If anyone was watching Hot Stove yesterday an caught the 'Face of the Rays' segment, I am Andrew from Springfield, MA who said that Sam Fuld was the face of the franchise. Do I really think this? No. I like Fuld and I think he's a gritty outfielder who fits into the Rays' system perfectly (speed, defense before offense). The rest of the message I left, which was cut out, said that I saw him hitting .330 and stealing 90+ bases, so you can see I was having a little fun with it.
That being said, who really is the face of the Rays? I see it as a three-way battle between Longo, D. Price, and Joe Maddon. Longo obviously is the centerpiece of the offense, which was evident last year when the team was below .500 without him in the lineup. If Longoria can stay healthy, I think the Rays offense will be much better than they were last year. Without him, and if Wil Myers doesn't come up and make the immediate impact he's expected to, it will be a long year for the boys in the blue.
Next we have David Price, a true power lefty with a vicious fastball and the backdoor cutter that nobody seems to be able to figure out. I was at the game at Fenway in September when DP struck out 14, and it was the best pitching performance I've ever seen. Regardless, the Cy Young winner will is now the leader of the young and promising Rays staff that should once again rank towards the top of the AL pitching corps. Pitching wins championships, so is Price the Rays' poster boy?
In my unbiased opinion, Joe Maddon is the best manager in baseball. Granted, he has no rings, but he also has consistently led a team with a payroll in the range of $40-65 million to success in the AL East. Maddon puts into practice many unique tactics (five infielders, struggling sluggers hitting leadoff, and didn't he practically invent the over-shift?) On top of this is his ability to keep a loose clubhouse that rarely sees confrontation and issues, at least a lot less than other teams. Without Maddon, I don't think the Rays would have seen half the success they've had in the past five years, or what they are bound to have in the very near future.