- Another solid performance by one of the Rays starting pitchers. James Shields allowed only one base runner in two innings of work with two strikeouts. At the plate, Joe Maddon tried a new lineup with Carl Crawford and Delmon Young switching spots in the order. The move paid off in the first with Crawford stealing second and Delmon driving him home.
- Yesterday we speculated that one of the final two spots in the bullpen would go to Al Reyes and the final spot was up for grabs. Papa Joe Maddon indicated that there was a very good chance that Reyes would make the team and Juan Salas was the leading candidate for the final spot. One guy we might be forgetting about is Jeff Ridgway. Maddon went the first half of 2006 without a lefty in the bullpen. He has always said having a lefty is not a priority. Rather, he just needs a guy that can get lefties out. Still, if Maddon does decide to include a lefty in the pen (like the other 29 managers in baseball) Ridgway might be the guy.
- In a classic non-story-story, the Lakeland Ledger says that the Rays should not be tempted to rush Jeff Niemann to the majors. The Rays have one spot open in the rotation (two if Casey Fossum can’t go the first week or two) and five pitchers competing for that spot. Niemann is not one of those pitchers. The team has been emphatic that Big Righthander would start the season at AAA. Trust us, they are not tempted.
- Last season there was one of those classic New York sports stories (by typical we mean silly) that made a controversy over the use of the song Enter Sandman by the Mets new closer Billy Wagner. You see the song had been used by the Yankees Mo Rivera for years and for a lesser human being like Wagner to use it was heretical. Well, even though he is a starter, J. P. Howell’s favorite musician could trump them all. Who wouldn’t get fired up when Howell came jogging in from the bullpen with PA announcer blaring…Mozart?
- The Hardball Times ranks the top 3 benches in the American League. The Rays did not make the cut, but they did receive honorable mention. Now if the team could just get some pitching depth.
- Baseball Analysts takes a look at how often Rule 5 picks stuck with their new teams for an entire season from 1998-2006. Interestingly, outfield selections have the highest failure rate. Of the 23 outfielders chosen from 1998-2006, only five were with the team that selected them for the entire season. One of those to not stick with their new team was Rays farmhand Jason Pridie. Will Josh Hamilton become just the sixth? We thinks yes.
- Could the Rays be Major League baseball’s version of George Mason this season? Only if the league decides to allow 65 teams into the playoffs, and even then they better hope that the selection committee considers the Rays strength of schedule.