Several veteran free agents have signed with the Rays this off-season and the common thread among several of them was that they were drawn to the Rays in part by Joe Maddon.

[Adam Kennedy] could have gone with a team that had some uncertainty at second base, or one that trained close to his California home. But it was the Rays who were at the top of his list, even though they meet neither of those criteria…The reason? Joe Maddon…”One hundred percent,” Kennedy said. “It was pretty much all of it. Knowing how he goes about it and the relationship we’ve had, hopefully he was up for it, and they were.”

Marc Lancaster’s piece goes on to mention that Pat Burrell was also drawn to the Rays by Maddon.

Pat Burrell, a career National Leaguer, had no firsthand knowledge of Maddon when he began exploring potential landing spots as a free agent this winter. But the more he asked around, the more he found everyone – “Everyone,” Burrell emphasized – who had dealt with Maddon recommending him.

It was not that long ago that the Rays would have needed to outbid other teams for free agents, which just assured that they would not sign any free agents of importance. Even Bob Dylan couldn’t have seen times a-changin’ this much.

There are those that will contend that a baseball manager is the least important leadership position in sports, arguing that a team’ manager has little affect on the outcome of a game. For those people, we counter with exhibit A: Joe Maddon.

Kennedy Made Positive Move [Tampa Tribune]

DEVIL DOGS WEBTOPIA

  • Carlos Hernandez will start the Grapefruit League opener for the Rays on Wednesday…With all the veterans the Rays have added this spring for depth, it is easy to forget about Hernandez, who at one point was one of the top pitching prospects in baseball. He signed with the Rays last summer and dominated single-A. We wouldn’t be surprised if Hernandez sees action with the Rays at some point this summer. [Rays Report]
  • Wade Davis and Jeff Niemann will start the second and third spring games. [Rays Report]
  • Matt Joyce injured his calf and will be out a few days. [The Heater]
  • Joe Maddon says that if he had one major goal it would be that the Rays were the best baserunning team in baseball…If Maddon really wants the Rays to be a better baserunning team, he should start by connecting an Xbox controller to BJ Upton’s ass and giving the controls to Don Zimmer. [MLB]
  • Jason Isringhausen says he is excited about the challenge of having to make the Rays roster. [The Heater]
  • An AP story is the first to speculate that Jason Isringhausen could go all the way from minor league deal to closer for the Rays. [ESPN]
  • Rays of Light shows why depth in the bullpen is so important. [Rays of Light]
  • Jason Bartlett talks about not being able to workout with his double-play partner, Akinori Iwamura, who could be away from the Rays until March 24. [St. Pete Times]
  • Are there really 400-pound wild boars hanging around the Rays spring training complex? Marc Topkin takes a closer look at the Rays new Spring Training home. [St. Pete Times]
  • Watching Durham Bulls Baseball explores the Rays new spring training home using Google Earth. [Watching Durham Bulls Baseball]
  • The Rays will not use scouts on the road this season to watch the Rays’ next opponent. Instead they will do advanced scouting in-house using videos and statistical trends. [St. Pete Times]
  • Carlos Pena has had the bulk of his assets frozen as a result of the investigation into Stanford Financial Group. Luckily for Pena, he does keep a separate account for day-to-day expenses. [St. Pete Times]
  • Joe Maddon and Andrew Friedman agree that Carlos Pena is an unsung leader for the Rays. [Tampa Tribune]
  • Marc Lancaster looks at the value of Andy Sonnanstine. [Tampa Tribune]
  • Chone Smith has his projections up for the AL East using his CHONE projection system. The Rays come in at 89-73, 8 games behind the Yankees and 7 behind the Sox. [Anaheim Angels all the way]
  • Evan Longoria talks about life as a celebrity. [St. Pete Times]
 
 

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