The Rays managerial search is down to three and Dave Martinez isn’t one of them. The Rays had a long list of candidates and conventional wisdom had Davey as a likely candidate to make he final cut. That is what conventional wisdom thought but reality is something totally different. Many thought he would be the likely successor to Maddon after serving as his bench coach for all these years. He would be a perfect Joe Maddon 2.0 for the Rays and would pick right up where Maddon left off. He would be able to pick up Joe’s playbook and not miss a beat.
Trouble is that the Rays had something else in mind. After Andrew Freidman left the team decided to keep their core values, regressive analysts, Moneyball, Sabrmetrics or what ever you want to call it. They will always be hamstrung by payroll, pulling up the starting line of any race driving a beater compared to the Yankees and Red Sox hotrods. While keeping true to the roots that have made the Rays one of the most successful teams in baseball over the last few years, they also wanted to grow and move on from Joe Maddon.
The Joe Madoon days were punctuated with different lineups every night, great pitching, strong defense and oh yea those shifts Maddon loved so much. They were also full of themed road trips, plantains hanging in front of Fernando Rodeny’s locker, snakes and penguins in the clubhouse, and lots of great quotes. In many ways he was the face of the franchise. Once Joe left, the team wanted to change its personality and back off the other stuff. Less dressing up and more buttoning your top button. Less talk of authors and red wine and more lying low and just do your job.
That is where Martinez became the non favor of the month as the search rolled on. It wasn’t his fault he was just too tied to Maddon. By looking at the three finalist its easy to see what they are looking for, more of a band mate that a huge rock star. Someone who will fit into the culture that Maddon created and less of someone who will be on the front page of any section of the Tampa Bay Tribune other than the sports section.
Martinez will land on his feet, he is a good baseball man, and a better person away from the ballpark. He is well-respected by everyone on the team and is a great teacher of the game. But not getting the job would have put him in an awkward spot in 2015. Being the guy that everyone was pulling for and not getting the gig, might have the next skipper looking over his shoulder, and players coming to Martinez and not buying into what the new skipper wants. Heaven forbid the team scuffles and the players question the new managers line ups and look to Davey and ask what the heck.
I hope he ends up in Chicago with Maddon, they make a heck of a team.