Looking Forward to the Rays 13th Season


RRCollections

There is going to be something special about the superstitious
number “13” and the Tampa Bay Rays this season. And surprisingly, there is not
just one instance where this number will come hugely into play this year,
but several occasions where “13” might just be the Rays lucky number. There are
a possible three instances where this superstitious number could bode heavily
into the Rays possible 2010 plans, and might also be instrumental in some of the
team’s future beyond 2010.

I have always liked this “strange”
combination of numbers, maybe more since it contains my two favorite numbers,
but the stark reality is that these two digits together will be constantly in
play over the next several weeks and might be right in the thick of it in
determining which direction this Rays team takes in the American East division.
I am  looking forward during the next three days to outline my scenarios
where “13” and the Rays will be side-by-side this Spring.

 

Considering the simple fact that the
2010 season will be the Rays 13th professional baseball season, and (
hopefully) one that will further define the direction of the franchise and
possibly make all the rest of Major League Baseball green with envy. Sure I
want to say I would cherish seeing Rays Manager Joe Maddon hoisting  a beautiful
golden trophy with all 30 MLB teams flags on it to the high heavens during a
cool, crisp October night.

This 2010 team has a viable chance to
cement the phrases “winning” and “Rays”  uttered in the same sentence within the
mindset of all baseball fans and media members around the country this year. The
always negative “devil” has now been exorcised for three seasons, and maybe this
is the year people finally forget that old name and the Rays can move from
underneath that negative persona and flourish like a shining ray of consistent
light.

 

The 13th season is going to be one
of the best in Rays history based entirely on talent in regards to their pitching
and field players. This is one of the first Spring Training in history where the
Rays have come into their Spring camp without a huge number of question marks
dotting multiple field positions and their starting rotation/Bullpen. For the
first time in Rays franchise history, Maddon can have the confidence to pencil
in five names, even before the first Spring Training game as his desired 2010
starting rotation. Even the remote thought process of penciling in a  Rays
rotation  has never been a realistic option so early into Spring Training for a
Rays Manager in the last 12 seasons. 

Sure
there could still be a huge question mark added as to the final decision on
the Rays fifth starter, but current fifth starter Wade Davis and possible option
Andy Sonnanstine both have minor league options still available for the Rays.
This might be another deja vu moment to 2009 when Jeff Niemann and Jason Hammel
fought it out to the last moment to finally reign in that fifth rotation spot. 
But could the loser of this competition be a possible trade piece for the
Rays? But this ensuing competition will be great for both of them, and that
makes this 13th Rays season special.

 

And even if the biggest question mark hovering
the Rays field players might be where Ben Zobrist hop, skips and jumps within
the Rays line-up, or lines up on the field in 2010, you can bet there will be
more than capable players to take the vacant spot(s) left by Zobrist with
a vigor and vitality that has been missed during past Spring Training seasons.
And with Maddon stressing that his starting nine will get more chances to hit
during the Spring Training games this year, it can only be a positive sign of
better things to come for the team and better prepared hitting corps coming into
the Rays first game against Baltimore on April 6th in Tropicana
Field.

When was the last time there was even the possibility
of a handful of Rays players possibly formulating all the changes within this
team’s final seasonal make-up.
Sure there
is the fight brewing for the fifth rotation spot between Davis and Sonnanstine,
but the top four slots are pretty much set in stone even before their first
inter-squad workout. The biggest controversy with the starting rotation will
come out of this fifth spot, and maybe if Rays left-handed starter David Price
gets the number 3 rotation slot to break up the right-hand dominated Rays
rotation right down the middle and provides a different adjustment for teams in
2010.

And even in the Rays Bullpen, there are signs it might
be down to a total of one or two slots depending on the numbers of pitchers the
Rays want to carry going into the 2010 season.
It could come down to the Rays decision on relievers Dale Thayer,
Winston Abreu or maybe a healthy Joaquin Benoit to win one of the two last
slots. But Sonnanstine could also figure into this mix as a long
reliever/6th starter option sitting in the Bullpen. And who knows,
maybe someone else coming into the Rays camp from the minor leagues might blow
the doors off the Rays Coaching staff and wiggle their name into the
conversation. That is why they call this part of the year
“training”.

 

But this 13th season could also be
the breakout year for many of the Rays field players. We all know that
outfielder Matt Joyce was upset last Spring after starting the season on the
Major League roster to go back down to Triple-A Durham after Rays centerfielder
B J Upton came back after his shoulder surgery, but the whole experience also
gave Joyce ample time to play daily and develop more in the minors with an eye
towards regaining his rightfield slot for good this Spring.

Maddon and Triple-A Manger Charlie Montoya have both praising
Joyce’s 2009 development and his adherence to the Rays ” wish list” given to him
before he left for the minors. It might have been this forward stride in their
confidence in Joyce’s ability for the Rays not to pursue a left-handed
outfielder this off season and that Joyce made all the right moves and the
strides to be penciled-in  as a starter in the Rays
rightfield.

 

 


But then again, we get the “Zobrist” factor that
will come immediately into play here. With Zobrist not having a defined position
and a defined role right now in the Rays field positions, he might just be a
human pinball bouncing from infield to outfield  to start the season until some
sort of stability forms, hopefully not due to an injury. And with that, it makes
the competition between prospects Sean Rodriguez and Reid Brignac one of the
most interesting and closely watched Rays competitions coming into Spring
Training.

This fight is going to be for one of the coveted
“utility” player roles on the Rays along with Rays holdover Willy Aybar. But
with the possibilities of Aybar nursing a bad wrist through much of the Spring
Training schedule. It might be their ultimate chances this Spring to either fade
out or shine  and possibly make this Rays squad, even if Aybar would go on the
D L.
And right now, there is a distinct
possibility that until Aybar takes his first swings in the batting cages, that
both could possibly be penciled into the Rays roster.

But
if I had to point towards someone right now, it seems that Brignac might be the
guy right now to have the edge defensively because he can play all the infield
positions but first base. But the Rays are going to push and raise the bar
for Rodriguez by having him play every position around the diamond this Spring
to test his abilities and evaluate his readiness to be pushed towards the Major
League level.

 

And right now based on possible logistics, you
have to consider that second base will be mostly a transient position for either
of them since second base gives the Rays a instant option to get Zobrist in the
line-up if Joyce come out  this Spring hitting the cover off the ball. But isn’t
it great to know that 4 infielders could decide the formulation of the Rays
2010 roster to such a degree. And there is only one shoe-in at this time
(Zobrist) that could be guaranteed a roster spot while the other three fight it
out to what degrees they will ultimately play in the Rays 2010 plans.

 
 

Got to love that as a fan. You can finally take a
side, much like the “Vampire/Werewolf” teams formed by the “Twilight” movie
series. We could see possible “Team Joyce” or even “Team S-Rod” or Team Brig”
T-shirts don the stands around the Grapefruit League pushing each of them
farther  along in this realm of competition. And maybe I am the first to say it
out loud, but this infield competition will greatly effected on what
ultimately happens with Joyce and a possible Rightfield slot. This
13th Rays season is going to be fun-packed from the get-go, and we
will definitely see the strongest Rays squad to ever take the field when the
rosters are finalized around the time the Rays face their own affiliate
and Triple-A Champion Durham Bulls in Durham’s home stadium on April
3,2010.
 
 

How fitting that the Rays will be playing
their Triple-A affiliate in their last warm-up game before heading back to Tampa
Bay to get ready for the 2010 Major League Baseball season. How great is it that
the Durham fans might actually be the first to see the formative Rays
everyday line-up the team will field in 2010. But then again, how bad is it
going to be for one of these borderline Rays players to be told after the game
they might be remaining in Durham, and not have a plane ticket for the flight
back to Tampa Bay for the season.

I have a weird vision in my
mind that all of them will be donning the Rays home blue and whites for the Rays
Opening Night game against the Baltimore Orioles. For some reason I
see Rodriguez,Brignac, Sonnanstine and Joyce there and being introduced to the
sold-out crowd beaming with pride that they made the cut for the Rays 13th
season roster. But their Spring Training numbers and play will ultimately decide
their fate. Triskaidekaphobia is the fear of the number 13. Right now there are 
plenty of other MLB squads that need to fear this 13th Rays season. For I view
it like the Hindu religion as a positive sign and not the negative influences of
the Rays past. “13” will play a major role in the formulation of this season’s
Rays roster, but the next example will have to wait for
tomorrow. 

 

39 Comments

with “Longo” at 3rd, Pena at 1st, and Upton in Center, they have a great shot to make the playoffs and a little more.

Cheeky

http://cheeky.mlblogs.com

Cheeky,
I honestly think it is a year we have been waiting for in Tampa Bay.
With the economy keeping 12.5 percent of us down, this might be the incentive we need to stay positive.
Seriously, I think this season is the best talented team we have ever assembled(Sorry Hit Show).

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

Rays have an exciting, young, and talented team. Should be a great year for you guys!
http://adriangonzalez23.mlblogs.com

23Gonz,
I am rapping every piece of wood I see this Spring.
The injuries we have had the last two seasons have been minor in comparison to some teams.
Just hoping that trend keeps going and we can throw destiny and fate into a bowl with high hopes and it come out of the oven smelling like a winner.
It is defintiely going to be a fun time to be a Rays fan in 2010.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

So that’s what the fear of the #13 is called! See how much I learn from this blog? I fully expect the Rays to have a good year. They’ll be tough competition in our division as always. But the Yankees have their own #13: A-Rod. :)

http://janeheller.mlblogs.com

Jane,
If you put your # 13 in a room with my #13……
Seriously, in only their 13th season this team can have a third winning season in a row, plus reconstruct that road to the Playoffs they first built in 2008.
Last season we did not sneak up on anyone anymore, but in 2010, I have a wild gut feeling we will go straight-up against anyone and give them a fair fight to the end.
Getting a strong start out of the gate in April will be key this season.
By the way, I would still pick Carl Crawford over A-Rod. You can always find power, but you have to nurtue a basestealer. And CC found a flaw in his take-off move this off season…..American League catchers are choking on their dinner right now!

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

There is no doubt in my mind that the Rays will perform with excellence this season. They have all the pieces to the puzzle . With JP , Balfour , and Wheeler moving down a notch for Soriano , we are definately a team to beat. It kinda annoys me though at times how people dont think we have what it takes. Like the poll today on mlb.com . We are voted 4th between the Tigers , Mariners , and Rangers for which team will go to the playoffs in 2010. We will show ALL of them though that we are THE BEST team in the majors ! GO RAYS !

I’ll be interested to see how the Rays will do this year. FYI, I’ll be around less once ST and the season start, as I’ll be back on the RSN blogs “full time”, but I’ll be around, esp. when the Rays and the Red Sox play.
I like the photo with the Sombrero! ;)
Take care, Cliff!

well with a high octane offense like the rays they’ll be tough to beat in the AL but need to out pitch the yanks and soxs to have a shot at division but good luck to ur rays i will keep a close eye on them mostly because i have like 4 rays on my fantasy team

Ps renagade i’ll have a AL east offseason blog to so watch out 4 that 1
blogmastertmas

The Rays could certainly give the Sox and Yanks a run for their money, especially if everyone performs up to their potential
Elizabeth
http://redsoxgirl46.mlblogs.com

Tmas,
They do have a high octane offense, and it should be fun to also see a few new cogs get into the wheelhouse and get their shot in 2010.
If Matt Joyce can ramp up his offense above the 2009 numbers of Gabe Kapler and Gabe gross, then it is a total “win-win” for the Rays.
Sean Rodriguez is the guy I will keep an eagel-eye on, since I think the 2B job is his to lose right now…..but you never know.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

Greg,
Well I wish you luck back on RSN.
Why not also pop a blog up on MLBlogs.com?
I think this year will be the year we see just what this kind of talent can do….I am expecting some great baseball and some increase in wins.
But if we are to do anything special, we have to win the yearly series against New York and Boston like we did in 2008.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

Longofan,
I have to say going into the first Spring Training games this week, we will get a quick glimpse at what the Rays have to offer this year.
I see the Rays closing one of their obvious holes, and patching another.
What extent this will play will be shown soon enough as the first month will show enough macth-up between last season’s top three in the A L East.
When the smoke clears, I do expect the Rays to not be on their backs.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

Indeed , Spring training should be exciting . Do you know if they are going to show some of the games on the Tv like Sun sports or like 1 game on MLB Network ?

Indeed , Spring training should be incredible. A little disappointed that they are so far away, but thats fine *wish i could make it to a game* Do you know if they will televise these games to show on Sun sports ?

We might need some of that luck at RSN, Cliff! I have enjoyed your entries, so thank you, and I’ll be back to check your blog when we play you! You might also see me then at Ginny’s Watercooler! :)
I think you’re right– many of your players will have breakout years. I’m still keeping a wary eye on Zobrist. I do wonder how your pitching staff will adapt to newer roles, now that Kazmir is gone.
As for me, I won’t be starting a blog anytime soon, but never say never. I am helping set up a collaborative blog, and I am finding out why I never intended to start one before–I am a techno-idiot. Besides, there are plenty of solid blogs (incl. a plethora for Red Sox fans), so in some ways, I’d be low on the “survival of the fittest” totem pole. But, if I learn enough computer stuff (via my “Rile and Terror” method–the hard way), maybe.
Take care, Cliff! Thanks!

MY friend RR, You have many reasons to be optomistic about the Rays club. I for one have washed ‘Devil” from my mouth and was happy with the change. I’m not one of those big city hawks who enjoy playing king-of-the-mountain with our $$. I believe without PITT and CINN etc,…there is no Mets. Without the Rays, K.C. etc, there is no Yanks or Sox. It’s a symbiotic relationship and I’m rooting for Tampa to stay persistant in the face of mega-economies some other teams enjoy.
There is also a lot of chatter up here about Bobby Valentine being the next manager of the Rays. I can’t think of a viable reason to remove Maddon…I’m just not drinking that Kool-Aid.
mike.

Tmas,
Looking forward to your view at the American League East.
I am going to wait a week or so and see who is in shape and who might fall through the cracks back to the minors before the season.
But looking forward to your views on this extremely competitive division.
If Toronto’s pitching rebounds, it makes it harder for all three of the top tier to distance themselves in 2010.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

Elizabeth,
Glad to see you got some time to head over to Ilse of Palms this Spring and see your ptoject guys.
I wish I had that kind of time to do something productive like that for my Rays.
Hope they someday reward you for your sweat equity in these guys.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

rays i just did the 2010 al east blog

Longo,
Comment so good you had to post twice?
Actually, the Rays will be on television on the following dates:
March 5 MLB Network Rays @Yankees
March 18 MLBN Rays @Yankees
March 19 Sun Sports/MLBN Yankees @Rays
March 25 Sun Sports Twins @ Rays
March 29 MLBN Rays @Red Sox
March 30 ESPN Red Sox @Rays
April 1 Sun Sports Baltimore @Rays

I think there is a Rays Radio schedule out there somewhere too, but I do not have it written down yet.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

Greg,
Whenever you think you got a firm foundation, then write and you know we will read you.
That is one of the bad things about not getting on the ground floor blogs with a team like Boston, you are behind the eight ball from the word “go”.
I am within a bunch of Rays blogs, but on here, I found a niche.
There are many Rays blogs, but I make mine fan-related and not stats, breaking news or repeating stuff left and right.
I just write what I would like to know as a Rays fan.
You will find your voice, and you will do it your way….We all do that.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

My apologies RaysRenegade for the double comment. My computer was lagging a bit and should an error so just to play it safe i rewrote it. Thanks for all your help though with the schedules !
Go Rays !

Cliff!
I logged on to MLBlogs and saw the article about you! Nice pic with Steinbrenner! Woohoo! Congratulations!
Good luck to the Rays in the 13th season! Wow! Lucky 13th
Emma
http://crzblue.mlblogs.com/
http://DodgersBlueBlog.com/

Mike,
You know there were a lot of fans and media that thought the Rays were the feeder system for the Red Sox and Yankees and big boys from 1998-2005.
For some reason people thought we were developing players so they could go elsewhere, but financial situation always were at the head of those problems.
Right now in their Spring camps, both those squads have a handful of players that have been on a Rays roster.
I will just use New York for an example here quickly…..P Chad Gaudin and OF Randy Winn on the 40-man, and also 2009 Rays Spring slugger OF Jon Weber on their Spring Invitee list.
You are totally correct, teams like Cincy, Pittsburgh, and Tampa Bay have added key componenets to championships in the last few years…. and they will in the future too!

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

Tmas,
I will definitely come by and check out that post today some time.
Still kind of freaked out Mark@MLBlogs.com is being so nice to me today (lol).
Just glad the team is getting some recognition, and the other Rays bloggers are getting some extra readers while we all get our writing to a point before the real games begin.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

RAYSREN-Holy Spicoli, you made my day brotha. I pull up MLBLogs and who is on the cover. None other than the hardest working blogger in the MLBlogosphere and George. You totally made my day..You deserve that cover my friend…D..The Rockpile Ranter
http://baseballsnatcher.mlblogs.com/

I’m unsure about Joyce’s potenial in the Majors, but I’m glad he will recieve his shot this season. However, when Desmond Jennings eventually makes his way up. The Rays will be the fastest, and most exciting, club in the league! I’m also interested in watching Jeremy Hellickson make his debut. It is amazing how you guys consistantly turn out a minor league system rated in the Top 3. I’d say the Rays have A LOT to look forward to!

13 years eh? At least you can say that you beat the Blue Jays to the World Series. You have two more years to win it in order to ‘one up’ us. Good luck.
http://homerfoodandhistory.mlblogs.com/

I think the Rays will surprise the other division rivals this year as they did in ’08, I think this year the AL do not have any clear cut winners going into spring and the season start, should be a good season…
~peter
Outside the Phillies Looking In
http://devilabrit.mlblogs.com

Longo,
That happens some times…..”No worries mate” as Grant Balfour would say.
If I hear anything else with the Rays TV schedule….I will let you know.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

Hi Rays Renegade …

Great picture of you with “The Boss” George Steinbrenner on the MLBlogs homepage !!!
.
Good luck for a solid season by the Rays this year … It will be a fun pennant race [once again] in the AL East in 2010 … I really look forward to all the Yankee games vs. the Rays and Red Sox this upcoming season !!!
.
Excellent post, as usual !!! …
# 13 is a very interesting number …
Could #13 Alex Rodriguez play a part during the Rays ’10 season?
Anyway, I’m more interested in the number 28 …
#28 will be the number that all in the Yankees Universe will be most interested in this year !!!
.
Take care, Cliff …
Enjoy, Spring Training !!!
.
Jimmy, “BY&L”
http://baseballtheyankeesandlife.mlblogs.com/

Thanks Emma.
I did not even know about it until you told me here.
I think the suicidal squirrels have found me from Clearwater.
One just blew up the transformer across the street when he hit those two live wires.
I am lucky Mark like me some days….
Seriously, I hope all of us get that chance this year.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

D!,
Great hearing from you my Rockies brother from a distant mother.
I am not sure about the “hardest working” part, but I do try and break a sweat while writing.
I am not sure if I deserve it, but I like it. Mark had to hit the archives for that picture (lol).
Just loving life and waiting until my first Spring game this Sunday up in Clearwater to get some much needed sun on these thighs and arms.
I look like a farmer right now.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

Homer,
Joyce has great power and just needs to learn to hit leftie from the left side of the batter’s box.
Jennings will get a chance soon enough, with a shot if an injury hits, or maybe on August 1st.
He is the future, and maybe it might be time for the torch to be passed….. we shall see soon enough.

I think everyone in the Rays Republic is looking forward to the day “Hellboy” hit the Major Leagues. He also is working on an additional pitch this Spring….instant danger .

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

Peter,
That is so true.
2010 will be a bit of a gunfight from start to finish.
The team that gets out quick and establishes themselves will be in the catbird seat early.
The AL East and West look like they are crapshoots, but the Central might come down to how the Twins play in their new home.
But that is why we play 162…..Right?

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

Jimmy,
Like you and Lady Jane, and that guy on the front page with me, I do have friends who are Yankee fans.
And I agree with you 100 percent, this season is one that is going to be wild from Game 1.
Best part about it, we can have a friendly rivalry without violence or namecalling.
Did Joe G change his jersey number to 28.
I can tell you, we are planning to crash that party likje a wedding, but then everyone wants to knock the top dog off his porch.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

Hey Cliff …

It will be a fun season, and epic battle in the AL East in 2010 … I expect the Yankees, Rays, and Red Sox to all play within five games of each other throughout the whole year, with the AL East pennant race settled in the final weeks of the season … We will be rooting for different results, of course … But, it will be fun to watch, as well as, [like you said in your above comments], a great “friendly rivaly” here at mlblogs, indeed !!!
.
Regarding, Joe Girardi: Yes, he did change his number 27 to #28 starting this season, as motivation for the Yankees achieving their goal of winning their 28th World Championship … I don’t know if Girardi plans on continuing this trend, and changing his number each time the Yanks win a World Series with him managing the team … But, if Girardi does win “five” World Championships as Yankees manager, he will then have a slight problem when he reaches #32, which is retired in honor of Elston Howard !!! … Oh, well, that will be a great decision for Girardi to have to make at the time !!!
.
Take care, Cliff …
Have a great day !!!
.
Jimmy, “BY&L”
http://baseballtheyankeesandlife.mlblogs.com/

Jimmy,
It is just my opinion, but he would not still be there by the 32nd Championship.
The AL East is as close to parity as you can get with small market and large market teams each pushing towards the top.
But then again, I am not a Joe G fan from Spring Training 2008, but then another JG (Jonny Gomes) made his presence known in Yankee Nation.
Wild that 19 of the Rays first 26 games are within the AL East. By May 1st we will know who is going to be the early leaders.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

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