankees in the series that begins Monday at Tropicana Field.

They're two games back of the Red Sox with six to play, but the Rays have decided it's now must-win time.

"We pretty much have to win every game," Matt Joyce said. "We came here [Thursday], and we said, 'Let's win every game. Let's just win the rest of them, and see what happens.'"

Go 6-0, the Rays figure, and they'll count on the Red Sox losing at least twice in six road games against the Yankees and Orioles.

Go 6-0, the Rays figure, and they won't have to worry about the Angels, who fell to three games back of Boston (and one game behind the Rays) with their walkoff loss in Toronto.

"We're going to have to count on the Yankees taking care of the Red Sox," Johnny Damon said. "But we also have to take care of business. . . . We kind of feel we have to [win them all]. We can't rely on Boston losing all of them."

The Rays believe they missed a chance this week at Yankee Stadium, believe they should have been able to get a split of the four-game series, believe especially that they should have won Wednesday's day game with James Shields on the mound.

They got a break because the Red Sox lost three of four at home to the Orioles.

"We're kind of fortunate," manager Joe Maddon admitted.

They believe the schedule that looked to be against them when they left Boston on Sunday (also two games behind) may now have turned slightly in their favor.

They know that the Red Sox are on the road the rest of the way, and they believe that the Yankees may be more motivated to win this weekend against the Sox than they'll be in the three-game series against the Rays that follows.

"Boston playing Baltimore in Baltimore, that's not going to be easy," Maddon said, with a twinkle in his eye.

Maddon was in the unusual situation Thursday of rooting hard against the Angels, and his good friend Mike Scioscia. But there was no doubt he was happy to see the Blue Jays win.

The Rays have had plenty of help already, and they know it. Now, they believe, it's time for them to help themselves.

"We have to win every game, pretty much," Maddon said. "There might be room for one hiccup. . . . [But] you think you've got to run the table."

That would mean a seven-game winning streak, counting Thursday's game against the Yankees. That hardly sounds impossible.

There have already been 22 winning streaks that long in the major leagues this year. The Royals won seven straight. So did the Cubs. And the Twins.

Seven of the eight teams currently in a playoff position have had at least one seven-game winning streak (everyone but the Braves).

The Rays haven't. Not yet.

Now they think they'll need one.

Posted on: September 17, 2011 8:58 pm

Gutsy Maddon trusts a gutsy kid, and Rays win

BOSTON -- Season on the line, and Joe Maddon trusted a kid he'd never seen pitch before Wednesday.

Season on the line, and Joe Maddon trusted 22-year-old Matt Moore so much that he handed him a two-run lead at Fenway Park, and didn't even bother warming anyone up behind him. He trusted him so much that he had Moore pitch the sixth inning, and the seventh, and then sent him out there again for the eighth, with a one-run lead.

You've got to love Joe Maddon, don't you?

The Rays manager isn't scared, and that's exactly why he's perfect for this team. The low-budget Rays have no choice but to take chances, and what manager in baseball is more willing to take chances?

He turned Saturday's 4-3 Rays win over the Red Sox into fascinating theater, and at the same time ensured that this long-shot American League wild-card race will go on for at least another day. The Rays now trail the Red Sox by three games with 11 games to play.

Moore, in his second big-league appearance, pitched maybe the three most important innings of the Rays season so far. He allowed one run, but he held onto the lead. He lived up to his advance billing, and also to his manager's amazing trust.

"That's hands-down the biggest game he's ever pitched," said an admiring David Price, who should know. "It's not easy to pitch in this park. This is an environment he's never felt before."

The Rays called Moore up from the minor leagues this week, openly hoping he could do for them what Price did in September and October 2008. They knew he had a 98 mph fastball, they believed he has the poise and makeup to handle it, and besides, they needed some help.

"He's the joker," Maddon said. "He's the wild card. Hopefully, he is the wild card."

Maddon is a little bit like Tiger manager Jim Leyland, in that he has no problem throwing a kid into a big situation right away. But Maddon might be even bolder.

He fully believed that Moore was his best option Saturday, because he thought Moore's stuff would allow him to make it through the Red Sox lineup. The only alternative, Maddon figured, was to "guess" on matchups, batter by batter.

"The plan is to win the game," Maddon said. "I thought he was going to be able to carry us for 2-3 innings. . . . I'm thinking he's got the best stuff, and I needed the best stuff to get through that."

This all says plenty about Moore, who spent much of this season in Double-A (where he struck out 131 batters in 102 1/3 innings).

"I think it was actually an easy decision," pitching coach Jim Hickey said. "Had we sent him out there for the ninth, I'd have had confidence in him."

Easy decision or not, it was a gutsy decision. It was a Maddon-type decision, a Rays-type decision.

As it turned out, it was the right decision.
And now the Rays have a chance.

"A sweep [of this weekend's four-game series] was a great thought," Maddon said. "But three out of four ain't bad. I think Meat Loaf intended the song to say that."

Category: MLB
Posted on: September 15, 2011 6:28 pm
Edited on: September 15, 2011 7:11 pm

Rays' Maddon hoping for reverse of 1995

BOSTON -- On the list of all-time collapses, the 1995 Angels don't get enough attention.

The Angels held an 11-game lead in mid-August, still held a 7 1/2-game lead on the morning of Sept. 1, and missed the postseason after losing a one-game playoff to the Mariners.

The website coolstandings.com calls it the worst collapse ever, because their computers gave the Angels a 99.9 percent chance of making the playoffs, as of Aug. 24 that year. That's a higher percentage than the 1951 Brooklyn Dodgers ever had (99.7 on Aug. 13), higher than the 2007 Mets (99.5 on Sept. 13) and way higher than the 1964 Phillies (96.3 on Sept. 20).

Joe Maddon remembers. He was on the Angels coaching staff in 1995.

So if you ask Maddon if he ever doubted that the Rays could get back in the race this year, he insists that he didn't.

"I lived it, man," he said Thursday. "We had an [11]-game lead. We were playing games that were over by the sixth inning. We were annihilating people."

And then they lost.

The Angels went 14-28 over their final 42 games, while the Mariners were going 27-17. Maddon pointed to the M's acquisition of Vince Coleman on Aug. 15 as the difference-maker.

"Believe me, it was awful," Maddon said. "So why can't it happen to someone else?"

The Rays trailed the Red Sox by nine games in the wild-card race on the morning of Sept. 3. Thursday, they began a four-game series at Fenway Park facing a four-game deficit.

They don't absolutely need to sweep, but . . .

"That's the goal," pitcher David Price said. "We're four games back."

Category: MLB
Posted on: May 9, 2011 8:05 pm

Black, Roenicke meet in tribute to Scioscia

MILWAUKEE -- Way back when Mike Scioscia was winning his first game as a manager, Bud Black and Ron Roenicke were at his side.

"I sent him a text, and told him, 'I still remember the first one,'" Black said Monday, a day after Scioscia's 1,000th career win.

Black was Scioscia's pitching coach for seven years, until he left to manage the Padres. Roenicke was an Angels coach for 11 years, until he left last winter to manage the Brewers.

Somehow, it seems appropriate that the day after his milestone win, two of his ex-coaches faced off as managers, with Black's Padres visiting Roenicke's Brewers Monday night.

There are three of them now, Black and Roenicke and Joe Maddon, a Scioscia coach for six years before he left for Tampa Bay.

Maddon has won a manager of the year award. Black won one last year.

And Scioscia is still winning games with the Angels.

"I knew [back then] that he was going to be a successful manager," Black said Monday.

Black and Maddon have met twice in interleague series, with the Padres winning two of three games each time. But, as Black pointed out, his record against Scioscia isn't nearly as good.

They met in one interleague series, in 2009. The Angels swept the series, outscoring the Padres, 26-7.

"When you work with someone, you know what they are . . . and you still can't stop him," Black said.

Posted on: May 4, 2011 7:55 pm

Some tweet . . . and some goggle?

Ozzie Guillen tweets . And it cost him money.

Joe Maddon tweets , and provides information. Wednesday, the Rays manager disclosed on Twitter that his team will dress in Navy Seal Team 6 T-shirts and Tampa Bay Lightning caps on its upcoming trip.

Pablo Sandoval tweets. Wednesday, he provided a picture of himself in his hospital bed, getting ready for surgery.

But not everyone in baseball tweets.

"I don't know how to tweet," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said Wednesday.

He's not alone.

"What's a tweet?" Jim Leyland asked Tigers writers this spring.

Leyland is the same guy who once said, "I don't Google. I don't goggle."
Posted on: April 19, 2011 7:45 pm
Edited on: April 19, 2011 7:49 pm

Hold off on judging Brewers, but not the manager

PHILADELPHIA -- It's too early to judge the Brewers.

It may not be too early to judge the Brewers' new manager.

We still haven't seen the Brewer rotation as it was designed, because we still haven't seen Zack Greinke throw a pitch for Milwaukee. We still haven't seen the Brewer lineup as designed, because Corey Hart still hasn't had an at-bat this year. We haven't even seen the Brewer bullpen as designed, because Takashi Saito appeared in just two games before going on the disabled list, and LaTroy Hawkins has yet to make his debut.

Within two weeks, the Brewers could have all those players back.

As infielder Craig Counsell said, "We're getting our team."

So no, we can't judge the Brewers yet, except to say that through all the injuries, they've hung in there so far in what is looking like a balanced (mediocre?) National League Central. Heading into play Tuesday night, the Brewers were 8-8, one game behind the first-place Reds.

So why does it feel like we can already start judging Ron Roenicke?

Simply because all the injuries, and everything else the Brewers have already gone through, makes it feel like he has already managed a lot more than 16 games.

"They haven't been easy," Roenicke said. "But the guys here, they've made it easy."

People around the Brewers say that those guys, the Brewer players, have taken to Roenicke in a way they didn't take to Ken Macha, the manager he replaced. They also say that Roenicke has already proven to have a trait that every good manager needs, the ability to stay consistent through good times and bad.

"Nothing ever festers or lingers with him," said John Shelby, who is on Roenicke's coaching staff as the Brewers' eye-in-the-sky. "You're not going to see him come in and tear up a locker room.

"There's no way you can tell anything different from [Monday] night's game [when the Brewers beat the Phillies in 12 innings] or the first day of the season, when we lost."

On the first day of the season, the Brewers didn't just lose. They blew a three-run lead in the ninth inning in Cincinnati, losing to the division rival Reds on Ramon Hernandez's three-run walkoff home run off closer John Axford.

Of the 29 other active managers in the big leagues, only two lost on a walkoff in their first game. Eric Wedge's 2003 Indians lost in 13 innings in Baltimore, while Ozzie Guillen's 2004 White Sox gave up six in the ninth and lost on a Carlos Beltran walkoff home run in Kansas City.

"I don't know if people think I can manage or not," Guillen told reporters that day.

Roenicke said nothing that colorful. He won't, but he seems as at ease dealing with the media as he does in dealing with his players.

And he's dealt with a lot already.

The difficult opening day loss began a four-game season-opening losing streak. Axford has struggled with his control in nearly every outing, and this week Roenicke had to deal with questions about whether he has a closer problem (he responded by expressing confidence that Axford will get straightened out).

Rival scouts have noticed. They also praise Roenicke for the multiple shifts he has used to help out the Brewers' subpar defense, and for the aggressive style he prefers on the basepaths.

None of that should come as a surprise. Roenicke coached under Mike Scioscia with the Angels, just as Joe Maddon and Bud Black did. And just as Maddon and Black have proven to be successful with the Rays and Padres, Roenicke looks like he could be a success with the Brewers.

The Angels connection is strong.

When a reporter asked Roenicke the other day about Carlos Gomez, Roenicke said that other players in baseball were off to slow starts, too.

The two players he mentioned: Vernon Wells and Torii Hunter, both of the Angels.

"I'm watching them," he admitted with a smile.

You can be sure they're watching him, too.

They'll keep watching, and in a couple of weeks they'll be watching a Brewers team with Greinke, Hart and the others.

They've done all right so far without them.

"I think we've handled it really well," Roenicke said. "Fortunately for us, they weren't year-ending things. [The players] know Zack's coming back. Hopefully, we'll get everyone healthy, and then we'll get on a roll."

Maybe then, we'll know what kind of team the Brewers have.

We already have an idea what kind of manager they have.

Posted on: March 19, 2011 10:41 am

The Rays want to (look) like Manny

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. – Manny Ramirez wanted the Rays to like him.

Or did he want them to look like him?

Put it this way: No one here is going to ask Manny when he’s going to cut his hair.

Instead, in manager Joe Maddon’s latest version of team-building, the other Rays are growing hair.

“Let’s all be like Manny,” Maddon said. “He’s pretty good. He’s a Hall of Famer.”

So while Manny still has his dreadlocks, they compete on this team with bench coach Dave Martinez’s full beard, and with Evan Longoria’s mullet, and with Johnny Damon’s fauxhawk, and with whatever that is atop J.P. Howell’s head.

Maddon insists he’s going to grow his hair long, too.

“This offseason, I was going through some slides from 1978, and I had really long hair,” Maddon said. “Then I came here and saw Davey’s beard, and I thought in some subliminal way it was telling me this was the time to grow hair.”

So, in a way only Maddon can, he made it a team thing. He told everyone to grow hair or beards or whatever, and he told Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times that “I want us to be the hirsute club this year. I encourage the growth of follicles.”

It’s nothing new for Maddon, who is always looking for an off-beat way to make the Rays a team.

“Anything that brings us together,” he said. “It doesn’t have to be more batting practice or more time in the video room.”

Earlier this spring, when CBSSports.com colleague Scott Miller was in Port Charlotte to do the Rays camp report , Manny spoke with him on camera and later asked him to “Put in a good word for me.”

It turns out he didn’t need Scott’s help.

It turns out the Rays already liked him. It turns out they even want to look like him.

Category: MLB
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