That he is, hands down, the best manager in the game today. I love Joe Maddon, he's the one that pretty much STARTED all this shifting around. Man knows exactly what he's doing, and LOVES to rest his players. While the casual fan thinks about this game, or that series, or the current standings... Maddon is thinking three moves ahead, thinking about the later months of September/October while getting ready for the playoffs.
This is by far, A.) The most talented team we've fielded in franchise history, B.) The best starting 5 we've ever seen and last but not least C.) The most complete lineup. We're throwing Hellickson out there today, the returning American League Rookie of the Year. This kid is going to be in the class of David Price within the nar future. A potential/future Ace. Then we have MLB's #2 overall baseball prospect in Matt Moore as our 5th man in the rotation. My guess is Moore will win the AL rookie of the year award hands down. Or at least strongly contend for it.
Now we have a complete lineup? First time we've (in franchise history) that we've ever had a TRUE leadoff hitter. Desmond Jennings. Kid was ranked as a top 5 MLB prospect for a good 2-3 years. Great to see him emerge onto the Rays scene. Upton in the two hole once he returns from injury. A true MVP talent in Evan Longoria. Now that Longorias healthy? Expecting an MVP type of season from this kid. Now that we have Carlos Pena back? We finally have another true power hitting slugger in Carlos Pena back with the Rays. Couldn't stand to see him with the Cubs last year, but over the past 4-5 years? He's put up some of the best HR/RBI numbers around. Both Zobrist and Joyce are the perfect 5-6 hitters. Both can work the count, hit for average, hit for power and overall just very solid at the plate; especially Zobrist. We're fully loaded in regards to our 1-6 hitters. Any type of production from the bottom half of the lineup in an added bonus with guys such as Molina (veteran), Sean-Rod and Briggy. I'm expecting this lineup to rank top 5-8 this year. Leadoff hitter, speed, power, patience and contact hitters all throughout the lineup.
And last but not least? Amazing defense just about everywhere you look. Longoria and Pena at 3rd and 1st both have gold glove talent/ability. Molina behind the plate is our best defensive catcher we've ever seen (as a young franchise), Upton in Center and Desmond in LF? Doesn't get much better than that. I can go on an on.
Sorry for the long winded post Yankee fans, I'm just very excited for not only the return of baseball, but also a great Easter Sunday of sporting events. I have two TV's up and running. One for the Rays and one for the Knicks. I think I'll just record the Rays-Yankees game and watch that after easter dinner with the family, need to focus 100% on this Knicks/Bulls matchup.