Tomorrow it begins.
I know, that sounds a little overdramatic. As if it is something from a bad Michae Bay movie. But for me tomorrow is a huge day.
ALDS Game 1.
I’m going to see how many times I can naturally work that phrase into this post.
My Rays played 162 games in order to put themselves in position to play ALDS Game 1. It is a pretty prestigious place to be, considering so many other MLB teams wish they could be right here.
When I got my postseason ticket order form a while back, I didn’t have to consider much about whether or not I would be buying a package.
Of course I would.
And now I am giddy with excitement, anticipating getting into the car tomorrow morning and heading out to the Trop for a little tailgating and a little ALDS Game 1.
I’m meeting some friends in the parking lot (my wife will be showing up shortly afterwards) for a little fun in the brisk morning sun (we’ve been getting as low as the mid-50s in the morning–sweet!) before walking inside the Trop to watch our boys take on the Texas Rangers and the vaunted lefty, Cliff Lee.
I cannot wait.
I picked up my “playoff” hat over this past weekend. You know, the bRAYzer hat that is all the rage in the area these days.
It is pretty sweet, in a totally dorky and geeky way.
Hey, it’s the playoffs!
Hey, it’s ALDS Game 1.
The Rays are sending none other than 2010 Cy Young candidate and 2008 rookie postseason phenom David Price to the bump to take on an amazing pitcher for Texas, Cliff Lee.
Both are lefties and both are the aces of their respective staffs.
They matched up in early August for what many considered the game of the year. It wasn’t bad. The Rays ended up winning that one 6-4 when they rallied (I had started getting ready for bed–I’m not old…just tired) improbably against Lee.
When you look at each guy’s numbers, you have to be impressed. But what is worrisome is when you see that Price is winless in four starts against the Rangers with a ******** 7.45 ERA!!!
However, Price is in a spot where he has thrived in the past. I think he’ll thrive again tomorrow.
Keys to Victory
The Rays won the season series agianst the Rangers 4-2, winning the last four games they played against Texas.
What is even more awesome is that they swept the Rangers at the Trop, where ALDS Game 1 takes place tomorrow afternoon.
So here’s what our Boys in Blue need to do to get a win in ALDS Game 1.
Price Price Baby! He’s got to give the Rays 6 strong. Not kinda good, but strong. Any starter who gets knocked around in game 1 of any playoff series ends up depleting his bullpen and lowering hope for the rest of the series. So Price needs to come out and set the tone.
Make Lee Work. If the Rays go out and flail away at Lee’s fastball or slider, then they’ll have a long night. It is no secret that this team is the worst when it comes to striking out. The only thing that helps them is that they are #1 in walks too! Patience, boys…
Capitalize with a Capital C! When the situation presents itself, and it will, the Rays have to take advantage. When they get that runner on third base with less than 2 outs, they have to bring him in, yes. But I’m talking about that moment where the game is in the balance and a hit there, or a walk, or a strikeout can shift the game clearly in the Rays favor. We need that.
1:37 Game Time? Seriously?
I almost spit out my Diet Coke when I saw the game times flashed up on the screen on Sunday. I could not believe at all that MLB could be such a–holes and make the BEST team in the American League play in the afternoon while reserving a prime spot for six other teams.
How fair is that?
So now I–along with many other die hard Rays fans–will be taking a day off of work (I even had to cancel a very needed basketball practice) so that we can drive across the bridge to the Trop for ALDS Game 1.
I think that the Rays deserve a lot more respect than they got with this time slot, but, as usual, they will overcome the rest of the doubters and do something very special this postseason–just like in 2008.
Kevin Kennedy Gone
It is with sadness that I report that color analyst Kevin Kennedy has been dismissed from his television duties with the Rays.
Yeah, sad. Uh-huh.
The guy was boring and never met a lame catchphrase he didn’t like.
If I had a nickel for everytime the guy said “Paint” to describe hitting the black on the plate with a great pitch, I wouldn’t have to worry about calling off work to go to tomorrow’s game.
I’d be retired.
He was a good guy, no doubt. I’ll never forget when he subdued the guy on his red-eye flight who was saying crazy terrorist stuff. That was great.
But I couldn’t take it anymore.
Next season it’ll be Dwayne Staats and Brian Anderson calling games. Anderson will bring some serious energy to the broadcast.
The first post I put out a few days ago was only to rate the trades that occurred on Friday, the trading deadline day.
However, I got a few e-mails asking me why I left out one trade or the other. They got me to thinking….why NOT go through the notable trades from the trading deadline and just before?
I enjoyed arguing with some of you through comments and e-mail about what you thought of some of the trades. Good times…
This post might be more for me than anybody since I LOVE trades and how they affect teams. I think they are something that is utilized by baseball better than any other sport and is part of the reason why this game is so grand.
Again, I’m primarily looking at the team that is the bigger part of the deal, though in some cases I grade both teams.
So without further adieu….here is part deux.
Deal: Reds trade Edwin Encarcion et al to the Blue Jays for Scott Rolen
Analysis: It seemed that Encarnacion never really got it going in Cincinnati. He hit a load of dingers last year, but the average the last few years was never really what Dusty Baker wanted (.209 in 2009). I don’t see him being the 3B of the future for the Jays, unfortunately. However, from what I’ve read about the two young pitchers who were also sent to the Jays, the real value might be there. These two pitchers might make an impact on Toronto this season, which would make the Jays winners here. The Reds get an aging 3B who might be able to help out a little next year. While the Reds play in a strong offensive park, the fact is that Rolen is 34 and has seen his best years pass him by.
Grade: Reds–C+ Jays–B+
Deal: Jerry Hairston, Jr. to the Yankees for a Single-A catcher
Analysis: This just doesn’t seem like a big deal to me. Of course, the Rays are notorious for making the “not a big deal” trades that end up getting them a bunch of wins. Maybe the Yankees have been taking notes. They already went into the Rays’ playbook to make a deal for Eric Hinske earlier in the year, after all. Hairston, Jr. has speed and versatility. For those reasons he might be a nice guy to have on a team. A National League team. I don’t see him helping the Yanks out too much. Then again, New York didn’t give up much, either.
Deal: Brewers deal to get Claudio Vargas from the Dodgers
Analysis: The Brewers needed a starter. A good starter. They needed somebody to help them contend with the Cubs, Cardinals, and, suddenly, the Astros. Instead they dealt for a bullpen guy in LA who they actually had not that long ago and dumped because of his ineffectiveness. They didn’t give up much, but they didn’t get much, either.
Deal: Cubs get John Grabow and Tom Gorzelanny from Pirates
Analysis: This is a case where I think both teams won out. The Pirates got a young hurler in Kevin Hart and a strong piece of the bullpen in Jose Ascanio. The Cubs needed a starter in Gorzelanny (he’ll start this week) to fill in for Ted Lilly and they needed a strong lefty in the ‘pen in Grabow who will take the place of the Tommy John-bit Neal Cotts. Grabow will complement Sean Marshall in the bullpen and add some stability to a shakey group.
Grade: A for both teams (especially because of the mad kung fu skills of Gorzelanny)
Deal: Royals get Josh Anderson from the Tigers
Analysis: This guy was got for cash. That’s it. Typically these deals are non-issues. This one fits in with that characterization. So why are we talking about it?
Grade: Who cares?
Deal: The Giants get Freddy Sanchez from the Pirates
Analysis: The Pirates are becoming to be old hat in these trade discussions. With that said, the Bucs are doing the right thing. Sanchez was scheduled to make $8 mill next year. That’s too rich for a team with so many holes. I was hoping that the Rays would get this guy–he’s one of my faves–so that they could move Ben Zobrist’s rocket arm and huge bat to right field. Alas, not to be. This move will probably lead to the Giants releasing Rich Aurelia and his salary. Sanchez will help the Giants. The Pirates got a pitcher in Tim Alderson who will help them–in the future.
Deal: Phillies land Cliff Lee from Indians
Analysis: C’mon, do we have to talk about this one? I was hoping the Rays might get active here, and they were, but not as active as the Series champs. They got Lee, gave up some guys they’ll miss, and promptly saw him throw a complete game shutout. ‘Nuff said.
Deal: Mariners get Jack Wilson from Pirates for a bunch o’ guys
Analysis: The M’s got the shortstop they had hoped they had in Yuniesky Betancourt. When they realized Betancourt was a flop defensively, they shipped him to Kansas City–where he’s struggled. Wilson is a solid piece of the future puzzle for the M’s and will get them some wins in the future. The guys the Pirates got will be helpful, but not too helpful right away. Ronny Cedeno is flopping right now and catcher Jeff Clement was not sparking the way the Mariners wanted. I thought that the addition of Clement might lead to the Bucs moving Ryan Doumit–to the Rays. Not so. Oh well.
Grade: Mariners–B+ Pirates–B
Deal: White Sox get Mark Kotsay, Red Sox get Brian Anderson
Analysis: No doubt, the White Sox won this trade–right now. The White Stockings got a premiere pinch hitter who can play almost any corner position. He is a veteran who can fit in immediately with is new team and pay dividends as they push for October. The Red Stockings got a supreme underachiever in Anderson. He might develop, though, into a guy who might be the utility outfielder Rocco Baldelli is supposed to be. With JD Drew on his way out (c’mon, folks, he’s hurt, like, ALL THE TIME) this might be a good add–next year.
Grade: White Sox–B+ Red Sox–B+ (potentially)
Deal: Giants get Ryan Garko for Single-A pitcher
Analysis: Garko was a fan fave in Cleveland, but he was going to be up for big money in the off season. So he was shipped. He was taking playing time away from guys the Indians really wanted to see and they did not view him as a piece of the future. He has a gift for being offensive–in a good way–and should help the Giants offense get going. The guy Cleveland got will be good two years from now. That’s something to be happy about in Clevelend–and there isn’t much these days. However, the move will give more AB’s to superstar-in-the-making Matt LaPorta
Deal: Matt Holliday goes to St. Louis
Analysis: Waste of time to talk about. He’s hitting .529!!!
Grade: A+ (and it sickens me to say that)
Sorry if the pics got a little weird there at times. I’m as distracted by the strange moments of our favorite sport as anybody.
I think that runs down most of the more notable trades that have occurred the last few weeks (and a couple of not-so-notable trades).
I think that this time of year is the most captivating of any sport out there. Teams are fighting for division titles. Others are scrambling for wildcard berths. Franchises are deciding whether to buy or sell. Squads are scouting for both this and next year–and with a do-or-die attitude.
It’s just great.
And the waiver-wire trades are going to get going soon too. Teams have to make waiver deals before August 30th if they want that guy to be eligible for the post season.
And the countdown begins.
And if anybody asks me about the Julio Lugo deal……..