Maddon, Rays complete extension

Maddon, Rays complete extension

ST. PETERSBURG -- Simply stated, Joe Maddon has gotten the job done.

The Rays rewarded their fourth-year manager on Monday when they formally announced that he has been signed to a three-year contract extension that will run through the 2012 season.

"This is where I belong," Maddon said during a conference call with reporters, on which he was joined by club president Matt Silverman and executive vice president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman.

"This is where I want to be. I really have to use the word 'love' when I talk about this organization. I really see this as just the beginning. For me, it's a no-brainer. I really want to stay here and I'm grateful I got that opportunity."

Maddon was in the final year of the original deal he signed with the team on Nov. 15, 2005, shortly after Lou Piniella left his post as the Rays' manager.

Maddon brought a 247-285 overall record into Monday's game at Cleveland. Despite a payroll that ranked 29th out of 30 Major League teams in 2008, Maddon led the Rays to their first winning season with an AL East-best record of 97-65 to break the previous club record by 27 wins.

In doing so, the Rays improved their record by 31 games over 2007, which made for the third-best improvement in American League history, and they earned a spot in the World Series. In addition, the 2008 Rays became the first AL team to go from the worst record in the Major Leagues to the postseason.

Maddon was voted the AL Manager of the Year by the Baseball Writers Association of American following the 2008 season.

"It's a great day for the organization," Friedman said. "It was important to keep Joe on the front step of the dugout.

"I think over the past three seasons we've grown individually and collectively. Going back to three years ago, we talked a lot about creating a strong organization. I think we've come a long way in that and Joe is a big part of that. We're really at the beginning of what we're going to be able to accomplish as an organization, and having Joe as the person on the field leading -- that is a no-brainer for us."

Maddon is the fourth manager in Rays history. On Aug. 23, 2008, Maddon became the Rays' all-time leader in managerial wins with 206.

Prior to joining the Rays, Maddon spent all 31 years of his professional baseball career in the Angels organization, including the last 12 on the Major League staff.

"I thought all along he could be a good manager," Angels manager Mike Scioscia, for whom Maddon served as a bench coach for six years prior to accepting the Rays' job in the fall of 2005, said recently. "No question. I could see how bright he was, how he saw the game, what he believed in. There certainly wasn't any doubt in my mind that if the guy got an opportunity, he'd do a great job."

Maddon's upbeat, articulate, and positive manner played well in the Rays' clubhouse with veterans and youngsters alike.

"Joe wants to be here," Silverman said. "We want Joe as our manager. The timing wasn't very relevant. The trust level is high between all of us and we knew this contract would get done. Once we started the conversations, it proceeded very rapidly."

When word of the extension got out last week, several Rays players expressed their enthusiasm for the skipper.

Dioner Navarro struggled during the early part of his tenure with the Rays before he became an All-Star catcher in 2008. Maddon never quit believing in Navarro.

"I'm so happy," Navarro said. "I've been saying ever since I got here that one of the reasons we got so good last year is because of Joe. Without Joe I don't think we would have gotten that far. I'm happy for him. Hopefully I'll stay playing with him for as long as I'm here.

"I call him 'The Professor.' He's always thinking and doing some stuff. He's just such a great guy to play for. He's never going to second guess anybody and he's always going to let you play."

Center fielder B.J. Upton said keeping Maddon is a good thing for the organization.

"Definitely," Upton said. "We know he's going to be here. A lot of guys around here are comfortable with him. It's just great to know that he's going to be here."

Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. Steve Herrick is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.