Joe Maddon wins the Sporting News AL
Manager of the Year for taking the Rays
from worst to first in the AL East, and into
the World Series.
The Raysâ€™ Joe Maddon and Marlinsâ€™ Fredi Gonzalez, a pair of Sunshine State skippers who did more with less payroll, are Sporting Newsâ€™ 2008 Managers of the Year, as selected by a panel of 18 major league managers.
Maddon, despite a payroll that ranks 29th out of 30 major league teams, has his team in the World Series as he presides over one of baseballâ€™s remarkable turnarounds.
He managed Tampa Bay to a 97-65 regular-season record, good for first place in the American League East, a division in which the Rays had finished out of last place only once in their 10 previous seasons of existence and never won more games than they lost in a season.
Maddon, 54, attributed the turnaround primarily to a pitching staff that matured, especially in one particular area: â€śCommand of the fastball. Simplistic,â€ť he told Sporting News. â€śAlso, the bullpen in general â€” you canâ€™t play this time of year without the bullpen we have.â€ť
Gonzalez, meanwhile, had the Marlins â€” whose payroll ranked 30th out of 30 teams â€” in thick of the National League East race for much of the season, before Florida finished 84-77, in third place behind the N.L. champion Phillies and the Mets.
He credited his teamâ€™s approach to its success: â€śThe guys believed in themselves,â€ť Gonzalez, 44, told Sporting News. â€śThey had confidence and came to the park every day ready to battle, and we always felt like we were in every game until the final out.â€ť
The complete package of Sporting Newsâ€™ MLB awards is in this weekâ€™s magazine, available at Barnes & Noble, Borders and Hudson Retail outlets.
Source: Tampa Bay Rays