Marc Topkin, Times Staff Writer

Marc Topkin

Marc Topkin has covered baseball for the Times since 1987 — from the lengthy effort to secure a team, to the awarding of the Tampa Bay franchise in 1995, and through each of the Rays seasons starting in 1998. He has traveled throughout the United States with the team, as well as to Canada, Venezuela, Mexico and Japan, and has covered All-Star Games and the World Series, as well as Super Bowls and the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, Greece.

Phone: (727) 893-8801

Email: topkin@tampabay.com

Blog: The Heater

Twitter: @TBTimes_Rays


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  1. Cubs an obvious landing spot for ex-Rays manager Joe Maddon

    The Heater

    Until they actually got down to negotiating, Rays officials and Joe Maddon thought they were headed to a new deal that would have kept him in their dugout for at least three and up to 10 additional years.

    But after both sides spoke longingly of staying together long term, something changed, something that resulted in Friday's unexpected and not particularly harmonious breakup, with bad feelings — and the potential of a tampering charge — lingering....

    This artist's rendering provided Monday, Jan. 13, 2014, by the Chicago Cubs shows Clark, a new mascot being introduced on Monday for the first time in team history. The team will officially introduce Clark during a visit with children at Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center’s Pediatric Developmental Center in Chicago. The team plans on having Clark greet fans at Wrigley Field before and during games. (AP Photo/Chicago Cubs) CX105
  2. Players, staff to be consulted in Rays manager search

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Before Matt Silverman comes up with a list of candidates to talk with about replacing Joe Maddon as Rays manager, he has to decide what type of person he is looking for.

    Not expecting to be immersed in a manager search less than two weeks after taking over for departed Andrew Friedman as head of the Rays' baseball operations, Silverman is starting by talking with staff and players to determine the proper characteristics....

    Players say that a clone of Joe Maddon wouldn’t necessarily be the best replacement.
  3. Cubs an obvious landing spot for ex-Rays manager Joe Maddon

    The Heater

    Until they actually got down to negotiating, Rays officials and Joe Maddon thought they were headed to a new deal that would have kept him in their dugout for at least three and up to 10 additional years.

    But after both sides spoke longingly of staying together long term, something changed, something that resulted in Friday's unexpected and not particularly harmonious break-up, with bad feelings — and the potential of a tampering charge — lingering....

  4. "Nothing concrete" yet for Maddon

    Blog

    As Joe Maddon headed west in his RV Saturday, agent Alan Nero said there has been a lot of talk about opportunities for the now former Rays manager but no offers.

    Nero said he received "a lot of, lot of phone calls" inquiring about Maddon's interest in broadcast and front office advisor-type roles, and some requests from teams he wouldn't disclose to not make any decisions until hearing back from them, indicating potential interest in hiring Maddon to replace a manager they would have to fire or reassign....

    Maddon's departure was front-page news in the Chicago Sun-Times.
  5. Rays wish Joe Maddon best, say they'll be okay

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — First, the architect who built the team, Andrew Friedman bolted for big bucks with the Dodgers. Now, barely a week later, the man who managed so deftly for nine years, Joe Maddon, opted out of his contract without another job.

    Plus, the payroll is headed down after a frustrating season, attendance remains among the worst in the majors, and there still has been no real progress on a new stadium....

  6. Longoria, Zobrist, Cobb on Maddon's departure

    Blog

    Some more reaction from some veteran Rays on the departure of manager Joe Maddon:

    Evan Longoria:
    "Although I have not heard from Joe I'm sure that he has sound reasoning for his decision. He was able to accomplish something in a his time with us that not many can say they've had success doing, complete cultural change and the belief in something new and innovative. I'm appreciative for the knowledge that he shared with me and the amount of growth I experienced playing for him. I know that Matt and his team will choose the right fit for us moving forward and I look forward to working with whoever that person may be."...

  7. Who's the next Tampa Bay Rays manager?

    The Heater

    Given Joe Maddon's unexpected departure, the Rays will need some time to come up with a list of candidates to replace him. Here are a few names you can expect to hear:

    Dave Martinez

    Current Rays bench coach, has interviewed for five other manager jobs, well-liked in clubhouse. Would maintain continuity.

    Gabe Kapler

    Former Rays player and part-time consultant, currently doing TV for Fox Sports. Bright, analytical, outside-the-box hire Rays are known for....

    SURPRISE, AZ - FEBRUARY 25:  Bench Coach Tim Bogar #27 poses during Texas Rangers photo day on February 25, 2014 in Surprise, Arizona.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
  8. Maddon leaves Tampa Bay Rays in sudden contract dispute (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG

    What started as negotiations to extend an amicable and mutually beneficial relationship into a second decade instead ended in a shocking divorce Friday as Joe Maddon exercised an opt-out clause in his contract and left the Tampa Bay Rays after a successful nine-year run as their manager.

    It was the second staggering loss for the Rays in the past 10 days, following the departure of executive vice president Andrew Friedman to the Los Angeles Dodgers....

    Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon will be leaving the team. [Times files]
  9. Maddon is leaving Rays

    Blog

    UPDATE, 3:25: Silverman said there is no list of names yet and no timetable to name a replacement, but among the candidates likely to surface are Martinez, Kapler, Tim Bogar (who was a Rays coach and a finalist for the Rangers job), Joe McEwing and others. They plan to talk with some of their players to get a sense of what charecteristics they should be looking for.

    UPDATE, 2:35: The Mets and Dodgers have already said they are not changing managers, increasing speculation that Maddon could end up with the Cubs. Rick Renteria is signed there but they could just reassign him or pay him off....

  10. Among reasons Friedman left Rays: $35-million deal

    Blog

    When it Andrew Friedman made the difficult and somewhat surprising decision last week to leave the Rays for the Dodgers, it was generally assumed that part of the lure was a lucrative offer.

    That, apparently, was putting it mildly.

    Friedman's deal with the Dodgers, according to ESPN's Buster Olney, is for $35-million over five years, plus additional money in incentives.

    The highest paid GM/team president was considered to be Theo Epstein, who got a reported $3.5-million annually from the Cubs. Brian Cashman just resigned with the Yankees after completely what was reported to be a three-year deal for $3-million a year....

  11. RF Kiermaier named finalist for AL Gold Glove

    Blog

    Rays OF Kevin Kiermaier was named one of three finalists for the American League Gold Glove award for rightfielders.

    "Really a cool moment for me,'' Kiermaier said. "Caught me by complete surprise. It's one thing I didn't expect to get this year, but it's something I was hoping for for years to come because I take such pride in my defense.''

    Cole Kalhoun of the Angels and Nick Markakis of the AL East champion Orioles were the other two top vote-getters from AL coaches and managers. The winners will be announced on Nov. 4....

    Rays outfielder Kevin Kiermaier was named one of three finalists for the American League Gold Glove award for rightfielders.
  12. Spring training schedule - thus far

    Blog

    The Rays haven't released their spring training schedule yet, but for those who can't wait here's what we've pieced together from what other teams have put out:

    March

    2:
    3:
    4:
    5: Orioles at Port Charlotte
    6:
    7:
    8: Phillies at Port Charlotte
    9: at Yankees, Tampa
    10:
    11:
    12:
    13: at Phillies, Clearwater
    14: at Orioles, Sarasota
    15:
    16:
    17: at Phillies, Clearwater
    18:
    19:
    20:
    21:
    22:
    23:
    24:
    25:
    26: Yankees, at Port Charlotte
    27: at Orioles, Sarasota
    28:
    29:
    30: Orioles, at Port Charlotte
    31: at Orioles, Sarasota
    April 1: at Yankees, Tampa
    2: at Phillies, Clearwater
    3:
    4:
    5:
    6: Season opener vs. Orioles, at Tropicana Field

    ...

  13. Same philosophy, different approach for Rays' Silverman

    The Heater

    Matt Silverman won't run the Rays exactly the same way Andrew Friedman did for nine seasons before leaving last week for the Dodgers.

    After joking that he was funnier, more charming and taller than his good buddy, Silverman acknowledged that while both are "people people" and focus on communication, there are some substantive differences — one being that he plans to do less and delegate more, operating more in what he described as an "oversight role" at times....

    Matt Silverman, left, says he plans to delegate more than his predecessor, Andrew Friedman, now with the Dodgers.
  14. Former Rays exec Andrew Friedman: Dodgers won't pursue Joe Maddon

    The Heater

    Departed top Rays baseball executive Andrew Friedman did his best to further quell speculation that manager Joe Maddon will follow him to the Dodgers, saying Friday that Don Mattingly "definitely" will manage the 2015 season in Los Angeles and potentially many more.

    "I have a tremendous personal relationship with Joe. He's a very good friend of mine and have a really good professional relationship as well," Friedman said after his introductory news conference in Los Angeles. "That being said, Joe is now working with Matt Silverman and the baseball operation people (with the Rays), and I'm excited about working with Donnie....

  15. Rays promote Bloom and Neander to VPs

    Blog

    With Matt Silverman taking over for departed Andrew Friedman as the Rays new President of Baseball Operations, two top assistants, Chaim Bloom and Erik Neander,  were promoted from directors to vice presidents of baseball operations to reflect their additional duties and responsibilities.

    "Erik and Chaim's promotions are well deserved as they have been essential contributors to our operation for years," Silverman said in a statement. "I look forward to working with them in all facets of baseball operations, and I know they will continue to be great leaders of our deeply talented and dedicated department."...

    Erik Neander, Rays VP of baseball operations