In a move that will surely set St. Louis Cardinals fans atwitter, Joe Maddon has announced he's quitting as skipper of the Tampa Bay Rays.
Maddon, who is a self-professed Cardinals fan, was on the top of the list of many Redbird rooters as the replacement when Hall of Fame manager Tony La Russa announced his retirement from the dugout following the 2011 World Series. But Maddon opted to re-sign with the Rays and St. Louis quickly moved on, hiring Mike Matheny as the new field manager despite the fact that he had no experience as a professional manager or coach.
With a reputation as an innovator and an over-achiever, I'm sure a lot of St. Louis fans would love to see Maddon scooped up by the Redbirds. But Matheny is under contract and, despite the venom from a (small?) section of Cardinals fandom, it seems extremely unlikely the club would pull the rug out from under a skipper who has managed his team to the National League championship series in his three seasons as field boss.
If the timing was different, I'd love to see the Birds may a play for Maddon. Despite denials from both coasts, the more likely destination would be Los Angeles where Maddon's longtime boss with the Rays, Andrew Friedman, now resides in the front office.
It was Friedman's departure that triggered an opt-out in Maddon's contract which allowed him to leave Tampa.
Don Mattingly has one more year on his contract to be the Dodgers manager. But someone has to take the fall when a team with a $225 million payroll washes out of the playoffs in the first round.