There isn’t alot to say.
No fan wants to write a post such as the one I am about to write.
It is hard to believe, but for the second time this season, the Tampa Bay Rays have been victims of a no hitter.
That makes three in two years.
I don’t exactly know what kinds of records were broken tonight (I am sure that few teams have been no-hit twice in the same season), but I know how it feels to watch your team struggle to get a single damn hit.
Dallas Braden made the Rays look like fools all the way until Gabe Kapler was thrown out as he loafed down to first base to end the game. The no-no was almost forgiveable because Braden did it on Mother’s Day and he had lost his mother not too much earlier. So good for him.
But Edwin Jackson, the guy the Rays deemed expendable after the 2008 season, so much so that they banished him to Detroit for the “Next Big Thing,” Matt Joyce, throwing a no hitter against the team he REALLY wanted to throw a no hitter against, well, that is just downright unfair.
It isn’t as if the Rays didn’t work it. They had 8 walks in the game, for goodness sakes! They had walked the bases loaded in the 3rd!
But as has been the case so often recently, the Rays were not able to “get the man in” with a base hit and they paid the price.
What a steep price.
I don’t want to think about the game anymore tonight. I am going to turn on the tv, hit “Start Over” on my Bright House cable and watch the NHL draft.
One thing that is for sure, the Tampa Bay Lightning and Chicago Blackhawks won’t get shut out tonight.
Tonight the Rays start a series that holds alot of promise.
It would be an understatement to say that the Rays have underachieved the last month, winning only 11 out of their last 28 games to relinquish 1st place to the Evil Empire and find themselves in danger of falling into 3rd place in the most competitive division in the league.
However, this is the perfect time for our Boys in Blue to take on the team that entered the league the same year they did: the Arizona Diamondbacks.
The D-backs are scuffling themselves this season. They sit in last place in yet another difficult division (the Pads, Rox, Dodgers, and Giants ain’t no slouches), but in last place nevertheless.
The Rays should be able to right the ship this weekend against one of those teams that good teams are supposed to beat.
Some of the Weirdness…
So here are some of the things about tonight’s game that just scream WEIRD (to me, anyway).
1–The Upton family reunion will take place tonight. The Rays’ BJ and the D-backs’ Justin will square off for the first time ever. Pretty exciting. While Justin is having a much better season (and had a better off season as well after signing a mid-term contract extension), BJ rises to the top when he is in intriguing situations.
2–The Rays will suit up without Dioner Navarro. Navi was sent down to Durham to make room for Matt Joyce. You can’t blame the Rays for sending down their longterm catcher–the guy was hitting .207 with 1 homer and 7 RBIs. It was time, considering the emergence of John Jaso and the free agent signing of Kelly Shoppach.
3–Two guys facing each other who were once traded for one another. Edwin Jackson will start for the D-backs. Matt Joyce will start in left field for the Rays. These guys changed teams a few years ago when Jackson was dealt to the Tigers for Joyce. Always fun to see those matchups.
4–These two teams came into the league at the same time in 1998. I know I already said it, but I love when teams matchup who are the same age. It isn’t quite the same when the Marlins and Rox match up since they see each other multiple times each year. But the Rays and D-back see each other (possibly) once every 3 years, so it is kind of neat.
This is a series the Rays need to sweep. Sure, it is only June, but when you are in a division with the Red Sox and the Yanks, every win means alot. I think that the Rays will have a great chance to sweep. They will avoid Dan Haren and, after Jackson, will take on two pitchers who have been hit and miss all season long.
Enjoy the weirdness!!!
As Spring Training approaches (not fast enough, despite my Indianapolis Colts’ moving the Bowl of all Bowls), there are several areas on the Tampa Bay Rays that are in need of shoring up. These five areas certainly “ray-se” concerns among fans, and failure for Andrew Friedman and company to address them may result in a long summer for the Boys in Blue.
Here are the five key areas of consternation heading into these few weeks before pitchers and catchers report:
Rays fans loved Pat Burrell in 2009.
He did an amazing job of keeping those in attendance at the Trop cool every night as the human oscillating fan. Hearing Dwayne Staats announce, “Swing and a miss,” with regards to Burrell never got old. Wait…it did.
No folks, “The Bat” was far from a fan fave-the typical fate of so many .221, 14 hr, 64 RBI guys making 9 million dollars. As of this moment Burrell is still a Ray-not for lack of trying, though. While the much maligned Milton Bradley’s name was bandied about as a possible replacement at DH, nothing happened. Tough to know whether that was for the best or not.
The question remains, though: Who will fill the DH role in 2010? There is no clear cut answer. It seems unlikely that Tampa Bay will look to free agency to find a Burrell replacement. The addition of closer Rafael Soriano and the resigning of Kelly Shoppach pretty much ate up the petty cash lying around Stuart Sternberg’s office. Promoting from within might occur, with Willy Aybar itching for a chance to play every day. A Burrell trade could happen too, but the price tag for the 33-year-old veteran might be a little high for most teams.
Perhaps Rays fans should prepare for another breezy summer inside the Trop.
This position was occupied by several people in 2009. Akinori Iwamura was certainly one of the Rays’ most beloved second basemen of all time (sorry, Brent Abernathy). However, he is now gone, doomed to the Sarlaac Pitt. Other second basemen of 2009 include Reid Brignac, Joe Dillon, Willy Aybar (what an experiment in futility that was) and the great Ben Zobrist.
While Zobrist may very well become the Rays everyday 2B in 2010, there could be a problem should Zorilla be moved to right field instead. Brignac probably will not be the every day answer-though it would be neat to see him break camp as the starter so we can see what he can do with consistent at bats-so the Rays might just consider the recently acquired Sean Rodriguez.
Side Note: I know that every team wishes they had a player with the last name “Rodriguez” simply so they can take that player’s first initial and add it to “Rod,” ala “A-Rod.” But, seriously, Rays fans, let’s please avoid calling him S-rod, ok?
Rodriguez has some serious pop (easily 20 hr power) and shouldn’t be a defensive liability should he take over the 2B position. I am sure that the Rays see him as a long term answer at that spot in the infield, but it will remain to be seen if Andrew Friedman and Joe Maddon will give the youngster the green light coming out of Spring Training. If he can win the job when the team breaks from Port Charlotte, many things would be cleared up as Zorilla’s move to right would be set.
Should S-Rod (oops!) take the 2B competition, the question of who will be the next right fielder becomes simple arithmatic.
Zobrist’s bat and strong arm at the corner outfield position would be a perfect fit. He would seemingly complete one of the better outfields in the majors and finally settle the revolving door that the Rays have had at that position for years.
However, if Zobrist were forced to man the 2B position because Rodriguez was not ready for the majors and Reid Brignac was, well, the same ol’ Reid Brignac-a move that Maddon may not frown upon as much as may be thought-then the Rays could potentially be in trouble in right.
In the offseason they unloaded one of the Gabes (both Kapler and Gross were really one entity in 2009, but the Kap has stuck around for about a million in 2010) which means more playing time for Kap-should he earn it. But his struggles with righties means that the Rays will have only 1/2 of a right fielder-not ideal.
Right fielders in waiting (for how long is to be determined) might be Matt Joyce, Justin Ruggiano, Fernando Perez, and Desmond Jennings, but it is difficult to determine whether or not any are ready to be with the big club. Jennings, Ruggiano, and Perez may be better suited for CF, which limits thier contributions to RF to a simple “fill in” status from time to time.
Joyce was a big part of last year’s Edwin Jackson trade, a trade that Maddon has consistently said may work in the Rays favor despite Jackson’s double digit wins and All-Star appearance in 2009 and Joyce’s almost season-long stint at Durham. Will this be the year that Joyce shows his own All-Star potential and takes the right field spot by force?
If Rodriguez could take over 2B and Joyce was the every day RF (or at least could platoon with Kapler) then that might give Maddon the option of using Zobrist as that super-sub again-something that certainly worked in the past. Perfect scenario? Maybe, maybe not. It would seem that Zobrist would prefer to have his position staked out beforehand so he could maintain his focus throughout the long season.
This might be the most contentious position battle as we near spring training. However, the emergence of either Joyce or Rodriguez will clear everything up quickly.
The Rays seem to have gotten their money’s worth (we hope) in the Scott Kazmir deal. Adding the highly touted Sean Rodriguez and the potential of lefty Alex Torres and infielder Matt Sweeney (the biggest Sweeney) has put the Rays in a great position for the future.
However, after moving Mitch Talbot to Cleveland in the Kelly Shoppach trade (he was the player to be named later) the Rays find themselves potentially a little thin in big league ready starters.
Sure, the rotation looks fine at the top with James “Big Game” Shields and Matt “Just As Big Of A Game” Garza. Spots 3 and 4 should be fine with David Price and Jeff Nieman, especially if both build on their 2009 performances.
But where do the Rays go from there?
At the moment the 5th spot is manned by Wade Davis, but he was hardly consistent in his 6 starts last season in spite of his 2-2 record and 3.72 ERA. While he struck out an impressive 36 in 36 1/3 innings, he also had games where he simply blew up.
If Davis does win the 5th spot, who do the Rays turn to should somebody or, God forbid, two somebodys get injured? In the wings stand Jeremy Hellickson (he might be ready sooner than we think-hopefully) and-<gulp>-Andy Sonnanstine. Not exactly a scenario that inspires great confidence.
The likelihood of the Rays adding a 5th starter via free agency seem small, though veterans such as Vicente Padilla and Joel Pineiro might be interesting (both would likely expect more than the Rays could afford).
At the moment it seems that Joe Maddon’s squad will be content with the arms they have and head into Spring Training hoping for two things: 1) that those aforementioned arms remain healthy; and 2) that one of the guys in camp really stands out to claim the 5th spot.
It looks like the Rays and Indians made a trade nobody cares about.
The Rays make those types of deals all the time. You lean forward in your seat only to sigh and slump back again upon hearing who the Rays dealt, and who they got in return.
Those are the types of moves that have made this Rays team what it is today, though, aren’t they?
What has characterized the Rays’ move towards success the last four plus years have been moves just as this one. They aren’t always trades, but they are almost always small moves that nobody really notices but make the team much better in the future.
As a smaller market team, they are almost forced to resort to these under-the-radar transactions. Luckily, we have the type of braintrust to make these moves positive events.
Remember the Aubrey Huff trade. The Rays got a guy who was king of a throw-in type of player. That guy has been quite the second baseman this season and should make his first All-Star Game appearance, Ben Zobrist.
Dioner Navarro, despite his low numbers this season, and Edwin Jackson came over in a minor deal with the Dodgers. Jackson then went to Detroit with the hopes of bringing in the Rays’ right fielder of the future, Matt Joyce. That Jackson/Joyce deal might not look great now, but it will soon.
And do we need to mention Victor Zambrano for Scotty Kaz? Whoops, I just did.
This deal has the potential to be one of those high-impact low-risk deals the Rays are famous for.
The Rays, I think, come out very well in this deal, moving a 32-year-old pitcher who was not going to help the team in the near future in Winston Abreu to get a young righty John Meloan. In fact, Meloan’s youth must have been a big motivator in this deal–he is seven years younger than Abreu.
Meloan has the potential to be that closer the Rays desperately need. Unfortunately, he won’t be that closer this season, as he needs a little more season-ing, so to speak, in the minors.
Be that as it may, he is a guy who throws strikes and can blow people away, as his 10+ K/9 indicates.
So why not take a flyer on the guy? He has seven years to develop before we can call this deal a mistake or this guy a bust, as Abreu is slowly becoming.
I wish Abreu nothing but the best in Cleveland. He might be able to turn it on when he knows he has a spot on a major-league roster secured (assuming the Indians keep him in the majors to help their beleagured bullpen). He has the stuff for it.
He didn’t show that stuff here, that’s for sure.
Hopefully we’ll see Meloan soon closing games for the big club.
For now, he can continue to marinade in the minors.
He’s got the time.