Joe Maddon Spins a Gem

Last night, Joe Maddon displayed his willingness to run through every available option on the fly without erring into the danger zone of allowing momentary passion to override logic. Take his treatment of David Price. After eight innings, the score sat at a deadlocked 0-0. Price had thrown 114 pitches while allowing five baserunners. Maddon could have sent him back out there, but he didn’t. It goes beyond raw pitch counts, with the Rays’ coaching staff taking leverage into account when analyzing when the bullpen should be installed in place of a tiring starter. Nobody thinks it’s a bad idea to send out the young ace for one more inning versus a division rival with first place on the line until something goes wrong.

Maddon used Rafael Soriano, Joaquin Benoit, and Grant Balfour in that order from the ninth inning onward. If asked to pluck the three finest relievers in the Rays’ pen, ostensibly that’s the correct selection. The pen did its job, going three innings while allowing only two baserunners. Although, somewhat oddly, failing to record a strikeout.

As for non-pitching moves.

Maddon pinch hit Dioner Navarro for the designated hitter – Willy Aybar – in the eighth against CC Sabathia. Why? So Navarro could lay down a bunt and advance the runner to second with nobody out. Bunting in the situation is defensible given the run scoring environment. Navarro is among the team’s more skilled bat handlers while also being the best backstop defensively. Maddon traded the designated hitter spot to move Navarro behind the plate in the ninth.

Maddon would also pinch hit for Sean Rodriguez (the starter at second base who moved to left field after Carl Crawford’s ejection) with Matt Joyce against Chad Gaudin. In the 10th, he would pinch hit for Jason Bartlett with Brad Hawpe – who would play right field – and Maddon also used Dan Johnson in place of the pitcher’s spot. Ben Zobrist moved from right field to second base and Reid Brignac – whose idol appears to be Crawford in how he’s dressing and setting up his stance – would move from second to shortstop before hitting the game-winning home run.

In the end, the results will be used to judge Maddon, but the processes leading up to the results instill the confidence in Maddon being among the game’s best managers.

Print This Post

24 Responses to “Joe Maddon Spins a Gem”

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.
  1. Hunter says:

    So, uh, we’re giving credit to Joe Maddon for pulling his young ace after 110+ pitches, then using his 3 best relievers in a scoreless tie against his biggest division rival in mid September.

    Charlie Manuel would do the same. Heck, Jerry Manuel would do the same.

    I love Maddon too. I wish he managed my team. But in the rush to fete him, let’s not give him props for the managerial equivalent of walking and chewing gum.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • PlayOnWords says:

      True, Girardi matched him move for move in extras.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Rich Mahogany says:

      I agree that these moves were completely straightforward. Unfortunately, managing standards are so low that Maddon deserves credit for following a basic but sound strategy. Girardi made terrible moves, like relying on his two worst relievers in extras, that might have cost his team the game.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Captain says:

        Robertson and Joba were unavailable. Hughes wasnt going to be used and neither was Javy. and Girardi said that Mariano was only available for a save situation. so Girardi was playing with a short deck but i still would’ve taken the guy who has had a great season closing in Triple-A in that situation over Mitre.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • aweb says:

        Mariano only being available for a save situation is entirely up to Girardi, unless Rivera is actually dictating strict terms of his own usage at this point (which seems…unlikely).

        Maddon made the right moves with his staff, ignoring the save stat. Girardi did not do the same. Therefore, Maddon used his bullpen better.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Hunter says:

        Rivera looked borderline hideous in his last game against the Rangers and there were mutterings that he was overworked. I can’t blame Girardi if his intention was that Rivera should get a rest.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Kevin S. says:

        And yet, Rivera was warming when the Yanks had a runner on… so no, I don’t think it’s that he needed rest.

        Joba hadn’t pitched in a couple of days, why wouldn’t he have been available? The correct move would have been to go through his useful (and available) relievers, then turn it over to Javy who, struggles and all this year, is still a much better option than Chad Gaudin and Sergio fucking Mitre.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Souldrummer says:

        The conventional wisdom is use your best relievers at home and save your best relievers on the road. The question to me is would the bullpen use be flip-flopped between Maddon and Rivera on the road with regard to closer use.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

    • BlackOps says:

      Hey, I’m not sure you’ve ever seen Jerry Manuel manage.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  2. Yoloslim says:

    “As for non-pitching moves”…

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  3. Captain says:

    the only substitution that got a hit was Brignac and thats a move that Maddon had to make with Crawford’s ejection. mighty high praise for moves that didnt work out, at least the non-pitching ones.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Yoloslim says:

      Again the article said “In the end, the results will be used to judge Maddon, but the processes leading up to the results instill the confidence in Maddon being among the game’s best managers.”

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Tyler says:

      Process not result first of all and secondly Dan Johnson got a hit as well.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  4. Rich says:

    “didn’t. It goes beyond raw pitch counts, with the Rays’ coaching staff taking leverage into account when analyzing when the bullpen should be installed in place of a tiring starter.”

    How are you determining that? There’s very few managers in baseball who’d send a guy out to start an inning at 115 pitches.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  5. DT says:

    so basically praise maddon for making moves any manager.except girardi would make?

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  6. WY says:

    Great stuff (from both Maddon and R.J.). That roster is really well suited to Maddon’s style, with its versatility. It helps when it’s expanded to include 30+ players! The Rays have so much position-player depth. As a Cardinals fan, I can only be envious.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  7. phoenix says:

    i like the way maddon managed his team, making the right moves in the right places, basically doing everything logically as required. girardi managed himself out of the win by using his worst relievers when he didnt have to. sure rest mo and robertson, but joba can pitch and the lights out closer in AAA is available too. basically dont throw mitre out there unless he is the absolute last man left in the bullpen… in fact consider giving swisher his second career inning pitched before mitre since swisher’s one inning went a whole lot better than mitre’s did tonight.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  8. Ben says:

    so lets jump for joy that a manager actually managed right??

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  9. grady says:

    certainly doesn’t hurt that half the position players the Maddon has access to can play 6+ positions

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  10. deadpool says:

    I’m more in awe that he’d give up the DH. While it’s nit unheard of, to take that risk in a game with homefield advantage at stake is huge, especially when it likely means you’ll have to burn a pitcher every time his spot comes up. It seems like Maddon was more willing to let it fly and manage aggressively while Girardi got held up by “conventional wisdom” and tried to play towards tomorrow.

    Vote -1 Vote +1