Results tagged ‘ Shawn O’Malley ’

2B…Or Not 2B

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Sometimes things happen in the off-season that just boggles your mind. Players are picked up for their subtle and special nuances that can be used by a statistical savant like Tampa Bay Rays Manager Joe Maddon to intricately change the delicate nature of a game in progress, possibly for his advantage based on match-up potential situations or maybe even a simple hunch.

YEscoI know there is a logical explanation and suitable conclusion to why the Rays are currently carrying 7 out of a possible 9 infield players on their 40-man roster, 1 signed player but not added to the 40-man roster yet, plus 2 additional players who are non-roster invites who can man the middle infield. Considering the Rays traded for their potential starting shortstop in Yunel Escobar, you have to logically conclude that 8 of the other 9 might have to fight tooth and nail to get selected for that revolving door slot known as Second Base.

I think with the large amount of veteran bodies vying for a job at 2B, you can easily see the current Triple-A duo of Tim Beckham and Hak-Ju Lee getting their fair share of starts and possibilities this Spring, but the reality is they are the Rays future for right now and with minor league control on both players, their rise to the MLB level might not come until possibly September barring an unforeseen Rays injury situation.

So that immediately shuffled the field down by a third and with the Rays facing 3 different player signing going “official” this week, maybe a few old Rays household names will be bidding the team farewell even before the positional players make their way to Port Charlotte, Florida. 3 other Rays middle infielders who might be on the invisible bubble might be the enigmas known as Elliot Johnson, Sean Rodriguez and Reid Brignac could all get an unexpected call or pulled in from the Rays Spring Clubhouse soon possibly severing their Rays tenure.

All 3 did not have the kind of 2012 campaigns the Rays envisioned when they popped their name on the 25-man roster last Spring, and any or all of the 3 could be subject to waivers or possibly traded before the Rays officially add DH Luke Scott, 2B Kelly Johnson or RP Kyle Farnsworth to the Rays 40-man roster. You would think Johnson and Rodriguez might have the leg up on Brignac because of their utility play everywhere around the Rays infield, but even then, their lackluster numbers from last year could get them penciled in as potential casualties when the Rays add their 3 signed, sealed but not roster delivered players.

BriggyThere are mumblings in the Rays Republic that “Briggy Baseball” might be the most expendable of the this enigmatic duo, possibly the first name to be announced and waived this week by the Rays. Brignac has had multiple chances to secure and hold onto his shortstop slot, but for some reason his bat did not follow him into either of the past 2 Rays seasons with any regularity. Johnson might get an initial pass because he is a switch-hitter just like tag-team 2B Ben Zobrist who will get to camp late this Spring as he is playing for Team USA in the World Baseball Classic.

Even with a slight edge over S-Rod, Johnson could find himself again straddling the bubble if he gets off to a weak Spring or doesn’t get into the game flow with consistency. You have to like Rodriguez’s chance since Spring seems to be the time he rises to the occasion and shines bright, but he could also see his star darkened if he gets off to a bad slump or has some defensive irregularities early on in camp. Another small sliver of hope for Rodriguez is the fact he still has 1 minor league option while Brignac and Johnson have exhausted their minor league options.

tumblr_m9jviul3w91ronciso1_500That takes care of 6 of the 7 players that currently are designated as “infielders” for the Rays. Zobrist is categorized as an “outfielder” on the Rays 40-man roster, but should see substantial playing time at Second Base along with the only other player listed, Ryan Roberts. “Tat Man” should have an advantage heading into Spring Training to secure a utility and tag-team situation with Zorilla at Second Base. Roberts did not have a huge year at the plate in 2012 either in Arizona or St. Petersburg, but should come into the Spring as a penciled in player in the mix for that part-time 2B gig. But there are other who might also have a say in it all before the roster is set into stone when the calendar changes to April.

Spring Training non-roster invites to the Major League camp have also been extended to MLB veteran Mike Fontenot and former Rays invitee Shawn O’Malley. Even with these 2 additional names to be put into the middle infield pot, Fontenot might have to stage a spectacular Spring to unseat any of the potential Rays utility players, but I also think O’Malley who made a great impression last Spring with the Rays might have a more viable chance to hang on late into the Spring Training schedule with Zobrist out and possibly be offered a Triple-A slot.

thCAAOB3NMThe Wild Card in this suspected scenario might just be newly signed, but not added to the roster Kelly Johnson who can basically play any of the fielding positions, including possibly being the guy who could give James Loney a rest. In Johnson’s favor to possibly get a long look and possible spot on the Rays 25-man roster is his ability to hit right-handed which could make him a valuable asset at First. And with KJ’s birthday coming in late February (22nd), he could possibly have an inside chance of securing a spot even before the Rays play the Red Sox in their first Grapefruit Series game.

2B or not 2B…….That is surely the question here as the Rays have a huge pool of player talent and potential to pick from the get their final selection before their first seasonal contest on April 2,2013 in Tropicana Field. This might be the strongest the middle infield as been in quite a few years in Tampa Bay, and with some of the names and potential, the players inked on the Rays final 25-man roster could provide that spark of offense the team needs along with some stellar defensive work.

 

Why Did the Rays Leave Their “Irish” Roots at Home

Come on Tampa Bay Rays. I know you got it in you to be festive, celebratory and even have a few Irish brethren among your midst ( Shawn O’Malley ), but sporting a green Phiten titanium necklace in honor of St. Patrick’s Day is a wee bit disappointing.

Maybe I have seen better Irish intentions out of this crew that would dance an Irish jig at a hat’s toss if it gave them the luck and pathway deep into the post season. But to only wear a necklace and not even the famed “TB” caps brought back on March 17, 2010……I’m a bit ashamed tonight. Might have to drown my sorrows in a bit more Corned Beef and Green concoctions.

I mean even your opponent, the Pittsburgh Pirates manned the green cap for this special day. And that cap did look really out-of-place with their usual golden-yellow and black ensemble, but their celebration of this holiday was noted all the way back to the Irish boroughs of the Steel City where the green bottle of Pa brew Rolling Rock helps marks the day.

Heck, even the usually mundane San Francisco Giants who also sported dark uniforms today showed support for the Irish in all of us this solemn day. But alas, the Rays wore a necklace.

It has only been 5 Springs since the Rays dumped their forest green unis and began their immersion into the blue realm. For years just sporting the Rays Batting Practice jersey had you at least in the “green scheme” of things on this March 17th day, but now it has eroded to just a bob of jewelry that might not even have any physical properties to it.

This same Rays team sported Kelly green uniforms not so long ago for charity that made you push your sunglasses down for their brilliance not only in color, but as a charity auction item gleamed throughout the region.

I still remember bidding on those classic uniforms and sporting them at least twice at Rays games and people marveled at their color and wanted one for their own. But they were keepsakes, special editions, once-in-a-lifetime reminders of the one day the Rays truly sported the green for themselves and others.

So as I sit upon this wooden bar stool among a throng of sports fans celebrating this great day I am reminded that every color, creed and national origin for this 24 hour period can boast Irish roots. That even the Reuben sandwich that contains Swiss cheese, Russian dressing, German Sauerkraut, but Irish Corned Beef is a 100% Irish staple today.

Maybe I’m the only person who feels the Rays made a titanic mistake today by only sporting a commercially sold jewelry accessory when so much more could have been concocted and projected for sale to the Rays Republic on this great holiday.

I think if you did a tally of just the 1-day (March 17th) sales on just the daily sales of the Phillies, Mets and Red Sox just today when all three squads donned their festive green field of clover colored caps and ceremonial uniforms, you would find a huge spike in merchandise sales due to the once a year green theme.

Maybe I am bit a bit melodramatic that the Rays did not at least sport a Kelly green cap much like so many other of their MLB brethren on this festive holiday. But I do wish the Rays the “luck of the Irish” all season long. A season that I pray this team always has the wind at their backs, and the road that comes to meet them is paved with victories, celebrations and bonds of brotherhood and friendship.

But then again with my original birth last name of Holiday……I feel Irish 24/7/365 even before I don my spiffy circa Rays 2010 white clover-leafed green St. Patrick’s Day cap while downing a stout and a shot of Jameson. But I do truly feel the Rays today left a bit of Irish luck upon the green grass in Bradenton where even Pirates sported green hues on this festive day.

Pssst! At least MLB.com has some Rays St. Patrick’s Day gear for sale now at a 20% discount. Here is the link for the Rays selections. All 30 MLB teams have their own section. 

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