I’m really just too tired to put up a coherent post. So here are some things that ran through my mind as the games played out tonight.
—Pat Burrell might be turning around. His 2-run blast was HUGE.
—Wade Davis pitched very well against a really tough team. Great job.
–The weather was just ridonkulous. All the Rays were bundled up big time. Then there is Captain Underbite, Kevin Youkilis. He is either immune or just that foolish, but he’s out there with short sleeves. Well done?
–Bases Loaded. Nobody out. And the Rays get out of it!!!! Holee Cow!!!
–This was a great win. Happy to see the boys stay strong and pull out the W in strange circumstances.
—James Shields kept the emotions in check all game long. He pitched great. Sure, he gave up a 2-run homer late, but it did no damage whatsoever. He was composed and kept the Sox hitters off balance all game long.
–I laugh to myself when I hear the Red Sox fans try to get into Longo’s head by shouting “Eva.” It was great tonight because the Rays’ microphones were picking up on some of these fans’ shoutings (I am sure they were pretty lubricated by this point in the night). As they shouted at Evan, he promptly launched one into the Green Monster for what amounted to the game winning run. Well done EVAN.
–The Red Sox fans were funny tonight. God bless ’em, they wanted a win big time tonight. In fact, one of the more redeeming qualities about those who love the Red Sox is that they stick with their team until the end. I know that is something I learned as a Cubs fan growing up and it has certainly served me well as a Rays fan.
But every time a Sox player put wood on ball, the crowd would erupt, hoping it was going to be “the” hit. There were a couple of late homers that made me nervous for sure, so they were almost right.
–The poll during the game tonight was, “Who is the Rays’ chief competition for the division this year?” Results:
Blue Jays 10%
I think that Boston will give the Rays a big run this year, despite the results of these first two games. The Sox are just too darn good to go away.
–I can’t believe that the Mets and Cardinals played 20 innings! The Cards had position players pitching and pitchers playing left field. Awesome.
–Congrats to those Rox. A No-Hitter from Ubaldo Jiminez. That guy is just awesome.
Thinking of Tomorrow
—Matt Garza is having a great year. A GREAT year. a 1.13 ERA!? 2-0 record? A .179 Opponent Batting Average? Amazing. But…
–The Rays seem to falter just when they are getting hot. And they are hot now. And…
–As I already said, the Red Sox are TOO DARN GOOD!!! WE HAVE TO SCRAPE AND CLAW JUST TO GET A WIN AGAINST THESE GUYS!!!
–Tomorrow will be interesting…
–Definitely time to get some sleep.
Pretty much every blog in the universe remotely related to baseball has been making its predictions for what will happen in the majors in 2010. Some have done it division by division, and some have done it in one big shot.
I’ll be subscribing to a combination of both as I go league by league.
I will not be including records because, well, I’m just not that smart.
I see 2010 as a season that will have more than just a few surprises. Sure, teams such as the Phillies and Yankees will be right there until the end, but there are other squads that I think possess much intrigue because of their offseason moves and the emergence of their younger players.
More than likely this is an effort in futility, but it sure is fun.
Today I will break down the National League. Tomorrow the American League. Tuesday I’ll put out my playoff predictions.
Phillies Nobody’s better in the NL. They would be better with Cliff Lee AND Roy Halladay, but they are pretty darn strong as they stand.
Braves I like their mix of youth and experience. Their pitching will be a strength for them, especially if Tim Hudson can turn in a strong season.
Marlins How can you pick against them? Nobody knows how they do it, but they win every year. Ricky Nolasco is back and Josh Johnson is solid.
Mets How can you pick FOR them? The addition of Jason Bay would seem to bode well for the offense, but the recent injury to Daniel Murphy won’t help. Neither will the fact that they seem to have given up on their pitching.
Nationals I don’t want to pile on. They are not a good team. But their offseason moves and slow dedication to a youth movement points them in the right direction.
Cardinals Makes me sick to say it, but they are darn good. Their offense will more than make up for any pitching deficiencies. They have the potential for closer problems this year, though.
Cubs I love this team, but it seems no matter how much talent they get on the squad they do not win. Sure, they won the division for three straight years, but that was about it. Last year was an abomination. Marlon Byrd, and a healthy Aramis Ramirez, will really help the offense.
Reds They could be the surprise of the division in 2010. I like their staff (and the addition of Cuban defector Aroldis Chapman, even though he is in the minors now) and their bats. Might sound crazy, but I think these guys could push for a playoff spot this year.
Astros Sure Lance Berkman is hurt, but this team has some talent. They are getting older at some positions (Carlos Lee, Berkman, Oswalt) and injuries could derail their season.
Brewers Their pitching is horrendous. Yovani Gallardo can’t stay healthy and one of their starters, Jeff Suppan, is already out. Prince Fielder and Ryan Braun are not enough.
Pirates Andrew McCutcheon will be fun for the entire league to watch and will more than likely represent the Bucs in the All-Star Game. That’s about it.
Giants As fans of the Tampa Bay Rays know, pitching wins. And there are few staffs (provided Barry Zito is actually good this year) as strong as the Giants’. “Kung Fu Panda” Pablo Sandoval will really shine this year.
Dodgers Why won’t they win the division? Health. I just think that they are going to have some big injuries this year and that Manny will do all he can to distract the team from winning baseball games. I like their young starting pitching, but it won’t gel enough this year.
Rockies Coors Field seems like a great place to watch a baseball game. Its offensive stats seem to have calmed down a bit. The rise of Ubaldo Jimenez and his ability to induce ground balls will help this team have a solid season.
Padres I love their youth. Everth Cabrera, Mat Latos, Chase Headley. I like ’em. This will be a big surprise if they don’t finish in the basement of the division again. I think they have some surprises in them.
Diamondbacks It will be a surprise if these guys DO finish in the basement. I like Dan Haren and their emerging catcher, Miguel Montero (he’s on my fantasy team!). But I don’t see a lot to get excited about in the desert.
Well, that was fun. No doubt, some of my picks might be debatable.
And, if they are debatable, feel free to tear me apart.
Let’s play some baseball!
Ah, well. The Rays did not make any moves at the trade deadline. Despite two glaring needs, the team was unable to do that trade that might have helped to shore up some weaknesses for the final playoff push.
I don’t know that moves HAD to be made. This team stood pat last year and was able to utilize the huge talent it had to make it to October. This year’s iteration of the Rays is not much different, and should be able to ride its talent–both here in the majors and in the minors–to a division crown or wildcard berth.
It ain’t gonna be easy, though.
Even though I can’t look at any moves the Rays made, I wanted to take a look at the multitude of moves made yesterday and grade how each move should help each team.
Deal: Red Sox trade for Victor Martinez
Analysis: Jason Varitek has not been what the Sox have needed this year. Sure, he’s led the team as an old grizzled veteran should, but little more than that. Add in the fact that Mike Lowell’s hip is not long for this season and you have a need at catcher and first base. Well, the Red Sox filled those needs with the addition of Martinez. One of the more coveted players available at the deadline, the versatile Martinez might just be the piece that complete the playoff puzzle for the Sox
Deal: White Sox trade lots of young arms for Jake Peavy
Analysis: Initially this looks like a great deal. The White Sox were able to rekindle interest in moving Peavy late Friday (interest that waned early in the season) and finally consummated the deal. Why Peavy would want to pitch in hitter-friendly US Cellular Field in a new league is beyond me, but he had his reasons to waive his no trade clause. The Sox got a pitcher who is not ready to pitch now and might not be ready for several more weeks. The Padres got a plethora of arms that should help them long term.
Deal: Twins acquire Orlando Cabrera
Analysis: I don’t like Cabrera. Let’s get that out of the way. I don’t like the way he tried to make some lame point in the playoffs last year against the Rays. I am glad Grant Balfour struck him out, though. Why do I say all this pointless blather? Because this is a perfect move for the Twins. And if I’m saying that with the way I feel, then you know it is good. The Twinkies needed a strong shortstop, and they got it. He will hit 2nd in the lineup ahead of Justin Morneau and Joe Mauer and will help that offense really get going. And his defense will be welcome in the Metrodome–especially if you saw the bumbling of Brendon Harris in last night’s game.
Deal: Tigers get Jarrod Washburn
Analysis: Washburn was not going to be able to help the Mariners make the playoffs this year. And he was going to ask for more money than the M’s would be willing to pay him after the end of this season. For them, this is a great move. For the Tigers, this move makes sense. They will now have a solid 1-3 in the rotation. Plus, the move enabled them to keep pace with the moves the Sox and Twins made within the division. But can Washburn keep up his torrid pitching? I don’t think so.
Deal: Braves and Red Sox exchange 1B: Adam Laroche and Casey Kotchman
Analysis: The Braves have fallen out of love with the guy they acquired for Mark Teixeira not that long ago. Why? They want more home runs. Kotchman has just 6 this year. But the guy is hitting .283 and plays a decent 1B. Laroche, on the other hand, struggles to hit .250 and only has 13 dingers this year. Each guy has only around 40 RBIs. This is kind of a non-deal–much like the Jeff Francoeur for Ryan Church deal earlier. What are the Braves thinking?
Grade: Braves–C Red Sox–B
Deal: Marlins trade for the Nats’ Nick Johnson
Analysis: Everybody seems to love Nick Johnson. I don’t get it. He’s a marginal hitter, and ok fielder, and he might actually be slower than our own Pat Burrell. What’s the deal? When the Marlins’ Hanley Ramirez was told of the trade, he reportedly pumped his fist and yelled “YES!” Why? This might help the Marlins shore up their infield by moving Jorge Cantu to 3B and allowing Johnson to man 1B, but that’s about it. But, the Fish did not give up much for him so…
Deal: Rockies get Joe Beimel from the Nats
Analysis: Make fun of the Pirates all you want, at least it seems they are getting a direction in mind for the franchise. The Nationals don’t have a clue. They dumped a solid lefty bullpen guy in Beimel to get two youngsters–one of which, I read, is recovering from surgery. Ugh. This deal should help the Rox, but not that much.
Deal: Dodgers send minor leaguer 3B Josh Bell to O’s for closer George Sherrill
Analysis: I’m looking at both sides of the coin on this one. The Dodgers acquire a solid closer who has been more and more consistent as the season has gone on. Thus, right now the Dodgers have one of the more potent 8th- and 9th-inning guys out there. The Orioles got a guy I hadn’t heard much about, but about whom I read is something special at 3B. Melvin Mora won’t be long in an O’s uni, so getting Bell, who might get a callup sometime next year, plays out perfectly for Baltimore. This team is going to be pretty exciting come next season.
Grade: D’s–B+ O’s–B
As with any trade that went down in the last few days, we will have to wait and see how things go. Of course, the Cardinals have gotten immediate returns on their move as Matt Holliday has TORN IT UP since his arrival in St. Louis.
Lots of the deals above included young minor leaguers. Their value is not entirely quanitfiable just yet, but it may be sooner rather than later.
Either way, Friday was lots of fun.
Even if the Rays did do nothing.
The MLB trade deadline will hit us this Friday, July 31st.
It is a fun time of year as teams who think they are still in their respective races “buy” what they can while teams that are already looking ahead to 2010 (or 2011, 2012, 2013…) “sell” what they can to prepare.
We have already seen some interesting moves take place early in the trading season what with Matt Holliday moving from the West (A’s) to the Midwest (Cardinals), Rafael Betancourt going from low altitude (Cleveland) to way up in the air (Colorado), and Julio Lugo being lucky to go anywhere (Cardinals).
Other than those deals nothing notable has really happened.
It is with all this in mind that Ginny at The Watercooler and Bob at More Cowbell are putting together the first (of many) co-posts where we will look at certain aspects surrounding our beloved Tampa Bay Rays.
First up, the trade deadline and which Rays players could/should move before Friday.
We are not really debating on whether or not something will happen with each of the players discussed. We are Rays fans. We know NOTHING is going to happen.
What we are doing is looking at the team’s needs, current player performance, and the potential for a move to occur.
It is pure fun.
More Cowbell and The Watercooler are putting on our General Manager’s hats to see if something can be done to help our guys reach October, and the World Series, for the second consecutive year.
So enjoy our hypothetical (and pathetic-al) attempt at doing a job we’re never ever going to have!
Dioner Navarro C
2009 Stats: .226 13 2B 5 HR 25 RBI 2 SB 266 AB
Keep or Cut?
I am sure Ginny will agree, this is a tough one. Navi is one of the bigger fan favorites at the Trop. He and his family have gone through alot during his time with the Rays and that has kind of bonded fan and catcher together.
Looking at it from a purely baseball point of view, though, I think that Dioner needs to go. The Rays need to look into either moving him or finding somebody (Victor Martinez from the Indians?) to take his place. His stats are some of the worst in the league for a catcher.
Navarro has had a roller coaster career with the Rays. Two years ago he was brutal, hitting just .227 with a .286 OB%. Terrible. Last year he was a big reason why the Rays went to the playoffs, handling the staff well and hitting .295 with a .349 OB%.
If we keep him it will be because he handles the staff’s pitchers deftly. The Rays might also think that he’ll bounce back next year.
The Gabes: Gross and Kapler RF
Gross 2009 Stats: .271 11 2B 1 3B 5 HR 28 RBI 6 SB 177 AB
Kapler 2009 Stats: .250 13 2B 1 3B 4 HR 23 RBI 3 SB 124 AB
Keep or Cut?
These guys have worked in tandem to create a very effective platoon in right field for the Rays. No doubt, you lose a little bit defensively when Gross is in the lineup, but you gain that much back with his bat. Right now it is just the opposite with Kapler.
I think that the rightfielder of the future for the Rays is already on the team. I just don’t know who exactly that will be. It might be Ben Zobrist, Fernando Perez, Desmond Jennings, or even BJ Upton himself (with one of the latter two taking center). It will not be Gross or Kapler in 2010.
With that in mind, I think that either one is expendable. I wouldn’t trade either one of them now, though, unless putting them in a package deal can land us another starter or a catcher. Gross would probably fetch more on the open market than Kapler would. But since Akinori Iwamura is hurt and Zobrist is playing well at 2B, I would keep them both.
KEEP BOTH (for now)
Randy Choate or Brian Shouse LH Relievers
Choate 2009 Stats: 0-0 2.25 ERA 4 SV 16 IP 15 K 5 BB 1.00 WHIP .198 BAA
Shouse 2009 Stats: 1-1 3.77 ERA 0 SV 14.1 IP 9 K 3 BB 1.40 WHIP .298 BAA
Keep or Cut?
Choate has had an amazing year with the Rays. His stats show how well he’s pitched and watching him in action backs them up. His Batting Average Against is stellar. When he is brought into a game to face a left-handed batter you can pretty much assume that Choate will get the out. Lefties are hitting just .189 against him this year. He is just the kind of guy that Joe Maddon loves.
However, we already have that guy in Brian Shouse. Or do we?
Shouse’s numbers do not stack up with Choate’s at all. He gets lefties out to a .235 clip, but righties are hitting .325 against him. That pretty much means that Shouse is in for one batter and that is it. Choate has made righties hit only .200 this year.
I think that Choate is a keeper, but since we already have JP Howell, Shouse is now expendable. I know that Maddon has said that he is excited about having a “toybox of lefties” in his bullpen, but 3 is a crowd. Choate stays. Shouse goes.
Choate: KEEP Shouse: CUT
Andy Sonnanstine RH Starter (currently at AAA Durham)
2009 Stats: 6-7 6.71 ERA 81.2 IP 50 K 22 BB 1.52 WHIP .305 BAA
Keep or Cut?
Sonny is doing very well with Durham (2-0, 3.35 ERA) since his demotion a few weeks ago. However, as well as he is doing there is just about how horribly he did here. Maddon kept waiting (as did we all) for Sonnanstine to turn it around, to turn into the guy we loved last year. He was a great alternative to the flamethrowers already in the rotation, but when teams are hitting .305 off of you something has to give. It did. Andy’s at AAA.
He needs to stay unless there is some great trade the Rays can pull off of which he is a part. BUT, if the Rays are able to put him in a deal then we still have Wade Davis at AAA who can come up and be the next Sonny.
KEEP, UNLESS THE DEAL IS GOOD THEN CUT
Scott Kazmir LH Starter
2009 Stats: 4-6 6.69 ERA 74 IP 58 K 40 BB 1.72 WHIP .289 BAA
Keep or Cut?
Ahhhh, Kaz. This guy was the golden child when he was acquired from the New York Mets a few years ago for nothing more than our ace at the time, Victor Zambrano. It was such an amazing deal for the Rays and such a terrible deal for the Mets.
It’s still a good deal for Tampa Bay as Kaz developed in the ace for several years and came up big in big games last season. However, he has developed an inability to go past the 5th inning and recently has developed the inability to get guys out. It is not a good sign for the team’s current #2 starter.
He has quite a fan following (I know Ginny at The Watercooler is especially infatuated), but that is no reason to hang on to the guy. When you look at his performance you see that he is improving here in the second half of the season but that his “improvement” is still worse than many #5 starters in the league. Kaz is slotted to make $10 mill next year. He says he signed the contract to give the Rays a “bargain” and ensure that he would be able to play out his contract in Tampa Bay.
I say let him. I know it sounds crazy, but this guy has talent. It is just off a bit. I have ranted and railed at how sick of his ineffectiveness I am, but he could come back next year and become the All Star he was last year. He is one of the guys who got it all started here, and I respect that. He wanted to stay with the Rays before they were good. I doubly respect that. I want nothing more than to see him return to form. I’ll have to hope for that.
Wade Davis RH Starter (currently at Durham)
2009 Stats (at Durham): 8-6 3.22 ERA 114.2 IP 103 K 47 BB 1.29 WHIP .229 BAA
Keep or Cut?
I’ll be honest, I don’t know a great deal about the Rays’ top pitching prospect. I know that when the Rays drafted him, Davis was supposed to be part of the new wave of Rays pitchers who would arrive in the majors and dominate. He was supposed to team up with Jeff Nieman and Mitch Talbot to form the best homegrown 1-3 of any rotation in the league. Nieman is here. Talbot is hurt. It’s Davis’ turn.
If the Rays make any deal for a substantial return (Cliff Lee and Victor Martinez anyone?) then Davis is more than likely going to have to be part of the package. My gut says “do it.” I believe in NOW in alot of ways, and this season is the NOW for the Rays. Contracts are going to start kicking in soon and it won’t be long before the Rays and owner Stuart Sternberg have to dump some salary. We’ve got to do it now. If there is a way to make a deal for people who will get us to October this year, then do it.
I don’t know if that deal really exists. If we get a pitcher, it will be for about 7-8 starts the rest of the season. If we get a catcher, he’ll have to learn the staff and adjust his hitting to our stadium. In the end, a deal for a pitcher and catcher might not help us as much as we might think. And it would be stupid for a team with cash restrictions to give up an uber-talented and VERY cheap pitcher for that.