The Good: At times we saw exactly how dominating Matt Garza can be. After allowing a leadoff home run to Brian Roberts, Garza retired six straight and after back-to-back run scoring singles in the 3rd, he retired 8 of the next 9 batters with only a two-out walk mixed in…Yesterday we speculated on Dan Wheeler being the 8th inning guy and backup closer. Today we are wondering why he is not. With Reyes struggling in the 8th, Wheeler was dominating in the 7th, retiring all three batters, two on strikes…Cliff Floyd is off to a good start and staked Garza to a 3-run lead with this first home run in the first, his first with the Rays…Granted it was Daniel Cabrera, but the Rays drew 7 walks, something that was emphasized in the spring. This was a nice improvement over opening day when the Rays only received one free pass…

The Bad: When Matt Garza wasn’t dominating the hits seemed to come in bunches. Three singles and a walk in the span of 5 batters in the third. A single followed by a home run in the sixth. Garza appeared to be relying completely on his fastball a problem that has haunted him in the past…Al Reyes picked up right where he left off in 2007. Of the seven batters he faced, he walked two (one intentionally) gave up three hits and a sac fly for a total of 4 runs before being pulled for Scott Dohmann

The Telling: With Eric Hinske 3-6,000 in his career against Daniel Cabrera, Joe Maddon went with Nathan Haynes in right field and not Jonny Gomes, showing that he will stick to the righty-lefty matchups whenever possible…It is not too early to start wondering if Al Reyes has anything left in the tank. The first half of 2007 was a nice ride after coming back from two Tommy John surgeries. But after posting a 4.09 ERA and converting 17 of 18 saves in the first half in which batters hit .175, Reyes’ ERA ballooned to 5.86 and batters hit .259 while converting only 9 of 12 opportunities. Yes, it was only one appearance, but it is hard to be dominating out of the bullpen when you are only throwing 85.

DEVIL RAYS WEBTOPIA

  • With opening day for the minor leagues today, we now have opening day rosters for all four of the full-season minor league affiliates updated on the Cork-Board in the sidebar. Starting lineups and rotations are still a bit of a mystery but we will continue to update them on a day-to-day basis. Also, we have now included an additional category, “Extended Spring Training” to show the list of players in the organization that have not been assigned to a minor league affiliate. Most of these players will make their debut with one of the two short-season teams in June, although a few players may be fighting injuries and will report to one of the top four teams once they are cleared to play. [Cork-Board]
  • Grant Balfour has cleared waivers after being designated for assignment. Balfour must now decide if he will accept a demotion to the minors or become a free agent…Jonny Gomes has his appeal scheduled for Monday and will be eligible to play until then…With opening day today for the four full-season minor league affiliates, Jeff Niemann will take the mound for Durham, while the other starters will be Jake McGee (Montgomery), Heath Rollins (Columbus) and Alex Cobb (Vero Beach). [St. Pete Times]
  • David Price threw for the first time since being sidelined with a sore elbow and he may be able to return to the field sooner than the previously reported six weeks…Scott Kazmir had his second bullpen session and said his arm felt good and he is still hoping for a mid- or late-April return to the Rays…Our money is still on May. [Yahoo! Sports]
  • Andy Sonnanstine makes his 2008 debut tonight and Marc Topkin says The Duke overcomes his physical limitations by “turning baseball into a mind game that sets him apart: a cerebral approach, a fierce competitiveness, an openness to improvisation, a deep conviction and confidence in all his pitches.” Topkin’s piece is an interesting read on the confidence required to be a major league pitcher and the bizarre mentorship that Sonnanstine has from a surprising source…Carlos Pena. [St. Pete Times]
  • Two of the fellas at the soon-to-be-renamed Sports Indeed, argue the topic of the Rays new unis…Two comments on the new unis. 1) They do not look like the Royals as many thought when the sketches first leaked on the internet. 2) If you ask us, the Rays now look like a real baseball team for the first time, and we actually liked the green. Of course the players may have something to do with that. [Sports Indeed]
  • Outs Per Swing looks at how quickly the Rays went from having too many outfielders to Eric Hinske starting in right field, while the opposite track has occurred with the pitching staff…We have mentioned it before, but fans need to temper their excitement just a tad about the pitching. Yes it is better. And yes there are some great arms on the way, BUT…1) There is no such thing as enough pitching and 2) A team never has too much of anything until the team has too much at the major league level. As long as the rotation includes names like Edwin Jackson and Jason Hammel and the bullpen has names like Scott Dohmann and Gary Glover, the Rays still have a dearth of pitching, and there is no guarantee on the packaging of any of the prospects. [Out Per Swing]
  • Carl Crawford reemphasized that he would like to stay with the Rays for a long-time. [Rays Report]

“I’d hate to leave right when the getting is good,” said Crawford. “You’ve been around for all the bad stuff, you want to be around for the good part, too, and it looks like the good part is coming ahead. I definitely want to be a part of that, so I’d hate to be out right when the team starts to win more games.”

  • Bus Leagues Baseball will be tracking several of the Rays top prospects with their “Zimmermeter” which surprisingly has nothing to do with the Rays’ Don Zimmer. [Bus Leagues Baseball]
 
 

6 Comments

  1. Jules Winnfield says:

    As I commented back to you on OPS, I was just trying to show how much of a total 180 has occured in the last couple of years.

  2. The Professor says:

    I know. my comment was more directed at fan perception in general

  3. Eric (Extra P.) says:

    Thanks for linking the Zimmermeter. Maybe I should call it the Zimmermanometer to avoid confusion.

    It may not have much to do with Zimmer, but it sure has a lot of Rays on it. I hope you guys are successful in building on that talent base – we could all stand to have a little fresh air in the AL East.

  4. Ben says:

    I was impressed with Garza, I didn’t think the lead off solo homer run was that big of a deal, But the 2 or 3 run Huff home run and that little 4th inning bases loaded jam he got into was the only thing that made me cringe. It’s nice to see that he’s very economical with his pitches, If he had not given up that homer run to huff he probably could’ve stayed till the 7th or maybe even 8th and been under 100 pitches. I also liked how he didn’t try and strike out every pitcher but used the Rays new defensive skills to help him out. All in all i thought it was an impressive outting for Garza. Reyes on the other hand…

  5. Jules Winnfield says:

    Ah, I see.

  6. Katie says:

    Ugh…Matt Garza’s fastball is both a blessing and a curse. The Twins management constantly had to get on his case about over-relying on that pitch. And after getting knocked back down to AAA a couple times for it, I really thought he had learned his lesson. But nope…I watched the game and there it was again. He gets a little cocky sometimes.

    the Rays may need to give him a good kick in the pants once in a while to make sure he mixes in some of his off-speed pitches and breaking stuff. And when he finally gets the message, he’ll be unstoppable.

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