Gary Shelton, writing in the St. Petersburg Times, explains that while Lou Piniella was, is, and will presumably continue to be a much beloved figured in the Tampa/St. Pete area, current Rays manager Joe Maddon is "a better fit for the Rays" because of "the patience the past three years have required."

Following Piniella's departure after the '05 season, when the Rays finished 67-95, Tampa Bay slipped to 61-101 in Maddon's first season running the club. Last year, they improved by five games to 66-96. Currently, buoyed by young super-talents like B.J. Upton, Scott Kazmir, and rookie Evan Longoria, Maddon's team is 40-29 (.580), which means they could go 27-66 (.290) the rest of the way and still better last year's mark.

— Tampa Bay Rays trivia question of the post (also from the St. Pete Times): Who are the five active Tampa players left over from the Piniella regime?

Tampa Bay Rays Trivia Question Answer of the Post: Carl Crawford, Jonny Gomes, Scott Kazmir, Trever Miller and B.J. Upton.

— A non-Rays NL Central-related note: Will Carroll of Baseball Prospectus reports that the Cardinals' rehabbing starter, Chris Carpenter, is experiencing ulnar neuritis (swelling of a nerve in his pitching arm) that will either set back his return to St. Louis by a month, to August, if the prescription is rest, or until Spring Training 2009, if more surgery is required. Somebody needs to tell the Cardinals, who just took two-of-three from the Phillies without Albert Pujols in the lineup and remain but 3 1/2 games in back of the Cubs, that they're not supposed to be playing .592 ball with all of their injuries.

— It was widely reported that the Cubs were less than enthusiastic about having to give up a day off before beginning the Tampa series Tuesday night so they could fly to Albany, then take a long bus ride to Cooperstown to play in the last-ever Hall of Fame Game Monday afternoon against the Padres. I wonder if the team was less surly or more surly when the game was rained out and the Cubs' involvement in the day was limited to riding in "vintage trolleys" during a parade down Cooperstown's Main Street.


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