Results tagged ‘ Delmon Young ’

Rays Beat Back Birds 6-2

Orioles 2, Rays 6

You know, earlier in the year going .500 so early in the season
would be a upsetting situation. But with nine (9) current Rays players
on the disabled list, and a few hurting but gutting their way through
the games, it is totally satisfying at this moment. If we can go .500
without the big guns, what could happen when the firepower is back to
normal and the trigger is set……………..think about that for a
moment here.

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Trivia fact for the day


Tony Cloninger is the only pitcher to hit two grand slams in the same game. He did it for the Atlanta Braves on July 3,1966.

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                                       The Good,the Bad,and the Ugly

                             

B J Upton is starting to come into his own
at the plate.  Today he hit a monumental 3-run homer in the bottom of
the 5th inning. Upton also raised his average to .302 today, its
highest point in over a week. B J’s home run came in the 5th inning
where the Rays ignited and scored all of their 6 runs of the game.

 

Honorable mentions for “Good” today: 



                                                      



*          Jeff Niemann tossed  93 pitches today, in which the Orioles only scored  a lone run and scattered 6 hits against him.


This help Niemann collect his first MLB win.  At 6’9″, Niemann  got the ball down
consistantly during the game, and never got himself into a bad jam. The
lone run he gave up was to Baltimores’ Nick Markakis, who homered to
left field in the top of the 6th inning.

**        Rays outfielder Carl Crawford collected
two RBI’s today also in the 5th when he singled to center field and
Justin Ruggiano and Mike DeFelice scored to make it 3-0 before B J
Upton’s at bat. B J also currently has 11 RBI’s for the year and is in
the top 10 in the American League in that category.


***        Third baseman Evan Longoria (E-Love)
also collected another
hit today and walked and eventually scored a run
in the Rays big 5th innning today.

                                             The Bad

I know I have written about this
before, and I was chatting with a Rays broadcast guy and I have come
upon the conclusion that B J Upton has a “green light” when he is on the
bases. For those not knowing the phrase, a player having a “green
light” can make decisions for himself about base running and advancing
on plays after a ball is hit.  That is becoming more and more apparent
with each of his base running blunders.


Today it was a stagger step that cost him an extra base.  He was not caught stealing today, so I will be kind to him.



Another “Bad” that is starting to
rear its ugly head is the fact that Dan Wheeler is in a weird funk. I
saw a ball kinda float today and it did not get hit a ton, but it was a
great contact out, and could have been trouble for us.  I am not saying
there is a mechanics situation here, I am not a pitching coach. But,
with that said, I know it was a ball that could have been crushed if
the player got good wood on it. Last night a change-up that stayed in
the zone was crushed for the winning run.

                                              The Ugly

Not a lot of Ugly here except in
the starting shortstops batting average, and his wild throws at times.
Jason Bartlett should count his stars that he has a world class first
baseman like Carlos Pena. Pena had dug out a few balls that past first
baseman would have watched  the ball skirt to the wall or beyond.

That combined with his .158
average at this moment is cause for early worry. This is the guy we
were counting on for solid play and a good bat in the field.

 Ben Zobrist is still out for a
period of time after they inserted a pin in his broken finger to help
it heal better and faster. Until that time, we are limited to Bartlett
and Johnson at short, with neither player showing offensive numbers at
this time.


Former Rays Player of the Day:


I know it is early in the afternoon, but I am going to pick my former Rays player of the game for today.

It has to be Josh Hamilton of the Texas
Rangers. All of us Rays fans remember Josh as the hier apparent to
Right field before Delmon Young entered the picture.  Josh has been
hitting good this year and he is showing the talent we all knew he had
in prior Spring Training and minor league games.

During this afternoons’ game against the
Toronto Blue Jays, Hamilton has two RBI’s and hit a homer run to right
in the bottom of the 4th inning. He also singled and drove in Ian
Kinsler in the bottom of the first.

Hamilton is currently tied with the Rays Carlos Pena for first with 13 RBIs    

 



The forecast for tomorrow game is:

Ugly with a change for a smashing good time.  With that said, come
on out to the Trop. and watch your .500 Rays take on the “Evil Empire”
from the Bronx in a 7:10 PM Monday night game.


 

 


You know the Cowbell kid will be there to send kisses and wishes to his pal Joe Giardi and Shelly Duncan.



Post Script:

I want to thank Edwin Jackson, JP
Howell, Scott Dohmann and Andy Sonnastine for taking the all that time
today to sign for the 12 Little Leagues and their  players that were at
the ballgame.


Each of these Rays players stayed
out there a long time and signed everything put in front of them. I
even got a few autographs I was missing for my Rays collection. I even
saw Evan Longoria out there after stretching on the wall signing and
jawing with the Rays hopefuls.



So, as a Season Ticket holder and
a great Rays follower, Thank you gentleman for showing class and
community love by taking your time to show the kids of all ages
in Tampa Bay you are there for them……….

Rays vs Yankees Controversy………..or Just Hustle in the Yard

 

I have been reluctant to include my trivia questions in the past few blogs because no one seems to want to comment,or even try and figure them out.
Here is a Yankee/Red Sox teaser for your pleasure:


Who has the best lifetime win percentage as a starting pitcher against the New York Yankees?


Answer at the end of the Blog.


I have to weigh in my two pennies on the recent Rays/Yankees debate concerning new Yanks skipper Joe Girardi and a recent home plate collision. If you are wondering what I am referring to, it is the home plate car wreck between Yankees’ catcher, Francisco Cervelli and the Rays’, Elliot Johnson. I understand that most players are not up to par yet with the speed of the game in the early stages of Spring Training.


That the “rookies” or select Minor League players’ invited to the MLB camp, are seeking to open eyes or even earn a coveted roster spot with the big club. Because of this situation,they ( Minor Leaguers’ )might hustle or take a few risks with base running decisions.  They also want to show a willingness to do what is needed to win.
It is in that vein, that I personally feel that Elliott Johnson did what was needed at the moment of the collision. He went into home plate trying to jar the ball out of the catchers mitt to score another run, not with intent to harm,dismember, or cause such a ruckus out of the Yankee camp.


A few days earlier, All-Star Left Fielder,Carl Crawford bulldozed a catcher in a Spring Training game and there was not even a hint of controversy or bad decision making put towards his actions. Of course, in that collision,Crawford was able to jar the ball from the catcher, no one was injured or taken from the game,and the Rays earned a much needed run against their opponent.


Hustle and willingness to do what is needed is what secures these “invitees” a roster spot,or at least another weeks with the big squad before going to the Ray Namoli complex, which is the site of the Minor League camp.
Now Carl did not have to drive himself into the catcher and dislodge the ball on spec, but it showed he is ready to do whatever is needed to win this year. That is a veteran sign that he is here to play and take no prisoners.
And that, gets both the Rays’ fan base and Joe Maddon’s attention.


Earlier in the Yankee game, New York invitee, Bernie Castro was rounding third with Rays’ catcher Shawn Riggans squared up on the dish. Castro could have easily dusted Riggans off the plate, but Shawn left a nice hole for Castro to hook slide around his tag. Base running decisions have to be made in a split second. Both players had to assess the situation and do what was needed to score, or pervent a run. Castro, by sliding in under Riggans, scored the only Yankee run of that game.


He did not need to remove Riggans and ball to score. Question is, did Johnson have the same options?  Answer, No, the relay throw was going to beat him to the plate by a stride, and in a Pete Rose-Ray Fosse moment he buried his shoulder into Cervelli.
He could have slide and maybe gotten in there( doubtful),or he could become a Mike Alstott A-train clone and bulldoze the Yankees minor league catcher. We know what his decision was, and I am totally in his corner for what he did.I was an aggressive base runner also in college, and used to not look back when i had to come in rough on a second baseman or a catcher. I did it when I felt it was needed to help the team. Either as a enthusiastic moment, or a game-changing play, it was done in a split second and no regrets could stop the momentum.

 

I can see why new Yankees skipper Joe Girardi would be a bit flustered or upset about such a play involving two Minor Leaguer’s doing their all to make an impression on their managers.


But, Joe, this part of Spring Training is a time for these guys to show you what they got, and make you remember their names in your nightly meetings with your coaching staff. And all the Minor League guys know that the decision time is nearing for each of them. Johnson will probably not make the Rays’ final 25 man roster, but he made a huge impression on both teams.


Either you are for or against his actions, there is no middle ground here. In his playing days, Joe Girardi was a feisty and gutsy catcher with the Yankees.  He knows what it takes to hold onto the ball in a train wreck situation. That is what I find kind of “whiny” here about the Yankee skipper.  


Remember, this is the manager who told his Florida Marlins’ team owner to, “Shut up!”, when the owner was heckling a umpire during a game. Does that sound like the same guy who whined to the press about the event, and did not even consult or send a message to Rays skipper, Joe Maddon about the collision before the newspapers were printed and on his doorstep.


How many Yankee fans are thinking WWTD right now. (What Would Torre’ Do?).


I know that Girardi is in the infant stage of his managerial career, but is this the thing he wants to be remembered for this Spring?
He has a few holes in his team, and questions that needed to be addressed on personnel and setting his starting rotation.
And he pick this play to spouts off about this?



Both Joes’ have different opinions about the event. Joe Maddon,the Rays’ manager sees it as a rite of Spring basically.  Hard nosed baseball that unfortunately ended in a Yankee injury. (Francisco Cervelli could be out 8-10 weeks with an injury). What would either manager have said if the events was reversed. Johnson was hurt in that play, or Riggans in a prior home plate play.  If Cervelli had dropped the ball and the Rays scored another run to make it a 5-1 win, would it have been different or still have the same effect on Girardi.


I personally think Joe Maddon would not be crying to the heavens wanting the baseball gods to rain displeasure down on anyone. He would have applauded the effort and give kudos for the hard nosed-style of play of Johnson. I am including a video from that game,shot by a Yankee fan. It shows both home plate plays and you can make up your own mind on the issue of the collision.


In closing, I think the comments of Yankee savant and yoda, Don Zimmer speak volumes here: “Of all people – Joe Girardi’s a tough guy, a tough catcher. I don’t know what spring training’s got to do with it,” Zimmer said. “I think he was out of line. That’s the best way I can put it, whether he likes that or not. That’s the way I feel.”


Amen Yankee Yoda, Amen.

 

I am all for hard play and hustle on the diamond.  If Delmon Young had more hustle than his mouth, he would still be patrolling right field in the Trop for the Rays.

 

The answer to the Trivia Question is:

Former Yankee great, Babe Ruth. When he was first with the Boston Red Sox, he owned the New York Yankees on the mound.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Rays Tidbits and Views for 2008

 

I used to cover a lot of sports in this area for a afternoon paper that ceased publication in the late 80′s. I also have played both in high school and college baseball for many years. It is with great local pride that I have followed my hometown team, the Tampa Bay Rays since their inception. I was lucky enough to be one of the first group of local people to put down an initial $ 20.00 as a deposit for Season Tickets.



In this vein, I feel I have ample experience to comment on the sport and my team. The Tampa Bay Rays recently began their second decade with an transformed logo, and an eager emphasis on a new outdoor stadium proposal(which I support, and will get deeper into in another blog).

 


Their is an air of positive energy starting with coaching staff, and spreading to the first-time Spring Training rookies. I have been out to the complex a few times in the last week, and have seen a more relaxed group with an intense attitude to succeed this year. Everyone seems to have a confident stride, and a renewed vigor and vitality this year. Prior Spring Training squads did not displayed this trait. We have players talking about positive moves within the organization, critical steps and moves that will set the stage for success this season.  Off-season moves that were viewed as ” filling the holes” on the roster, and bold statements of a new clubhouse leader-in-training.

 


The new Rays logo has been viewed as a reconstruction of a franchise, a signal and symbol  that this franchise wants to go upward this year and remain in that sphere for a long time.

 

Gone is the playful swimming “Ray” on the uniforms, to will still be included this tear as a sleeve patch, but  might not survive after this year. Gone is his likeness on the caps, and in the main uniform design.  You have to know where you have been to understand where you are going. A common misconception or oversight  is the fact that the “Devil” has been removed from the uniforms for about 4 years.

 

 

In 2004, the vest jersey sported the simple word, “Rays” blazoned over the chest with our friendly “Ray” character confined to the green undershirt sleeve. Not since the 2004, has the word “Devilray” adorned a uniform for this team. the original 1970-disco induced  acid-trip jerseys did have the word “Devilrays” adorning the rainbow hued uniforms.

 

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I will hit a real fast misconception on the proposed stadium plans. The big negative voiced by  this plan has been that the proposed stadium and monies from the selling of the current stadium’s property would better suit the city’s budget cutbacks and be used to retain and train new law enforcement and firefighters. I understand that this might be seen as the “city’s” money to be distributed in any manner it sees fit, but the tax situation concerning the stadium,  and its property is under the city Parks and Recreation Department, and its monetary windfalls  can not be used for capital or central city government improvements.


If any money is made from this sale,or lease of the property, it can only be used in certain areas, like the Pier, Mahaffey Theatre, or any park renewals and upgrades. The tax situation in the current stadiums’ future redevelopment/sale can not help the general budget demise that the city will feel in the near distant future.

 

 

I actually see the idea of the Rays giving $ 150 million upfront, instead of 10 years of rent payments, as a general promise by the ownership group to see this proposal and construction succeeds from day one.

 


There will be a few surprises this Spring that you had better be ready for here.


We currently have a top three pitching rotation that is  all under 27 years of age, and under team control for at least 3 or more years. The trio of Scott Kazmir (last years’ AL K leader), James Shields( getting better and better every outing in 2007), and newly acquired Ray, Matt Garza ( former Twins first rounder ), will be the envy of ownership groups around the league.


Even the guys fighting for positions, like Edwin Jackson, Jeff Niemann, Mitch Talbot. David Price and host of minor league All-Stars, will make this the most competitive and hotly contested  rotation slot battle in our  short history.



Never before in our franchise, have we had three slots filled by reporting date. David Price( LHP), out top pick from Vanderbuilt tossed his first 33 pitches in the live batting practice today. Pitching coach Jim Hickey did not show too much excitement about it, but I saw them sitting there talking the entire time. And I do not think they were discussing tee times. Coach Joe Madden said earlier in the week that he felt we could see Price sometime this year up with the big club. I agree with him in what I saw today, but it is only his first time out with the big boys, and a few months at Triple-A might actually prime him better for the future call-up.

 

My opinion is, that if Edwin Jackson does not win a starting rotation slot, he will be dealt to Seattle. The Mariners’ have been high on him for the entire off season, and with no minor league options left, might fetch something instead of a possible loss on the waiver wire. Now, I love watching Edwin “Action” Jackson pitch, I even have one of his Game-worn jerseys in my collection. So, to see him leave would not be good for my soul. In the second half of the season, I think that Edwin transformed his pitching style and saw positive steps to grow on this year.

 


Newly signed Outfielder Cliff Floyd told a local reporter the other day that he has not been in this great of shape and not hurting since his time with the Florida Marlins. By the way, that is where Cliff earned his World Series ring.

 


Troy Percival is already getting the clubhouse rolling. Ask any of the Clubbies about his water cooler next to his locker. Success has its rewards. It is actually a prank played by the Clubhouse staff when he yelled about water the first day. Welcome to the Rays, Troy, buckle up. it is going to be a wild ride this year.

 

The St. Petersburg Times also had a recent article where they asked All-Star LF Carl Crawford about the Delmon Young Elijah Dukes trades and situations. Carl commented, and the world took it wrong, that Delmon and Elijah were distractions and problems for the team last year. Carl is growing daily into the team clubhouse leader by example.


Carl is a pretty quiet guy. Those who have met him, know he is reserved guy, who has the passion of a warrior. In the past, I think he could have stepped up and been more of a force in the clubhouse, but probably did not feel it was his job to be “the Man” for people to look towards for inspiration or mire words. Carl reported in the best shape of his career to the complex, which going to mean trouble for the every AL pitching staff.


He built a gym and installed a pitching machine in his home in Arizona to get pumped and primed before the reporting date. Dedication like that will make him “the Man” this year. I think that second All Star nod also got him thinking that he has a chance to change the past of this team, and lead the guys towards respectability and new found glory. Go for it Carl, you are just the guy to be the face of this team. Smile, and let America see those dimples.

 

 

Let me get more into that trade smack talk here. Granted, Dukes had a mess of situations off the playing field that greatly diminished those pretty Home Runs in Yankee Stadium. He was given a bit too much leash to run and subsequently hung himself.


Another article in the Times, the the next day quoted Dukes as looking forward to his time with the Washington Nationals. You know, the team did him right from the start by having a staff member, James Williams tag along with Dukes daily to observe and keep and eye out on the 23 year old Outfielder.


We forget he is 23, and he is still learning who he is in life. His past is checkered and his future is as bright as the sun. Dukes was sitting in the Nationals locker room with his 3 year old son in tow, and looking forward to the adventure at hand. Here are a few quotes from Dukes in that article by the St. Petersburg Times:

 

“I was a real hard headed guy,” Dukes said. “It was at times hard for me to listen. I needed to be able to admit that I do things wrong and it’s okay to do things wrong, but to make good after that.” “I have tests in my life every day, trying to raise my son and stuff like that,” Dukes said. “I had my issues, but I overcame them without being on the front page or behind bars or something. So, obviously I kind of dealt with my things the right way.”

 

Dukes agreed with Rays All Star outfielder Carl Crawford, who told the Times on Tuesday that he didn’t think the “maturing part would have happened here,” for Dukes and Delmon Young. Crawford said that Dukes and Young had “too much free range to do whatever they wanted to do.” “You’re gonna need that veteran guy there sometimes to be able to stick it to you hard,” Dukes said. ” And we didn’t really have that many older guys that been through too much to experience things with. (But) not all people need that type of thing, so its not expected.” Before Dukes left, he offered one more – if not his last – promise, “From now on, everyone will get a chance to see the real Elijah Dukes.”

 


Let’s hope he becomes that big bat that he was destined to be in his career. Say Hello to Jesus Colome for me Dukes.

 

 

 Now on the Delmon Young tip, I have never been a big fan of him since he pulled that “he said/she said”, about not being called up in September. Now this is not the Durham Bulls area story touting Delmon and Elijah Dukes and B J Upton were bad-mouthing the Rays management, this was the 2006 season where it could not be confirmed if he ( Delmon ), or his brother ( Dimitri ) said the nasty comments.


Building the fire internally, was the actions while with the Bulls in 2007,  on that,  where he threw a bat at the umpire and got a major suspension and fine, did not put him in better company, or in my good graces. If you saw the video, the opponents catcher knew something was going to happen, because he went out of the crouch and to the mound. He knew a war was about to blow….hard that night.


It all came to head this past September when Young decided to “lollygag” his way to first. Joe Madden told Delmon he was going to sit him for the final game. Delmon spouted back he might not even show up to the stadium that day.

 

 I think that was the straw that broke the camel’s back for him. I had heard he was a bit abrasive in the Rays clubhouse, and looked extremely bored during the Fan Autograph session a few days earlier. His time had come, and he is going to be better for it. You got to remember, this is not the first time we have drafted a member of his family into the Rays organization.

 


Dimitri Young was an original expansion pick of our team, but we did not want him, so we shipped him to an NL team. Delmon might have started to get a “older brother” mentality and feel he deserved more than a “rookies” status on this team. My personal opinion and view of him is that he is not happy here and should of gotten out at the trade deadline, but he showed a late splurge in productivity in September, and that might have helped his case.

 

His attitude cost him the AL Rookie of the Year award. His little base running blunder blew up in his face.

 

The Twins are a better team with him, and we are a better team without him. I would not be surprised if he is a 10-time All Star somewhere else…as long as it is not here.


See you at the ballpark soon. Remember, we might only have 4 more years to enjoy our 70 degree weather inside before the elements get us on Opening Day 2012. Anyone who is ever at the Trop., come down to Section 138, near the bottom. I love talking baseball with everyone,even Yank and Sox fans.


Baseball Rays Style

 

Hey there all,


Here we are,a little more than a month before the Big Day in Camden Yards in Baltimore. Season 11 has a great vibe to it. To make it feel even better was the Leap Years Spring Training opener that was won by our Rays.



Edwin Jackson gave himself a leg up on his quest for a slot in the rotation with a solid effort for two innings. Eric Hinske put a exclamation point on his search for a roster spot by producing a game-winning RBI single in the bottom of the ninth inning. Perfect start to a season with high and lofty goals.



An interesting sidebar to the game was that James Houser was the winning pitcher for the Rays. As you might remember, Houser was suspended by Minor League baseball last year for violations of banned substances. there is a wild technicality where, if the Rays ( they did) put him on the teams 40-man roster in the off season, he can be invited and participate with the parent club during Spring Training. He can be returned to the minors without worrying about the suspension if the Rays keep him on the 40-man roster for the season.  Stay tuned to this one, it might be interesting.



I was listening to my favorite Morning Show,Fisher and Boy on 97X, when they interviewed uber-stud Scott Kazmir about the upcoming season. This was before Scott had his elbow situation that will sideline him for a few weeks. Scott was on track to be the Opening Day pitcher again for the Rays. This will probably put a damper on that goal, but might resurface as he should be in line to be the Home Opening Day pitcher where we can voice and cheer until we are hoarse for him.

 

 

I have to give thank here to a special friend who has left the Rays family after many, many productive and joyful years with the Rays. I will miss John Franzone this home opener. For those of you who have not met john, or know him, he is the brainchild behind the “Rays vision” in-game productions. John was also the mastermind behind the commercials a few years back with Aubrey Huff( fishing) and Carl Crawford( Dog track) that were on local televisions.




He was a tireless worker who I used to see talking into his headset daily to anyone, and everyone who would listen to him. I used to love to chat with him and had the great pleasure to be in a Franzone production of “Braveknobs” a few years ago. I was graced with a speaking role and a central location for the commercial where I was seen in a lot of the scenes.



Whichever team now employs John Franzone is a lucky franchise. He is a true gem who will shine for a long time in the video world. I was not able to call him before he left the Rays and tell him how much his chats and his in game videos and production meant to me as a Rays Season ticket holder. John will never be “thanking the Academy,” but I hope a Clio or an Emmy is in his future.

 


Last, but not least. I will make a comment on Delmon Young here. I like him as a player and a future All-Star in this league, but as a person, he needs a bit of practice. I will never doubt or hide the fact that he is a true 5-tool player that has a mouth of a pre-teen boy. I applaud and laugh at the verbal exchange he ad with Carl Crawford this week. Carl is an honest and pretty shy guy when it comes to commenting on his teammates, or former teammates.



For him to even say those things concerning Delmon, he truly and honestly feels those comments in his heart. Carl is growing into a clubhouse leader, both by on-field example, and by standing up and being counted on by his peers. I applaud Carl, and laugh at Delmon.



You might be an All-Star for a decade, but I can not cheer for a guy who doesn’t respect rookie traditions and team practices, and the holy unwritten rules of the game. I wish him luck.
With that out of the way, I have been browsing the web and found a true Delmon Young gem that will show what talent he has when he loves the game. Minnesota Twins fan will salivate at this, and hope it can happen in the friendly confines of their dome in the not to distant future. 

 


See you in the Berm this Spring.  Do not forget, this is the last year we are training and playing at Progress Energy Field. Come catch the Rays before they head to Port Charlotte next Spring. Support our guys this year.


By the way, my tickets arrived today for the Bon Jovi/Daughtry concert at the St Pete Times Forum on April 27,2008, after the Boston Red Sox game. I will be sitting in Section 209 in the Canon private suite that looks directly at the stage area. Free food and drinks and my sexy lady by my side, and thinking of……….. 

Recent Rays Moves………….My View from Rightfield

 

 

Wow!

Here it is a few days from the Winter MLB meetings in Opry-ville and we made a few needed moves that will help define our current and future goals for our squad.

 

First off, let me get that off my chest right now. I am not a Delmon Young hater in anyway, but, from my seat in Right Field, I could read some of his body language and tell  he was just buying time before the poisoned axe or his actions  dictated a move to new Fieldturf pastures.

 

 Have fun in the pillow-dome Delmon. You complained about not being able to clearly see balls at the Trop. Wait until you look up in that sea of lights and  true white roof at the Metrodome………..you will wish for the grey white roof of the Trop. I do wish him alot of luck in his future and success with that “Young” brothers curse of having a small attitude adjustment problem. His brother seemed to have finally gotten his attitude to shine with the Nats, let’s hope it doesn’t take Delmon as long to fine the right basepath to being the great teammate. Delmon’s departure will come back to haunt us at times,…………..but only for 6 or 7 games a year.

 

Now the players we got for Delmon are quality guys. Matt Garza is a young player that can br dialed into this rotation for years and will be a positive and needed upgrade to our constantly inproving and maturing pitching staff. Garza has not even hit the stride in his career yet, so the sky is the limit right now with him.

By the way, in Garza’s last 2007 start in, he pitched 6.2 innings with 4 hits and 1 ER against the Royals and Lost the game. We will take 6.2 inning outting any day with only 1 ER…….with the offensive power we have on our roster right now, it should always  be a “W” with the Rays.

 

The additon of Garza is great because this staff can grow into a huge AL East  pitching monster. Scott “The K” Kazmir is just getting started. James Shields was perfecting a few of his pitches last year, and gaining a boatload of knowledge about American League hitters.

 

 Those two will hold down the front of the rotation for a long time. Matt Garza is a great addition to help get those extra ( hopefully) 10-15 wins a year to get close to that hallowed 82-82 mark.

 

They only curious point to this trade is Jason Barlett,the second player involved in this trade.  He is destined to be just a stop-gap fill-in until protege’ Reid Brignac is ready to man the 5 hole for years to come. Bartlett  hit .265 last year, but only has 10 HR’s in his career and only 1,079 AB’s in his career.  He has primarily been a utility man during his career in the bigs, and this is his first extended playing time in the shortstop position.

 

Now he knows the role he will play here in Tampa Bay, but who knows, someone could come to camp to even replace him ( maybe Ben Zobrist ). Worst things have happened to our team.  Remember Danny Batista and Roberto Alomar retiring from our squad with only days to go in Spring Training. Losing these ex- All-Stars was viewed at the time as a failure by the team. It turned into the emmergance of Jorge Cantu and Jonny Gomes as “go-to” guys for the Rays for  that year.  So, sometimes a bad look can turn into a solid gold treasure when you only look at the surface of a situation. But that is why we play the games and do not award a trophy for roster potential, but game results.

 

With that in mind, let me wander a bit. and fantasize here.

 

 Can you go back home again in baseball? Not to a home per se, but to an old team that left you unprotected in the Rule 5 draft, and you selected to a good NL team that did not even know if you could play an entire season because of health and personal concerns.

 

Josh, I have always wanted success for you and knew that you could and would pull yourself together and show the world what a ture 5-tool player looks like up here. You went on to  prove you can play at the highest level and even make their opening day lineup in Right Field. the start of the season offensive expolsion you provided made everyone’s jaws dropped in awe. You finally had an entire country knowing you had it in you, and you proved it to everyone.

 

Hey Josh, I was there the day you came back after your off field problems that took you from baseball and the Rays. I was the Pepsi  guy in the locker room talking to Tim M. right before you went out the door of the training complex and first met the media.

 

I knew then that you had it again. That your head and attitude felt right to me, and I wanted the sky for you. Can you forgive the powers from beyond the Trop’s D-rings and just listen to them if they want to trade and include you on our squad.  I would cheer and enjoy watching you in Right Field again. And a huge plus that people forget, you can be the left-handed bat that Joe has been searching for in the lineup. Could be a sea of pluses for both the team, and yourself.

 

Okay, fantasy time is over……… Trade number two might not seem big on paper or even in reality, but it can be the jump start for each player. Elijah Dukes and Glen Gibson both needed a team that wanted them and believed in them. Now I do not think the Rays ever disliked or wanted harm for Elijah. His off-field and on-field distractions just took their toll on himself and the front office. Both parties knew that a change of scenery can work wonders for you, as a  person and a player.

 

 I wish you a cartload of homers in that new park Elijah. And we will not see you for  about 6 years. It take a few years for the schedule to again list the Nats’ as a interleague opponent again.So this trade might be a hidden blessing for you.

 

 Now Glen Gibson is  daily becoming a more polished pitcher.  Baseball America rated Gibson’s changeup and curve the best in the Nats’s farm system. Now we  know he has inherited talent and a great barometer a phone call away from him. Not every guy has a father that pitched in the majors. That could end up being a hidden blessing for him and the Rays.

 

Fantasy time again…………this time Minor edition.  The Rays’ top draft pick last year, David Price has set high expectations of himself and his progression in the Rays farm system this year. Now I will never argue with a Vandy grad, but I just want him to have a shot to know the systems and not rush his progress. When he gets called up to the Big club, he may  get hit like a pinball for a few weeks, but being a Southeastern Conference pitcher is a bit of a farm system in its own right. The best have had a rough beginning until they adapt and conquer the unique strike zones and brutal power potential of a MLB batters’ box.

 

I love to hear bravado and throwing caution to the wind, but I think a year in triple-A and a call up down the line could be his best medicine. There are a great amount of talent in Double-A and Triple-A right now biting at the bit to get that Spring Reporting date here and start to show their stuff. Jeff Neimann, Jeff Ridgeway, JP Howell,Mitch Talbot, and ex-big club guys like Chad Orvella, Jae Kuk Ryu want another shot up here as well. And that does not include the future power pitchers scattered in the Montgomery, Columbus, and Vero Beach teams. The future looks really bright for this team in the pitching department.

 

Having a prospective rotation of………Scott Kazmir, James Shields,Matt Garza, and add any of these  current teammates names,………Andy Sonnanstine, Jason Hammel and my favorite, Edwin Jackson to the mix, make for an exciting rotation problem  that could win anytime they hit the rubber.

 

Back to reality.  The addition of  closer extrodinaire, Troy Percival only makes the 6th through 9th inning  a more secure spot for the Rays.

 

What I am talking about is the fact that  Gary Glover,Al Reyes, Dan Wheeler are proven MLB relievers who can make it a challenge for any team to try and score after the starter leaves the game.  We have had great relievers before, but never in the middle roles.

 

 I think Reyes showed a huge amount of class in knowing that what is right for the team is great for the future of this squad. I think that is why they picked up his option. There is no doubts or questions he is a plus everytime he hits the mound for us.

 

 He might be the last guy to get the ball on most nights, but he is the first to know that this team has  within reach lofty goals, and they are within reach most nights, even in Fenway Park.

 

Now I have heard a bushel basket of rumors about additons and subtractions to this team. I want to address my views on a few subtractions here.

 

 Delmon might have been a player with a career that will bury his older brothers, but he also has the Young family cancer of that hidden danger and aggression that could ruin all that is good with……..a simple, casual walk to first.  Rays’ fans know what I am talking about here. I enjoyed watching Aubrey Huff hit for years here, but when he started to jog down to first is when he got that dreaded “Ben Grieve” epidemic. Maybe it is in the aura of Right Field that our players get that attitude and begin to falter right in front of us. 

 

Brendan Harris and Josh Wilson were the “blue collar” guys last year. Each guy experienced  a banner year. they got to play ball almost every night and did it the right way. Both got rewarded in different ways.

 

 Brendan got to play in another Dome, but has a great chance to be the everyday guy in the 5 hole up in Minn. Josh Wilson was put on the daily MLB waiver wire with the hopes he could pass through without a hitch. One big hitch, some people actually read those waiver wires daily.  The Pirates took a gamble, and got another quality infielder for their rebuilding ballclub. We wish you a ton of success Josh……you did a great job for the short time you were a Rays. Just a reminder, we did get Josh on waivers from the Nationals last year.  Karma?  you never know.

 

The last two trades I want to discuss did not happen as of the writing of this blog. That does not mean that the teams are not on their cellphone right now mending the deal or twisting the pieces to fit both teams.

 

 The First is the rumor of Edwin Jackson shipping off to Seattle for  1b/DH Ben Broussard. Now I am a huge “Action” Jackson fan, just ask him (lol). I liked Ben Broussard when he was an Indian, but I think his production has slowly seem a downward spiral. We could have done better even in a rumor than this one.  Another rumor had the Mets again this year coveting Jackson.  I do not know what the Mets’ still have left in their farm system. They have been active the last few years adding the missing pieces to their squad. But I am not sure their farm system is as strong as when we plucked Scott Kazmir from their clutches.

 

The second  non trade is a two-parter.It is the “non” trading of Carl Crawford and Rocco Baldelli.

 

I know that Carl would love to be a part of the first winning team in this franchises’ short history.  He should be a part of this celebration……front and center. Rocco I believe will come out of Spring Training in better shape, and better condition than any other time in his short Rays tenure.

 

 I used to be out at the Rays complex delivering alot, and when Rocco was mending from his surgeries and bumps and bruises, he was  always eagerly training and building himself up for his return. If you remember, Joe used to like to have Rocco in the dugout at home games and selected road series because of his great attitude and zest for success.

 

 I think this time it is totally personal for Rocco. I feel he knows that the team took a gamble and signed him to a long term deal. He is a proud guy, and he is probably the most excited about reporting in  Feb. 2008. Rocco stated in a news article he will relax this off season for a change. I believe that like I believe the “Clear” was a muscle relaxing ointment.  FDA approved too………right? He is probably getting in the best condition both mentally and physically for this team.

 

Right Field has been a concern for the big wigs upstairs since Delmon hit the road for the Great White north.  I think Jonny Gomes, Rocco, or even the tandem of Triple-A studs Fernando Perez or Jason Ruggiano can man it better than Cliff Floyd, Geoff Jenkins, or Darin Erstad. No disrespect to Darin, Luis Gonzalez, or Cliff. I even recently heard a rumor of my old baseball buddy Trot Nixon maybe being a good fit for us. He did hit great here against us, But remember fans,so did Jose Cruz Jr. when he was with the Jays and then got suddenly an average hitter at the Trop.

 

I think the Rays can have a perfect “wait and see” attitude here, unless Josh Hamilton is truly availiable….hint hint Andrew and Matt.

 

In conclusion, the non-tendered list of players will be announced in the coming weeks. This is a huge announcement that always has a few jaw dropping names on it. Things can change dramatically if a huge or unexpected name is released.  There always seem to be a  a few  high dollar drops, or a player with  health questions when  these names hit a wire……………We shall see.

 

 Kick the tires and look  real close under the hoods  there guys. This team is finally in a position to take quality over quantity in a players signing.

 

This team will have Carlos Pena back with a projected one year deal.  Pena has two years until he is a Free Agent, but both sides are working towards a agreement in place before the Spring Training report date.

 

I think this might happen to both prove both sides points.  His agent,Scott Boras says that “Carlos is just heating up”, and the Rays are hoping it was not  just a fluke year offensively for Pena. Either way, Carlos will be a rich guy come Feb. 2008.

 

 And we are a richer team both in knowing the talent is the best this team has fielded in its 11 years in the MLB. Sorry Fred McGriff, Wade Boggs and Jose Canseco. I wanted the “Hit Show” to be the thing that we measure our successes by, but that is not the case.

 

I will end this with a note about the hardest working Rays I have nkown in my years watching and following this team.  Bullpen Catcher Scott Cursi  is always working with the pitchers and providing BP pitching and foul pole comments and analysis. I have known Scott for years and truly feel blessed to have ever met him. We have had a routine of him coming to give me some grief before every game down the Right field line after he tosses with the Rightfielders.

 

 We have a habit of tipping our caps after the last out before he heads into the locker room for the night. Scott is a guy who has invited me out a few times when I have gone on road trips to celebrate with himself and a few people on the team. I have cherished these moments in Seattle and Cleveland. I look forward to 2008 for both the Rays sucesses, and seeing my baseball buddy again manning the Bullpen with Bobby Ramos. As always Scott, I tip my hat to you for what you do for the Rays, and our  Section 138 fans group.

 

Only ( as of Dec 7th, 2008) 77 days until Pitchers’ and Catchers’ report ……..and I can’t wait until 8 am that day.

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