Small sample size, yes.
It's only Spring Training, sure.
But Joe Maddon cannot dismiss this whole Wil Myers at leadoff thing, as he's gone five-for-seven with four extra-base hits in two games, after going a measley four-for-twenty six with zero extra-base hits prior.
The take thus far:
"The ball is in the air a little bit more, and that's really important because he's that kind of a hitter," Maddon said. "He's going to hit the doubles and homers by the ball being in the air more than likely. That first ball was absolutely crushed. But again, he's gaining confidence and feeling better about himself."
Maddon also chatted with Mike and Mike about Myers, praising his offensive power and telling that his challenge for Wil this year is to become a Gold Glove outfielder...and that he reminds him of Ricky Bobby.
"There's a lot of starters who have been hurt so there's a lot of chances and I'll probably go somewhere else," Bedard told Roger Mooney of theTampa Bay Tribune. "Every day it seems like a starter goes down. There's a lot of opportunities out there if I'm not on the team."
Mark Lowe continues in his quest for a bullpen spot, going two-and-one-third yesterday, allowing two unearned runs on four hits. Maddon was pleased, and Lowe "said the Rays are a 'perfect fit' and he wants to stay," but indicated that he'll most likely deny heading to Durham, in hopes that he can find a major league deal elsewhere.
All about the offense:
James Loney is cheap, and with a little platoon help, he can help the Rays get almost league-average production from a position that normally demands high free agent prices. Loney pairs good fielding with a lot of contact and has value above replacement most of the time. So that's an accomplishment for the team and the player. But it can't go without notice that Loney often puts up power numbers that would look more at home on the middle infield, and that he's been worse against southpaws for his career (82 wRC+ vs LHP, 113 vs RHP). That could require some work from backup middle infielder Sean Rodriguez against lefties even when he's healthy, and maybe occasional help from super utility man extraordinaire Ben Zobrist when he's not.
And, for the catchers; Jose Molina and Ryan Hanigan, obviously:
Do I even need to tell you? The primary reason the Rays have both these guys isn't included in the projection systems. So, as a result, the Rays seem underrated by the projection systems. It's no secret that Jose Molina can't really hit. Ryan Hanigan's best days might be behind him. He certainly can't hit for much power. But Molina's here to catch borderline strikes, and the same goes for Hanigan, and if you believe strongly in those skills, the Rays ought to show up sooner in the list. A lot of teams are skeptical. The Rays aren't skeptical. You choose who to trust, I can't make up your mind.
- Joe Maddon appreciates a good argument with the umpires every now and then, as the rest of the game is typically spent in the comfort of his office with a nice bottle of Cab. But, what effect does this have on the team? Is there any correlation between winning and managerial ejections?
While on the topic, BPro took the time to decipher the most memorable/best umpire-manager arguments of 2013, mentioning both a Maddon third strike ejection in August and a Paul Schreiber boot in September. In case you didn't know, Joe likes the f-bomb. A lot.
- In you-never-want-to-see-it news, Aroldis Chapman took a line drive to the face during last night's game in Arizona, and per reports, somehow managed to escape with only fractures above his left eye and nose. He never lost consciousness (brutal), and was kept overnight in the hospital for further observation. Our thoughts are with him.
- 11 Spring Training performances to "sort of believe in," per BPro.
- And, just because it's absolutely absurd, you must watch this insane Wheel of Fortune guess. Ridiculous. #newbabybuggy