With Joe Maddon opting out of his contract, it is time to look at the Tampa Bay Rays’ options for replacing him. In this regards, the Rays do not have to look very far. Maddon’s replacement is as almost familiar with the team as is their departing manager. This should really be just a formality. Sure, the Rays can–and almost surely will–interview other candidates, but the logical choice is bench coach Dave Martinez.
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Martinez has been the Rays’ bench coach since October of 2007. He has been there since the Rays shucked off their losing past and the “Devil” in their name and became one of the best teams in baseball. He has been there with all of the critical players: Evan Longoria, Ben Zobrist, Alex Cobb, and so forth. He knows this team unlike any other potential manager ever could. The case for Martinez is quite easy and straight forward so let’s review.
Today on WDAE, Jim Hickey talked about the rapport Dave Martinez has in the Rays’ clubhouse. He has gone through the wars with them and knows their strengths and weaknesses as ballplayers. He can tell when they need to be picked up, patted on the back, or even yelled at. With Martinez already so respected in the clubhouse, the transition from Maddon to Dave would be seamless.
Familiarity with the team is one thing, but managerial talent is something else entirely. Luckily, Martinez has plenty of that, as well. Martinez has learned under Joe Maddon for the last eight seasons and was trusted to take the helm whenever Maddon was ejected from games. If it wasn’t clear enough that Martinez is ready to be a big league manager, we can look at how many times he has interviewed for open manager jobs in recent months and years.
A quick glance at the MLB Trade Rumors archives reveals that Martinez has interviewed for six different manager openings: the Chicago White Sox and Boston Red Sox following the 2011 season, the Houston Astros following 2012, the Chicago Cubs following 2013, and the Astros and Minnesota Twins this year. Teams must see something if they keep giving Martinez these interviews–if he had not impressed, word would have quickly spread. Dave Martinez is going to be a manager somewhere and the only question is when.
It is too bad that Joe Maddon will no longer be managing the Tampa Bay Rays. He is one of the best skippers in baseball and has become the face of the organization. At the end of the day, though, he wasn’t going to be the Rays’ manager forever and now the team must move on without him. Thanks to his managerial talent and the presence he already has in the clubhouse, Dave Martinez is the best man for the job.