Results tagged ‘ Jeff Neimann ’

Perfect Sunday for baseball under the Dome

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 disablied 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 Neimann tossed  93 pitches today, in which the Orioles only scored  a lone run and scattered 6 hits against him. This help Neimann collect his first MLB win.  At 6’9″, Neimann  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 centerfield and Justin Ruggiano and Mike DeFelice scored to make it 3-0 before BJ Uptons at bat. BJ 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 BJ 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 baserunning and advancing on plays after a ball is hit.  That is becoming more and more apparent with each of his baserunning 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 alot 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. He 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 Rightfield 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 Lose Close One 3-2

 

Well, it is that time of the night/day that I tell you my thoughts and opinions on the latest Rays loss at the hands of the Baltimore Orioles 6-5. But first, We have to give you some good trivia to make you smile and want to attend Jeff Niemann’s MLB pitching debut tomorrow.

 

 

 

Trivia Question:

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In 1931, Chick Hafey of the St. Louis Cardinals became the first batting champion to wear glasses.

 

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The Good, the Bad and the Ugly    The Good, the Bad and the Ugly     The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

 

Now back to our normally scheduled The Good the Bad, and the Ugly for tonights game.

 

 

                                              The Good

 

The  mire presence of Rays top prospect Evan Longoria must have made an impression on the Rays hopeful fans who do not usually attend games.

 

The Rays experienced  almost a 20 percent increase over attendance from the Friday night contest. I am going to attribute that to the arrival of Longoria tonight, and no the free Rays visors given out to the fans. Evan did almost everything right tonight in his pro debut.  He signed a ball for me after Batting Pratice( again, thank you Evan), he handled the ball numerous times and the throws were tight and on target. And he got a single tonight and his first RBI to top it all off.

 

 

It was a chore just to get the ball for him again. I am getting the impression that the Orioles do not like to give the balls back after major feats, or a rookies first hit, or RBI.  the ball was finally retrieved before we had to send Jonny Gomes over there for it.The  fact that Evan is here will ease the defense about the hot corner. I know from playing third base, it can make or break your ball club in who is manning that spot. If the player has the reactions of a cat, the Hot Corner can be your best friend to your ball club. I personally think it will be manned by Longoria for a long time.

 

But then again, we thought current Oriole and former Ray, Aubrey Huff was the second coming of Wade Boggs.

 

 

*** Rays Designated Hitter/Rightfielder Jonny Gomes cam up as a pinch hitter in the bottom of the 9th tonight and the crowd was on their seats looking for a tying run from the bomber.  Jonny connected on a George Sherrill pitch hit to right field, but it fell just short of the wall for an out.

 

The crowd was totally into the at bat, and the entire Rays and O’s fans in attendance were holding their breath when Gomes hit that monster.

 

 

** The hitting of Centerfielder BJ Upton tonight pulled his average up to above .300 again. Upton is seeing the ball better and his contact with the ball is crisp and on the head right now. I am going to predict he will go on a 10 game hitting streak from tonight on………..knock on good wood everyone.

 

 

*The number one Kudo of the night belongs to Evan, but Carlos Pena did nothing to even sit in the shades tonight. In the earlier innings, Carlos snagged a ball going down the first baseline at a backwards angle, and got the runner with a throw to pitcher Jason Hammel. It was a super play, and should be on the Top 10 plays of the night on ESPN without a doubt.

 

In his next at bat, the crowd was calling for a Home Run. And Carlos did not disappoint his fans this night.  He hit a solo homer to right field that would have cleared any ballpark in the MLB.   Currently, Pena is leading the American League with 5 homers, and is tied for first within RBI’s with Blue Jays Vernon Well for the lead with 12.

 

 

                                             The Bad

 

 

There really wasn’t alot of bad tonight by any one player. There was a few bad moments. And for that reason, I am going to just list three plays that changed the course of the game for the Rays.

 

***  A  series of misplayed flyballs to deep Right Center  by BJ Upton and  Nathan Haynes gave the Orioles  DH Aubrey Huff a ground rule double, and two batter later, Ramon Hernandez got  a triple after some confusion in the outfield.

 

**   The Orioles had brought in Chad Bradford, a sidearm slinging pitcher who seems to hit the top of the dirt during his delivery into the contest. BJ upton managed to get a bunt single to third and was sitting on first base. Bradford has a weird pitching style, and a even wilder pick-off move.

 

It appeared to me that Bradford had twice before shufflied his right rear foot on the rubber before he throws to first base.  BJ did not pick up on this and was cuaght in bewteen first and second for a “caught stealing” attempt. I mention this, because I wonder if BJ sometimes is too aggressive. The reasoning for this, is that he has had three baserunning errors in the past three games. The fact he was caught stealing on this occasion would not have produced a run, but maybe a slight moment of concentration loss is to blame here.

 

* The Rays brought in reliever Dan Wheeler for Trever Miller.  It was 2 outs in the top of the 9th innig with no one on base. Wheeler then served up a home run ball to leftfield for Ramon Hernandez.   He is currently batting .194, and got two RBI’s and a triple and homer tonight against our pitching staff.

 

 

                                       The Ugly

 

The ugly tonight is the baserunning situations that have cost the Rays some runs in the last few games. I have already talked about one of them in the above “Bad” section.  Willy Aybar was hurt when he slide into home after running through a stop sign by  third base coachTom Foley.  In the slide st home, Aybar aggrevated his hamstring and is on the 15 day DL for his actions. Not only BJ Upton, but other Rays have been caught in ” no man’s land” this year by over running the bases, or testing the arms of outfielders in the division.

 

I am all for testing the arms of the players, and triyng to be aggressive at times, but do these players have a  personal “green light” to moonlight decisions on the base paths, or do they just mis read the sign sometimes.

 

There was one play tonight that caught my eye and I am pleased to see it work out for the better.  There was a hit and run play called with BJ Upton on second and Eric Hinske up to bat.  BJ Upton was on the move and Hinske hit a beautiful ball to left center to move BJ to third. During the next at bat, Evan Longoria hit the ball to left field and scored Upton.

 

I guess you just have to play the odds sometimes when you are running the bases. But at  this early junction in the year, are the actions worth a possible loss……….we shall keep this in our sights and see what develops here.

 

 

Rays Former Player of the Day

 

Current second baseman Brendan Harris of the Minnesota Twins is batting .367.

Tonight he was 2-4 with a pair of singles. He also was the pivot man for a 5-4-3 double play to end tonights win for the Twins.    

 

 

 

 

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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