Maddon's conference call
BOSTON -- For a man noted most for his organizational skills, Angels bench coach Joe Maddon felt eerily comfortable during his interview with the Red Sox Wednesday for their vacant managerial post.
You see, it didn't take Maddon long to learn that his potential bosses are as thorough as he is.
Maddon met with Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein and assistant general manager Josh Byrnes for several hours in Phoenix, the site of this week's general managers meetings.
"I thought it was really well thought out, well organized," said Maddon. "I really enjoyed meeting both of them. They really covered every situation you could imagine, game situations, how you handle a coaching staff. It was a really good experience. They were very, very organized."
Like much of the Red Sox front office, Maddon is a huge believer in the value of computers.
In fact, he was a laptop junkie before it became a tool of choice in Major League Baseball.
"I used to be made fun of for carrying a computer. Now everyone on (the team) airplane has one. It was met with a lot of resistance at first. Like anything new, it takes a while to catch on," the 49-year-old Maddon said. "It can improve your work. I started using them in the early '90s. I've always been an organization freak. When computers came along, I found it a better way to organize my stuff. I started using computer programs to track the opposition, whether it was a spray chart or a manager's tendencies."
Traditionalists need not worry. Just because Maddon takes full advantage of technology doesn't mean he thinks games can be won as much with a mouse pad as a cannon arm or a powerful bat.
"It's not so much that the computer wins the game, but it helps you organize and think more clearly during the course of the game," Maddon said. "You're talking about information and people. They are two separate issues. The person is always going to count more. When it comes down right to it, you can only give (data) to the players in small handfulls. Once you get it and dispense it, you have to determine who can handle what and how much and if it's going to be productive and counter productive."
Maddon's Major League managerial experience has been limited to two stints with the Angels in an interim capacity.
It was in the latter situation -- after Terry Collins resigned in 1999 -- when Maddon got a first-hand look at just how vital the human element is to a baseball team.
"It was not a real good clubhouse at that point. There were a lot of disenchanted players at that time, their record was really bad," Maddon said. "It was kind of a hostile environment, and very difficult. The biggest thing was just to bring the clubhouse back together. We weren't playing for anything but our own pride. I got the players to believe in each other again and the staff was great."
The Angels went 19-10 in those 29 games under Maddon. At that point, he interviewed for the job on a permanent basis, but it went to Mike Scioscia.
Through the last four seasons, Maddon has learned a lot in his role as Scioscia's right-hand man.
"With Mike, it's about consistency and being the same every day and not backing down from problems," said Maddon. "It's about attacking problems, not letting things fester, it's about communication, It's about doing everything with a passion. It's about keeping things in perspective. Mike is a great family man. He brings a lot to us."
As much as Maddon has enjoyed working with Scioscia and the Angels, he is ready to tackle a bigger challenge.
And in the world of Major League Baseball, there aren't many more challenging gigs than managing the Red Sox in a region where the fans and media bring passion and expectations to another level.
"You're talking about one of the most desirable and fascinating franchises in all of sports," Maddon said. "For me, it's about time I started getting into the flow of these things. I've been a Major League coach for 10 years. Everyone keeps asking when I'm going to try and become an Major League manager. I said, when somebody asks. This (opportunity) came together when Theo called me about a week ago. It's very flattering that they would ask me. I think this is a tremendous opportunity."
Though Maddon hasn't managed on a full-time basis since 1986 -- his last of six seasons in the minor leagues -- he feels that his managerial mind is as sharp as ever.
"I manage 162 games every year next to Mike. As a bench coach, you go through the gymnastics of managing anyway," Maddon said. "You just don't take the blame when you're a bench coach. The mechanics of the game are the mechanics of the game. They really don't change that much."
But if Maddon lands this job, his life will change a lot. He knows it would take an adjustment period. But ultimately, he feels it would be highly rewarding.
"It's something you can't just walk into and feel totally comfortable from jump street," he said. "You have to walk in there and feel the pulse and get to understand it. It's an intimidating job, a big job. Baseball-wise, it's at the top end of the baseball world. It's very intriguing. That place has somewhat of a magic sense to it. It's different than all the other ballparks. Of all the parks I've been to, Fenway is absolutely the most unique."
Maddon was the third candidate to interview for the post, following Dodgers third-base coach Glenn Hoffman and A's bench coach Terry Francona.
Epstein has not set a time-table for naming the 44th manager in club history.
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.