Results tagged ‘ Gary Glover ’

Backe Hands Ex-Team a loss, and wake-up Call

 

  

Astros 3, Rays 2

 

 

I want to start tonight’s blog by thankng the Rays and their staff for a fantastic evening at Gameworks in Ybor City on Sunday night.

 

I know all the Rays’ Season Ticketholders’ will agree it was a great night with prizes, games and outstanding foods galore.

 

The chocolate fountains decked in the Rays’ light blue,yellow and white color scheme was a true hit both to the tastebuds and the eyes. 

 

Players’ like Edwin Jackson, Scott Kazmir, Justin Ruggiano, Gary Glover, Grant Balfour, Matt Garza and Andy Sonnanstine came and spent time with the Fans.  Oh, and Jonny Gomes was stationed at the front bar and was buzy with photo ops the entire night.

 

Rays Manager Joe Maddon was also there to hold court with the Rays faithful about the game and his views.

 

Thank you again to all the Rays staffers and the front office for offering such a great time at the halfway mark in our home 2008 schedule.

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Trivia Fact of the Night:

Tony Cloninger is the only pitcher to ever hit 2 grand slams in the same game. He did it with the Atlanta Braves on July 3, 1966.

 

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The Rays let a good pitching performance by Scott Kazmir get away by not getting the usual timely hits and runs and ended up losing to the Astros on Sunday. Kazmir pitched 5.2 innings, and gave up 4 hits for 3 runs against the Astros. He also got 7 strikeouts to move up to 18th plce on th AL strikeout list with 68 K’s. Considering Kazmir missed about 4 starts due to his elbow strain, he might be on track to defend his A L Strikeout crown from last season.

 

 

 

I heard a Ray’s fan before the game on Sunday call Rays rookie Evan Longoria ,”The Natural.”  If he keeps hitting like this, and fielding like it is routine plays as usual, I can see him getting that moniker for  a long time with the team.

 

Longoria hit his 12th homer of the season to leftcenter in the 2nd inning off Astro’s starter, Brandon Backe.

 

Longoria had worked the count to 3-1 before Backe threw a soft curve over the plate, and Evan deposited it in Section 145 for a 2-run homer. Eric Hinske, who has walked on 4 pitches also scored on the play for the Rays. The blast tied Evan with Hinske for the team lead in homers, and also tied him for the MLB rookie lead with the Red’s Joey Votto, and Geovany Soto of the Cubs.

              

                             

 

B J Upton has some of the most misleading staistics on the Rays this season. This is a guy who some publications had thought might be the Rays first “30-30″ guy this season. That has not materialized yet, but some of his stats do show an aggressive nature and some play discipline at times. But his numbers are all over the place and did not show the consistant nature needed for the Rays right now in their 3 or 4 hitter.

 

B J  is first in the AL in being caught stealing with 9, but is also 3rd in steals with 22 for the year. He is also currently ranked 8th in the AL in On-Base Percentage (OPS) at .399, and is tied with Eric Hinske for top RBI’s on he Rays with 38 this year. Upton is also  not in the top 30 in extra base hits this year.

 

His outfield play has been remarkable going to the ball on a run, or over his head and running to the ball. But, his play with the ball in front of him, or communicating from his centerfield position have led to a few errors and hits for the opposition.  B J  is currently ted foir 1st with 8 outfield asists this year.

 

Upton is still learning the ways of playing center in the big leagues, and he is getting better every game, but at some point you have to take the gloves off and tell him to be aggressive coming in on the ball and demanding the ball with his voice if he has a play on it on the gaps. He will get better with time, and might just be one of the leagues best in a few seasons.

 

 

I really hate it when a bad play by the opposition gets turned 180 degrees and becomes a positive for them. Case in point on Sunday, Dioner Navarro reached base in the 4th inning with a double to center. Gabe Gross comes up next and lines a ball to right that trickles a bit to righfielder Hunter Pence.

 

Pence not known for his throwing arm , get an ugly and lazy throw to home redirected inflight about a quarter of the way up the line towards third base. Navarro is trying to score from second, and is way ahead of the throw to the plate, but as he rounds third, the ball comes up the line and meets him in stride to be tagged out by Astros’ catcher Humberto Quintero for an out.

 

In a perfect world, Navarro would have the wheels to beat the throw, but a bad throw turned into an out by pure luck, not by skill. So Pence ended up with an outfield assist on the play and should consider it a gift from the Rays.

 

 

After Sunday’s contest, the Rays made a roster move in an effort to bring in some infield help for the Marlins series. Starting shortstop Jason Bartlett will miss a few games to be with his wife for the birth of their child. 

The Rays sent Justin Ruggiano back to the Durham Bulls and brought up Ben Zobrist as an insurance policy if and when Bartlett leaves the team. Zobrist will play in place of Bartlett until his return during the Pittsburgh Pirates series this weekend. 

 

 

During the homestand, I met a few fans who were Chicago Cubs fans becuase they could notet the Rays telecasts all the time in the Fort Meyers, Naples area of the state.

 

Well, as of  June 29th, the Rays will be WXCW-TV. CW-6 will be te latest member in the growing Rays Network broadcast team.  The station canbe viewed on Cable Channel 6 in Ft. Meyers, Cape Coral and Naples.  In Port Charlotte, it is located on channel 11 as well as on the over-the-air antenna station 46. 

 

Both these stations will have a select number of Rays games for the rest of the season.  Check yourlocal listings for te games to be broadcast in this new Rays region.

 

 

Mentals errors cost Rays against the Astros

 

Astros 4, Rays 3

 

After a killer sweep of a series like we just had with the Chicago Cubs, you know there had to be some kind of backlash that would plague this squad for at least one night. 

 Well, we got the fatique and the mental clouds Friday night in our first contest against the Houston Astros.

Considering we also had the Astros ace pitcher on the mound, Roy Oswalt, that could combine to make for a long, long night.

 It was good to see old friends come back into the fold.

Ty Wiggington was there with his usual gruff and serious stare, Jose Cruz Junior was just chillin’, and Brandon Backe was loving every minute of it all seeing old friends and taking pictures with the fans. 

Good to see former guys’ coming in and still playing ball against the Rays. Backe will have an extra smile on his face Sunday as he faces his old squad for the first time  as an Astro.

 Should be an interesting afternoon for a few of us in the crowd who think Brandon is an outstanding pitcher and want to see him do great things today, but also want our hometown team to beat the Astros for their 10th series win of the year.

Maybe he can have 5 good innings, and we do our usual late inning push and win the game.  Win…..win for both sides Sunday.

 

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Trivia Fact of the Night:

The youngest player to reach 3,000 hits was Ty Cobb at age 32.

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I am going to get this out of the way early today. Rays starter Matt Garza  was a victim of an offense that was stymied by a great pitcher and  he took the loss to move to 5-4 for the year.

 Garza pitched 6 strong innings and gave up 7 hits and 3 runs to the Astros. He showed mental toughness and  did not show any frustration or adverse emotion on the mound. Garza got 8 strikeout before leaving tonight and showed mass improvement in his location at the plate.

 

 

The Rays Bullpen again came in and closed out the game by shutting down the Houston offense. Trever Miller and Gary Glover pitched 2.0 innings and gave up only a hit each in an effort to keep the Rays in this contest.

The Rays Bullpen this season is currently 7th in the league in ERA ( 3.23), and are first in opponent’s batting average ( .219).

 

           

 

The Rays committed 2 errors last night against the Astros.  Evan Longoria got an error on a hard hit ground ball hit well behind third base, and it should have gone for a hit.

I am of the opinion, that if a ball could not be fielded and put into play before a player can reach a base in a certain amount of time, that play can not be an error.  Evan was almost on the grass of the outfield when he got control of the ball. I guess that is why I am not a offical scorer of the MLB, I might have missed something in the translation.

 

 

The second error was a play in the rightfield Bullpen area by Eric Hinske. It was on a ball hit down the line and curling into the Bullpen area. It seemed like just  a common play, but turned into a classic example of not looking the ball into your glove and searching for the baserunner before you had total control of the ball.

Hinske unfortunately had the ball drop out of his glove and hit his foot and roll behind him a few feet to his left. The Astro’s baserunners advanced on the play.

 It is only Hinske’s 2nd error of the year.

 

 

Even with 2 errors last night, it was just their 2nd multi-error game in 58 games this season. The other recent game was June 8th against the Texas Rangers.  The Ray still lead the majors in defense with only 32 errors on the year.

 

                      

 

Dioner Navarro hit a curving blast just to the left of the rightfield foulpole for a solo homer to get the Rays close against the Astros. It was Navarro’s 4th homer of the season and set the scene for a dramatic ending to the game. Earleir in the contest, Navarro threw out Hunter Pence at second base  to stop a Huoston rally.

 

B J Upton recorded his 8th outfield assist of the year. He is currently tied for 2nd in the AL with Delmon Young of the Twins.

The play actually came about because B J  held onto the ball too long in centerfield, and Miquel Tejada decided to challende his arm and take second base. B J  got in a good throw and Akinora Iwamura applied the tag to Tejeda at second.

 

Eric Hinske did make up for his fielding error at the plate last night by going 2-4 with 2 RBI’s. Hinske hit two singles to center that scored  Carl Crawford in the 1st inning, and Akinora Iwamura in the 8th inning. Dioner Navarro and Hinske were the bulk of the Rays offense last night, getting 3 of the team’s 8 hits.

 

The  bottom of the 9th for the Rays was filled with huge amounts of excitement last night. The Astros inserted their secondary closer, Jose Valverde to pitch the inning.

He got Willy Aybar to fly out to the wall in deep rightfor the first out.

Then Navarro hit his  curving screamer down the rightfield line for a solo homer, then Valverde got Jason Bartlett to hit a liner down to third for an easy putout.

 Aki Iwamura was the last guy standing for the Rays. Aki got a ball outside with Ververde’s first pitch, then took three straight strikes, two of them swinging to end the game.

3 consecutive homers doom Angels

 

Rays 13, Angels 4

 

Rocco Baldelli has been working out with the Rays at the Extended Spring Training games at the Namoli complex in St. Petersburg,Florida. Rocco, who had some serious fatigue situations during Spring Training, has been playing in game against other minor leaguers.

 These contests will end on Wed., and the Rays will have to evaluate Baldelli and decide where in the minor league system they will send him to continue his rehab.

Do not be surprise if the Rays call Baldelli up to the big club after the All-
Star break to platoon in rightfield the rest of the season.With the addition of Baldelli’s speed, this would make the Tampa Bay’s outfield one of the quickest in the MLB.

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Trivia Fact of the Night:

Joe and Dom DiMaggio are the only brothers to have hitting streaks of 30 plus games.

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Evan Longoria had a small family contingent at the game last night. You could tell his family and friends every time he came up to bat, since Evan set a Rays rookie record of scoring 4 runs in a game. Longoria currently leads the league’s rookies in homers with 10.

 

 

But his accomplishments were not done there. He also connected on 2 homers, went 3-4, with 3 RBI’s and raised his average to .255. Longoria also became the only MLB rookie this season to have more than 1 multi-homer game. He also is only the third Rays rookie to have a multi-homer game, and the first to have a  2 multi-homer games in their rookie season.

 

 

Willy Aybar has hit safely in 5 straight games and 6 out of the last 7 to raise his average to .306 for the year. Aybar also hit a homer in the middle of the Rays onslaught in the 2nd inning. Aybar also helped complete 3 double plays for the Rays against the Angels.

 

 

Dioner Navarro hit his third homer of the year and went 4-5, with 4 RBI’s and 3 run scored last night against the Angels. Navarro is currently hitting .349 for the Rays, and is 27 plate appearances short of qualifying league wide for top batting average.  Navarro is currently the top hitting catcher in the league.

 

Evan Longoria, Willy Aybar and Dioner Navarro each hit homers in the 2nd inning. It is the first time in 69,094 plate appearances that 3 Rays hit homes back-to-back-to-back in a game.

 

 

Rays manager Joe Maddon got his first win against his former team ni their stadium last night. Before the victory, Maddon was 0-8 against the Angels on their home turf. With last night’s win, the Rays are 4-0 against the Angels this season and are on pace to have the only winning yearly record against them in franchise history.

 

Edwin Jackson earned his 4th victory of the season last night in a contest that was tied until the Rays broke the game open in the 5th inning with 5 runs.  Jackson threw 7 innings, and 107 pitched before giving the ball to the Rays Bullpen to finish the game.

Al Reyes and Gary Glover pitched an inning apiece and gave up a two hits between them to get Jackson the win.

 

Justin Ruggiano had 2 outfield assists last night against the Angels.

 

 

On the first one came in the 3rd inning after a Sacrifice Fly by Garrett Anderson. Ruggiano was throwing home to try and get Jeff Mathis who was trying to score from third.

Ruggiano owes a big slap on the back to catcher Dioner Navarro who cut -off his throw to the plate and threw off balanced to second to nail Maicer Izturis at second base.  The throw was a fantastic example of the “heads up” plays that Navarro has been making recently for the team.

His second assist came in the bottom of the 6th inning when Vladimier Guerrero over ran second and was tagged out by shortstop Jason Bartlett.

 

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Upcoming Rays historical moments:

Akinora Iwamura’s next homer will be his 200th as a professional player. He has hit 188 in Japan, and 11 as a Tampa Bay Ray.

Carl Crawford needs 4 bases to become only the 9th player since the 1900’s to steal 300 bases before his 27th birthday.

 

 

Rangers Leave Rays at a Loss

 

 

Rangers 6, Rays 3

 

The following is a reprint of a St Petersburg Times article on the new stadium:

The evolution of the Rays design

RayscurrenttRaysevolve

I thought it might be interesting to see how the ballpark design has evolved. At top is the current proposal. On the bottom (from left to right) is a series of proposed designs from March 2007, May 2007, November 2007 and February 2008.

The deep black line in the bottom row is where the current seawall location is. The original concept called for filling in 2.55 acres of the bay and would have filled in the entire channel between the main land and Demens Landing. (You can click on the bottom row to get a better look). Now only .4 acres of fill will be needed to build the proposed stadium, which should help the Enviormental aspects of the construction.

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Trivia Fact of the Night:

Ebbets Field organist Gladys Gooding earned her stripes the second day on the job (May 9,1942. As umpires Bill Stewart,Ziggy Sears,and Tom Dunn strolled on the field for the game. Gooding played the classic,”Three Blind Mice.”

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I am again going to shelf “The Good,The Bad,and The Ugly” format and just write my opinions and views again on my hometown Rays.  I have been looking for a formative setup for almost 6 months to accompany my Rays coverage, but the Good,The Bad and the Ugly can sometime sometimes be  too one-sided during losing and winning streaks.

Thus, from today on, I am just going to report the things I see, and what I know about the stats and adventure of our favorite team.

                  

I do not know what it is about miscommunication in our outfields. Are our Rays outfielders and infielders a bit too timid at times in voicing their dominating position on flyballs in the game. Twice in Sunday’s contest there were play where the Rays players did not communicate with each other and a hit resulted in each situation. In one situation, between shortstop Jason Bartlett and leftfielder Carl Crawford, the ball ended up costing the Rays a run in the inning. The next batter, German Duran hit a 2-run homer to deep center.

                         

Another play happened between centerfielder B J Upton and rightfielder Gabe Gross. By the video, Gross had  a better bead on the ball and was about to make the catch when B J Upton came into his eyesight and prompted Gross to take his eye off the ball, which fell to the turf. Upton recieved an error on the play, but all could have been prevented if Upton would have just backed-up Gross instead of trying to make the play himself.

                           

BJ Upton and Jason Bartlett do alot to bring this team up to a higher level, but it is the same things that also bring the team down a notch at time becuase of costly errors or mistakes. Boith made critical errors again in the game both on defense and on the basepaths.

Jason Bartlett actually had a bit of a bad hop at short that prompted his error tonight, but he still did not get the ball in play to try and prevent the hit.

                              

B J Upton again was caught stealing second in the first inning and ended the inning by being tagged out. B J  might be 7th in the AL in steals with 20, but he is also tied for 2nd in the AL leader in being caught stealing 7 times this year.  Baserunning is a hit or miss situation most night, for Upton, it is more miss right now.

      

Now on a positive note, B J  made an awesome play in center to rob the Rangers’ Frank Cattalanatto of a basehit.  Upton has been impressive in his only his second season in the outfield making a boatload of showstopping play this year. But his errors and misplays unfortunately are the play that are being seen around the league. B J  is currently tied for 2nd with 7 outfield assists this year.

Let’s stay on the positive track for a minute here. Evan Longoria made an awesome grab of a short foul pop-up from the bat of Bobby Boggs in the 1st inning. Evan laid out in foul territory and took the ball inches fron the turf for the out.

That is only one of the play that will make this Rookie one of the best defensive third baseman in the teams’  history.  I personally have seen my idol, Brooks Robinson make those kind of plays, and he did very well for himself in the game.

            

 

Rays starter Matt Garza went to the mound today undefeated against the Texas Rangers. Garza was 2-0 with a 1.88 ERA before today’s start.

Garza never seemed to have his susal stuff today in the game. At one point, during a called pitchout by Dioner Navarro, Garza threw the ball to the backstop for a Wild Pitch. He never seemed to be in a groove and the frustration came to a head in the bottom of the 4th inning.

Dioner Navarro, being the new club house leader for the Rays, came out to try and calm Garza down after the incident. Garza was visibly aggitated and fumed with his catcher on the mound. As Navarro turned to go back to the plat, Rays pitching coach, Jim Hickey came out to try and get Garza’s head back into the game.

All seemed back to normal as Garza got David Murphy to ground out to second for the third out of the inning.

“[Garza is] an emotional guy out there on the mound and I was just trying to basically encourage him to channel his emotions more toward the task at hand versus just kind of wasting it out there,” Hickey said. “And I thought he did a pretty good job after that, because it was a pretty heated situation out there. I believe he retired the next two guys.”

In the dugout, Garza renewed his venom at Navarro and the two battery mates had to be restrained by the players and staff in the tunnel area of the dugout. That cued the end of Garza’s game as he gave up 3 runs on 6 hits for the night. After the game, both players and manager Joe Maddon said the tussle was just frustration and was getting worked out between each other.

“Really, you guys, just describe what you saw,” manager Joe Maddon said. “Write what you saw. It’s something we’re going to take care of. And we’re going to take care of it soon.

Just heat of passion,” Garza said. “We’re both competitors. Whatever happened, we’ll just keep it here and we’ll fix it. … This is a great bunch of guys and everybody is on each other’s side. We can fix it.”

Navarro said the problem was “just something that happened in the game.”

“It happens in the family,” he said. “I think everybody is going to be fine from this point on. It was really nothing.”

When asked if he was “square” with Garza, Navarro replied: “Yeah, we’re fine. We’re a whole family here. [Little] brother fights against older brother, stuff like that. Everything’s straight now.”

Let’s hope for Garza’s sake it is all water under the bridge. the talented righty does not need to develop a strained relationship with his starting catcher.

I have to make an observation here, and tell me if I am wrong people.  But is the umpiring this season a bit below par so far this season, or am I imagining bad calls against our team. The Rays have had a recent history of getting shafted by the men in blue, but some of the called pitched tonight were a bit wild to say the least. TV replays showed the pitches to be low and outside and one player was sure to voice is concerning with the set strike zone.

Eric Hinske, the Rays DH today, decided to question the umpire on a called third strike to him in the 6th inning. Replays showed by reading his lips that Hinske did not use vulgar or obusive language to the umpire, so the ejection is questionable at best here. 

 A few innings later, Akinora Iwamura also got a bad called third strike and did his Ichiro imitation and just looked at the umpire with a puzzled look. 

Jason Hamel, of all the Rays relievers right now, you might be the one Joe Maddon is counting on in this suspension situation for a spot start. You did not help yourself by giving up 3 runs in 3.1 innings tonight against Texas. With that, and the upcoming roster moves because of Troy Percival coming off the DL on Friday, you did not set yourself above the group of “maybe” guys.

I am thiknig that a pitcher will be the guy to go on Friday. There are several guys who are totally safe here, Dan Wheeler, Trever Miller, Grant Balfour, and J P Howell.

Guys who might need to show a bit more on the mound are: Hamel, Al Reyes, and Gary Glover.  My pick is Glover, not becuase of bad outings, I just do not see him in the futre of this ballclub and it might be to his best interest to get on with a club who could use his services every other nightl.

Okay all, that is it for tonight.  Remember, to vote for Evan Longoria as the Pepsi Clutch Performer of the Month on MLB.com. 

Also he is a Write-In candidate for the MLB All-Star ballot at third base.  He will get to alot more All-Star games in the future, but this is a chance to get his name out there for nest years’ honor.

I want to Thank Brenton here on MLBlogs.Com for mentioning by Blog on his in the last few days.

Rays fans are coming out of the closet and walking onto the bandwagon in alarming rates. It is great to see another veteran of the lean wins years on this site promoting the ballclub.  I siot in Section 138 at the bottom every game, come on down and say hello anytime.

Cliff

Here is a link to his blog for all my fellow Rays supporter to check out another great Rays writer:

http://Braverays.mlblogs.com

 

 

 

 

 

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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