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Two Yes men say yes to Rays

Posted Apr 7, 2012 by Ira Kaufman

Updated Apr 7, 2012 at 03:43 PM

BY IRA KAUFMAN

ST. PETERSBURG—According to two former major-league standouts who now work as Yankees broadcasters, the Tampa Bay Rays have enough talent to compete with the free-spending Yankees.

“They’ve got really good pitching and Joe Maddon does a great job,’’ said former Rays manager Lou Piniella, who works 20 games a season as an analyst for the YES Network. “They’ve got a couple of injuries early in the season and a tough little schedule, but they’ll be just fine. The secret to their pitching is the innings they get from the starters. Those guys are very formidable. Matt Moore has great stuff and a great future. With Evan Longoria and Carlos Pena, they’ve got power at the corners, I like Ben Zobrist as a player and the gloves are good.  I like their baseball team. They’ve got a good coaching staff and I just hope the people in this area respond to this team and put a lot of fannies in the seats.’‘

Former 20-game winner David Cone is also working the Rays-Yankees series for the YES Network.

“These teams have a different style, but it’s going to be a great matchup all year long between these two clubs,’’ Cone said. “The Rays have so much pitching. I’m a big fan of Matt Moore and the Rays do such a good job to get the most out of everybody and there’s more on the way from what I understand—some young flamethrowers in the minors. They’ve got pitching and defense and it’s a very progressively run team, from management to Joe Maddon. It’s a model franchise in my mind for any market, especially a small market. All the talk has been about Miami this year, but I still think the Rays are the best team in Florida. They play the Yankees tough and they have enough pitching to hang with the Yankees all season. ‘’

Piniella was asked about the future of the Rays in the Bay area.

“I know the stadium issue is a touchy situation,’’ he said, “and I don’t want to see this area lose a team. In Miami, the city responded and they’ve got a beautiful stadium. Invariably, it’s going to have to happen here. Whether it happens here in St. Petersburg or in Tampa, we’ll see. I’m from Tampa, so I happen to think, put it over there. This is one of the top 12 or 13 markets in the country TV-wise. Baseball will survive here and do well, but I think invariably a new stadium has to be a part of that situation.’’


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