Rays News

Dave Martinez, Ron Wotus Candidates to Be Next Joe Maddon

By Robbie Knopf

As they decide who will become their new manager, the Tampa Bay Rays will look at candidates with a variety of perspectives. Do they want another easygoing manager like Joe Maddon who will keep players raving about the Rays’ clubhouse? Do they want a stricter leadership figure who cuts underperforming players less slack? The Rays’ list of managerial candidates makes it quite clear that they will give every approach a chance before deciding which direction they deem best.

The Rays’ preliminary list of possibilities for their vacant manager job featured a little bit of everything. You have two longtime members of the organization in Dave Martinez and Charlie Montoyo and two ex-big league managers in Manny Acta and Don Wakamatsu. There is one longtime bench coach in Ron Wotus and three more options that not far at all from their playing days in Craig Counsell, Raul Ibanez, and Kevin Cash. If the Rays are looking for the next Joe Maddon, though, you can limit those eight names down to two: Martinez and Wotus.

Dave Martinez has learned under Maddon for the last seven seasons. While he isn’t Maddon and certainly would make some changes if he took the Rays’ helm, there is no better option to maintain the advantages that Maddon brought the team. Players were willing to ignore the Rays’ low payroll and attendance because they knew they would be comfortable playing under Maddon. Martinez had a front row seat to Maddon’s methods and he will know how to apply them moving forward. He understands which players need their space and which ones need constant encouragement.

Just as important for Dave Martinez is the things he saw from Maddon that did not go as well. Creating a loose clubhouse was so successful, but Maddon ran into trouble at times for trusting his guys a little too much. Maddon’s antics on road trips were hysterical, but things like calling in a Seminole medicine man looked more like desperation than anything else.

Dave Martinez combines a better knowledge of Maddon than anyone else with the outside perspective to just maybe refine Maddon’s methods even more. If the Rays are looking for Joe Maddon 2.0, Martinez is their man.

However, maybe it isn’t necessarily Joe Maddon that the Rays are looking for, but a manager with a similarly nuanced insight into the game. That is where Ron Wotus comes in. Wotus has been the San Francisco Giants’ bench coach for 13 seasons, surviving three managers on his way to three World Series rings. Giants manager Bruce Bochy has praised him for his incredible know-how about the game of baseball, specifically his expertise with defensive positioning. Sound familiar?

Dave Martinez seems like a more likely candidate to be the Rays’ manager than Ron Wotus, but the argument can be made that the Rays should be looking for the next breakthrough instead of trying to remake what they lost. In any event, between Martinez and Wotus, there will be shades of Joe Maddon apparent in every phase of the Rays’ managerial search, and the question will be how much of an impact they will have on the team’s ultimate decision.