Rays players sad to see Maddon go, but confident about future

Rays players sad to see Maddon go, but confident about future

ST. PETERSBURG -- The reaction among Rays players seemed to be one of sorry to see Joe Maddon go while trusting that the Rays management team will make the right calls to find a suitable replacement to perpetuate the organization's excellence.

Evan Longoria came to the Rays in 2008, Maddon's third season on the job, so he is the only manager Longoria has known in his Major League career.

"Although I have not heard from Joe I'm sure that he has sound reasoning for his decision," Longoria said in an email. "He was able to accomplish something in his time with us that not many can say they've had success doing, complete cultural change and the belief in something new and innovative.

"I'm appreciative for the knowledge that he shared with me and the amount of growth I experienced playing for him. I know that Matt [Silverman] and his team will choose the right fit for us moving forward and I look forward to working with whoever that person may be."

Alex Cobb acknowledged that Maddon's loss was a "big hit" for the organization.

"But when you really sit down and think about it we believe that it's just kind of a state of panic right now," Cobb said. "After things start to settle down and the organization gets its feet on the ground everything will be fine.

"This is all new stuff that is happening, if this was all closer to Spring Training we'd have a big problem on our hands. But we have a lot of time to really settle down, let things cool off a little bit. Let Matt [Silverman] and the guys figure out what direction this organization is going to go in."

Cobb noted that it's natural for Rays fans to overreact a little bit.

"But I truly believe that as we get into winter workouts and closer to Spring Training, things are going to settle down a lot more and the forecast is going to look a lot brighter," Cobb said. "I can undstand that the unknowns are scary for the fan base and the media is going to portray it that way.

"When it comes down to it, the bottom line is we have the same core group of guys in the locker room, and they influence the outcomes of the games night in and night out. To get too panicked is understandable. But let's let this thing play out a little bit before everyone gets too frantic."

Chris Archer thinks the Rays will be fine as well.

"We're going to have a very similar team to what we had in 2013 and we had a lot of success in 2013," Archer said. "I mean the manager does have a lot to do with overall team chemistry and morale. I'm confident that whoever they bring in, I'm confident that it will be a person who will help us make a seamless transition and it will be the exact same."

Archer said he felt fortunate to have had a manager like Maddon and a general manager like Andrew Friedman, who has moved on to the Dodgers. He shared a glimpse into why Maddon has been so successful.

"Whenever I had a few minor struggles early in the 2014 season, he just told me not to be afraid to fail," Archer said. "He told me not to feel like I have to be perfect. Not to feel like I have to be too fine.

"He said it in some unique and special ways and it really helped propel my success for the season. I let go of trying to be more than what I was, basically, and it allowed me to finish the season strong."

Ben Zobrist said, "I was as surprised like everybody else" about the news and that it was "going to be really weird" not to have Maddon around anymore.

"He'll be successful wherever he goes," Zobrist said. "I think they'll make a good decision [on his replacement]. I still see things running the same way. But you can't replace a personality like Joe's. It will definitely be different and weird."

Wil Myers seemed to echo the general sentiment that will be found in the Rays' clubhouse once Spring Training begins when he sent out this tweet: "Would have loved to see Joe stay, but wish him the best going forward. We will move forward as a team."

Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.