Results tagged ‘ Coco Crisp ’

Are The Rays Currently in Ghost Protocol Mode?

On Wall Street, the Trades and Acquisitions Department of large investment firm have the covert mentality of the CIA and other branches of International intrigue that use initials. Knowledge is power, and with that, secrecy and the movements under that umbrellas come at a premium.

So far this Winter we have heard and seen some of the clandestine targets and near misses of the Tampa Bay Rays, who operate under their own initialed powerful and might organization, the MLB, has taken the art form of gliding amongst the darkened halls with silent whispers to a new level. As we have learned in the past, the Rays have a circle of trust within its Fourth floor domain that no constants, syllable or even grown are visualized or voiced when the always alert media comes a-callin’ with trade rumors and whispers in the wind.

Some moves might be counter-moves, made to seem directed towards a general target, but suddenly change direction, showing a more devious and unimagined alternative plan. Take the recent movement by the Rays to get the services of free agent outfielder Coco Crisp. That’s right, the same Crispy critter who almost walked into a James Shields hay maker in 2008 that might have shattered Shield’s pitching hand.

Who in their right Rays mind could have seen this one coming? Of course Crisp decided he like to stay on his dock by the bay and rejected the Rays advances. We know Crisp and Shields have buried their hatchet, but have all the bad blood been drained within the Rays Republic in regards to Crisp? That, my friends is blowing in the wind now, and great fodder for Happy Hour discussions. But the outfielder chatter did not stop with the Coco one, there was another attempt, or stab at Seth Smith, and adequate fielder and hitter in his own right to possibly be a Plan B to the Crisp covert ops.

But you got to ask of there is a problem within the Rays outfield we do not see, or are we possibly looking 4-moves behind the mind right now of Rays Executive VP of Baseball Operations Andrew Friedman. I was content to think we might see Desmond Jennings in Right field this season trading spots with Matt Joyce who I thought made his presence known for the full-time gig, even against southpaws. I had come to terms my myself that B J Upton might wear a question mark on his uniform instead of the # 2 this season as his tenure in Rays Center field is more rental than lease with an option to buy. Was starting to think someone named Damon might have the only true answer.

The moves towards Crisp and Smith have me wondering just how much confidence the Rays have in Sam Fuld, Brandon Guyer or even Justin Ruggiano to be that 4th asset in the OF puzzle…or if their own Rays existence is also under the microscope as possible trade fodder? It is almost as if I should think of 20 of the 25 names on the Rays roster not named Matt Moore, Jeremy Hellickson, Joel Peralta, Evan Longoria or Ben Zobrist are stapled to the Trop turf, but everyone else is up for discussion at some point. And now comes internal gossip the Rays might not have held onto Smith if they had signed him, but used him as more enticing bait for another morsel….How quickly the tides turn in Tampa Bay.

But that is what the Winter Hot Stove season is all about right? Making the waters boil and seeing who rises to the top of the pile and who settles to the bottom, possibly there until the late July Trade Deadline timetable. Early this Winter we had the Ivan Rodriguez, Josh Willingham, Carlos Beltran and finally an afterthought of a Anthony Rizzo acquisition spinning in our head’s before the new year. Sometimes I wish I had a mouse with a lipstick camera or a house fly with a video feed to give me something tangible and substantial to write about before it hits the general airwaves.

I’m beginning to think we need to contact the modern Sherlock Holmes I saw on BBC the other night, he sees in that altered universe realm, and can be perfectly comfortable thinking 6-8 moves ahead of the rest of us mortals. For some reason I think a MI-6 License to Kill might be easier to obtain than a Rays trade whisper. Sure there are still cracks in the Rays armor, but it is in the field personnel and not on the front office lines. Questions abound around the infield now with the Rays inquest towards trying to secure Brooks Conrad and Ryan Theriot.

I had the notion to think it might be a slip up, a showing of their cards that possibly Sean Rodriguez is penciled in at Shortstop and Second in a platoon, and Zobrist again will carry at least 5 gloves to every Rays contest. I thought for a moment I might have cracked a hidden code, possibly being 1-move ahead of the pack with the Rays inquiring about Conrad and Theriot, but their talents were to be as bit players not starters in the proposed Maddon 2012 Tour. Foiled again just when I thought I had inched forward with something of substance again left with poached egg on my grill.

But one day. Ahhh, one day someone will crack the code, bring about the wheeling and dealing to the surface, not with the realm of full disclosure, but with hints, smatterings of intel and possibly make us all giddy again about what really lies behind the Rays Carolina Blue curtains. But I am left right now with the pure facts I will never be in the Rays circle of trust, never be an intricate part of the Rays always unfolding covet machine, finally realizing with crystal clear clarity my best guesses at trades are just those…guesses.

I guess I will have to be content that the powers that be that invisibly move within the 4th Floor sanctum is hard at work making the Rays a better oiled machine. A more precise instrument to take into the 182 battles that make up an MLB season. That I can sleep better at night knowing Friedman is out there somewhere already in work mode to answer those question we have not even asked yet.  Still, the Ryan Madson rumors have me curious….I wonder if there is a motorized mouse online I can buy, or what time is it in London?

Longoria and Hinske homer to blow past Pirates

 

 

Rays 10, Pirates 5

 

 

When you begin to come into view of PNC Park in Pittsburgh, the thing that catches your eyes is the magestic and magnificient splendor that is the Roberto Clemente Bridge. This river by-way is the perfect way to stroll into the ballpark for another night of great baseball, and of course, a Rays win.

When you enter Jacob’s Field/Progressive Field, it is the fact that you are above the main bowl of the stadium and all the action is below you. The fat that there is a monster wall in leftfield, and a scenic picnic nook in center is not lost on the effects of stadium’s collossial scoreboard.  Every stadium in America has a unique feel and has a signature element  to it that sets it apart from all other stadiums. What is it that set the Trop apart from everywhere else in the majors?

First thing that comes to mind is the AC.  74 degrees year round and no showers in the forecast. No birds flying in and taking that last frie, or any army of ants or flying pests beside the occasional horsefly visit on your cup.  But the thing that most people think of when they think Trop. is………………catwalks.

I know, I know. If the stadium had been built 5 years later, it might look more like Camden Yards with a roof, or Safeco Field with its gigantic three paneled monster ceiling. It might have a fans design, a sail design, or maybe, just maybe a retro-modern take on the tin roofs of Key West.  The catwalks are the things people seem to be curious and comment about the most.

 No matter if no one hits one for an entire series, you have to go through the “Trop Catwalk speech” so visitors know what is going on when the pinball bounces. Shane Hillebrand and Carlos Pena have planted ball on the catwalks, Jonny Gomes has hit them more than any other Ray( 7 times), but they are still that X-factor that can turn a game from a serious adventure to a joke in a nano-second on ESPN or another sports show.  Let’s hope that the MLB does give us a All-Star game based on upgrades and committment by both the team and the ownership group…………..We deserve to show America our playground, and they can play by our rules.

 

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Trivia Fact of the Night:

Fernando Venezulea is the only person to win the Rookie of the Year award and Cy Young Award in the same season.

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Why again did we send Evan Longoria down in Spring Training to the minors?  For game seasoning.

 

 

Well, the Rookie is actually becoming the big cheese for the Rays this year by hitting his 3-run homer to left center that was clearly over 410 feet from the plate. It was Longoria’s 15th homer of the year to lead both the club and put some distance on his MLB Rookie lead over Joey Votto( Reds) and Geovany Soto ( Cubs).

 

                         

 

Not only did Evan hit a critical 3-run shot that brought Tampa Bay it’s 48th win of the year, but Longoria was not done there. 

Longoria now has 3-straight games of at least 3-hits and 1 homer. The last rookie to have such a streak was Johnny Fredrick of the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1929.  Longo lead all rookies, and is 8th in the AL in Slugging Percentage at .540 for the year, despite missing the first 11 games of the year while in the minors.

He has a chance to be only the third rookie in the last 50 years to have 15 homers, 20 doubles, and 50 RBI’s by the All-Star break. The others were Devon White (1987), and Fred Lynn (1975). And his 15 homers is the most by a rookie before the All-Star break since Bob Hamelin of KC  (16 homers) in 1994.

 

             

 

And it was not a one-man show for the Rays Friday night. Eric Hinske also got into the act by hitting his own 3-run shot 2 rows short of going out of PNC Park. If the wind would have carried it a few more yards, Hinske would have been only the 23rd person to hit one out in that location in the stadium’s history.

Longoria went 4-5 last night, but Hinske’s 2-3 was not overshadowed at all by the rookie. Hinske also scored 3 times for the Rays in the win.  Hinske now has 13 homers and is tied with Carl Crawford with 44 RBI’s for the squad.  Crawfoird also went to deep center in the 6th inning.

 

          

 

But the true story of the night was Rays starter Scott Kazmir. Kazmir began the game in dominating style until he ran into some trouble in the 4th inning. Scott had been mixinng his pitches well, but had a loose control on his slider tonight and it cost him with a homer to Freddie Sanchez in the bottom of the 4th.

Scott tried to get a great handle on the slider, but it was not breaking great tonight and slipped  up and over the outside corners to give up 4 runs in the 4th inning.  Kazmir got only 4 strikeouts in 5 innings of work, and also got his 7th victory of the year for the Rays.

Tonight was also the first game back for Carlos Pena, who had been on the DL for 15 days to heal a broken finger on his throwing hand. Rays Manager Joe Maddon moved Carlos down into the 6th slot in the order to not put extra pressure on Pena until his hand is fully healed. Carlo went 0-4 tonight, but took some mean swings on the bat and hit a few monster fly balls.

Maddon always comments that when Carlos hit them(pitches) a mile, even for outs, he is close to regaining his stride and the rest will take care of itself. 

For the first time in a long while, Rays reliever J P Howell got roughed up a bit by an opposing team. Howell, who is 6-0 this season, has been the glue that has held the seams between the Bullpen and the starters this year. 

J P lasted 1 inning and gave up 2 hits and a lone run to the Pirates. He currently has a 3.02 ERA, and is a huge part of the Rays Bullpen that have held opponents’ to a .213 average, best in the majors this year.

 

Please note for the Boston Series beginning Monday, tickets still remain for all 3 games at the Trop., but fans are urged to purchase tickets in advance due to the large crowds expected for the series.

The Rays are 9-1 at home with crowds over 30,000 fans, and 11-2 in front of crowds of 25,000 or more this year.  The Rays have drawn 867,648 fans thru 43 home games, an increase of 42 percent over last year.  Only the Washington Senators, who moved into their new ballpark has a double digit increase with 20 percent so far in 2008.

             

                                  

 

Akinora Iwamura will miss the nest 3 games to fulfill his suspension in his actions during the last Boston series. Aki was not granted any reduction in the length of the suspension, while Boston outfielder Coco Crisp suspension was reduced from 7 to 5 games.

“I was very disappointed that my hope didn’t come through,” Iwamura said through an interpreter. “It hurts me that I cannot start the first day against Boston. But at the same time, it’s decided by the Commissioner and there’s nothing you can do about it.”

Aki will miss the rest of the away series against the Pirates, and the first game of the Red Sox series at home.

Crisp, on the other hand, will miss the entire Red Sox-Rays series next week.

Major League Baseball’s decision “baffles” Rays manager Joe Maddon. The third-year skipper said he will seek an explanation from the appropriate decision-makers.

“I don’t agree with it at all,” Maddon said. “I think it should have been reduced. I think it’s way too severe because of the fact that we were reacting to the situation, and furthermore, the guy [Crisp] that pretty much created the entire moment gets his reduced by two days.

“Honestly, none of that makes any sense to me whatsoever.”

Rays lose 6th straight in Fenway, but get in a few punches

 

Red Sox 7, Rays 1

 

I have to take a moment to express some “atta boys'” and high fives for a former Ray that had a great night tonight. Elijah Dukes went to the Washington Nationals in the off season for a change of sceneryand to again focus on baseball.

He got injured in the first few days of the season and has been struggling to get playing time and at-bats. With the Nationals playing a day/night doubleheader against the St. Louis Cardinals today, he got a chance to shine,.

Dukes went 4-6 with 4 RBI’s and hit his first homer of the year, he also scored 3 runs in the second game of the doubleheader.

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Trivia Fact of the Night:

 Derek Lowe of the 2004 Bosotn Red Sox is the only pitcher to win the final game of a divisional series, a league championship series, and the World Series all in the same year.

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The Good, the Bad and the Ugly PosterThe Good, the Bad and the Ugly PosterThe Good, the Bad and the Ugly PosterThe Good, the Bad and the Ugly Poster

                                      The Good,The Bad,and The Ugly

            

                                             The Good

Last night I was harping about some  Rays bench players having to step up in the offense side of the game with Carlos Pena on the DL.  Eric Hinske and Willy Aybar will get the bulk of the first base duties in the next two or so weeks and will be counte on to produce in Pena’s absence..

Tonight it was Willy’s turn.  Aybar hit two doubles in his first two at-bats tonight to boost his average to .297 for the Rays. Aybar also scored the only Rays run in the second inning on a Jonny Gomes single to leftfield.

Willy is also looked very sharp at first cleanly fielding a few errant balls tonight.

Honorable Mention “Good Guys”:

***  When it comes to emotion, Jonny Gomes is king on the Rays roster. The guy lives and breathes emotion and competition. I am mentioning him as a “Good Guy” for standing up for his teammate, James Sheilds tonight in the 2nd inning fiasco.
I will address the negative factors in another section of the blog.

**   With Carlos Pena going on the DL, the Rays called up multi-faceted outfielder Justin Ruggiano.  This is Ruggiano third time up with the Rays this season.

Justin responded by going 2-4 tonight to raise is limited average to .313 for the season. Ruggiano will see alot of playing time in the next two weeks as a platoon position player for the Rays.

* The Rays renewed and revised Bullpen had to do some double duty tonight with the ejection of James Shields in the 2nd inning. Grant Balfour started the long line of relievers to help finish the game for the Rays. He was followed by J P Howell in the middle of the 3rd inning.

The Rays Bullpen after the third inning, shut down the Red Sox offense and gave Tampa Bay a chance to try and get back in the ballgame. Gary Glover, Dan Wheeler, and Al Reyes pitched 4 innings of 2-hit shutout ball to stop the Boston bats.

 

                   

                                                  The Bad

The Tampa Bay Rays has now been blanked by the Boston Red Sox for 6 straight games in Fenway Park. The team has not beaten the Sox since the Sunday finale in the Trop a few months ago. In this divisional rivalry, they must start to committ and try and split the remainder of the games against the Red Sox to even entertain a great season.

This series is just the second time the Rays have lost back-to-back games since they were swept here in Bosotn on May 2-4th. 

James Sheilds is now 8-13 as a road pitcher for the team.  In his 6 career starts against Boston, he is 1-3, with a 4.76 ERA. On the heels of that, he is 0-3 in Fenway Park lifetime. Shields also took a loss tonight.

When you play a team 17 times a year, you need to secure at least 50 percent of those games to be considered a victory. 

                                                 The Ugly

I understand what happened at the game, and that a “professional plucking” took place on Coco Crisp of the Red Sox, but the ramifications of this on-field fiasco will be felt for more than a few games.

The Rays may lose DH/outfielder Jonny Gomes and  starting pitcher James Sheilds to suspensions and in that, lose valuable pitching and hitting situations.

The only good thing to come out of all this is the look of unity on the Rays players  that raced into help their teammates.

All this because Coco Crisp wanted to act like a idiot. Last night, Crisp had issue with a base block by Rays shortstop Jason Bartlett.

In the next play, Crisp went into second on a steal really aggressive and up ended Aki Iwamura hard.  You would have thought he would have gotten his retaliation then, and not held onto it for 24 hours.

When Sheilds plucked Crisp with a 94 mph pitch in the hip, Crisp slowly turned and look to go to first without issue. He then turned the threw his helmet to the turf and ran to the mound. Sheilds tried to land a haymaker, but missed badly and Dioner Navarro caught Crisp from behind  before Crsip to administer more than a few blows to Sheilds…………..and the brawl was on.

I do not condone the action on the ground towards Coco Crisp as baseball. I also do not see it as “boys being boys.”

What I saw was Jonny Gomes punching Crisp from behind repeatedly. I suspect Gomes will get a multi-game suspension and a hefty fine. 

 I also saw leftfielder Carl Crawford come in and give Crisp a shot to the ribs, and a few other well placed hits. The gang mentality took over as soon as the bullpens joined the fray.  At one point, there were three different situation going on in the infield area before order was restored.

               

Jame Sheilds was pulled from the pile by Carlos Pena and Rays’ manager Joe Maddon, but wanted to rejoin the fiasco. In the end, only Gomes, Sheilds and Crsip were ejected from the ballgame.

But I expect an aditional fine to be levied against Boston third base coach DeMarlo Hale for his forceful tackling of Shields from behind.  It was a picture perfect defensive tackle for loss, but in the wrong sport.  Hale should also be fined and possibly suspended for tackling another teams’ player without intent to stop the fight.

     

 

MLB video of the Fiasco:

    http://tampabay.rays.mlb.com/media/video.jsp?mid=200806052848893      

 

If he had done it to a Boston player to keep him out of harms way, I could condone it totally, but to hit an opposing player blindsided is ridiculous at best, and totally unprofessional for a coach in the majors.

Just think of it…………………we still have alot of ballgames to play against each other the rest of the year………..This is going to be a memorable year for both of our teams.

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