Now that we are into December, it is officially the Christmas Season. Or Hannukah Season. Or Kwanzaa. Or, if you want to be politically correct, it’s the Holiday Season. No matter what , it is a time of celebration, and hopefully giving. Oh, I know receiving is always fun, but giving is what it’s all about. I’ll start with my Christmas wishes for the Tampa Bay Rays.
Please let Andrew Friedman stay with the club. He has the knowledge, insight, personality, and energy that any club could use. But being a small-market club, Tampa Bay needs him pulling the strings.
That being said, I wouldn’t want him to stay if there was something better out there for him. Ultimately, he will make the best decision for himself – I hope that bodes well for the Rays.
Health for Kyle Farnsworth’s elbow. I have read that he appears to be in good health, and hope that is the case. He had a great year for the Rays in 2011, and whether or not he is ever officially named the closer doesn’t matter. He brought a lot to the table for Tampa Bay last year. I like to see people like that do well. He certainly fits well with the club.
A continued upswing for B.J. Upton. Last September, his O.P.S. was 1.038, which is ridiculous. Team O.P.S. is usually around .725, give or take a little. B.J. More than carried his weight as the Rays made the stretch run, and if he could put that together over an extended period of time, the Rays would be well on their way to added offense. Without having to go outside the organization to get it.
A return to health for Evan Longoria. Even fighting multiple injuries, he had 99 ribbies in 133 games to go with 78 runs scored and 31 home runs. Although his average dipped to a career-low .244, his PRODUCTION was great! If healthy, I think expect the average to rebound greatly and the RBIs, runs scored, and home runs to improve. That would mean he could have a season of monster proportions.
Fill the DH and 1B slots with minimal shuffling of players. I know the Rays will make the moves necessary, and also make as few moves as possible. Johnny Damon and Casey Kotchman are still on the radar. Friedman and the Rays’ Brain Trust know that success means not only having the right players, but just as importantly, having the right people! Check out Mark Topkin at www.tampabay.com for his take on the Rays needs, especially his 12/1 and 12/3 posts.
Over the next couple of weeks, I will try to add a few more wishes for the Rays. Now, on to some reasons for the season…
Yesterday, I went to a fundraiser for Madison Hurdle, the daughter of Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle. Madison suffers from Prader-Willi Syndrome. Although there are numerous symptoms, possibly the most significant is an insatiable appetite that can lead to life-threatening obesity.
Madison is now nine years old, and Clint is the national spokesman for the condition. To see Madison, and her younger brother Christian, along with their mother Karla and Clint at a small-town benefit for PWS was moving. On a beautiful day in Cocoa Beach, Florida, friends, family, and softball teams came together to raise money for the study of Prader-Willi. Check out PWS at www.pwsausa.org. While the syndrome might not be well known, the need to find a cure is great, and we need to get the word out!
While in the mood of caring and sharing, check out several causes that the Rays stood up for last year:
Johnny Damon at www.uncorkforacause.com. Held last July, it was a wine and food tasting event, and proceeds went to the families of police officers who lost their lives in the line of duty in St. Pete.
Evan Longoria held a yoga fundraiser for the Moffitt Cancer Center. Click here for photos.
Last, and certainly not least, Joe’s Thanksmas has become a major event on the west coast of Florida. Joe Maddon, his staff and members of the Rays’ organization provide meals to the needy from the Tampa Bay area south to Fort Myers. The state of Florida had over 49,000 homeless students alone in 2010. With the economy as it is, Maddon and his lieges provide a tremendous service, not only in the shopping for, cooking and serving of meals, but also in leadership of caring for the community. Check out the cause at www.joesthanksmas.com.
Last year, Fan Fest at Tropicana Field drew 25,000 people – which included Sarah and me – and raised $100,000 for Rays’ charities.
So take a few minutes, look up your favorite players and the benefits they support, and make the season better for everyone. It’ll even make it better for you!