Can the Arizona Diamondbacks lure Joe Maddon to the desert?
Take the Chicago Cubs. Their last two hires have been Dale Sveum and Mike Quade, when the best manager in baseball is making just $2 million per year in Tampa?
We are talking about a team that paid Edwin Jackson $13 million this season.
Show of hands: What Cubs fan wouldn't trade Edwin Jackson for Joe Maddon straight up?
Maddon and his Rays are back in the playoffs, where he's taken them four of the last six seasons. And they haven't exactly backed their way in either, 90-plus wins in five of the last six years, while playing in the most difficult division in baseball, and perhaps in all of sports. This year, the American League East featured three of the top nine payrolls in the game, and four of the top fifteen.
Where do the Rays rank?
Ownership spent $57 million for the entire 2013 Rays roster. Meanwhile, the Yankees spent $52 million this season for the contributions of Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira (a combined 59 games played, 10 home runs and 39 RBI).
Show of hands: What Yankees fan wouldn't trade Alex Rodriguez AND Mark Teixeira for Joe Maddon?
Hell, salaries aside, same question...Come on, let's see those hands! Get 'em up there!
No? None of you?
Yah, I didn't think so.
The Rays have never had a payroll rank among MLB's top 20 during Joe Maddon's eight years as skipper, and yet the man has won 57 percent of his games since 2007 and been named AL Manager of the Year twice.
The Angels' Mike Scioscia has also won two AL Manager of the Year Awards and has widely been regarded as one of the best, if not the best, skippers in the game since he took over in Anaheim in 2000.
Of course, Joe Maddon used to be on Scioscia's staff. You know, back when they won the 2002 World Series, back when the Angels made the playoffs three out of six seasons from 2000-to-2005. Well, Maddon left for Tampa in 2006, and the Angels just completed a fourth consecutive year without a playoff appearance.
Show of hands: What Angels fan wouldn't trade Mike Scioscia for Joe Maddon?
Now to the point, Diamondbacks fans.
Yes, for years I've wondered why big market clubs haven't seduced Maddon from Tampa with a fat salary, total autonomy when it comes to choosing his general manager and staff, and an ownership share.
So, since the big market clubs are asleep at the wheel, perhaps the Diamondbacks should make the move.
I'm one of those baseball fans who typically downplays the role of a manager, but there are exceptions and Maddon is one of them. In fact, I'm not sure the Diamondbacks can find a free agent player in their price range that could provide the type of spark Joe Maddon would instantly bring to the club.
Furthermore, I'm now thoroughly convinced Kevin Towers doesn't have the capacity to make a trade that elevates this team.
And although I don't think Kirk Gibson deserves to lose his job, if the organization can land Maddon, D-backs' fans should help Gibby pack.
Why not go after Joe Maddon?
Because he's under contract?
In what galaxy does a coach ever fulfill the obligations of his contract? The moment a coach decides he wants to leave, the organization has no choice but to let him walk or risk letting the leader of the team spend the season wishing he were somewhere else. Yah, that's good for a morale.
Because he says he loves the Tampa Bay organization?
You mean the same organization with the worst fans in baseball? The same organization with the worst stadium in baseball? The same organization that has traded every star player not named Evan Longoria, because they can't afford talented veterans?
Because the Diamondbacks don't have Andrew Friedman?
True. And the Rays executive VP/GM is an amazing baseball executive, who has taken what Billy Bean and his nerds in Oakland have done and improved upon it. When's the movie coming out?
But as good as Friedman is, he's still just the bean counter and number cruncher. Maddon is the baseball man in the Tampa organization. Bring in Joe and let him hire his own GM/nerd trust, and I'll bet he creates a magical environment in any MLB city.
Because the Diamondbacks can't afford to spend so much on a manager?
The team just invested $13 million over two seasons for Heath Bell and $60 million for Miguel Montero.
Show of hands: What D-backs fan wouldn't trade Bell, Montero, Gibson and Towers for Joe Maddon?
Okay, many of you wouldn't.
Three years ago, the Diamondbacks were a division winner with one of the most promising farm systems in the game. But things have taken a noticeable turn. Questionable trades, premature contract extensions, and a curious brand of baseball that somehow doesn't include hitting home runs or manufacturing offense? The car hasn't crashed but it's sitting on the shoulder awaiting AAA.
I know it's only been three years since the organization's last identity overhaul, but I'm not saying to change for the sake of change. I'm saying, opportunity may be knocking, if you'll just listen.
Show of hands: What Diamondbacks fan wouldn't trade the current direction of the organization for the game's best manager, the fun-loving leader of baseball's best clubhouse, the unconventional mad scientist of his sport, and the man who owns the blueprint to winning baseball games in a small-to-medium market?
Chuck Powell, KTAR.com & ArizonaSports.com contributor
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