The anniversaries are coming up, Nov. 3 marking eight years since fresh-faced Andrew Friedman was named executive vice president of the Rays, Nov. 15 the date Joe Maddon was hired as manager.
Any celebrations or acknowledgements now come with an interesting notation:
Given Jim Leyland's retirement in Detroit, Friedman and Maddon stand alone as the longest tenured GM/manager duo in the majors.
The Rays: baseball's bastion of stability.
"The continuity we have enjoyed has allowed us the ability to have a much more stable organization in a lot of ways," Friedman said. "Joe and I have a tremendous working relationship that has only strengthened over time. I think that the continuity throughout our organization provides at least a little of a competitive advantage."
Only six GMs have been with their teams longer than Friedman, and only two managers longer than Maddon — Mike Scioscia (Angels) and Ron Gardenhire (Twins). Though both Friedman and Maddon are certainly appealing to other teams, neither has shown any indication of wanting to leave.
Friedman, who operates without a contract, has rebuffed interest from the Angels and Astros, maybe others.
Maddon has signed two three-year extensions, the latest (at below market) running through 2015. It will be interesting to see, possibly by this time next year, if he signs another — he is opening a restaurant in Tampa — or prefers to head into a potential big-bucks free agency. (And if the Rays, should they sense that he plans to leave, would consider trading him.)
Around the game, there is much respect and admiration for what they have done together.
"It's hard to believe that they're still there — you would think that other teams would come a calling," said Cardinals reliever Randy Choate, a 2009-10 Ray. "But they're perfect for that market, perfect for trying to be that underdog that finds a way to pull through and show you the diamonds in the rough they can find."
JOB MARKET: Neil Allen gets raves from the pitchers he works with at Triple-A Durham, but understandably he said he "absolutely" wants a chance to be a big-league pitching coach, thus a recent interview with the Phillies (though they passed), and previous talks with the Indians and Red Sox. … Given John Farrell's success in Boston and Bryan Price's hiring in Cincinnati, both former pitching coaches, you wonder if Rays pitching coach Jim Hickey will get consideration for any manager openings. … Didn't make much sense for the Nats to bring in Rays bench coach Dave Martinez for an interview last week if they, as reports indicate, are set on naming Matt Williams their next manager.
RAYS RUMBLINGS: Free agency starts right after the World Series, and it seems unlikely the Rays will make any preemptive deals, with 1B James Loney and RHP Fernando Rodney among those who will want to explore the market. C Jose Molina could be an interesting call. … Decisions on options will also be pending, with OF David DeJesus ($6.5 million, or $1.5 million buyout) the most intriguing. … 2010 top draft pick OF Josh Sale remains on indefinite team suspension that started in May, with no decision yet on when he will be reinstated. … OF Wil Myers was named to Baseball America's all-rookie team, but Miami RHP Jose Fernandez (of Tampa's Alonso High) was BA's rookie of the year. Rays RHP Chris Archer didn't make the six-man pitching staff. … Team officials are "really encouraged" by the progress of SS Hak-Ju Lee, who is rehabbing his ACL repaired left knee in Port Charlotte. … C Curt Casali left the Arizona Fall League due to right elbow inflammation.
Marc Topkin can be reached at [email protected]