LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Baseball might be his life, but it is not life and death to Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon. When asked at the winter meetings Monday what the Rays starting rotation might look like if the team trades left-hander David Price — as many expect them to — Maddon did not reply with the attitude of a panicked man.
"Honestly, listen, I've been in an RV for a month," Maddon said. "I just saw my grandkids in Arizona, hung out in Long Beach for about a week. I mean this sincerely, I really put it down. I'm pretty good at putting it down. I think it's important to put it down."
He's been living in a van down by the river! Just like Matt Foley, the best character Chris Farley ever played on "Saturday Night Live." And like Foley, Maddon would make a great motivational speaker. But he also was being coy. It's important to note that the RV to which Maddon referred had several TVs, including satellite programming. If he wanted to keep up with the doings in baseball, he could have.
And he's been talking to Rays general manager Andrew Friedman, who has been keeping him in the loop, vacation or not.
"If it were to happen, it's one of those that's — almost the word 'devastating,' in a sense — but we have to recover from those kind of moments if it does actually occur," Maddon said.
The Rays have recovered before, like after they traded James Shields before this past season. They made the playoffs anyway. Price has been even better than Shields, so a haul would include talent on the scale of Wil Myers. Better, probably.
Yeah, Maddon says, it would be ideal to have kept all of the Rays players who have been let go through the years — Shields, Carl Crawford, B.J. Upton, and so on — but it's not something he laments. Because he believes in Friedman and what the Rays do to replenish themselves. Being a small-market team with light attendance at Tropicana Field means always evolving. It's how they stay competitive year after year.
"I have all the confidence in the world that the program will work, the philosophy will work, the structure will work," Maddon said. "I believe in that. I'm not saying I like losing any of those guys. I ... permit myself that thought once in a while, like what would it be like to have them all here. But it's not real."
If he didn't believe it, the Rays wouldn't amount to Jack Squat!