While it is easy to have watched the game yesterday and clearly see James Shields had the best game on the field, it may have been what happened off the field that led to a win yesterday.
Eric Hinkse was 1-3 with a homerun and a walk, and didn't win the game himself, but was part of a team effort. The team decided to take a flyer on Hinske despite an uncertain product. Hinske has seemingly carried momentum over from a great spring training and contributing from a starting role on opening day is certainly a nice start to the season. You have to wonder if Jonny Gomes is regretting the Shelley Duncan incident, as his job security is a thing of the past.
The most impressive maneuver made by Friedman in my eyes has been the patience he has exhibited with Dioner Navarro. Last season, there were Rays fans that wanted Navi's head, yet slowly Navarro is turning into one of the more popular players on the team. Yesterday, he was arguably the best offensive player for the Rays, albeit the highly questionable double steal attempt.
Friedman's patience can be felt in other areas of the organization as well. Shields was only starting due to Scott Kazmir's elbow. It is nice to hear all the positive comments coming from Kazmir now that he is back on the mound, and knowing the chances for a healthy year have increased due to the precautionary measures taken. He has shown patience in sending Longoria down to get another year out of him at a later time. Both of these moves have been questioned by the fans and the media, as they could both hinder the teams state now. Looking at the future of the franchise and you can see how the patience exhibited in both of these moves will pay off in the long term.
Patience can also be seen with Edwin Jackson. Whether or not this is the right move is debatable, but he has given E-Jax the time to prove himself. In the end, it may not work out for the team, but it is the fact that we tried it that I like.
As a general manager, one of the toughest things to do is practice patience with the fans and media breathing down your neck. The fact that Friedman has stuck to his instincts and made these decisions based on what is best for the team and not his PR is what I have come to respect.
This article is not intended to say that Friedman is a genius and Eric Hinske is going to hit 70 homeruns. This isn't meant to say that Dioner Navarro is going to be an all-star. It is more to appreciate the hard work that has been put in by this front office, and, for one day at least, it seems to be working out.