Tagged: John Jaso

Hey…It’s the REAL Rays

 

Finally the Tampa Bay Rays showed up in the 2010 ALDS.

Through Games 1 and 2 there was some team on the field playing against the big league Texas Rangers, but it surely wasn’t the Rays.

This imposter team had put up one measley run and only 8 hits in two games while giving up 11 runs AT HOME, no less.

Apparently, the REAL Rays were waiting in Arlington, Texas.

Want proof?

6 runs.

11 hits.

0 errors.

2 home runs.

1 W.

Now THAT’s Rays baseball.

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Emotions Were High

Around my home, the stress and worry levels were really high.  We were wondering if we were about to see the final game of the Rays season.  The final game of Carl Crawford’s career in a Rays uni. 

There’s going to be at least one more.

What was great to see was while MY emotions were out of whack, the Rays’ were not.

There was Matt Garza calmly rebounding from an early run given up to retire Ranger after Ranger. 

There was Joe Maddon keeping his temper in check, even after a few blown calls by the umpires tonight (seriously, blue, you didn’t see Elvis Andrus come off the bag on his stolen base attempt while Jason Bartlett had the tag on him?  Seriously?). 

This game was tight until the 9th, so the cooler head was going to prevail.

The cooler head and the guy with the bigger bat.

Luckily, that was the Rays on both account.

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Cameraman Longo

What was awesome to see was the Rays in the dugout messin’ around as they did all season long. 

Watching Evan Longoria with a waterbottle holder on his shoulder, mimicking a cameraman’s pose, “film” the goings-on of the 9th inning.  The guys around him were cracking up and suddenly everything was loose. 

The Rays were back.

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The Rays Were Clutch

There were many events in this game that epitomized the Rays season, without which the Rays would be headed back to St. Pete with their heads held low.

–Carl Crawford had two big catches in the game, keeping the Rangers in check and preventing run-starting rallies.

–John Jaso had the biggest hit of the game in the 8th against the Rangers’ closer.  Why isn’t this guy starting every game?

–The slumping and sub-Mendoza-line Carlos Pena took one down the right field line to drive in pinch runner Desmond Jennings with the game-tying run.  Then Pena knocked one over the fence in the 9th to ice the game away.

–In addition to CC’s defense, Crawford hit a big home run in the 9th to put the Rays up 4-2 and take the pressure off of Pena.  The loss of pressure made it just that much easier for the big first baseman to take one over the fence.

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3 Keys to a W

#1 Emotion–The Rays kept theirs in check AND loosened up the dugout in the process.  Look out Rangers.

#2 Hit–11 hits and 6 runs make it clear that the bats were warmed up tonight.

#3 Patience–Colby Lewis did not walk a whole lot of guys this season.  He walked 5 Rays tonight.  That helped to put more pressure on the young righty, and it helped the Rays to a W.

          3 out of 3 Keys Turned = W

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Game 4 is tomorrow.

How will it go?

If the Rays performance today is any indication, the Rangers have alot to worry about.  They needed to put these guys away today. 

They didn’t.

The Rays can be really streaky, and the losing streak appears to be over.

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Rays Awaiting All-Star Selections…Me Too!

All those weeks of voting. 

All that repetitive SUBMITTING and REFRESHING of your screen (25 times per visit).

All that hoping.

And Sunday at noon we will all find out if it was worth it.

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Last Year’s Game Was Truly Classic

As you know, TBS will announce the All-Star rosters Sunday at high noon, and I, for one, am a little nervous.

I am sure you can guess why.  The Rays never get alot of love from the Midsummer Classic.  It has been rare to find more than the one obligatory Ray on the All-Star roster each summer.

Last year was different, though, as the Rays had a ******** 7 players put on the roster. 

Of course, Rays manager Joe Maddon was in charge of rounding out the rosters after the fan vote.  But you would have gotten alot of beef if you tried to mount an argument that any of the Rays in last year’s group was undeserving.

(click the links below to see my thoughts on these stories last July–then again, I am sure you have better things to do, so…)

And who can forget the fun that came with the Final Man Vote?  Sure, Carlos Pena did not win the vote (Brandon Inge did), but he eventually got in due to an injury. 

And what do ya know, a Ray won the game’s MVP award.

American League All-Star Carl Crawford of the Tampa Bay Rays robs a home run from National League All-Star Brad Hawpe of the Colorado Rockies during the 2009 MLB All-Star Game at Busch Stadium on July 14, 2009 in St Louis, Missouri.

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Encore, Encore!!

So what are the Rays going to do for an encore?

Well, first of all, Joe Maddon more than likely will not be managing the AL side.  So that might mean that 7 Rays will not make the game.

That’s fair.  7 is alot.

However, I think that the Rays should certainly get at least 4 All Stars for this year’s game.  There are 4 guys who are very deserving and have earned their spot.

They are:

Evan Longoria

(voted in as a starter)

.292, 12 HR, 55 RBI, 12 SB

 

Carl Crawford

(at last check, was being voted in as a starter–cross those fingers!)

.318, 60 Runs Scored, 29 SB

 

Rafael Soriano

(not many relievers have been as dominant as he has)

2-0, 19 Saves, 1.57 ERA, 1 Blown Save

 

David Price

(he SHOULD be the starter of the game–who else has been as good?)

11-4, 2.92 ERA, 90 K, 1.20 WHIP

I think that John Jaso (has come on like gangbusters after being called up) and Reid Brignac (the AL’s leading pinch hitter) might get some consideration, but it is a snowball’s chance that they would make it.

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Let’s CC What Happens

As I said, 4 Rays in the game should be a given.  But Rays fans know how it works. 

No respect=Few players in the game

But the team has had a solid first half of the season, even if they have faltered as of late.  That should translate to increased respect and, hopefully, increased numbers in the game.

No matter what, I am really hoping that Carl Crawford will get into the game as a starter.  I am confident that if he relinquished his lead as a starter that the AL manager will still choose him as a reserve. 

But the longtime Rays left fielder has never made the game as a starter, and this would be a perfect way to cap his career as a Ray, should things not work out the way most Rays fans want them to and Carl leaves the team at the end of the season.

High noon.  See ya there.

 

What a Weird Series This Is

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.

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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.

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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!!!

Prepping for the Draft, Rays Style

Major League Baseball will put on its draft tonight as every team around the league looks to improve its club

And if all goes well, these teams will see the fruits of their collective labor in, oh, say, about 3 or 4 years. 

What!?

Yeah, come on, you know how it goes.  This ain’t the NFL or NBA.  These guys who hear their seemingly anonymous names called tonight won’t really find themselves on major league rosters for some time now.

Despite this, teams will be taking very seriously the goings-on that will occur at 7 pm Eastern Time.

A good draft tonight can turn a team like the 2007 Tampa Bay Devil Rays into, say, the 2008 Tampa Bay Rays.

That 2008 squad became potent with the development of one great draft pick, Evan Longoria, and the shining of another, BJ Upton. In fact, the Rays’ success can be attributed quite squarely on the fact that they have drafted well during the Stuart Sternberg era as 10 of the 25 guys on the roster are homegrown.

Manager Joe Maddon and General Manager Andrew Friedman have said this week that they will be looking at the middle of the field as the focus of their draft. We can take that to mean, I assume, catcher, second base, shortstop, and center field.

I am not an expert on amateur baseball players, so I won’t pretend to give a list of great college and high school players who can have an impact on the Rays in the near future.  However, I will say that a guy like Zach Cox, a guy who can play 3B and 2B, would fit well with what Maddon and Friedman would like to see on the roster in the future. 

The Rays have the 17th overall pick in the draft, and the rumor is that they have targeted a catcher who, at one time, was Stephen Strasburg‘s battery mate–just like every other team in the draft.  So, we can’t expect Bryce Harper to don a Rays uni any time soon. 

However, a move for a catcher such as this would make sense considering the fall of Dioner Navarro, the question marks surrounding Kelly Shoppach, and the high hopes–yet unrealized potential–that plague John Jaso

You would think that the Rays would be pretty satiated at the middle infield positions.  They have Jason Bartlett firmly ensconced at short.  At second base they have multiple options: Ben Zobrist, Sean Rodriguez, and Reid Brignac.  In the minors, the Rays have Eliot Johnson and Tim Beckham, though the latter 20-year-old seems to be a few years away as he is toiling at Single-A Charlotte.

Center field is a place that seems to be in question.  BJ Upton mans the spot right now, but soon his arbitration clock will run out and he will become an unrestricted free agent.  Then the Rays will have to decide whether or not to pay him what he thinks he is worth.  Desmond Jennings has center field skills, but he might already be in left field after the Rays (potentially) lose Carl Crawford.  Cuban defector Leslie Anderson was just promoted to AA Montgomery and could be with the big club in the next year or so if his fast rise continues. 

Whichever way the Rays decide to go, I think we can rest assured that it will be the right way.  They have not accrued what Baseball America has deemed the #1 ranked minor league system by accident.  And with 6 picks in the first 98 of this year’s draft, the probability is high that the Rays will put together yet another successful group of recruits.

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Update: 8:24

The Rays are coming up at pick 17. 

The rumor is that they might choose a P/OF Bryce Brentz.  Who knows what position he might play as a pro.  Bryce Harper was supposed to be a catcher, yet the Nats have already made it clear he will be an outfielder. 

However, should the Rays find INF Zach Cox still available at 17 (he is a top 10 projection), I think they will go with him.  This guy is a left-handed hitting power hitter who has the defensive ability and range to play at the hot corner or at 2B. 

Cubs are up.  Rays coming up…

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Update: 8:32

Cubbies took a pitcher.  Rays have their pick (Brentz) and a top-tier infielder (Cox) available.

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Update: 8:37

Rays took neither Cox nor Brentz.  Instead they took Josh Sale, a guy that the MLB Net guys seem excited about.  He is a college guy (Gonzaga) who plays the outfield.  Apparently he will play a corner outfield spot who will hit for some decent power and has little speed.  He sounds like a nice future RF, but it would be pointless to pontificate on where he will play as his major league debut is still several years away.  However, as a college player (as David Price was) his future might arrive a little sooner than many might think. 

Should this guy progress faster than most, then we might see a near-future outfield that could have Desmond Jennings, Leslie Anderson, BJ Upton, Ben Zobrist, and this kid in the mix.  Not too shabby. 

However, it should be noted that the Rays went neither middle infield NOR best available with this pick.  Peter Gammons has guessed that this pick might be more motivated by $$ than anything else, which makes sense.  Remember, the Rays were unable to sign two of their first three picks in their draft last year. 

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Update: 9:55

The Rays closed out their participation in the first round of the draft by taking a catcher with the 31st pick: Jason O’Conner.  The experts said that this guy should be more versatile than a catcher has a right to be, which might mean that Maddon can see him playing middle infield or catcher.  He is from the great state of Indiana, so he’s got that going for him. 

So the Rays got (maybe) their catcher.  That certainly was something that most Rays fans were looking for considering the current state, and franchise depth, of the position.