When Joe Maddon interviewed for the Red Sox' managerial position following the 2003 season, he lived a very different existence than the one the 57-year-old currently occupies.
Other than two brief stints as the Angels' interim manager, Maddon had never run his own major league team, never mind one as talented and high-profile as the Red Sox. But since then, the affable Hazleton, Penn., native has managed 972 games with the Rays, winning 495 of them while making the playoffs three out of the last four years.
He spends his offseasons in a resort community in Huntington Beach, Calif., while enjoying the sunshine of the Tampa Bay area throughout the baseball season. But most notably, Maddon is living the life as one of the most coveted managers in the game, a notion that isn't lost on those Red Sox followers wondering who could replace Terry Francona as their team's next skipper.
This time, however, Maddon would be saying "thanks, but no thanks."
"Honestly, I love where I work and who I work with," said Maddon, whose team has won 91 or more games in three of the past four years despite carrying a payroll south of $50 million. "I did interview for the job several years ago and I was really excited about that opportunity. But right now, at this point in my life, there's no other place I would rather be than the Tampa Bay Rays. I mean that sincerely. Ownership. Front office. Players. Coaching staff. I cannot ask for a better situation. There isn't a better situation. And it isn't always about money. For me it isn't always about money. I really am humbled by that thought, but at the end of the day I am a Ray and I want to be a Ray."
Yet, there is somebody he believes the Red Sox might want to take a look at -- Tampa Bay bench coach Dave Martinez.
"I know that he is ready in the dugout, for sure," Maddon said of the 47-year-old Martinez, who has served as the Rays' bench coach for the past four seasons. "He's got a really good grasp of the game. He utilizes information well. His preparedness is very good. His ability to get what he needs to across to the players is very good, also. For me he's been invaluable because I do trust him with a lot on a daily basis. He takes a lot off my plate. I know he's able to do those things, and do them during the course of a game. So that stuff I have no doubt about.
"The other side, the media side, the handling of all the other things a manager has to do, I think he has to go into that like anybody going into Boston for the first time. Even an inexperienced guy would have to deal with a learning curve there, too, if you haven't been in that size of a market. I'm not saying he can't do it. I think he can do it. I'm just saying that would be the part he would probably have to work at the most. The stuff on the field, in the dugout, the clubhouse, all that stuff, he is very good at."
When reached at his Huntington Beach home by WEEI.com, Maddon said he wasn't aware of the Red Sox asking permission to talk to Martinez, who has been rumored to be a candidate for the team's managing job.
While Martinez' exposure to the Rays' way of doing things would seem to enhance his stock in the eyes of the baseball world, he has never managed at the major league level. New Sox general manager Ben Cherington, however, has stated that the team will not require its next skipper to possess big league managerial experience.
Whomever the candidate, perhaps one of the most important attributes many Sox followers will be looking for from their team's next manager is the ability to enact a sense of discipline. That is a trait Maddon says won't be hard to find if Martinez comes to town.
"Davey will not have any problem with that, trust me," the Rays' manager said. "He's been very helpful to me. The way I like to keep things is that I really believe in a pecking order and things should not get back to me unless it's absolutely necessary because once it gets back to the manager that means all these other filters have experienced a problem. They're supposed to take care of it and I'm not supposed to hear about it. That means somebody is being a stool-pigeon or somebody is ratting on somebody. There's all kinds of stuff that occurs that somebody else needs to do. Then if it's just not going to get done, then I need to get involved. I don't think everybody understands that overall concept. When they talk about policing themselves, I don't think people understand what is truly meant by that. If it gets back to me it has gotten through a lot of different filters that at some point should have eradicated this problem if they're doing their job or if they're being a good teammate.
"Davey has cut off a lot of things at the pass for me. I know that he's not afraid somebody is not going to like him because he's being honest with them. At the end of the day, a major league baseball player wants honesty. They may not react well or like it in the beginning when you first present it to them, but upon reflection I think they're going to accept it and they're going to thank you for it eventually. And Davey will do that, no doubt."
If Martinez is asked to interview for the Red Sox job, Maddon feels he can give his coach an idea of what might be waiting for him, having been one of three finalists for the Sox' managing position before it was given to Terry Francona heading into the '04 season.
"It was my first formal interview, and I knew they were going to be very well organized, prepared and have specific ideas and thoughts, and they did," said Maddon, who was hired by Tampa Bay a year after interviewing in Boston. "It was an exercise. They laid out topics and all this stuff that would create conversation. For me that was typically what you would expect from [former Sox GM Theo Epstein], that he would be very well organized, and the concepts would be very well laid out. It was presented like a conversation but it was more than that, based on how they laid it out. So for me it was a very bright way of doing it, not unlike what I went through with the Rays a couple of years after that. I'm certain that [new Sox GM Ben Cherington] would do the same thing or something similar based on his relationship with Theo, executing a well-thought exercise that would create conversation. That's what I got out of it."
Maddon understands what may be waiting for Martinez if the opportunity in Boston is presented.
Besides playing the Sox 18 times in '11, the manager has also followed the goings-on since Francona and Red Sox parted ways at season's end.
"The biggest surprise is how anybody could say anything bad about Terry Francona. That just blows me away," he said. "It's not just a manager defending a manager, but this is a guy who has done wonderful things for that organization and that city. Somebody else who was a good teammate should have said something earlier. Of course it's Terry's responsibility ultimately, but if everybody is doing their job that stuff is squashed well before it got to that point. That's just true. For me, to have Terry in any shape or form be victimized or become this polarizing figure just makes no sense. That's the part that I find disturbing. I do consider Boston a wonderful baseball town with a great history and a lot of intelligence about the game. That part to me makes no sense. There's a great disconnect there for me, and that's the disappointing aspect that I've been reading about.
"Terry did nothing wrong. Terry is wonderful. Terry as a manager is excellent, and as a person is even better than that. So to have people saying this stuff is really disappointing. … It's almost criminal. It reeks of a set-up. It smells bad. I feel badly for the guy. I don't know him really well, but I know him. I know the players and how they think about him. it's a shame that he has to go through this."