Results tagged ‘ Scott Dohmann ’

Rays Tantalizing Morsels

 


 

Gary Sheffield
 

It seems like some of the dominoes around Major League Baseball are beginning to fall as the Detroit Tigers took the first big step by releasing their old star Gary Sheffield today. What is more amazing about this release is the fact that the Tigers were willing to eat his $ 14 million dollar contract than to even use his services this year at all. Considering they do not even see him as a Designated hitter for then this year is a major departure from their 2008 scenario concerning Sheffield. What might also seem a bit odd is the fact that he is only 1 home run shy of 500 for his career. Usually a team would see that and use it for the promotional value it has for ticket sales. But I guess the Tigers are done with “Sheffy’s” antics and big white puffy Chef hats in the stands in Comerica Park.
 
 

You have to believe that the Tiger have already tried to shop Sheffield around the league, but with his huge salary on the book for the 2009 season, it makes him a bit unattractive to teams right now. By releasing him, the team will eat his contract and he will be available to all 30 teams in any capacity this season. I believe the only requirement to sign him would be that the team taking him on in 2009 will be responsible for paying the league minimum back to the tiger’s for his services. You might want to keep an eye on the Toronto Blue Jays, who might come a round and snatch the aging outfielder and DH to try and help their offense this year.

It is also known that Sheffield would love to play for his hometown Tampa Bay Rays. the only problem would be that he would have to demonstrate that he can play the outfield most of the time, but could be a bargain pick-up by the Rays. Considering they would only be on the hook for $ 400,000 of his $ 14 million contract this season, he could be a attractive alternative to one of the two Gabe’s currently manning the right field spot for the Rays. But this is purely speculation until he clears waivers later this week. But in an interview with the St Petersburg Times, Rays Manager Joe Maddon  did say that, ” That’s very complimentary that he would want to come play for us. I saw him during the off season, and he’s in great shape, he’s a strong person. And I like him.” To even consider this type of addition to the team, the Rays must think long and hard as to the advantages and disasterious situation concerning the future Hall of Famer.

Fitting him into the current Rays roster would be creative at best. But the team has never been shy about upgrades to their team and could possibly entertain the addition.  But the addition of Sheffield might be a defensive nightmare, and the Rays have been building a team stressing the fundamentals and advantages of defensive excellence the past two seasons.  Sheffield has been adamant that he “feels good” and can play the outfield for his next team.  Sheffield stated to reporters today, ” I have a lot left.  I know that.  If one person doesn’t think I can play in the field, that’s their opinion.  I know I can. No one else knows my body better than me.” Sheffield would be a offensive upgrade in right field for the Rays, but can that counter any possible defensive lapses or problems down the line. But  with only a $ 400,000 salary, could  the Rays actually entertain the idea of getting a former superstar, who is about to hit a monumental plateau of 500 home runs and just let him slip away without a second thought. After the star clears waivers he can be signed by any of the other 29 teams in the league. Who knows where “Sheffy” will land in 2009. But the odds are in his favor to find a team willing to take a chance on the aging star…… maybe even in his home town.


 

             

 
Jeff Niemann
 

In the last 24 hours the Tampa Bay Rays have been chatting with several teams about the possibilities of either, and maybe both Jason Hammel and Jeff Niemann leaving the squad for destination unknown at this time. The San Diego Post-Union has an article online about their seeking of pitching with a picture of Rays starter Niemann attached with the article.  The San Diego Padres got more into the talks for Niemann after they found out that pitcher Cha Seung Baek’s  upper forearm strain would set the number 3 starter down for at least a week, and maybe more.  The Rays seem to be asking for lower level prospects ( Double-A and below) and the current asking price is not within the Padre’s considerations.

 

Besides the Padres, it is possible that the Pittsburgh Pirates also have a keen eye on Niemann.  But as happens at this time of year, other teams have now poked their fingers towards the Rays to see just how interested they are in maybe moving the duo. In the past 24 hours the Texas Rangers, Cleveland Indians and the Washington Nationals have expressed some questions towards the Rays about the pair. It might also be possible that the Milwaukee Brewer’s might also be sniffing around considering their unhappiness with their starters this spring.  One name that will not come up again with Niemann is the L A Angels, who were high on the tall rightie last season, but seem to be uninterested at this time.

 
                                

Jason Hammel
 

As the second part of the Rays quest for s fifth starter this year, Jason Hammel seemed to have a leg up on the competition, but after a strong 6-inning shutout by Niemann yesterday, the duo might be closer than ever in the Rays eyes. By finding a suitor for either of them, the Rays would take the guesswork out of their decision and also benefit by obtaining some new blood into the m
inor league farm system. Hammel has been the most consistent this spring, but do the Rays really consider him a starter after his impressive displays in the Bullpen in 2008.

 
He also did start for the team during Scott Kazmir’s time on the D L early last spring,  and proved to be a great fill-in as Kazmir regained his strength and happily went to the Bullpen without incident in 2008.  During the year Hammel did have a few bumps in the road, the he seemed to have adjusted to life in the Bullpen for the team. Never considered a back-end alternative for the team, he did get his first MLB save in a late inning appearance in Boston by holding the Red Sox scoreless until  the Rays finally countered to win the game. Hammel’s name has come up in recent articles on Fanhouse.com as the Rockies are seeking a few upgrades to their current starting pitching rotation too.
 

Hanley Ramirez Wigging Out

 
I recently saw this article on Sun-Sentinel.com about Florida/Miami Marlin shortstop/superstar Hanley Ramirez getting upset over the new team hair and jewelery policy.  It was said that Ramirez had such a displeasure of the new rule that he actually walked through the locker room with a message across his chest in black sharpie.  It was said that he had ” I am sick of this S*** ” written on his chest for all to see in the clubhouse. It seems a bit odd that the team would try and alienate the one guy who they seems to value in their clubhouse for his abilities and talents.
 

You might not know this, but Ramirez has his hair in cornrow ala Manny ( no relation) Ramirez and had to cut his coiled locks to conform with the new team directive.  Rumors are running rampant on why the team front office has made these changes since they are the same front office that has been here for several seasons. Could the show of respectability and maybe clean-cut appearance be a precursor to the team getting their lion’s share of the local bonds to finally start construction on their retractable roof stadium?

 

 

Weirder things have happened in Miami than this.  But to be honest, not only Ramirez was effected by the new rules. Also trimming their locks were pitchers Josh Johnson, Lou Nunez and outfielder Cameron Maybin.  It is usually a rule like this that can bond a team over the season, but because of Ramirez’s response, could it actually drive a wedge into his mindset and effect his performance in 2009.  Also in the new rules is a no exposed jewelery mention, but no one on the team currently seems to dress out for games looking like Tony Montana at the disco, so there will be no sharpie incident on this point. Even though jewelery can glitter and cast a nice gleam off your skin in the Florida sun, it can also be considered an annoyance to hitters or even fielders at time in the high noon sun of South Florida.

 
 
Cromier and Izzy
 

Another duo that might bring the Rays a few sleepless nights is how they can posture to keep two members of their Bullpen without maybe losing them either by the waiver wire or by trade. Lance Cormier has been impressive this year for the Rays since signing on January 16, 2008.  He had produced a 1.23 ERA in 10 appearance so far this spring for the Rays with 10 strikeouts in 14.2 innings.  He is considered a huge upgrade to either of the Rays 2008 Bullpen mates Scott Dohmann and Gary Glover, who made the team’s 25-man roster out of Spring Training last year.
 
 

Another interesting piece to the Rays Bullpen is the great pitching of former Cardinals closer Jason Isringhausen. Since his many physical and mental situation of 2008, Isringhausen has been the find of the 2009 Bullpen and could be valuable to the Rays in many situations. Considering he has 293 saves to his credit, he could be a valuable member of the late inning corp for the Rays. But even with the renewed vigor and vitality of current closer Troy Percival, it give the team another option, and even a solid 8th inning alternative to Dan Wheeler.

 
 

Both men could make the Rays 25-man roster coming out of Spring Training, but there is only one position at this time barring a trade of another member of the staff. Both are huge additions to the Bullpen and will be great additions to the improved look and fear factor of the 2009 possible Rays Bullpen. The team can not possibly get Cormier through waivers since he signed a $ 675 major league contract. They would have to find an alternative, or trade a member of their current pitching staff to keep him safely on their roster. Isringhausen could possibly be put on the DL for a short period to continue his workouts and eventually come back onto the Rays 25-man roster. But considering he has pitched effectively this spring, this kind of manuver might only stall their decision for a short period of time.

 
 
 
 
 
Photo Credits:     1) www.sportsnet.ca
                           2) Associated Press ( Steve Senne )
                           3) www.Bradenton.com
                    &n
bsp;      4)
www.news.yahoo.com
                         

Checking in on some Ex-Rays this Spring

 

 

 
 
 
I mentioned in a blog a few months ago that they Tampa Bay Rays had changed a bit when 10 members of the 2008 American League Pennant winning team either left via trade or were not resigned by the team. Well, I was sitting here today and was wondering what might have happened with those guys after they left the team in the off season. Well after doing a bit of research, I can tell you pretty much what they have been up to with their posted statistics as of last night ( March 20th). 
 
 
 
Some of the guys have fallen off the total Major League Baseball radar, but a few are having the type of spring that the Rays envisioned them having when they were with the club.  I guess the best one to start with is the one player who left via a trade this off season that was greeted by some with cheers and other with the true ability of filling one of the team’s biggest holes with a future budding star. When the trade first went down, I was not totally with it, because I envision a breakout year for this pitcher once he gains some control and confidence on the mound. But with his team tying 14 wins in 2008, I was expecting a little more out of him this spring.

 


 

 
Edwin Jackson is currently in the hunt for a spot on the Detroit Tigers starting rotation. I think he has a good shot to make the final 25-man roster even if he is not a starter this year. His ability to start and relieve make him an enticing pitching piece to the Tiger puzzle. If the Tigers can not agree upon a closer, you might even see him taking a few turns late in the game on the mound to further make the Tiger’s mouths water. But this spring, he has posted a 0-2 record in his 3 starts. He has thrown for 9 innings and given up 4 hits and 7 runs. The worst part is he has surrendered 3 home runs this spring, which was his downfall last season.  He has not gained total control in his pitch command yet evident by his 6 walks and 8 strikeouts. 



 
 
Cliff Floyd was again as free agent after the Rays declined his option on November 3, 2008. At the time, Floyd was considering the same surgery as  B J Upton, but decided to rehab his injury instead. That might have been a great idea as the former Rays Designated Hitter is hitting a robust .381 this spring with a .667 Slugging percentage. He is also still seeing the ball well at the plate getting 4 walks this spring. The only downfall is that he has been mostly DHing with the San Diego Padres, and during the regular season he will either have to play in the field, or be just a bench player for the team most of the year. His 2 doubles show he still has some ability left in his old legs, but it is his power ( 1 HR, 5 RBI’s) that will get him a chance with the Padres. 
 

 
Eric Hinske was one of the Rays major finds in 2008. He was signed for a simple $ 1 million dollar contract and only hit like he was making over 3.5 million. Even in his limited at bats, he made them count for the Rays and was always a constant positive influence in the clubhouse.  But the Rays did not try and resign him and he moved onto the Pittsburgh Pirates who were seeking outfielders. This spring, on Feb 26th, Hinske suffered a left ribcage contusion after smacking into the wall at Pirate City in Bradenton, Florida. Until recently he has been held out by the Pirates as a precaution, but is now starting to get at bats and time in the outfield. His average is not “Hinske-like”, as he is only 1-7 right now, but his .400 On-Base Percentage shows that he still has a great eye at the plate and will be an asset to the Pirates in 2009.
 
 

 
Gary Glover was the kind of reliever that you either loved or hated with the Rays. He had an up and down love affair with the fans, and his pitching with the team never hit a consistent point. But after being released by the Rays, he cleared waivers, but refused a assignment to Triple-A and became a free agent on August 2, 2008. He signed this off season with the Washington Nationals and is currently throwing some great ball for the squad.  Glover is currently holding a 0-1 record with a 1.80 ERA in his 4 appearances for the Nationals this spring. In his 5 innings he has only given up 4 hits and a solo run. He has seemed to gain a bit more control as he has only 2 walks and 5 strikeouts in those 5 innings. 
 
 

 
Al Reyes and Kurt Birkins are two relievers for the Rays that currently do not have any ties with a single Major League Team. Reyes was designated for assignment by the Rays and was not claimed, but he refused an assignment to Triple-A and was released as a free agent on August 18, 2008.  He did sign with the New York Mets organization and did have a small part in the New York Mets minor league system before he was released on September 18, 2008 by the parent club. He has not been invited or appeared for any club so far this spring. Birkins was released by the Rays on August 29, 2008. He did not get picked up by another club that season and is currently not on a Major League Baseball roster.

 

 

Rocco Baldelli
 
did not have his 2009 option picked up by the Rays on April 1, 2008. The Ray decided to not exercise the option because of his growing health concerns with his fatigue syndrome illness. But Baldelli made huge physical and medical advancements and finally joined the Rays roster in September in Seattle. He performed amazingly for the team in the final month of the season and was a pivotal player during thei
r first playoff run. But the team decided to not pursue Baldelli and he signed with his hometown Boston Red Sox instead. Baldelli is being viewed as a fourth outfielder and occasional DH for the Red Sox. He has been used in 8 games this spring, and had gotten 24 at bats, which produced 5 hits, and 2 doubles and 4 RBI’s for his new Red Sox team. It is still a bit unnerving to see him in the Boston red jersey after his entire career as a Ray.
 
 

Trever Miller was another player who had his option declined by the Rays on November 3, 2008. But Miller, being a lefty specialist did not hang out long on the unemployed list as the St Louis Cardinals came fast to sign him to a two-year contract. But with their hunt for a closer for 2009, he might be a few reps trying to close out games in the late innings this spring and during the beginning of the year for the Cardinals. So far this spring he has appeared in 8 games and has an 0-1 record. He has posted a 3.86 ERA and given up 8 hits and 3 runs in 7 innings of work. He has hit 2 batters and also gotten 6 strikeouts in his limited pitching performances this spring. He will be a valued member of the Cardinal Bullpen when they leave Florida and head north this April.
 

 
                         

 

Jonny Gomes
has been called many thing when he was with the Rays. He has been an inspirational figure, a feared man at the plate, and a great guy to have in your clubhouse. but the Rays decided to non-tender Gomes on December 12, 2008. Gomes is now fighting for a outfield position with the Cincinnati Reds, and is making quite an impression on Reds Manager Dusty Baker. He is considered to be fighting with Chris Dickerson for the left field spot in the regular lineup. Gomes had made quite a case for himself this spring hitting  for a .286 average, with a .679 Slugging Percentage.  He has appeared in 17 games and gotten only 28 at bats, but has produced 8 hits, 2 doubles to go along with 3 homers and 10 RBI’s for the Reds. I can not see the Reds going north without Gomes this April. He has the ability and the confidence to again be a daily member of a MLB squad.
 
 

 
Scott Dohmann was the last pick for the Rays Bullpen out of the mix in 2008. He beat out Grant Balfour, who was none to happy to begin the year in Triple-A. But Dohmann did not keep his consistent pitching and was finally jettisoned as the Rays put him on waivers on May 14, 2008. He did clear waivers and was sent to Durham, where he stayed the entire season throwing great ball for the Durham Bulls. But this past off season, he became one of four pitchers to sign contracts with the Japanese Baseball League. He ended up singing a one-year $ 650,000 guaranteed contract with the Hiroshima Carp.
 
 

Tim Boggart, who was the Rays Quality Assurance Coach also left the team this off season. In that post he sat basically in the Press Box and overlooked the Rays during the game and watched for subtle gestures or even player movements that might tip off the opposition to what the Rays had planned on the field or mound. This was the first time the Rays had instituted this type of position, basically acting as a internal scout during every game. In the off season he accepted a contract to take over the Third Base Coaching position with the divisional rivals, the Boston Red Sox.
 
 

So the Rays have changed a bit between the last game of the World Series in Philadelphia and today. But the spirit and the confidence in this team have grown from the signings of relief pitchers Jason Isringhausen and Joe Nelson and Brian Shouse. The Bullpen, which was one of the true Rays strengths in 2008 has been fortified with a bevy of better situational and late inning guys. The Rays took care of their right field needs by signing Gabe Gross and acquiring Matt Joyce from Detroit for Jackson. But the signing of Pat Burrell to replace Cliff Floyd might have been the biggest indicator of the Rays commitment to getting back and finishing the job in 2009. It is going to be a rough and tumble year, but the team seems set to again strive for excellence, even with a few pieces swapped out from their 2008 model.
 
 
 
 
 
Photo credits:   1) RRCollections
                            2) Associated Press ( S. Rakocic )
                            3) www.tbo.com.sports
                            4) www.sarasota.com
 
 

Are the Rays Finished Adding Pieces for 2009?

 

 

 

So after the latest signing of former Phillie Pat Burrell to the roster, are the Tampa Bay Rays going to stand pat for the 2009 season, or is now when the real magic is going to happen for the team. You want to believe that the Rays holy trinity of Stuart Sternberg, Matt Silverman and Andrew Friedman have not closed the coffers and still might have a few tricks up their sleeves for 2009.

 


You have to believe that the recent activity by the team is not the total resetting of the roster. That there are still a few deals sitting in the corners gathering a bit of dust, but not without merit here. I see the roster as 75 percent complete, with some Spring training signing recently maybe pushing it to 80 percent done for the season.

 

 


With the signing of former Marlin Joe Nelson before the New Year, the Rays did more than just get a qualified reliever for their Bullpen. They got an upgrade to the Trever Miller or even Gary Glover or Scott Dohmann additions in 2008.  Nelson can carry a bit more of the load than either of those three guys by actually closing games if called upon to do so for the Rays. And with the health of Troy Percival basically being that only he knows EVER if he is healthy, and even then still wants to pitch in games.

 



There is a time when being a  strong competitor can actually weaken you ball club. If you need any examples of that, just look to the mound conversations that Rays Manager Joe Maddon had with Percival during the season in Boston, Oakland, and even at Tropicana Field. You have to admire the bravery and the commitment to your team, but the sacrifice has to be mutual. You do not give up yourself if you also upset the balance and the strength of your Bullpen, which Percival did for a short period of time twice in 2008.

 

 


Some people have already called out the  signing as Pat Burrell as mediocre at best for the Rays. I do not understand how you can even signal such a sign to the nation when the guy has been consistent with his bat almost his entire career. And also has been a key member of his last squad and not a replacement or second tier player. The signing of Burrell will help protect Evan Longoria, and it is a role that Burrell knows well from doing the same job with the Phillie’s for years.

That is right, Burrell’s numbers might be a bit weaker than you might want, but after years of sitting in the order behind Ryan Howard and giving teams the option of who to pitch to in games, he might actually see more of those meatball pitches this season because of the two guys in front of him. With Longoria and Carlos Pena penciled into the lineup in front of Burrell, he will see more pitches, and considerably more fastballs than he has seen in recent years. And to top that off with the fact that Stat guru Bill James thinks that with Burrell added to the power grid in Tampa Bay, the Rays “Big 3 ” might top 100 homer in 2009.

 

 


But what about the other holes in the Tampa Bay armor that need to be addressed. The two mentioned above are upgrades on the 2008 model without a doubt. But people are still pointing to right field and saying that the team did not get better there in any shape or form. Again, that is your own perception, and to forget about either outfielders’ Gabe Gross or even new Rays Matt Joyce is an insult. Both of these guys could be great parts of the Rays puzzle in 2009. Both are great professionals who work hard and hit the ball with power.

 


You never know, Joyce could surprise everyone on the Rays coaching staff and come away with the starting nod in Boston for the first game. I actually loved the trade for it’s youthful side, plus the added feature of Joyce played well against the Rays in 2008, so there is a track record of the guy rising to the occasion. If this was to happen, then you have someone like Gross who could fetch a good level player in return in a trade, or even maybe two if a team is desperate for a great outfield addition.

 

 


2009 will have more surprises before the guys clean out their Spring Training lockers in Port Charlotte. I actually think that there is about 2 more trades that need to be addressed even before the beginning of the season.  Another guy who might not be a member of the Rays when they head to Boston is reliever Chad Bradford. He did exceptionally well in 2008, but his over $ 3 million dollar salary might be a problem more than a solution in 2009.

 


Bradford is a extremely unusual pitcher in his style of pitching and also his way of inducing those ground ball outs for the Rays. I remember when he played for the Baltimore Orioles, I could not imagine watching his pitches come in and actually rise towards you instead of break away from you. The adjustment and the concentration needed to hit that kind of pitch is extreme indeed. So Bradford might not have a different home in 2009, but it is not like the Rays do not have options in the matter.

 

 


We actually have a guy invited to Spring Training who might equal Bradfords ground ball numbers, and if the both make the roster, it could be a two-fold gift for the Rays. Randy Choate has played in the American League before, and is another guy who throws sidearm with gusto. Most of the Rays fans might remember him as a member of the New York Yankees, who was a leftie specialist, and also a great ground ball pitcher. With both of these guys on the Rays roster, the Rays defense will see more possible plays in the infield, which translates into more possible outs by that stellar group.

 

 


So the Rays might need to hope that Choate makes the squad to boost that percentage up to 90 percent prior to the 2009 Opening Day. One piece that I still fell might be missing from the Rays actually might be their own device right now. Rocco Baldelli has been approached and swooned by a few clubs this past off season, but they have not gotten him to sign. I think the Rays need to open the coffers just a small bit and sign him as soon as possible. You know he will give the team a bit of a discount because of everything the team has done the last few seasons.

 

 


Truly, do you think if you matched an offer from Cincinnati or even Boston, Rocco would not sign with the Rays?  You have to know that the team must have been thrilled to learn the news that the first prognosis of his illness was incorrect. The Rays must have been jumping for joy in the aspect that Rocco maybe could become an everyday player again in the league. And if that happened, doesn’t that also open the door to him taking right field as his own and truly pushing the naysayers away with gusto that the Rays upgraded themselves in every position that was weak in 2008.

 


The Rocco possibility is just that right now, a possibility, but it gives a new light and a new direction to the team that was not there a few months ago. The only weaknesses on this team to the eye was at Designated Hitter, Right Field, and another possible “lights out” reliever. With the past two signings, and the possible addition of Choate as a left-hander to the Bullpen, the team might have improved  even more than in 2008.


 

 


And it is what the Rays will need to do in 2009. They must improve in a few areas to even try and make a run at a post season bid again in 2009. The Yankees have loaded up and will have a few kinks during the season as always, but then Boston is retooled in their pitching to stop people in their tracks in 2009. The AL East will be a battleground in 2009, with maybe the winner of the division only winning 90 games this coming season. 

 

 

 

Also do not forget that Toronto and Baltimore will have a lot to say about who gets the crown in 2009 for the American League East.  All 5 of the squads in this division know that it is “put up, or shut up” time in the division. Teams are beginning to look at the Rays method of success and will try and build their team in a shadow of that image in 2009.  It is not a question of “Who will be the Rays of 2009″. It is more a question of, “Are the Rays batter in 2009?”  If the answers come out right, there will be more champagne celebration in our future. And a lot of second guessing by other teams.

 

 

 

Rays Last 3 Arbitration Eligible Players…..Outfield and Pitching

 

 

 

The  huge celebrations has died down to the point that now we remember them only by using the glossy pictures and video to remind us of the time, place and who we were with when the Rays climbed the  postseason mountain in 2008. Little remains of the celebrations at the vacant Trop. But the stadium is full of activity as the crews are rapidly moving to transform the Dome into a viable football arena, The pitching mound is missing, base paths are gone, and the field is being fitted and lined for the St. Petersburg Bowl, which will debut this year in the stadium. It will be odd to sit there and watch a  college football game at the Trop., knowing that in less than 90 days after the game, baseball will be back at the Tropicana Field.

 

But not gone is the fact that the team was in line for  huge shares of the playoff booty from MLB, and they got the  fantastic news about their bounty on Tuesday. According to MLB, the Rays will distribute over $ 12,278238.61 in a 43-way pile to players and other Rays personnel. You have to hope that Bullpen Catcher Scott Cursi got a nice chunk of change from the playoff pie and will not have to umpire as much this off season. The Rays split was about $ 223,390.05 per share, a nice chunk of change for a months worth of sweat and tears. To put that into consideration for players playing under a minimum MLB salary, they will receive almost half their yearly salary for a month of playoff baseball. 

 

        

 

It is totally amazing to me the amount of money flowing out of the baseball coffers after  the complaints being thrown throughout the newspapers and blogs during the  2008 playoffs.  MLB was huffing and puffing about the lack of viewership on Television and the weather situations surrounding the World Series, but in the end, even the first ones eliminated in the AL, the Chicago White Sox, who lost to the A L Champion Rays in the ALDS, got to take away  over $ 27,828.33  each in players’ shares. Not a bad gig if you can get it. That is more than I made in 2008 so far.

 

 

Okay, back to the  main issue here. Today I am going to highlight the last 3  Rays players’ who are eligible for  non-tendered arbitration for the Tampa Bay Rays. They are as  pretty diverse group. You have a devoted church-goer and all-around good guy, an aggressive extrovert  Aussie who moonlights in the World Baseball Classic, and a guy struggling to get respect for his talent, but is a better pitcher than advertised.

 


Each has a place on this team that was  exciting and unique. All three helped set the tone in positively different ways for the team in 2008. But I am again going to put myself into Andrew Friedman’s head and try and divulge and dissect the players into rationale pieces. Will these three guys be the foundation of another great Rays team, or do they need to be jettisoned to make the team better in 2009. By my evaluations I will decide if I would grant or deny any of these three an opportunity to upgrade their salary and continue playing for the Tampa Bay Rays in 2009.

 

 And now, on with the show:

 

 

                            

 

Gabe Gross:

 

Gabe Gross had one of the best seasons of his major league career after he was traded to the Tampa Bay Rays. He hit personal highs in hits, home runs and RBI’s as well as getting 5 outfield assists for the team, second only to B J Upton’s 12 assists. But beyond that, Gross also became Mr “Big Time” for the Rays.  Not only could he be the defensive player they needed down the first baseline for the Rays, but his bat had magic in 2008.

 

Even on the night he was acquired by the Rays, the former Brewer scored his teams go-ahead run to win that game before heading to Orlando to meet up with his new team. Since he has gotten here, he has lit up the clubhouse with positive comments and actions, and totally won over the crowd in right-field with his play. But his bat is the thing that set him apart in 2008.

 

 He was one of the only guys on the roster who was money with guys in scoring position in 2008. And because of that, a lot of his RBI’s came in the later innings in games when he was put in as a defensive specialist for the Rays.  He had only one walk-off homer against the Chicago White Sox on June 1, 2008, but 4 times he teamed up with team mates for back-to-back homers.

 

 

 

That went a long way for the Rays establishing leads and putting the game out of reach. Gross also hit 7 solo homers and 6 2-run shots during 2008. To say he was clutch would be an understatement.  He played in only 78 games in 2008 since being acquired for a minor league pitcher, Billy Butler. But along the way he hit a tape measure 437 foot homer against the Cleveland Indians to tie that game on August 6th.

 

14 of his 38 RBI’s were either game-winning or game tying in 2008.  He has 3 walk-off  RBI’s, matching the Rays team record. One of those was a walk-off homers against  White Sox reliever Matt Thorton, which was his first career homer off a left-handed pitcher. 

 

 

 

 

Gross has been a model Rays from start to finish and the team would be truly rewarded if they granted arbitration to Gross for the 2009 season. With the flux of not having a designated right-fielder in house, Gross is also a huge advantage for the Rays in that they do not have to be desperate seeking a outfielder, and would be totally confident to give the position to Gross for 2009.  His 2009 salary could bump up to $ 1.3 million dollars, which is well within the range of a competent 4th outfielder who can hit and play defense with the best of them.

 

 

 

 

Edwin Jackson:

 

Anyone who knows me knows that this one will be personal. I am a huge fan of the guy ever since I first met him at a Spring Training game a few years ago and told him he will love it here. Funny how people can be attracted to certain types of ballplayers. Jackson is the type of player I enjoy watching pitch and learn the game of baseball.

 

He was a former sixth round pick of the Los Angeles Dodgers as an outfielder, but was converted to a pitcher by the Dodgers’ staff. This is only his 4th season as a pitcher and I have seen improvement every year he has been in our system.  He is also one of those guys who is humble enough to chat and sign for fans as long as he can for the joy of it, not because it is his duty.

 

Now that Jackson has turned 25, we can finally cal, him a veteran on the rotation.  But did you know that he has now made 77 career starts as a pitcher, 63 of them for the Rays.  This season he tied the Rays record for wins with James Shields and Rolando Arroyo with his 14th win. His previous best was his 7 wins in 2007.  He also posted only his 2nd winning season as a professional. He was 2-1 in 2004.

 

 

 

 

He threw a total of 183.1 innings in 2008, which was over 22 innings more than any other time in his career.  He ended the month of August with a 2.27 ERA, the best on the staff and 4th best in the American League. He also tied a Rays record for 4 wins in August.  He had a 4- straight game win streak earlier in the season from July 25- August 10th.

 

He also won 6 out of 7 starts up to August 10th posting a 2.59 ERA during the streak.  He had a streak of 20 straight scoreless innings over the span of 3 starts from May 8-18th.  That set a record for a Rays starter, and was only 1 inning off the all-time Rays record of 21 set by Joe Borowski in 2005. 

 

Jackson is known for his high-powered fastball that can reach the top 90’s with a slight dip, but his curve and slider can sometimes just rumble through the strike zone and has been his problem pitches this season. Jackson was also involved and suspended for the Boston-Tampa Bay fiasco in Fenway Park because of his run towards the mound during the scuffle.  It was said he was punching and hitting  Coco Crisp at the bottom of the pile, but photos show he lost his shoe on the way to the mound and did not arrive until late in the event. He served a 5-game suspension from June 22-27th.

 

 

 

If I were Andrew Friedman, I would first sit down with Rays Manager Joe Maddon and Pitching Coach Jim Hickey and see what the Rays have in store for Jackson in the near future. With the aspect of David Price coming into the rotation, the Rays must make some adjustments to either Jackson or Andy Sonnanstine in the starting rotation.

 

If the Rays think that Jackson would be valuable in either the rotation or the Bullpen, then they should offer him arbitration and get him settled for 2009. Also on the horizon is interest by several clubs in Jackson over the past 2 seasons. The New York Mets, Seattle Mariners have expressed interest in the developing right hander.

 

Remember, that this guy is still learning the art of pitching, and 2008 was his best season to date, with unlimited potential and growth in the next few seasons.   Jackson could look forward to a salary in the $ 2.5 Million dollar range after an arbitration hearing.

 

 

 

Grant Balfour:

 

I did not know what to expect in 2007 when the Rays sent my buddy Seth McClung to the Brewers’ for the Aussie reliever. He came into the Rays Bullpen and was average at best in 2007. He lacked a certain intensity and velocity to his pitching, but all that changed after Spring Training in 2008. Balfour was not selected to the Rays Bullpen losing out to Scott Dohmann for the last spot in the Bullpen.

 

Balfour did not stress it and went down to the Durham Bulls with a chip on his shoulder and fire in his belly. When he came back up to the Rays Bullpen, he made it very difficult for the team to even consider sending him back to the minor leagues. Down the stretch, Balfour and J P Howell were the core of a Bullpen unit that shut down some of the best hitter in the entire league.

 

Balfour down the stretch pitched in 17 of the team’s last 34 games.  In 15 of those outing he pitched scoreless frames for the Rays.  Overall in 2008, the Rays went 32-19 in ballgames he came into from the Bullpen.  He also tied for tops in wins in 2008 in the Bullpen with 6 wins, tied with J P Howell.  He leads all MLB relievers with a 12.66 strikeout per 9 innings ratio, pitching 58.1 innings and recording 82 strikeouts on the year.

 

 

 

Balfour also was tops in the majors by fanning 36 percent of the batters he faced, and  his 1.54 ERA was also the  4th best ERA posted by a reliever in the majors this season.  His .143 opponents batting average was best in the AL, and second in the MLB to the Cub’s Carlos Marmol.  He also allowed only 3 homers and 11 extra base hits all season long.

 

He also had a .230 slugging Percentage against him, second lowest in the majors. Balfour also provided support as the Rays closer during Troy Percivals’ many DL trips in 2008. During this time he preserved 3 out of the 4 save opportunities for the Rays.

 

 

 

Put all these statistics along with a on-mound intensity not seen in the past by the Rays and you have the total package for the Bullpen. It is a sure bet that to invest in Balfour would be a great investment for the Rays. So to offer him arbitration might be a moot point. If anyone deserved a raise in 2009, it would be the members of the Bullpen who kept the teams in games all year long. With an arbitration hearing, Balfour could increase his salary to about $ 1.2 million dollars. Every penny of it will come with emotion and energy, just what they Rays need in 2009 to defend their A L East crown.

 

Next Class of Arbitration for the Rays:

 

The next group to hit the arbitration ranks for the Rays will boost the payroll in a major way. Players like infielders Ben Zobrist, Willy Aybar will have their first go at the process. Catcher Shawn Riggans will be eligible. And B J Upton will also be presented with his first arbitration decision as a professional.

 

In the pitching department, we have people like J P Howell and starter Matt Garza.  You can see several of the above players maybe being offered long term or even extension to combat the arbitration process. It was said that in 2006, the Rays wanted to make a long-term deal with B J Upton, but the deal was not formulated or completed in time.

 

I could see Matt Garza and maybe even Ben Zobrist getting an extension to cover a few of their arbitration years. and maybe even a year or two of their free agency like the deals given to James Shields, Scott Kazmir and Evan Longoria in the last several seasons.  So we have that to look forward to in 12 months time.

 

 

 

 

Middle Reliever “Wish List ” for Rays Hot Stove Simmerings

 

 

 

Just wanted to let my fellow MLB bloggers and the rest of the world know about a huge soda promotion happening only this Sunday.  Dr. Pepper, one of the biggest producers of soft drinks in the world will be giving everyone in America one 20 oz Dr Pepper product FREE on Sunday.

 

This is because of a promise the company made during 2008 that if the band Guns & Roses were to release an album in 2008, Free soda for everyone. So starting at midnight on Sunday, you can go to the Dr Pepper website at www.drpepper.com and get a printable coupon for your FREE soda.  The only bad thing is that it is limited to  1 soda per household………….bummer.

 

 

 I seriously feel that one of the owrst jobs in the majors is to be a relief pitcher.  Think about it, you have to ready within a minutes notice and have to be abreast of the entire lineup and how they are hitting a certain pitch at all times during every game. And above all of that you have to be able to get loose fast and go in when you might not be totally loose and ready to throw.

 

It is a thankless job, but one that the Rays have proved in 2008 can be inproved in just one year. The Rays went from haviong one of the worst Bullpen ever in the majors, to posting a huge improvement and a great ranking in 2008. One of the reason the team got to the post season was based on their improvements in the Bullpen and the versatility fo everyone in the Bullpen to swap roles without problems.

 

So my “Wish List for 2009″  for our Bullpen might be  a bit small, but it could always get better. Every year you have to do some form of upgrade to your pen, or batters’ will figure out the pitchers and then you have problems.

 

There are 10 former Rays in the mix as free agents in 2009 in the major leagues. Guys from former starters Tanyon Strutze ( Dodgers), Casey Fossum ( Tigers) and Doug Waechter (Marlins). All 3 of these guys have positives that could land them again with the team, but I thiunk that the Rays Bullpen have moved beyond just filling positions now and can compete every year with some of the best Bullpens in baseball.

 

                    

 

We also have such guys as 2008 Rays, Gary Glover ( Tigers), Al Reyes ( Mets), and Scott Dohmann( Durham Bulls) looking for teams in 2009. I really do not see any of these guys getting another stay in Tampa Bay. I think that Glover is just a bandaid type of guy you can use with injuires on your staff, and Dohmann is just not the right guy for the Rays anymore.  

 

Dohmann made the 2008 roster and we sent Grant Balfour to the minor leagues. Where Balfour made the adjustments and did the work on his pitches, Dohmann did outstanding for the Bulls, but is not the sort of guy we need in 2009. Al Reyes, well he simply has not gotten the giddy-up back on his fastball since his first injury and might not even be healthy now.

 

The you got guys that have been gone from the franchise for a bit like Lee Gardner ( Marlins), who had a huge upsdie a few years ago and fought to be the team’s clsoer, but did not have the killer instinct needed to pull the trigger for the Rays. Or you guys like Todd Jones ( Tigers) who have retired, but might try to come back for a last paycheck. Jones was only here for a Spring Training run, but he did go on to produce for the Marlins and the Tigers after leaving the Rays.

 

                     

 

Then you have the enigma that is Jorge Sosa. He left the Rays and had a few great seasons rolling with the Braves, Nationals and Mets before inploding and becoming a liablity to your staff. He was released by the Mets and signed by the Mariners’ to a minor league contract only to get hit with a 50-game suspension for a drug related offense. He had a great future in the game, but might have resorted to help to get back to the majors. I wish him luck and more if he can get himself straight.

 

 

Okay, the only ex-Ray I want for my staff is also one of the guys that is hot right now in the MLB. Joe Biemel (Dodgers) is a great pitcher who has gotten better since we traded him to the L A Dodgers a few seasons ago. The guy is a leftie (plus) and he hit his marks in the strike zone ( plus).  His stuff is not overpowering, but his hard slider can do in the best hitters in the league at times.

 

Other guys that have hit my “Wish List” have a bit of an imtimidation factor to them. Doug Brocail ( Astros) is a huge leftie that can a hard fastball and a really hard breaking curveball. He can also sometime bring an amazing slider and a nice changeup and has been one of the most consisitant relief pitchers for years in the MLB.

 

 Ron Villone ( Cardinals) has a unique sliders that can cripple a right-hander at the plate. Mix that with his fastball and changeup and you have a effective reliever. He does sometime show his fastball by a head-jeck motion to the plate, but he can be unhittable at times.

 

                          

 

But the 2 lefties that I would “wish” for the Rays are actually guys that we have looked at and wanted to trade for in 2008 during the trade dealine. Will Ohmann ( Braves) is my number one choice as a leftie addition to the Rays Bullpen in 2009. The guy is a baller and can get the job done period.

He brings to the Rays a slider that he throws often, and for good reason. His slider breaks bats, and that is a great guy to have on your staff.  He can either be your leftie specialist or get a few innings for you. That type of versatility could means alot to the Rays in the late innings in 2009.

 

My other leftie of choice is a guy who has bounced a bit around the league and is no stranger to Rays batters’ Darren Oliver ( Angels) has imporved yearly on his pitches and might just be hitting the peak of his potential in the next year or two. He has found most of his success recently as a long reliver, but is also poised to go head-to-head with the big boys in the American League.

 

Oliver has been a pest to the Rays in the past with the Angels. Oliver has improved to the point that sometimes his moving fastball can miss bats at times. It has a great last second drop to it that confuses hitters and can be a great out pitch for him. He also has an above average slider, curveball and changeup to round out his selections.

 

When you think of righthander relivers, you think of guys who can pull the trigger and bring the heat to the plate. The Rays already have one guy like that in Grant Balfour, but to add at least one more pitcher who can throw heat would be a huge plus to the Bullpen. 

 

                         

 

One guy who comes to mind is the mind master, Julian Tarvarez ( Braves). He has a a great sinking splitter and a lurking slider that doesn’t have the bit it did in recent years, but is still a plus pitch when it is on. His mound antics can get you a bit upset at him, but he is a professional who can get you the outs and the innings along with the drama.

 

Another rightie that peaks my intrest is young Jamey Wright (Rangers). He is still learning at the plate, but has a up side to him that could be huge in the next year. He does get a few too many walks, but his moving fastball and biting curveball have shown mass improvement in 2008. He is also showing a great changeup that looks more like his fastball before it tails away from hitters. Mix in a daily improving cutter and you got a great reliever in the making just looking for the right team.

 

Juan Rincon ( Indians) has always had great stuff, but off the field situation in the past years have made a few clubs doubt he might be a 162-game guy. But to his credit, he does have still have three quality pitches to throw at guys, but he might be losing velocity on them.

 

Another guy who has peaked my intrest is Russ Springer ( Cardinals). He has been around a long time and can still bring it to the plate.  His cutter can bore in on righthander hard and leave them thinking it is outside the strike zone. He has a nice 12-6 curveball that he likes to use to get guys to swing and miss on alot at the plate.

 

He would be more of a temporary fit for the team. More for his experience and his knowledge than to be there long term, but the guys did improve under the watchful eyes of Trever Miller and Troy Percival last season. Maybe another veteran is the key to the lock for the Rays Bullpen.

 

                                

 

But the prize that I want as a rightie for the Rays Bullpen is a guy who has rattled the Rays cages a few times and is a great clubhouse guy. I think that the addition of Kyle Farnsworth ( Tigers) wouls send a rattle through the MLB about the Rays having2 of the best competitors on the mound in Balfour and Farnsworth.

 

Farnsworth is not shy and will throw up and in if you are crowding him at the plate. That is something the Rays did not have last year, a guy who can throw 97 plus to “buzz the tower” on guys leaning in on the plate. He would be a great tool to use against the Red Sox and Yankees batters’ who like to stick their heads and arms over the outside corner of the plate and dare you to pitch them inside.

 

Farnsworth brings to the table a  a really nasty slider and a knack for lack of control, that I think is more an act than a huge part of his game.  He also has a 4-seam fastball that can dart away from batters and his fastball is his trademark, sometimes hitting the upper 90’s without a problem. 

 

My second “Wish List” reliever with a right hand that has gotten better and better in recent years is Jorge Julio (Braves). Something I am finding alot this off season is the huge amount of ex-Braves out on the free agent market. Julio first caught my eye years ago when he was a young Orioles reliever. He has the fastball and the mound persona to make yo take notice of his pitches.

 

Because he has been on 7 teams since 2005, most people think it is for lack of effort. I think this guy is just a high powered pitcher that gets lost in his fastball sometimes. I think Jim Hickey, the Rays Pitching Coach can control this guy and show the league he is a quality pitcher.

 

His high 90’s moving fastball has gotten alot of baseball GM’s to take a chance on him, and time might be running out on him. But, his slider can be altered by his delivery point, and I think it has been a problem spot for him because of the change in delivery points. He might seem like a project guy, but he has a huge upside and might be worht at least a Spring Training Invite to check him out.

 

Well, there you go with my list of lfrt and right-handed relievers for my “Wish List” for the Tampa Bay Rays. The Rays need only a few select guys to put into place to secure a solid Bullpen unit. An additional two or maybe three pitchers could make another huge impact on the team’s success in 2009.

 

 

A Sox to the Ray’s Jaw

 

Sorry it took until this afternoon to post this. I had a work committment and died a bit today. But, without further ado, let’s get to bloggin’.

 

White Sox 9, Rays 2

**************************************************************************************************************************************

Trivia Fact of the Day:

Major League umpire Carl Hubbard is the only person in both the football and baseball Hall of Fames.

**************************************************************************************************************************************

 

         

 

                                   The Good,The Bad,and The Ugly

 

                                            The Good

 

I have alwasy been a huge B J Upton supporter. That probably why I am so hard on him in my blogs and in my critique of him this season. I seriously see him finally making a name for himself this year, and being a force for years to come here in Tampa Bay for the Rays. 

 

 B J  had a great night last night before Rays manager Joe Maddon pulled him and Carl Crawford from the game. Upton went 2-3 last night to up his average to .317. He also scored a run for the Rays.

 

Honorable Mention “Good” guys:

 

*** Jonny Gomes drove in RBI number 8 with a double to deep leftffield that Sox outfielder, Carlos Quentin could not catch off the “St. Pete Times” sign.

 

              The Rays' Evan Longoria, hitting a double Friday, gets the longest deal for a player with less than a year of major-league service.

 

** Evan Longoria, who earlier in the day signed a huge multi-year contract with the Rays, hit a hard grounder to third, which scored Carl Crawford, and the first run of the game. That was Longoria’s 4th RBI of the young season.

 

Rays Reliever Scott Dohmann came on in the  7th inning and pitched a **** out from there. The reason this is big, is that the White Sox were capitalizing on Rays mistakes tonight and Dohmann shut them down. Dohmann did give up three hits, with  Carlos Quentin doubling to deep centerfield in the the 7th inning.

 

                                                The Bad

Where do I start here.

 Actually, Rays starter Jeff Niemann just didn’t make the correct adjustments after getting shelled on back-to-back homers by Jim Thome and Paul Konerko. Jeff threw 85 pitches in 3.1 innings and seemed to be missing the plate with his breaking pitches.

 

Jeff took the loss for the Rays, and gave up 8 runs on 5 hits tonight. The biggest was Jim Thome’s 511th homerun in the 3rd inning.   The White Sox designated hitter tied Hall of Famer Mel Ott for 21st place on the all-time list with his fourth homer of the season, which hit an overhanging catwalk.

 

Thome has reached base safely in all 26 games he has played at Tropicana Field.

 

                                              The Ugly

 

I have two “Uglies” for the day. It will not be the first time  I have mentioned one of them in my blogs.

 

The announced attendance last night was 12,379, or 30% full last night. It is surprising since the White Sox are leading their division, and they have a few local  athletes on their roster. I would have thought it might be a great game for the weekend, but maybe everyone is saving their energy for Sunday’s matchup of Jackson vs. Danks.

                             

The second is a very, very ugly sight to Rays fans. Not only can Eric Hinske not play first base worth a damn, but to look more like a Spanish matador and swing his cape/glove at the ball as its carooms to the wall, or not get in front of a ball ala Carlos Pena if it looks like a swibbler that could get by for extra bases.

 

It not only cost Jason Bartlett another error, but also Evan Longoria’s throw was not too errant to miss by stepping off the bag and getting it. Instead their thows went fron extra bases since Eric “the terrible” Hinske  would not come off the shiny white thing  stuck in the ground.

 

Former Rays Player of the Day/Night:

                              

Today former Rays is former Rays reliever, now a member of the Oakland A’s rotation, Chad Gaudin. He pitched 7 innings of 4-hit ball last night against the Kansas City Royals. Chad upped his record to 1-1, and also struck out 9 Royals last night.

Honorable Mention Ray:

Florida Marlin pitcher Doug Waecther pitched  2 innings of relief in the 6-4 loss to the Washington Nationals.

 

 

Wild, Wild Night at the OK Tropicana

Yankees 8, Rays 7



You have to admit here, that was the kind of game you want to tell your grand kids about when you are old and gray.


First the visitors’ take a starter deep not once, twice, but three
times early on and the score seems lopsided. The the home squad kicks
and scratches its way to a tie, then a long ball decides the outcome
late in the game.  More on what happened after the Trivia fact.


****************************************************************************************************************************************************


On May 30, 1946, Bama Rowell was
the first person to hit the Bulova clock in Ebbetts Field. Some say
that was the inspiration for the scoreboard scene in “The Natural.”

***************************************************************************************************************************************************


*

                                The Good,The Bad,and the Ugly

                        

                                         


                                                          The Good

 



There
were a few great plays tonight that could have garnished the top spot,
but since he has come up, Evan Longoria has done almost nothing wrong. Tonight
he got his first Homer in the Trop. in front of the home folks and it
was a wild sight indeed.  Longoria is currently hitting a
blistering .444.

Longoria’s
shot tied the score at 7-7 in the bottom of the 7th inning and sent the
crowd in a flurry of emotions. Before this inning, the Rays were down
to the Yankees  7-2 and did not show signs of waking the offense up
tonight. But, the 7th inning was special tonight. Rays
shortstop Jason Bartlett started the inning by smashing a ball off Ian
Kennedy’s hip for a  single.  The infield single knocked Kennedy out
of  the game and reliever Billy Traber came in to pitch.

One batter
later, Carl Crawford connected on his first homer of the year, a two
run shot to get the score closer, 7-4.  Up came Rays slugger Carlos
Pena, who then walked and B J Upton slammed another two run homer to
close in on the Yankees 7-6.


That set the stage for Longoria’s solo homer to tie the score.


Honorable mention Kudos of the Night:

***            Rays reliever Scott Dohmann came in with the bases loaded and did not give up a run during his 3.2 innings of work.


**             B J Upton raised his average to .313 by going 2-5 tonight and stealing a base.


*            
Major Kudos to the Rays Carl Crawford for his 3 RBI’s, Two on his
homer, and one on a Sacrifice Fly to deep left field bullpen area that
scored Nathan Haynes from third base.  Carl went 2-4 and showed
remarkable improvement at the plate.


 

                                                       The Bad

                                                 


Andy
Sonnanstine never seemed to be in a rhythm tonight. In the first inning
alone, Sonnanstine gave up a lead off  solo homer to Johnny Damon, and
then another to Alex Rodriquez. The worst part is the homer was A-Rod’s
521st homer, which tied him with Ted Williams and Willy McCovey for
15th on the All-time  Home Run list.

                      Reliever Al Reyes waits for a new ball after making one bad pitch, a changeup that Robinson Cano launched deep into the rightfield stands for the eventual winning home run in the eighth.



Rays
reliever Al Reyes came in the top of the 8th inning to help preserve
the tie for the Rays. In that inning, Reyes gave up a pinch-hit homer
to Yankee second baseman Robinson Cano. Before the home run, Cano was
batting .170 for the year.

                                                The Really Ugly



I was going to gripe about B J Upton’s fifth base running error in 5 games, but instead I have another bone to pick tonight.



The
Yankees series have always been one of the best attended series of the
year for the Rays. The announced attendance for tonight’s Monday night
game was 18,872, which would put the Trop. at 47.5 percent full. It
used to be a predestined thing that this series would hit the money
tree for the Rays. But if this Monday game is any indication, then the
upcoming Yankees series that runs from Monday, May 12- 15, should be
another below par for attendance.


On
May 15th, that contest will be on a Thursday afternoon with a start
time of 4:10 PM. I know this start time is to give the Rays ample 
airline travel time to their next Inter-Leaque series in St. Louis,
Missouri that  Friday night. It
is just that the schedule looks like the local Yankee fans will be
shortchanged this year with the only other visit to the Trop for the
pinstripes coming on another weekday series from Sept. 2-4th.


In comparison, the Chicago White Sox have two weekend series, the first from April 18-20, and another from May 29-31st.

 

Former Rays Player of the Night:

                                                 

Twin Left fielder Delmon Young is my ex-Ray of the night.

In
tonight’s 11-9 loss to the Detroit tigers, Delmon went 3-5 with two
RBI’s and a stolen base. Young also score 3 runs tonight. Delmon is
currently hitting at a modest .280.

Another Twin having a great night was second baseman Brendan Harris who went 2-4 with 2 RBI’s and is hitting .351 for the year.

 

Don’t
forget the second and final game against the “Evil Empire” is tomorrow
night at 7:10 PM. Let’s see if we can get behind Rays pitcher Edwin
Jackson and cheer him on to his third victory of the season.

See you at the Trop!!! 

 

 

 

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.

***********************************************************************************************************************************************

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.

***********************************************************************************************************************************************

 

                        

                               

                                       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……….

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.

 

 

**************************************************************************************************************************

 

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.

 

*************************************************************************************************************************

 

 

                         

                              

 

                                        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……….

Garza Goes Down

Instead of a Trivia question during the daily recaps, I will give you a wild
fact to soak in your baseball-filled minds are evolve with your
subconscious fluids to use at any SABRE convention,or for a possible free
beverage at your local pub/wing joint.

During a double header on May 2,1954,  St. Louis Cardinal, Stan Musial became
the first player to hit five (5) Home runs in the same day.


I  have been thinking for about a week on what to use this season to
illustrate the positives, negatives and so forth that happen in every game this
season.

                                              

I decided to use my favorite spaghetti western as a basis for my daily look
at the prior night’s contest. I have always been a huge Clint Eastwood fan. My
Dad used to take us on the Sunday night Drive-In movie experience as a kid. This
generation has no idea of the great times, and wild weather, kids and antics
that can happen at an outdoor movie.

                                            

The best was sitting on the swings underneath the huge  three story screen
and watching the actors as 100 foot action figures. Anyways, this is the
premiere of the Rays’ “Good, the Bad and the Ugly”

 

 

                                                The
Good

   

 

The good is a two-fold version today. Major
kudos  for the Rays’ backup catcher Shawn Riggans. Riggs is hitting the cover
off the ball, and connected last night for a beautiful second row left-center
shot into the seats. Shawn also called a great game behind the plate and is
showing the potential we all knew he had to be our starting catcher. Shawn might
have only 14 at bats this season, but he has a .333 batting average at this
moment and is showing power by having 4 RBI’s and two extra base hits in his 4
hits this season.  Way to go Shawn.


Second is a no-brainer to me. Carlos Pena
might not be picking up where he left off last year, but he is surely hitting
the cover off the ball. Early in the game he hit one of the longest Sacrifice
fly in the Trop in a long time to Ichiro. The ball was only a few feet from the
warning track and was hit on a frozen rope. Of course, later the game he
hit his third homer of the young season to Right field to ignite the crowd.
Carlos now has 6 RBIs to go with his 3 H Rs.

 

                                                             The
Bad

Matt Garza leaves with head trainer Ron Porterfield after a nerve injury in the third.



Matt Garza has had a situation with  a radial
nerve irritation for a long time. He has said he usually can fight the pain and
pitch, but tonight the pain hit a new threshold and he could not control the
ball correctly anymore. He had thrown 4 straight balls to Mariners’ DH Jose
Vidro, and did not seem to be able to hit the edges of the
plate. He immediately called for Rays trainer Ron
Porterfield and after a short discussion with Ron and Joe Maddon, was replaced
by Scott Dohmann. Matt has been placed on the 15 day disabled list at the time
of this posting.


This is bad, since it opens another hole in
the rotation early in the season. What was once a solid top three rotation is
now becoming more patchwork as the days roll by here. The Rays subsequently
recalled pitcher  Jae Kuk Ryu from Durham, but his job will be in t Bullpen, not
to start any of the future games.

                                


                                                And the
Ugly….really Ugly



The Umpire crew was not having a great
night.  Rays catcher Shawn Riggans had  asked for a “timeout” after catching a
foul ball behind the plate off the bat of Adrian Beltre. But the home plate umpire did not register
or grant the timeout. So in a bizzare, but heads up play, Seattles Jose Lopez
tagged up and moved to second to put the Mariners in scoring
position

.

Riggans “thought he called timeout,” Maddon said. “That’s a good base running
play by them. You can’t call timeout if the runner’s actually moving,” Maddon said. “The
umpires did the right thing by not permitting time out. There was nothing to
argue right there, but I did want to appeal it. Once I found out specifically
what [home-plate umpire] Marvin [Hudson] thought, I wanted to appeal to see if
the other umpires saw what he saw.”



But that was only the start of the wild and
weird on this opening night. Later in the night, B J Upton laced a beauty
down the rightfield line into the corner where it hit the wall and bounced out
in a wild angle. Upton, who lost his right shoe after leaving the batter’s box,
did not stop at second, but proceeded to slide into third
base. Post game photos and video showed after the
game that B J was safe and did not hit Beltre’s foot blocking the base. He had
snuck in the backdoor on him and was coming up safe when  the third base umpire
called B J out. After a short animated  look at the umpire, BJ headed to the
dugout as manager Joe Maddon was heading to third to debate the
call.


After that, there was a close play at first
that went against the Rays. Throughout the rest of the night, the umpire crew
took a huge vocal response from the home crowd that made me proud. The crowd had
gotten into the game and were very vocal on the Upton play and on any close play
the rest of the night. After the game, as the umpiring crew was
leaving the field, they were met by another chorus of the “boo-birds” until
finally disappearing into the tunnel.

 

O's 'fun' continues vs. Texas


Ex Ray,and current Baltimore Oriole, Aubrey Huff went 4-4
last night with 4 RBI’s.  Huff’s night did not totally go without controversy.
In the sixth inning, he hit a  long fly ball that hit the yellow line on the top
of the Right field  outfield fence. The play was initially called a three-run
homer, but was overturned by the on field umpiring crew and changed to a two-run
double off the wall. “I initially thought it hit the red part behind the yellow line,” said Huff.
“That’s the way I saw it. I was giving [second-base umpire Sam Holbrook] the
business out there at second. After I came in and looked at the tape and saw
they were right, I was fortunate to get back on second and I said, ‘Sam, I’m
sorry.’ He said, ‘I know, I got it right.’ He knew.”


Huff was blasted by the Orioles fans during the Rays opening series for
comments he made about the town on the nationally syndicated “Bubba the Love
Sponge Show” in the off season. Huff , who is also batting .333 this season,
 might be finally back in the good graces of the Baltimore faithful since his 11
RBI’s is leading the M L B at this posting. By the Way, Aubrey brings his karaoke Krew into the Trop this weekend for a
three game series. Maybe we can have “Huffapaloosa II this weekend at a local
watering hole?

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 288 other followers