Joe Maddon is back home in his native Pennsylvania this summer, enjoying gardening, golfing and grilling.
He isn’t missing baseball, away from the major leagues for the first time in 47 years, he told the Tampa Bay Times in an interview published Saturday.
Still, he opened up on the state of the game today and his firing by the Los Angeles Angels this summer as the team was mired in a 12-game losing streak.
Maddon, 68, has a career record of 1,382-1,216 in 16 full and three partial seasons as a manager with the Tampa Bay Rays, Chicago Cubs and Angels. He led two teams to pennants and the Cubs to a World Series victory in 2016.
He isn’t eager to return to baseball unless the situation is just right, and that would be in a place where analytics don’t drive the organization and the manager is allowed to manage. He told the Times he doesn’t want to be a “middle manager” in a system where the front office has wormed its way into the decision-making on the field.
“When people keep blaming the dugout for a lot of the things they’re seeing, they need to understand they shouldn’t be doing that,” Maddon said. “Because the manager has so many voices in the back of his head by the time the game begins, it’s not his game like it had been. It’s absolutely the front office’s game.”
That’s pervasive around the majors in all but just a few places, he said.
“It’s at the point where some GM should really just put a uniform on and go down to the dugout, or their main analytical membrane, he should go down to the dugout,” he told the Times.
“That’s something that should be done. Because they try to work this middle man kind of a thing. And what happens is when the performance isn’t what they think it should be, it’s never about the acquisitional process. It’s always about the inability of coaches and managers to get the best out of a player. And that’s where this tremendous disconnect is formed.”
That disconnect exists in Anaheim, Maddon said, adding the Angels have squandered the talents of two of the game’s brightest stars, Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani, with their approach.
“The infrastructure needs to be improved. There’s a lot of things that need to be improved there,” Maddon said. “These guys can’t do it alone, obviously. It’s the non-sexy stuff that has to get better. It’s not just bright, shiny objects — they have that.”
Maddon worked for the Angels for 30 seasons before becoming manager of the Rays in 2006. He considered himself part of the fabric of the organization, but that’s over since he was fired June 7 with the Angels at 27-29 after a strong start to the year.
“It’s like, once that happened, I dissolved my affiliation with them,” Maddon said. “There’s no emotion anymore. There’s no anything. It’s like to me they don’t even exist, organizationally.”