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.

  • PROS
    1. 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.
    2. 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.
    3. The bullpen is much better as-is…if they can stay healthy.
    4. 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.
  • CONS
    1. 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.
    2. 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.
    3. 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.
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6 Comments

  1. Anonymous says:

    Jolly Guzmar would be awesome.

    And if that 3rd "con" comes true, the Rays are in for a long season.

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  2. ben says:

    In the next couple of years, when we see a starting rotation of let's say kaz ,shields,garza, price, mcgee ( barring any trades or injuries ) that the others like howell, hammel, or sonnanstine and the others could make up our bullpen or would be used in the trade market?

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  3. The Professor says:

    the simple answer is, yes, they will either end up being traded or in the bullpen.

    which one depends on each individual situation. Some pitchers were born to be starters and some were born to be relievers. there are characteristics that separate the two. How many pitches he throws. His endurance. Can he let it rip for a few batters, or is he the type of pitcher that needs to get into the flow of a game.

    I believe you can actually hurt a players trade value by sending him to the bullpen. Other teams that want a starter will be more hesitant if they can't watch him start and realize that it will take a little while to get the arm back in "starter-shape". A relief pitcher just cant go out and throw 7 innings right away.

    The Mets probably screwed up with Aaron Heilman. He was a big-time starting pitcher prospect, but they really needed an extra arm in the bullpen and then kept him there for the last three years. Heilman wasnt to start. But no team is going to give up too much for a starting pitcher that hasnt started in three years.

    What will be really interesting is if the younger guys pitch well enough to give the Rays the flexibility to move the older pitchers which will bring more back in trade. It is the course taken by the A's. They develop young stud pitchers and then trade them for even more young stud pitchers. The Rays could save a lot on payroll that could be spent elsewhere if they decided to just replace Kazmir with Jake McGee instead of having McGee join him in the staff. And if they trade Kaz, they would bring back 3-5 really good player/top prospects.

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  4. Matt Bishoff says:

    Im a big fan of the confidence graph's, gives a unique perspective on the team. But I disagree that the shields extension didn't give us the fans more confidence. How many teams have you fans out here had to hear jokes about how as soon as Rays players get good, they will get traded or not re-signed. I understand this and the Pena signing havent added too too much in overall years of playing time, but it has showed the Rays willingness to open up their pocket.

    But more than anything else we can tell our friends. "We Signed Parkman"

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  5. ben says:

    Thanks prof for the in depth answer, looking forward to the next few years and seeing them in the majors,

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  6. The Professor says:

    Matt,

    I agree there was some level of confidence gained by the Shields signing, but that is a peripheral thing as it really doesnt have anything to do with the team on the field this year.

    The Shields deal is more a confidence boost in how we feel about the organization.

    your comment does give me an idea. maybe I will start running two lines on the same graph. One for the team on the field and one for the organization.

    One for the organization would be sky-high right now, because of the signings and the minor league system. Although Silverman's comments about losing money wouldn't help.

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