Jake Larsen is a Cubs Den reader and a “Free-lance Rays/General Baseball Blogger” who is always known for putting his 2 cents in(and likely more). I’ve had many great conversations with him on Twitter and he is an advocate for Dave Martinez as the Cubs next manager. He has a deeper knowledge of the Rays coach than most of us here in Chicago, so I asked him to put a few more than two cents in for us here on that subject. You can follow him on Twitter at @jakelarsen and look for his podcast, which is coming soon.
Why Dave Martinez is the best candidate for the Cubs job
by Jake Larsen
As a Chicago-resident Rays fan, it’s not often where the 2 teams interact in any way. Sure, there’s trades that occur or media’s report of one team’s interest in another team’s lesser-known player. However, nothing really goes on between the 2 teams. Sometime this week(possibly today or tomorrow) will be one of those rare times where interaction between the 2 organizations occur, when Dave Martinez gets an interview for the Chicago Cubs managerial position.
Having seen Dave Martinez as bench coach for the last 6 years(which, have also been one of the most successful 6 year stretches in all of baseball w/ the Rays averaging 92 wins a year), I almost feel like I know him enough to write a piece about him. It’s quite a surprise to me that he continually remains as a member of the Rays managerial staff, instead of being hired as a manager. His only blemish, he has no managerial experience. Is that by Maddon’s design, where he picks a long-term successor as his bench coach & inexperience in managing holds him up from leaving for his own managerial job? Seems like a foolish theory, but both Maddon & Martinez are “out of the box” thinkers…so I wouldn’t be surprised.
What makes the Maddon-Martinez pairing “work” so well is that they think very similar about situations & what they’d do if they had encountered it in a game. If Maddon had gotten ejected & Martinez had to finish the game as manager, nothing really would change & you really wouldn’t really notice a playing-style by the team. When they do disagree about things, strategically or what-have-you, Maddon listens to what Dave has to say & takes it into strong consideration instead of waving it off or disregarding it. When the Rays started being a “shift-heavy” fielding team known for it’s efficiency, it’s believed by many that Martinez & not Maddon was the “evil genius” behind it. The Rays may not have the best fielders, in terms of error-totals or UZR, but the team continually ranks Top 5 in the MLB in Defensive Efficiency. Even in 2013, when the Rays style didn’t exactly meld with the common Pitching & Fielding-first practices that led them to success in the past, the Rays still had the 2nd lowest Error total season-wide n MLB history(with only this year’s Orioles ahead of them) & had a Top 10 team in DRS(Defensive Runs Saved). Conversely, the Cubs were in the Bottom 4 in Team DRS,
Knowing part of the criteria for the Cubs managerial job hinges on a player development & possibly some knowledge of the Spanish language, those both fit well with Martinez. Martinez is of Latin American decent & has served as translator in Spring Training interviews for young Latin American prospects or incoming free agents who may feel uncomfortable speaking English to the media. Also, just from coaching for the Rays organization is well-groomed in dealing with young prospects & talent on an almost-yearly basis. The Rays hand is sometimes forced to bring up a prospect who isn’t 100% ready to be in the majors, but unlike Tampa Bay teams of yesteryear, those young players are quite familiar with “The Rays Way” & don’t fall completely on their faces in their debuts. It’s never a guarantee that a stud prospect in AA or AAA will turn out to be a stud at the MLB level, but it’s always good to have a coach or manager that makes it seem like they’re quite close to being the stud that they were in the minors(Evan Longoria, Desmond Jennings, Ben Zobrist, James Shields, David Price, Jeremy Hellickson, Matt Moore, Jake McGee, Alex Cobb, Alex Torres & Chris Archer all have graduated from the Rays farm & have shown success at the MLB level in the last 6 years)