The RI Confidence Graph will appear every Monday and is a look at how much confidence we have in the Tampa Bay Rays at this moment. The graph is designed to give us a look at how our emotional bias as Rays fans fluctuates through time. The “confidence” in the team is an inexact measure of how we feel about the team’s current strength as well as how much confidence we have in the Tampa Bay Rays moving forward. You can think of a “confidence” rating of 10 as an indication that we believe the team is “playoff-caliber”. A rating of 0 is a strong indication that we need to start reevaluating the process that led to us becoming Rays fans. Notes on this weeks agida-level can be found after the graph..
Notes on the RI Confidence Graph…
The big news this past week was the announcement the Rays had signed James Shields to a deal that could be as long as 7 years. The deal could be a major coup for the Rays but in reality it has little or no bearing on the Rays this year or next, so it doesn’t do much for our confidence in the 2008 Tampa Bay Rays. In addition, the Rays were named the Top Organization by Baseball America, which again bodes well for the future. On the other hand, the team claims they are losing money. Those are the types of words that teams start throwing around just before they sell-off big or potentially big contracts (Scott Kazmir?) or threaten to move if they don’t get a new stadium.
9 weeks until opening day and we can see this team as 70-win team or an 85-win team and anything in the middle. That keeps our confidence at a 5.
- We feel good (not great) about the offense as RF and DH should be much more productive in 2008 and Akinori Iwamura should see a minor up-tick in his stat-line which will be a nice contribution from a middle infielder. We also have this feeling that we don’t like to say out loud to often for fear of jinxing it. But we have a sneaky suspicion that Carl Crawford and BJ Upton are both going to blow up in 2008 with huge years.
- The top of the rotation can match-up with just about anybody in the league. If the Rays enter a series with Scott Kazmir, James Shields and Matt Garza scheduled to throw, there is no reason they should not win the series.
- The bullpen is much better as-is…if they can stay healthy.
- The pitching staff should benefit from a much-improved defense, especially up the middle with Jason Bartlett, Akinori Iwamura and BJ Upton, who should be much more comfortable in center field in 2008.
- Nobody has yet figured out a way to combine Willy Aybar’s OBP with Joel Guzman’s power and glove. “Jolly Guzbar” would make one hell of a third baseman and nobody would be in a hurry to see Evan Longoria.
- It is looking more and more like the final two spots in the rotation will be Nuke (Edwin Jackson) and The Duke (Andy Sonnanstine). We are hoping for great things from The Duke, but Nuke scares the hell out of us.
- The bullpen is old and the Rays are only two pitches away from Dan Wheeler closing games and Gary Glover setting him up in the 8th inning.