Tagged: wild card

Reality and a Haircut

I got a haircut this morning.

Nothing special, just a trim on the sides and a straightening up on the top.  It was pretty run-of-the-mill.

As I sat in the chair, though, a dose of reality was thrown my way via my barber-ess and those around her. 

She wanted to know if I was watching the big game today. 

You know, the Bucs vs. Cowboys game. 

I also heard others in the shop being asked the same question, to which the response was pretty much a resounding “Yes.”

I responded to my hair cutter that I would be watching, but with 3/4 of an eye on the Rays game.

Luckily, she had put down the hair shears before I threw out that little nugget because her response was one of disbelief.  She assured me that she loved the Rays, but that they had fallen out of it; that it was time to see if we could get a winner on the gridiron intstead of the Trop field turf.

My first reponse was going to be one of frustration, that the fans would not want to watch a double header with one of our biggest rivals while also keeping an eye on the football game.

But then, I thought….(this was pretty much during the time when I had to close my eyes while she trimmed the front).

And I came to a realization:

I don’t blame her.

Before you get all disgusted and self-righteous, bear with me…

Why should we watch the Rays right now?  No doubt, die-hard fandom rules dictate that putting your hometown baseball team on the tube whenever they play is a no-brainer until the season comes to a halt.  That simply watching your guys play is always a good time.

But I would argue that that time came and went weeks ago.

Don’t me wrong, I love the Rays.  Always have, always will.  But the last few weeks have been a display of brutal baseball followed by worse baseball. 

I know that people get on fans–especially baseball fans in this area–all the time for lack of committment.  It is kind of en vogue–for fans of other teams AND for fans of the Rays.   

When do the fans get to get on the team for lack of committment?

Not doing so should lead many to be committed, but not in the good way!

I “kept an eye on” the first game of the double header today against Boston only to see the bullpen blow another game and the offense sputter again.  We scored 1 run for the 2nd game in a row against Bawston and for the 4th time during this now 10-game losing streak.

Yep, that’s right, we have scored 1 run 4 times in the last 10 games.

Isn’t this supposed to be a playoff push? 

Aren’t we supposed to be contending with spirited efforts and dramatic play?

If we are, our guys have missed the memo.

Don’t give me the crap that we have lost Carlos Pena for the season or that BJ Upton’s sprained ankle has pushed us into the doldrums.  I don’t buy it.  While those two guys have been a big part of our success the last two years, the fact is that their production could have been mimicked by any number of players in the short term who have had to step up in the last few weeks.  That’s what good teams are able to do.

Yet, none have stepped up.

And that is not just offensively.  Our pitching has fallen apart–especially at the end of games–to complement the extreme lack of hitting.

I don’t think that there is anything wrong with voicing a concern about the team you love so much.  How could there be?  That is what being a REAL fan is about. 

Accountability.

To simply accept with a wink and a smile the garbage that the Rays have spewed on the field the last 10 games would be asinine–an exercise in insanity.

We don’t have to turn our backs on the team, of course.  But it is the responsiblity of the fans to keep our boys in check.  To let them know that their effort as of late has been unacceptable.

Going through a small losing streak that might cause you to fall out of contention in the last month of the season is one thing.  It happens all the time.  You drop 3 or 4 in a row and find yourself outside looking in.

But losing 10 games?

Seriously?

Something far more grievous is going on here, though I’m not smart enough to figure it out.  The Rays have–gulp–seemingly quit on the season and are enduring the punishment that comes to all quitters. 

Last season was wonderful.  A time that all Rays fans will never forget. 

There was a run a little more than a month ago that was just as memorable; a run that made this year fun and restored hope to the masses.

But this last month has shown that the magical mix that we have loved for the last two seasons is a little out of whack.  That something has been added too much or too little.

This offseason things might change a little bit.

This offseason, get ready for a trim.  And it ain’t gonna be pretty.

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Never Finished–Rays Republic Stands Tall

    VS   

Nice finish, guys.

After a game that had Rays fans doubting the sincerity of their team, and others doubting the sincerity of the team’s fans, the Rays came out and blasted/shouted/ran/dove/gutted their way to a big victory.

The outcome was in doubt late, but, as usual, the Rays were able to put on the finishing touch with a flurry in the 8th that helped restore faith across the republic.

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Garza Guts

He was not sharp tonight.  His off speed junk was weak and his fastball was spotty.  He threw near 30 pitches in two separate innings and went to a full count 4 TIMES in the 4th inning alone.

But he kept his team in it by slowing down one of the best teams in the league.

Can’t ask much more.

Matt Garza gave his team 6 strong innings, throwing 119 pitches, before being pulled in the 7th.  He left with a 5-3 lead and had a chance to be the victor in another big game against the Red Sox.

He didn’t get the win, as the ‘pen was not a strongpoint tonight, but he did get greater respect than ever for being a big-game pitcher and being able to shut down teams when his own team needs it.

Without Garza’s gutty performance, the Rays do not win tonight.

————————————————-

Key Inning: The 8th

The 8th was crazy.

The entire game was a battle.  No team could really pull safely ahead. 

Rays were up by 3, then up by 2, then 3, then 2, then 1.

The the top of the 8th came and the bullpen decided it had had enough.  Randy Choate walked Ortiz, Grant Balfour walked two guys to load ’em, and JP Howell–what has happened to our splendid JP?–threw another wild pitch to tie up the game.

Jeez! I yelled at the plasma!  (Actually, I had some other words of choice but I don’t like to print that stuff)

Game tied at 5. 

The Rays fans were keeping the faith, though. 

In the bottom of the frame Carlos Pena–the only reliable guy these days–knocked a double. 

Ah, that NEVER QUIT Rays spirit.

Boston’s Ramon Ramirez seemed rattled at that point as he struggled to keep the game tied. 

The cowbells were ringing, the fans were cheering, I was screaming at the tv.  I could see fans banging the too-many-empty seats in front of them. Anything to make some noise!

It worked.

Pat “The Bat” Burrell lined a single to right to score Pena and give the Rays a 1-run lead.  It was nice to see Pat contribute.  He’s got that average up to a ******** .240 now. 

In all seriousness, though, Pat homered early in the game and then drove in what turned out to be the game-winning run.  I’ll take that.

But it wasn’t over.

Evan Longoria, batting 6th in the lineup (and I hate it, by the way), launched a long ball over the wall to increase the Rays lead to 8-5.

     

 

And the Republic rejoiced.

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3 Keys to the Game   

1– Don’t chase Beckett’s junk.  NOPE  The first two Rays hitters of the game chased off speed stuff that either bounced or was in the dirt to strike out.  Beckett got touched up, but his stuff was not that bad.

2–Garza’s gotta show that savvy.  YEP!!!  Matty showed that he is the real “big game” pitcher on this team.

3–The ‘pen must stop the Sox hitters.   YEP/NOPE  The bullpen did allow the Sox to tie it, but when they had to shut the door to end the game they were able to do so.  Not terribly impressive, though.

1 1/2 OUT OF 3 “YEP” = RAYS WIN!? 

OK!

—————————————————–

The Rays’ pitching staff was far from dominant tonight.  Garza did well, but even he had to leave the game under duress.  The bullpen bent heavily, but it did not break.

The offense was a big hero tonight.  We kind of had to outscore the Sox. 

Ok, sometimes you have to do that.

The end result is that the Rays got back to being 5 games out of the wild card and have given them a chance to win the series, something they desperately have to pull off.

Tomorrow’s going to be a big one. 

A chance to get to within 4.

I’d like an easier win tomorrow night, but I have to admit…

This is just too much fun!

 

Boston Bummer–Time to Look UP

Last night was not pretty.  Not at all. 

I have never been so “up” for a game, only to have it stink so much.

In the end, Boston won 8-4 and the Rays fell another game out of the wild card lead.  It was the start to the biggest series of the season for Tampa Bay that no Rays fan wanted to see.

Let’s hope our guys can put it behind them and get “up” for tonight!

thumbs_up.jpg Thumbs Up image by ShinyYellowTruck

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Quick Recap of Last Night

The Pitching

Andy Sonnanstine was NOT the answer last night.  Did anybody think he would be?

I know that Sonny came into last night’s game fresh off the plane from Durham.  I know that he had a 5.06 ERA at the Trop this year.  I know he was facing one of the best teams in the league in one of the Rays’ biggest games of the year.

I know he blew it.

Sonnanstine went only 4 innings, and while errors might have dampened his start, he did little to pick his guys “up.” 

Sonny was knocked around more than a pinata, and Boston endured an 8th inning bases loaded scare from the Rays to hold on to the win.

I yelled, I screamed, I cried.

None of it did any good.  Boston was better last night.  And the Rays left their “A game” somewhere they couldn’t find it.

—————-

3 Keys to Last Night’s Game   

1–Lester is get-able.  NOPE  He wasn’t even close.  He torched the Rays’ K-susceptible lineup and dominated throughout. 

2–The crowd must step up.  YEP  Despite what others might think, the Trop was rolling for the Rays.  The intense moments felt intense, and the cowbells were out.  The problem was that Boston did what good teams do on the road–TAKE THE CROWD OUT OF THE GAME EARLY.

3–The bullpen must pitch well. NOPE  The ‘pen came in and gave up 3 runs in its 5 innings of work.  Before you argue that that ain’t bad, remember we lost 8-4.  Who knows how the Rays’ hitters–and the crowd–responds if it is a 1-run game in the 9th.

2 OF 3 “NOPE” = LOSS

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GAME 2

    VS   

The Pitching

                           

What a great matchup tonight.  The Rays put Matt Garza on the hill to face off against a guy who is a little epicureal, Josh Beckett.

Garza owns the Sox.  He is 5-1 with a 2.98 ERA against them.  Unlike Sonny last night, though, he also has decent numbers at the Trop.  I am hoping that those two factors come together to give the Rays a nice start in a big game for a change.

Beckett is as “get-able” as Lester is. 

I said that last night, too. 

And look what that got us. 

But apparently Beckett has been slumping lately (as read on raysbaseball.com) and is more vulnerable than ever.  But he is the Sox big game pitcher, and while tonight is not as big for Boston as it is for the Rays, I expect to see nothing less than his best.

The Boston hitters should be susceptible to Garza’s mixing of pitches–if he is able to get his fastball over for strike 1.  If not, then his off speed stuff won’t be as enticing–as is the case with most pitchers–and he WILL get rocked.

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3 Keys to the Game   

1– Don’t chase Beckett’s junk.  Sounds weird, but the Rays chased all of John Lester’s lesser offerings last night to the tune of 14 Ks.  Can’t win with totals like that.

2–Garza’s gotta show that savvy.  We need Matty to go out and dominate the Sox as he usually does.  His numbers against Boston need to hold up tonight.

3–The ‘pen must stop the Sox hitters.  If we are behind or if we are ahead, whenever the bullpen gets the nod from skipper Joe Maddon it has to be ready to shut things down.  They have been far from trustworthy.  This is a night we might need them. 

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Final Thoughts…

 I don’t know what to expect tonight.  I thought that the Rays would have a real shot last night, and they did.  They loaded the bases multiple times last night against the Sox, but they were unable to punch through.

The Rays sit 6 games out. 

That does not sit well with me.

Dropping another game tonight to Boston might well put the Rays into a hole they can’t dig their way out of. 

A win tonight will catapult them into a huge rubber game Thursday that could spell the return of the Big Rays Mo and help them to a series win.

It starts tonight, though.  We’ve got to forget the foibles of last night. 

I’d love to see a complete performance from our Boys in Blue. 

I’d love to see some passion from the players and the fans. 

I’d love to see a W-I-N.

Who knows, with a win tonight things could really start looking “up.”

The Republic vs The Nation

Sounds like a geography lesson, eh?

First, let’s review a bit.

The Rays played a heck of a game today, winning 11-7.  While the pitching left something to be desired, the hitting was just what the doctor ordered.

Carlos Pena’s big home run helped to cap the matinee tilt today.  Congrats on the win, guys.  It got us to within 5 games of the wild card.

Not only did it help with our wild card chase, but it also gave the Rays a little bit of the Big Mo’ as they left Motown to come home to face the guys from Beantown.

Now the Rays enter one of the biggest series they’ve played all season long. 

And it’s against the Red Sox.

Let the insanity begin.

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GAME 1

    VS   

Pitching Matchup

When you look at the matchups, it looks like you are seeing two teams in the playoffs ready to get into some serious fighting.  I’ll preview the pitching matchup as each game comes around.

Andy Sonnanstine vs. John Lester

          

Sonny is fresh up from Durham, which could be a good thing and a bad thing.  Good in that he has had a little extra rest and has been facing lesser AAA hitters–his confidence should be fairly high.  His arrival is not the best, though, because, well, he was sent to Durham for a reason.

And, um, there’s the little thing about his 5.00+ ERA at the Trop.

Lester has simply been on a roll.  He hasn’t lost in 7 decisions! 

His success against the Rays is far from guaranteed, though, as his career ERA against our Rays is a robust 4.66!

Somethin’s gotta give here, but I don’t know where.  It could be that both starters struggle and the bullpens will take over.

Judging from our lack of bullpen consistency in our last 8 games, I would say that it sounds like a scary proposition to allow our bullpen to figure too much in the decision right now.

———————————————————–

#3’s Been Missing

Where have you gone, Longo?

The Rays seem to have been playing without a 3B lately, as Evan Longoria has pretty much disappeared from the lineup. 

I think it is pretty easy to surmise that without a strong Longo, the Rays will find it difficult to compete against the BoSox. 

It would be difficult to compete with a Longoria hitting on all cylinders, too.

In the last week–and this is WITH his 3/5 day today–Longo has hit:

                      .160    1 HR    2 RBI

Ouch.

In the month, and this will make you cry, he has hit:

                      .243    4 HR    12 RBI

Hmmmmm, I wonder why the Rays have fallen to 5 games out of the wild card.

Surely, it can’t all be pinned on him.  No doubt, the pitching has struggled just as much.

BUT

Imagine a Longoria hitting the way he is capable to go WITH a Pena who has been hitting everything except the wall (I was going to say “momma,” but it sounded bad) and we could have a Rays team that is part of the conversation.

Instead, our Rays have to hope to win the series if they want to stay in contention in the least.

Sure, in his last three games he has put up some decent numbers (a homer the other day, a 3/5 day today).  And maybe those numbers indicate a turnaround. 

But “maybe” won’t be good enough for a series such as this one.

————————————————————-

3 Keys to the Game   

1–Lester is get-able.  The Rays hitters have rocked him this season (see May 9th: 4.1 IP, 10H, 8 R).  I don’t care what his recent string of success might portend, the Rays have the ability to knock him out of the game early. 

2–The crowd must step up.  The Trop can rock.  No doubt about it.  It can get hitters and pitchers alike off their stride.  The Sox have been to the Trop plenty, and they STILL call it a “House of Horrors.”  Let’s scare the living S—- out of ’em!

3–The bullpen must pitch well.  Sonny might not have alot to give the team.  He might leave early.  That means that the ‘pen must come in and slam the door shut.  Joe Maddon won’t have alot of patience for Sonnanstine if he falls too far behind.

——————————————————–

This series CAN make or break the season. 

I’ve said that before, but not without great thought.

This series is HUGE.

These are the possibilities:

If the Rays sweep, they’ll sit (likely) 2 games out of the wild card with 4-5 weeks to go.

If they win the series, they’ll still be 4 out, hardly encouraging.

If they lose the series, they’ll be 6 out.  Ugh.

If they get swept, the season is over.  8 games out of the wild card is too much for any team.

There is only one scenario I’d like to see.  A series win won’t do it. 

I want the sweep.

Who doesn’t? 

In the Rays Republic, of course, everybody wants it.

Republic vs. Nation.

Playoff chaser vs. Playoff leader.

Rays vs. Red Sox.

Are we feelin’ it yet?

Detroit Disaster

Things seem to be blowing up a big in MoTown. 

It isn’t end-of-the world type stuff, but it sure feels bad.

Today’s game seems indicative of a team that is losing that killer instinct that playoff teams must have.

The Rays had this one wrapped up. 

Then the Tigers unwrapped it.

————————————————————

Bal-FORE!!!

Jeff Nieman had just completed 7 solid innings.  His performance paired with Saturday’s game from David Price gave the Rays back-to-back 7+ inning, quality start outings in Detroit–not the easiest place to win.

While there were runners on, the Rays still had a 3-1 lead and were ready to hand the game over to our awesome Aussie, Grant Balfour.

He got two guys out.

It was the third one that was a little tricky.

Placido Polanco teed off and launched one over the wall to give the Tigers the 4-3 advantage.  Fernando Rodney made it hold up in the 9th.

No, it wasn’t a 9th-inning wild pitch, but it was just as jolting.

Aren’t these games the ones we used to win?

——————————————————-

Good Starts, Bad Finishes

Today’s game seems to fit in well with the way the Rays have played recently. 

Sure, the starting has been somewhat spotty, but it is the relieving that is killing us.  And I thought that the bullpen was one of our strong suits in recent weeks.

Uh-oh.

Today it was Balfour.

Wednesday it was old reliable, JP Howell.

I know we’re talking about two games here, but these are two games that the Rays HAD to have. 

Instead, these two wins were transformed into losses, making the Rays playoff squad slowly looking like they are transforming into also-rans.

————————————————————–

Unlucky 7

The Rays came into the last 7 games having gone 6-1 in their previous 7 games.

Things were good.  Really good.

Our guys were starting to get hot just when they needed to and no team in the league wanted to play them.  They were a playoff team.  Taking the wild card was just a formality.

Then something happened when Texas shut us out on a Sunday.

Since then we are 3-4.

What is worse is that up to last Sunday we were in the wild card hunt.  We had narrowed the gap to 3-3.5 games.

Now?

The Rays stand 5 full games behind the Red Sox in the wild card race, and 2.5 behind the Rangers.

October might be a mere 4 weeks or so away, but it has never felt so far out of reach.

———————————————–

Kazmir Update

I read the recent MLB.com article about Scott Kazmir and how he felt about being with the Angels.  It was a nice fluff piece profiling the newest left coast acquisition.

He sounded happy.  He sounded excited.  He sounded like he had already forgotten about his time in St. Pete.

When he reference the Rays, he did so to springboard into what he thought his current team could do.

“I got a taste of it last year. You want to go all the way. The Angels are a team that can do it year in and year out. It says a lot about the organization.”

Maybe it says alot about our organization too.

The Bell Has Rung…Kaz Got His Wings

The Rays lost tonight.

And I’m not talking about the game with Detroit.

The on again/off again romance between the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and Scott Kazmir has reached its fitting end. 

Scott Kazmir is now an Angel.

———————————————————————-

Took Long Enough

It’s been a long road, but somehow a deal got done.

The trade started back in July when the Rays were out scouting the Angels’ farm system for prospects.  At the time the rumor was that Kaz was on the block and a trade to the Angels was imminent.

Both teams denied the reports and the rumors quickly died–well before the July 31st trade deadline.

Nothing was said for weeks.  Then reports started to leak this afternoon from the LA Times that a deal was done and Kazmir was an Angel.  Coming over in the trade were lefty Alexander Torres and 3B Matt Sweeney.

Alas, the trade was NOT done.  It fell through because the Rays wanted one more player.

Cue ominous music:

Duh-duh-duhhhhhhhhhhhh.

I reported that, thankfully, the Rays were going to hang on to their 25-year-old lefty and that that was a good thing.  They were fighting for the playoffs, after all.

No news was good news.

Until there was news.

After the Rays loss to Detroit this evening, news came out that Kaz had, indeed, been traded.

We were shocked!

The Rays apparently got what they wanted in Torres, Sweeney, and a player to be named.

The fans lost a favorite player, and More Cowbell lost the ability to wear a certain pitcher’s t-shirt.

——————————————————————-

Clubhouse Fallout

Kaz was not only a fan favorite, but also a teammate fave.  He seemed to click very well with youngster David Price.

That could have been a bad thing, considering that Price, upon being called up this year, immediately took on some of Kaz’s traits:

          Throw lots of fastballs, work slowly, and get pulled before the 6th inning.

Regardless, you have to imagine that such a positive guy as Kaz being gone will negatively affect the Rays clubhouse and make players search for what is the next step. 

It should also cause them to question the front office’s faith in their ability to win this wild card spot.

Keep in mind that Kazmir was starting to come around.  He had been solid in his last 8 starts, going 4-2 with a 4.41 ERA.  He had thrown 6+ innings in 7 of those 8 starts and dominated Wednesday night with 10 Ks.

He was starting to look like the guy who set franchise records for wins, innings, strikeouts, starts, and quality starts. 

And, despite his good-faith contract signing for much less money than he could have gotten on the free agent market recently, the Rays STILL shipped him off for prospects in what can only be seen as a cost-cutting move.

A cost-cutting move during a playoff run!?

Idiots.

——————————————————————

Potential Fan Reaction

I think that Rays fans are going to be mixed on this one.

On one side will be the fans who remember the last 2+ years during which our once golden child struggled to get out of the 5th inning.  The kid who set the bar for all future starters for this frahchise.

They’ll remember the guy who was the DEAL OF THE CENTURY when we stole him from the New York Mets for who WAS our franchise record holder in wins etc, Victor Zambrano.

That was a Chuck Lamar deal…one of the few things he did right while with the Tampa Bay franchise.

They’ll remember him as the Icarus of the team who fell much too quickly and disappointed us much too strongly.

Remember when he was the fixture of the rotation?

Remember when EVERYBODY saw him as the team’s ace, the only 2-time pitcher All Star in franchise history.

He was supposed to be one of the greats.

The fall was quick and hard.

Those fans are going to be excited about this 21 year old pitcher and his 21 year old counterpart 3B and what they will bring to the Rays 1-2 years down the road.

—-

The other side will remember a kid with blonde hair and a cherub face who was ready to help a terrible team get better.  A kid who went out every 5th day from, seemingly, the beginning and threw gems. 

A kid who just won–Period. 

He was a kid who made us forget we rooted for one of the worst teams of all time.  He gave us hope when we had none.

Those fans are going to miss him.  They’ll miss the “Kaz” and “Kid K” nicknames and wonder if this deal is going to be something we rue as much as the Mets did when they dealt him in the first place.

——————————————————————— 

Personal Memory

What I’ll remember most of the kid was one game during the “Devil Rays” days when his teammates decided to have fun with him one night.

It was miraculous that the cameras caught it, but one night Kaz’s teammates (I believe it was Jonny Gomes) decided to make Kid K look stupid.

They blew up a Dubble Bubble bubble and pinched it off.

Then they placed it on his head.

Scott went most of the game with that bubble on his head.  His teammates fell out every time he came up to shoot the sh– with them.

Of course, this kid had no idea why he was so funny all of a sudden.

He smiled and waved at the cameras everytime he saw the red light come on.  He thought he was suddenly some kind of celebrity, though he had no idea why.

After a few innings he took his hat off.  And the camera caught him going nuts over the fact that he had been on tv all night long with a HUGE bubble gum bubble on his head.

I’ll always remember that one.  It was one of the funniest moments I’ve ever had watching a baseball game.

—————————————————————-

Where Do We Go From Here?

The Rays acquired two very young, but very talented, players from the Angels farm system.  Both guys played primarily at Class-A the last year or so, but recently were promoted to Class-AA.

Alex Torres was named the organization’s pitcher of the month for July for putting up stellar numbers.  He was just moved to Class-AA Arkansas.

Matthew Sweeney missed the entire 2008 season with an ankle injury and two months of the 2009 campaign.  He still impressed enough for the Rays to get him, but his power numbers this season (9 hrs) are not impressive at all.

As fans, we’ll just have to wait and see just who got fleeced in this deal.  I don’t see this as a win/win situation.  I see this as a “somebody beat somebody else” situation. 

I don’t know if the Rays got the best of this deal, but I doubt it very much.

————————————————————–

Final Thoughts

I don’t want to be too negative here.  The deal is done.  Kaz is no longer a Ray.  We have to deal with losing our franchise’s best starting pitcher ever.

What makes me more upset than anything is simply the timing. 

According to reports, Kaz could have been moved around the trade deadline. 

Know who we could have gotten?

Mr. Cliff Lee

You know.  Mr. 5-0 sub-1.00 ERA for the Phillies, Cliff Lee.

Instead we’re getting two guys (and a player to be named) who have yet to reach AAA. 

These moves do not win you Executive of the Year, Andrew Friedman.  These moves make you a joke.

Not only does the timing of this move stink because of what we COULD have had, but it makes the Rays look like they are giving up on the post season.

It is as if the Rays are showing the team–and their fans–that they don’t think making it to October is plausible, so moving a surging pitcher now is not that big of a deal.  Might as well get what we can for him, right?

Moving Kaz is not the bad move. 

Moving Kaz NOW is what makes this stupid.

I’ll admit, my confidence in this team’s committment to winning this year is now shaken.  I bet I speak for lots of fans when I say that.

Regardless, I wish Kazmir luck in California.  He’ll certaily help out that Angels rotation.  Maybe he’ll even get his elusive World Series ring.

I’m sure he’ll enjoy it.

But, no doubt, he–and we–would have enjoyed it alot more if he could have earned that ring playing for the team that annointed him a Golden Child.

We called him “Kaz.” 

And he’ll be missed.

East Coast Kaz?

I think that the things worked out for the best–for now.

I’m afraid to post this since it could be rendered irrelevent in the next 20 minutes by this on again/off again romance between the Angels and Kaz.  Remember around the trade deadline the Rays were off scouting Angels minor leaguers while the Angels were making some noise about wanting Kazmir.  Both teams said it was nothing more than pure coincidence.

Ah, the politics of baseball.

However, after reading things around the net and listening to local sports radio, it seems as if the potential deal that would send Scott Kazmir to the Angels is officially

D-E-A-D

That could be a good thing.

Or not.

It seems stupid to analyze a deal that wasn’t, but I’m going to take a look at this thing anyway.

——————————————————————–

Bad Idea to Trade Kaz

THE CLUBHOUSE: 

Moving Kaz now would have done much damage to the Rays.  Remember that this is a team trying to get into the playoffs.  Why would you ever want to mess with one of the team’s more dominant starters (right now, anyway) when they are sitting just 3 1/2 games out of the wild card spot?

Don’t forget also the potetial effects that trading a popular guy in the clubhouse could have on the team.  Right now the Rays are getting close to having the chemistry that they had in 2008, and a move of a guy of Kaz’s stature could undo all of that.

HIS YOUTH AND TALENT:

Let’s not forget that Kazmir is just 25 years old.  He ain’t some washed up has-been.  You don’t often see teams trade their all-time leader in wins BEFORE the guy’s 26th birthday!

HE TOOK LESS MONEY:

From a moral standpoint, I don’t think that moving Kazmir would have been the right thing to do.  I know we are talking about millionaires here, but when the Rays were hoping to keep their young talent (Upton, Crawford, Longoria, etc…), Kazmir agreed to a contract that paid him less than what (at the time) he could have made elsewhere. 

He said he took the deal because he loved the Rays.  He said that taking less money meant he could stay here for his career.  He knew the Rays were a team that could not afford to pay guys $15 million. 

So he took a more reasonable contract to stick around St. Pete.  It would seem wrong to trade him now.

WHITE FLAG?:

Let’s not forget what trading a suddenly-dominant rotation member would mean to a team fighting for the wild card. 

It would mean surrender.

If all you were going to get in return (look below) was a couple of prospects, I don’t know what else it could mean to trade a guy like Kaz.  When your team thinks that the front office has given up, they often follow.

THIS DEAL SHOULD HAVE BEEN DONE IN JULY!: 

If we were going to move him, why not do so in July?  We could have gotten much more.  Look at what the deal would have been if the Rays had worked things out in a 3-team deal back around the trade deadline:

According to the Seattle Times

The Mariners, you might remember, were linked to Kazmir at the trade deadline in a rumored three-way deal that would have sent Brandon Morrow and Jeff Clement to Cleveland, Cliff Lee from Cleveland to Tampa Bay, and Kazmir and shortstop Reid Brignac to Seattle. It never came to fruition, obviously.

 

WHAT WE WOULD GET IN RETURN:

Finally, I took a look at the prospects we would have gotten for Kaz.  Not impressed.  Not terribly impressed, anyway.  We would have gotten a left hander named Alexander Torres and a third baseman (like we need one) named Matthew Sweeney.  Those guys were good, but they were not going to get us to October.

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Good Idea to Trade Kaz

DOUBTFUL RESURGENCE:

I don’t think that Kaz’s sudden turnaround is for real.  I think that due to the teachings of one Jim Hickey, or maybe just due to Kaz’s loss of control, Kazmir will not be the pitcher he was.  In that way, we might have missed out on an opportunity.

TORRES WAS GOING TO BE GOOD:

Torres had already won several awards in the Angels’ minor league system.  He was only 21.  His next stop (probably next year) was the Angels rotation.  Plus, he is more than likely making NO MONEY and could free the Rays up to go after a solid starter for next season.

OPENS UP ROTATION:

Moving Kazmir would have opened up a spot in the rotation that does not exist right now.  Perhaps a spot that guys like Mitch Talbot could take over.  And let’s not forget the money thing again.  Promoting a minor leaguer for next year saves money and–maybe–gives us a guy who can actually go more than 5 innings.

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As I post this I see online the news starting to get out that the deal fell through.  It is funny because the LA Times reported that the deal was done. 

Bad reporting.

I wonder, though, if keeping Kaz is the best thing for the team.  I want to think it is. 

Since the All-Star Break Kaz has gone 4-2 with a 4.41 ERA in 8 starts.

That’s not great, but it is enough to get you to October. 

But I just don’t get that excitement about having Scotty in the rotation anymore.  I don’t think he is going to continue to get better.  I am dubious about how much he can help us in the rotation next year.

Maybe he can be a closer?  Hmmmmmm….

No matter what, I have to cheer a little bit about keeping one of the Rays’ best deals EVER (Kaz for Victor Zambrano!) in the fold.

I can still wear my Kazmir t-shirt!

That makes it all worth it…