Joe Maddon opted out of the final year of his contract with the Tampa Bay Rays Friday and fans and media in New York are furious. Bizarre? Not really. Six consecutive losing seasons — and counting — in Flushing has a way of changing culture. In this case, frustration and, yes, desperation.
New York Post sports columnist Mike Vaccaro implored the Mets front office to act — immediately:
… it really doesn’t matter what promises Sandy Alderson made to Terry Collins because … (He) has it within his grasp to make a move that will really be the first legitimate game-changer on his watch as general manager of the Mets … one of the two or three best managers in baseball is now a free agent … That much is indisputable. Maddon already has one of the more improbable baseball turnarounds ever turning the Rays from hopeless drifters in the sports hinterlands to a perennial contender … If he is available, you go after him.
Jeff Wilpon told reporters Terry Collins will be the manager in 2015, leaving no room for creative thinking or simple common sense … When a difference-maker like Maddon becomes available, you drop everything, including your loyalty to Collins, and find a way to hire him … There’s no escaping the awful feeling that Jeff and Fred are still trying to run the Mets on the cheap … Hiring Maddon – or at least talking to Maddon – should’ve been the easiest decision Wilpon made all year … They’ll regret it.
The rest of New York’s media reacted on Twitter:
So Joe Maddon is a free agent, he’s five times better than Terry Collins, and you’re sticking with Terry Collins. OK, got it. — Ian O’Connor (@Ian_OConnor) October 24, 2014
I am not defending Sandy Alderson, Fred or Jeff Wilpon, but before we start throwing shade, consider a few things about Maddon:
1. In nine years as manager in Tampa Bay, Maddon has never won a World Series.
2. The Rays have suggested that Maddon began talking with other organizations before he opted out of his contract. If true, that’s not good business.
3. Read the Klapisch article — again. Maddon is tired of managing a team with “financial limitations.” Sound familiar?
Maybe, just maybe, Maddon doesn’t want to manage the Mets.
Is Maddon the right man for the Mets?
The Wilpon’s assured us we’ll never know.