Friday's story in the Tampa Bay Times about Joe Maddon having the Rays already practicing plays that could provide an advantage under the new replay system drew considerable chatter, topped by si.com calling the news a regular reminder that Maddon "is a scheming evil genius."
Maddon says there's no cause for attention or praise. He insisted there is no "gaming" going on, quibbled semantics that it's more about exploring nuances than exploiting loopholes, and analogized to the difference between quality assurance ("trying to stay ahead of it") and quality control ("reacting to a moment").
The point is that baseball is implementing a new system that can determine the outcome of games, and it makes absolutely perfect sense for Maddon, and every other manager, to explore — and exploit — every avenue that could lead to an advantage.
"If there's things you can think about in advance, that can benefit you, obviously," he said.
The Rays have been talking about it a lot, taking suggestions from players and staff to discuss and analyze. After processing some of those thoughts and attending a meeting with MLB officials Monday, Maddon said he will lay out some ideas to the team, and he expects it to be an evolving process throughout the season.
"I want to keep everything as simple as possible," he said. "I don't want them to go out there playing, worrying about replay. Just go play. But while you're doing that … with these new rules and the ability to change things, it may require retraining some habits in order to not have an interpretation go against you.
"So that's what I'm looking at. I don't know if I'm right. That's why I'm not popping off about it. I'm just asking a lot of questions. And I'm eager to hear what they have to say."
RAYS RUMBLINGS: Expect to hear more Montreal relocation chatter as two Blue Jays-Mets exhibitions are approaching 44,000-seat sellouts, and at hefty prices. The Rays, meanwhile, have yet to sell all 31,000 seats for their opener. … A new Baseball Prospectus analysis of pitch framing from 2008-13 found Rays C Jose Molina saved the second-most runs (116, behind Brian McCann's 127) and Ryan Hanigan the fifth-most (74). … Hitting coach Derek Shelton last week taped a new commercial for his popular Speed Hitter training tool, known around the Rays as the Shelty Stick. … After getting his contract renewed, OF Wil Myers will make $504,200 this season. … George Christian Pappas, a new addition to the PR staff, is also author of a new book on the recent history of the Indians, A Tribe Reborn. … Though OF Kevin Kiermaier made his debut in last year's Game 163, under MLB rules he didn't get any service time. … The Rays farm system dropped from eighth to 26th in Baseball Prospectus' rankings.