Last night I attended an event graciously hosted by Homebanc and the guest of honor was Rays’ skipper Joe Maddon who took some questions from the crowd.
Incidentally, Joe Maddon is, without a doubt, the nicest man in baseball. He spoke to everyone in the room and answered every question he was asked without hesitation, caveat, or annoyance.
Joe shared three insights that bear repeating:
1. Despite his baseball-youth, Reid Brignac is mentally ready for a full-time big league gig. Maddon told a story from Brignac’s first call-up in 2008 in New York (Baseball Reference says it was July 9, 2008). Joe came to the mound late in the game to put on a defensive play and Brignac was laughing, chewing his gum, and taking in the scene totally unfazed by the raucous Yankee Stadium crowd. In Joe’s mind, that showed the Brignac believed he was ready and that confidence will translate into success in 2010.
2. Joe can’t decide whether to hit Manny behind Longo, to provide protection, or in front of Longo, because Manny’s OPS is second in all of baseball to Pujols.
3. LENIGAN — THIS ONE’S FOR YOU. Matt Joyce will ultimately be an everyday outfielder but, not on opening day. Maddon intends to ease him in against LHP by using him against reverse-split lefties (lefties that are harder on right-handed hitters than they are on left-handed hitters). In Maddon’s view, reverse-split lefties (particularly lefties that use a high-arm angle and rely heavily on a cutter — like Jon Lester, who Maddon specifically identified) give Joyce the opportunity to transfer his success against righties and Maddon hopes that success against reverse-split lefties will ultimately give Joyce confidence against more traditional lefties.