This is all just me messing around in my own head, not anything that is based on rumors, reports or anything real. But it just occurred to me that Joe Maddon becoming the Dodgers next general manager might make a lot of sense.
Many people have speculated that Maddon would follow Andrew Friedman from Tampa Bay to Los Angeles and become the Dodgers next manager. But just recently Friedman said he was committed to Don Mattingly. Maddon, for his part, is saying he has no interest in the Dodgers job. Now, sure, take that with a grain of salt because a week ago he said he had no interest in leaving Tampa Bay, but what if he’s being honest and he has bigger things in mind?
If Friedman were to name Maddon his GM, he accomplishes a couple of things. First, he has a trusted lieutenant in the organization. Second, he has a ready replacement for Don Mattingly waiting in the wings if the Dodgers falter in 2015. Heck, it’s a pretty convenient setup, actually, in that it gives Friedman cover to mess with and re-tool the Dodgers over the next year with the focus remaining on Mattingly. If and when the Dodgers struggle in 2015, Mattingly is canned and Maddon takes over amid talk about how a change in tone was needed.
As for the mechanics, no, Maddon is not exactly like the modern general managers in the game, especially those in more analytically-minded organizations. He’s a baseball guy, not an MBA or numbers guy. But he has played well with Friedman, obviously, and it’s not like Friedman and his staff won’t be hands-on when it comes to the baseball operations things with which Maddon has less experience. Maddon can be the general “change the philosophy of the organization” guy. That’s pretty much his jam anyway. He’s like Phil Jackson in that way, for better or worse.
The wrinkle, of course, is that it’s a pretty crummy way to treat Don Mattingly. Who, if such a thing came to pass, may not stand for it anyway and might just quit. Alternatively, the 2015 Dodgers may win a lot of games anyway, in which case moving Mattingly may be a tough trick. But then again, winning is the whole point, and Maddon would be a pretty well-paid GM who, if he missed managing, could always go someplace else to do it again eventually.
Call it a Bobby Cox move. Call it a Greg Poppovich. But way weirder and unexpected things have happened in the past. Heck, Maddon opting out of his deal with the Rays is one of them.