Rays manager Maddon plans team before getting married
DANA POINT, Calif. -- Between planning his wedding and taking his dog for surgery, Joe Maddon was pressed for time.
But with baseball's general managers meeting about 45 minutes from his house, the Tampa Bay manager drove over to visit with the Rays' Andrew Friedman about the team's needs for next season.
Maddon is getting married this weekend, less than two weeks after the Rays lost the World Series to Philadelphia in five games.
"Andrew's going to be at the reception, but I don't want to talk about this stuff on Saturday," Maddon said with a grin. "During the season we talk nearly every day. He's left me alone for a couple of days, but now that the meetings are underway, we're going to talk about some stuff."
Next Monday, Maddon and his second wife, Jade, will begin a honeymoon that includes stops in Italy, the Czech Republic and Germany. Maybe then he'll get a chance to unwind from a whirlwind season that put him in the national spotlight for the first time.
"I'm hoping to be recognized in Europe, because that would truly indicate that the Tampa Bay Rays have arrived on the continent," the 54-year-old Maddon said. "That was one of my goals prior to the season."
Maddon said he would love to place a Rays cap on the head of the statue of David.
"My main objective is to see somebody wearing Rays gear," he said. "So in one of those places, I want to see somebody wearing some form of it. And I shall take a photograph. I'll ask that person to pose."
Maddon prefers to stay detached from the financial end of things and leave those decisions to Friedman, team president Matt Silverman and controlling owner Stuart Sternberg.
"As I've said from the very first day, I've never been concerned about our payroll," Maddon said. "That's not my concern. I think the core group that we have there right now, it's a wonderful situation for us. But that's not to say that we don't have to get better, because we do."
The Rays' top priorities are to settle their bullpen, find a regular right fielder and add a starting pitcher.
"Whatever we're willing to spend, we'll spend. And I know we're going to spend in appropriate ways," Maddon said. "I mean, I think we research things very well. We're looking for a right fielder, specifically, and he may cost some money. But regardless, I know that going into the next camp, we're going to have things drawn up the way we want them and we'll move on from there. Andrew and I are very much in tune and we share similar philosophies."
With one of the smallest payrolls in the game, the Rays have sent a message to the rest of the sport that building a successful team isn't impossible for clubs that can't compete financially with all the others.
"If I was on the other side of it, I would think it would present hope in the sense that it can be done," Maddon said. "I just think it presents a different light overall throughout the industry. Definitely it gives you some ideas on how to do it."
"We'll find out. I mean, I'd like to believe it won't," Maddon said. "The one thing I've always felt -- and I might be naive -- is that if you nurture a particular situation regarding relationships at a very young age, that you may have a better chance to keep a group of players together.
"I mean, as these guys continue to do well, they're going to require more money to keep them together, or just to satisfy their own personal situation. We'll find out, but I'd just like to believe that relationship building matters."
Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press