Rays news and notes:
- Sports Illustrated released their Winter Report Card on the Rays, giving the team a C and noting a righthanded designated hitter and outfielder as unfinished business, saying that despite their moves it was "a lukewarm winter" for the franchise.
- Because what would this offseason be without another story discussing David Price and the question of "will he or won't he be traded?" This time MLB Daily Dish scopes the situation, deciding that the best decision is for the Rays to keep Price another year and "try one more time and give the 18,000+ fans a night that show up one hell of a show."
- Fan Fest has changed their autograph acquistion process this year, now requiring fans to purchase one of the 60 passes available for each player if you would like an autograph. Most passes are $25, but David Price, Evan Longoria and Wil Myers require a bit more from your wallet, with their autographs going for a whopping $125 each.
Passes may only be purchased prior to the event and will not be sold day of, with full information on the logistics and players who will be present available on raysbaseball.com. ICYMI, Fan Fest is February 22nd at the Trop.
- Dan Connolly of The Baltimore Sun spoke to Joe Maddon recently about the challenges of putting together a bullpen, and thought Maddon shared some tips that would benefit Buck Showalter and the Orioles.
On achieving balance in late innings:
"I think the big part is complementary pieces. You try to get people that balance each other out. You have to keep in mind you are trying to get both left-handed and right-handed hitters out at the end of a game, and how does this all play?" Maddon said. "I think Andrew does a wonderful job keeping an eye on that, and he gets us the right kind of folks to work with."
On avoidance of "the c word":
"We really tried to stay away from that [closer label]," Maddon said. "We're interested in worrying about pitching in high-leverage moments in the latter part of the game and, of course, if someone wants to take over that [closer's] role, basically, let's do it."
"All of the sudden you have a little quarterback controversy going on that you don't need. So why set yourself up for that moment?" Maddon said. "You just let the guys try to find their own niche and, eventually, as it works out that way, it's worth something. When a guy does that, the rest of the group is pretty accepting, because this guy's earned the right to be in that spot."
On showing patience with pitchers:
"When you go through a full season, some guys are going to get into some bad spots, and you have to stick with them because that's what they are there for, and I think part of it is building confidence," Maddon said. "So we've been able to build confidence in the Fernando Rodneys or the Joaquin Benoits and all these guys that have come through that maybe were not branded [as a closer or late-inning reliever] at the time."
- Baseball related? No. Your day being made via Tony Parker shooting a five foot free throw? YES YES YES.