Sunday Notes: Joe Maddon is Glad He Didn’t Get the Boston Job

Two years before being hired to manage the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, Joe Maddon interviewed for the job in Boston. The winter-of-2003 vetting by the then Red Sox decision-makers — a subject I broached with Maddon in a 2007 interview — didn’t bear fruit… but what if it had? Earlier this week, I asked the proud son of Hazleton, Pennsylvania what might have happened had he started his big-league managerial career in Boston.

“I don’t think it would have turned out as well,” responded Maddon, who spent nine years in Tampa before going on to manage the Chicago Cubs and the Los Angeles Angels. “I wasn’t ready for that; I wasn’t ready for that market. Theo [Epstein] and Jed [Hoyer] made a great decision. Tito was the right guy.”

History bears that out. Four years removed from managing the Philadelphia Phillies for the same number of seasons, Terry Francona led the Red Sox to their first World Series title since 1918. While Maddon went on to win a World Series of his own, with the Cubs in 2016 — the team’s first since 1908 — hiring a first-year manager as Grady Little’s replacement wouldn’t have been in Boston’s best interests. Nor in Maddon’s.

“I needed more time to really develop what I wanted to do, and how I wanted to do it,” explained Maddon, whose managerial resume includes nine 90-plus-win seasons. “I really did need more of an expansion team than a tradition-based team at that point. I could experiment. I could try different things that weren’t very popular, or that nobody had thought about. I needed that wider berth, and the support that I got from Andrew [Friedman] at that particular time. So, thank God for unanswered prayers. I wanted the Red Sox job, but it was so much better for me to start out with the Devil Rays.”

The term “baseball guy” is often defined by old-school types as being polar opposite to “analytics nerd.” Given that he’d cut his teeth with one of the game’s most data-driven organizations, I asked Maddon where Friedman — now the president of baseball operations for the Los Angeles Dodgers — fits into that equation.

“He’s one of the best scouts I’ve ever met,” replied Maddon, whose early embrace of analytic concepts, and his willingness to think outside the box, are well known. “There’s always a separator. Andrew is a real baseball junkie, so not everybody is cut from the same cloth. I didn’t play in the big leagues either — I just played in the minor leagues — so it isn’t fair to clump everybody together. To me, Andrew is a ‘baseball guy.’”

Maddon, who hopes to one day manage in the big leagues again, is a newly-published author. The Book of Joe: Trying Not To Suck at Baseball and Life, which he co-wrote with Tom Verducci, came out last week.



Lance Berkman went 10 for 14 against Tony Armas Jr.

Tony Armas Sr. went 11 for 21 against Roy Lee Jackson.

Craig Biggio went 11 for 22 against Danny Jackson.

Willie Mays Aikens went 4 for 4 against Jackson Todd.

Todd Hollandsworth went 9 for 19 against Todd Stottlemyre.


Back in August, Ben Clemens called Trevor Stephan, The Best Reliever You’ve Never Heard Of. My colleague went on to describe the 26-year-old right-hander’s repertoire, which comprises a plus fastball, a splitter, and a sweeping slider. Calling the last of those offerings Stephan’s best pitch, he noted that prior to joining the Cleveland Guardians via the 2020 Rule 5 draft, Stephan “was a member of the Yankees organization, and they’re excellent at teaching that pitch.”

Talking to Stephan on the final weekend of the regular season, I learned that the sweeper was already part of his arsenal when he was taken in the third round of the 2017 draft out of the University of Arkansas.

“I had it already,” explained Stephan, who came out of the Guardians bullpen 66 times this year and logged a 2.69 ERA and a 2.19 FIP, with 82 strikeouts in 63-and-two-thirds innings. “By the time I left the Yankees org, I guess everybody was kind of teaching the whirly, but it’s the slider that I threw before I ever heard the word ‘whirly.’ So it’s not something that I ever tried to make sweep. It was more of a natural slider for me.”

The splitter, which Stephan threw 27.7% of the time this season, is a pitch that had resided in his back pocket for five years. He’d begun throwing it at Hill [junior] College, only to work on developing a conventional changeup after joining the Yankees system. Never developing a feel for a circle change, he made the decision to go back to a split. Hitters batted .153 against the offering this year, and .217 against the sweeping slider he’s always had.


A quiz:

Only two pitchers in Seattle Mariners history have won 20 or more games in a single season. Who are they?

The answer can be found below.



The Colorado Rockies announced this week that Dave Magadan won’t be returning next season. Magadan had been the team’s hitting since December 2018. First base coach Stu Cole, who has been in the organization since 1995, also won’t be bck next year.

Marv Staehle, an infielder who appeared in 185 big-league games from 1964-1971, died recently at age 80. The Oak Park, Illinois native played his first four seasons with the Chicago White Sox and logged 77 of his 94 career hits with the Montreal Expos.

Dick Ellsworth, who pitched for five different teams from 1958-1971, died on Monday at age 82. The southpaw’s best season came in 1963 when he went 22-10 with a 2.11 ERA for the Chicago Cubs. He went 16-7 with a 3.03 for the Boston Red Sox in 1968.


The answer to the quiz is Jamie Moyer and Randy Johnson. The Big Unit went 20-4 for the Mariners in 1997, while Moyer went 20-6 in 2001 and 21-7 in 2003.


Koudai Senga has been mentioned often here in Sunday Notes, in part because he’s been one of the NPB’s most dominant pitchers, but also because of his stated interest to take his talents to MLB. Yesterday, the 29-year-old right-hander came one step closer to his goal. According to Sankei Sports, Senga has opted out of his contract with the SoftBank Hawks and will pursue opportunities stateside.

Matt Moore played with Senga in 2020, so I asked the 33-year-old Texas Rangers southpaw what he recalls about his former teammate’s overpowering arsenal.

“I couldn’t tell you pitch-grade stuff,” said Moore, “but I feel like every pitch he threw seemed plus, because of the swings that he would get on them — the type of domination he had. Hitters were swinging at pitches that were landing in front of the plate, and they were taking balls that were painted in the zone. His first pitch of the game, he would throw at 161 kilometers, which is about 100-101 [mph], and he carried that velocity really well. He’s a beast. Senga was probably the best ace I saw over there.”

Moore proceeded to bring up a 26-year-old left-hander who will be pitching for Cuba in the upcoming World Baseball Classic.

“The best arm over there was actually one of our relievers, Liván Moinelo,” opined Moore. “He’s a lefty, and wow, that guy has got a really nasty curveball.”

A 26-year-old native of Pinar del Rio, Cuba, Moinelo had 24 saves with SoftBank this season, as well as a 1.03 ERA and 87 strikeouts in 52-and-two-thirds innings.Per Tokyo-based baseball scribe Jim Allen, Moinelo reportedly signed a three-year contract with the Hawks last November.



The Orix Buffaloes won their Pacific League playoff series against the SoftBank Hawks and will once again face the Yakult Swallows in NPB’s Japan Series. Yaukult won last year’s championship series in six games.

Yakult advanced to the Japan Series by ousting the Hanshin Tigers. Hanshin had begun the season by losing their first nine games, and 20 of their first 24, before recovering to finish third in the Central League.

The Seibu Lions have named Kaz Matsui their new manager. The 46-year-old former infielder played 17 NPB seasons, 10 of them with Seibu, and seven more in MLB. He had 2,885 professional hits.

The KT Wiz won this year’s KBO Wildcard Game, beating the Kia Tigers 6-2. Jung-dae Bae led the way with a pair of hits and three RBIs.

Zach Reks slashed .330/.410/.495 with eight home runs in 251 plate appearances for the Lotte Giants. The 28-year-old outfielder signed with the KBO club after being released by the Texas Rangers in August.

Anthony Alford slashed .286/.362/.509 with 14 home runs in 323 plate appearances for the KT Wiz. The 28-year-old outfielder signed with the KBO club after being released by the Cleveland Guardians in May.


Eve Rosenbaum was a featured guest on this week’s episode of FanGraphs Audio, and one of the topics I addressed with the Baltimore Orioles assistant general manager was the organization’s hitting-development program. I asked if there have been any directional shifts in terms of which data and training practices are most valued.

“One thing that I really stressed when I was the director of baseball development — which everyone was on board with here — is that we’re constantly learning,” responded Rosenbaum, who was promoted to her current position in June. “We’re constantly adjusting our hitting philosophies based on what we’ve learned. A huge thing we go back and forth on is how we balance power versus contact. The whole league has been working at this.… I was just talking to Koby Perez, our international scouting director, about it, how it impacts players he’s signed, and in the draft.

“At first, we were really focused on, ‘Hey, let’s develop a ton of power,’” continued Rosenbaum. “Then he said, ‘You know what, Eve? With some players, we should focus more on contact.’ But do you know what? Contact is really hard to develop, so maybe let’s roll that back and focus on, ‘How can we draft players that are already going to make a lot of contact, and then we can focus more on developing the power aspect. So, it’s a constant back and forth.”



Los Angeles Dodgers infield prospect Michael Busch and Washington Nationals outfield prospect Jacob Young each scored 118 runs, tied for the most in the minors this season. Busch had 108 RBIs, while Young finished with 46 RBIs.

T.J. Rumfield is 12 for 23 with four doubles and one home run for the Arizona Fall League’s Mesa Solar Sox. Drafted in the 12th round last year by the Phillies out of Virginia Tech, the 22-year-old first baseman was traded to the New York Yankees last November in the deal that sent Nick Nelson to Philadelphia.

Matt Mervis is 6 for 22 with two doubles and four home runs for the Solar Sox. The 24-year-old first baseman was signed as a non-drafted free agent by the Chicago Cubs out of Duke University in 2020.

Heston Kjerstad is 14 for 38 with four doubles and three home runs for the Scottsdale Scorpions. The 23-year-old outfielder was drafted second overall by the Baltimore Orioles in 2020 out of the University of Arkansas.

Austin Martin is 13 for 28 with two doubles and one home run for the Glendale Desert Dogs. Drafted fifth overall by the Toronto Blue Jays in 2020 out of Vanderbilt University, the 23-year-old shortstop was traded to the Minnesota Twins in July 2021 as part of the José Berríos deal.


During Friday’s broadcast of ALDS Game 2, a camera panned to Eli Morgan warming up in the Cleveland Guardians’ bullpen, The right-hander was hatless, prompting Bob Costas to casually state that he would be putting one on if/when he enters the game. That had me thinking: Would Morgan have to wear a hat?

Looking at the rulebook, I discovered that hats aren’t specifically mentioned. The regulations do state that “No player whose uniform not conform to that of his teammates shall be permitted to participate in a game.”

That led me to another thought: Could an entire team take the field sans hats? Going strictly by the rulebook, the answer appears to be yes. At the same time, I suspect that an MLB umpiring crew wouldn’t allow it. A rules expert I checked with opined the same. Hats would be worn.



Sports Illustrated’s Stephanie Apstein talked to former Houston Astros GM Jeff Luhnow, who now runs soccer teams in Spain and Mexico.

Andscape’s Justice B. Hill wrote about how Triston McKenzie has arrived as an MLB star and a mentor.

At The Sporting News, Mike DeCourcy looked back at “The night the Pirates died” — Pittsburgh’s heartbreaking loss to the Atlanta Braves in the 1992 NLCS.

At The Athletic, Peter Gammons wrote about how baseball is coming back to us with optimism and flair after several of its toughest years (subscription required).

Former Angels communications director Eric Kay was sentenced to 22 years in federal prison for his role in the death of Tyler Skaggs. Nathan Fenno has the story at The Los Angeles Times.

Baseball America gave us a team-by-team rundown of MiLB park factors for the 2022 season.



The Yankees hit eight triples this season, the fewest in the majors. Lou Gehrig had 10 or more triples nine times, including a career high 20 in 1926.

Reggie Jackson had a 1.212 OPS in 116 World Series plate appearances. He had a .679 OPS in 181 ALCS plate appearances.

Since moving to Los Angeles in 1958, the Dodgers have played in 12 World Series, winning six and losing six. While based in Brooklyn, the franchise played in nine World Series, winning one and losing eight.

Justin Verlander is 0-6 with a 5.68 ERA over 38 World Series innings.
Madison Bumgarner is 4-0 with a 0.25 ERA over 36 World Series innings.

Monte Pearson made one World Series start for the Yankees in each of the 1936, 1937, 1938, and 1939 seasons, and went 4-0 with a 1.01 ERA over 35-and-two-thirds innings. New York acquired the right-hander from Cleveland in December 1935 in exchange for Johnny Allen.

Johnny Allen went 15-1 for the Cleveland Indians in 1937. The right-hander’s only loss came on the final day of the season when he was out-dueled by southpaw Jake Wade in a 1-0 Detroit Tigers win.

On today’s date in 1985, Jack Clark hit a two-out, ninth-inning three-run homer to give the Cardinals a 7-5 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers in NLCS Game 6. The blast sent St. Louis to the World Series, where they fell to the Kansas City Royals in seven games.

The New York Mets captured their first-ever World Series title on today’s date in 1969, beating the Baltimore Orioles 5-3. Ron Swoboda doubled in the deciding run in the eighth inning, while Jerry Koosman went the distance for the win.

Players born on today’s date include Garland Buckeye, a southpaw who played in five big-league seasons — he went 13-8 with a 3.65 ERA for the Cleveland Indians in 1925 — and in six professional-football seasons. The Heron Lake, Minnesota native was the great-grandfather of Drew Pomeranz.

Also born on today’s date was Dave DeBusschere, a right-hander who pitched in 36 games for the Chicago White Sox from 1962-1963. The Detroit native had his best success on the hardwood, winning a pair of NBA titles with the New York Knicks and later being elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame.

David Laurila grew up in Michigan's Upper Peninsula and now writes about baseball from his home in Cambridge, Mass. He authored the Prospectus Q&A series at Baseball Prospectus from December 2006-May 2011 before being claimed off waivers by FanGraphs. He can be followed on Twitter @DavidLaurilaQA.

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1 year ago

 ‘How can we draft players that are already going to make a lot of contact, and then we can focus more on developing the power aspect….”

Somewhere, Mr. Cistulli has to be smiling to himself.

1 year ago
Reply to  tz

Also, I dare everyone to read the Andscape article and not become a member of the Triston McKenzie Fan Club.