Joe Maddon agrees -- it's hard to qualify the Tampa Bay Rays 2011 season as anything short of successful. Now, Maddon is no loser; he is not content with just making the playoffs. Not any more at least. But still, the way in which his team resiliently battled back from a terrible start to the season, and then stormed back in September to overtake the Red Sox on the final day of the season was nothing short of incredible. Maddon talked about the season as well as what lies ahead for the franchise in his final press conference of the 2011 season. Also on the podium following the team's exit from the playoffs was general manager Andrew Friedman, who continues to do a masterful job building a winning team despite the massive financial limitations he's forced to work around. Highlights from both of the sessions are included below.
Maddon on how he'd assess the season:
"Winning the last game of the season is always the goal, but how could you not consider this year successful?"
On his team bouncing back from an awful start to make the playoffs on the final day of the regular season:
"We are the best 0-6 team in the history of Major League Baseball... It was a huge success this year, and anybody that wants to argue (with) me otherwise, please come by. I'd be happy to engage in that discussion."
Friedman on what the payroll of the team will be in 2012 in light of the comments made by team owner Stu Sternberg on Tuesday:
"The one thing I think we've learned about Stu (Sternberg) is that things change," Friedman elaborated. "Before we got (Soriano), he said there was going to be no $7 million closer coming. Five days later, there was."
"The one thing I'm confident about is we're going to have an extremely talented team."
Friedman was also asked about the possibility of all of the team's core players returning next season:
"It definitely is, in that when you have two first basemen, that's depth that maybe you can't necessarily afford," Friedman responded. "When you have six, seven, eight starting pitchers, we don't look at it the same way."
And would he be open to trading away some of the pitching talent stocked on the roster in order to try to upgrade an average offense?
"Potentially. And that's something we're going to talk through," Friedman said. "But not necessarily."
"We were an above average offensive team. Would we have liked to have been better? Sure, of course. But we made a point of emphasis on run prevention... If you add offense, more likely than not, you're detracting from your defense."
"We're not going to do things to leave us where it's a net-neutral move, or even where we take a step back," Friedman said.