Maddon: Rays could've had Yankees-like dynasty if kept together
Former manager Joe Maddon said the Rays could have gone on a dynastic run similar to late-90s Yankees had the team not been broken up for financial reasons.
In talking about the promising future prospects of his current Cubs team before Game 6 of the World Series on Tuesday, Maddon said the core of the Rays team that made it to the 2008 Series, losing to Philadelphia, was good enough to compete for several championships.
"I thought it could have rivaled the Yankees' run with that kind of group that had come up in the mid-90's or late 90's,'' Maddon said of the New York team that won four championships in a five-year period, and played for two others.
As the Rays went forward from 2008, they made the playoffs three more times in the next five years, but eventually traded key players such as James Shields, Scott Kazmir, Matt Garza, Jason Bartlett and David Price, and let others leave via free agency including Carl Crawford, B.J. Upton, Carlos Pena. They also lost Maddon when he opted out of the final year of his contract following the 2014 season and weren't able to come to terms on a new deal, and he quickly signed a five-year, $25-million contract with the Cubs.
Maddon was asked by a New York-based reporter about the benefits going forward for a young team to make a World Series run, based on his experience with the Rays.
Here was his full answer:
"It had a great impact. It had a great impact. We didn't do that well the next year. I really felt the World Series hangover. I think it was also the WBC, the Baseball Classic was the next year, so we had a lot to deal with, which we also have next year, as a matter of fact.
So the biggest thing with those young guys I was most concerned with was the shortness of the off-season going into the next year. We finally caught our stride in August, but then we faltered, but still had a winning season. After that, the culture was created. We were over .500 again in 2009. In 2010 we were outstanding.
So definitely it's about the cultural flip. It's about the stretching of the mind. It's about we have the expectation on an annual basis to be here now. Once you've been able to do it, you really don't want to settle for anything less than that. You just don't.
But you have to do it the first time to really understand it and feel what it's like. We never got back to the Series. We got in the playoffs often. But these young guys or I think even younger, there is a better chance of keeping them together just based on finances, whereas back down there we didn't have the same opportunity to keep that group together, which I've often lamented, that had you been able to keep that group together, what it would eventually look like. I thought it could have rivaled the Yankees' run with that kind of group that had come up in the mid-90's or late 90's.
So there are a lot of ancillary benefits to be derived right now. And our guys are young. I'm really proud of how they've dealt with this moment. But looking down the road, I want to believe with their ability to do other things, to be able to keep this core group together, and then augment it, I think could be pretty special.''