FIRST INNING…
The Rays just lost 3 in a row to the Red Sox and dropped out of first place for the first time since May 24th…Should Rays fans be worried?

Not at all. The Red Sox are a more talented team. They have a solid core of veterans with a winning track record and they have plenty of post-season experience. The Rays do not. Even with the Rays strong start, winning the division is a longshot at best. The Rays best hopes for the playoffs lie in the Wild Card race and in those standings the Rays the Rays still have a 2 game lead and the closest competitors are the A’s (will fall off pace) with the Twins and the Jays sitting 4 back. The Jays and the Yankees (5 games behind) appear to be the biggest threats and the Rays are still in the driver’s seat for now…NO

SECOND INNING…
Gary Shelton said of hitting Coco Crisp… “…in the second inning of a game this size? How smart is that? Why not wait until the eighth inning of a game that has already been decided? Why not wait until the next time the teams played? What not drive Coco cuckoo from the waiting for revenge to be served cold?“…Is he right?

Yes and no. This was our initial reaction. In fact we predicted that this would go down later in the game. But in hindsight, we have no problem with the way that Joe Maddon and James Shields went about it. A message needed to be sent and there was no way to predict how the game was going to look in the 7th or 8th inning. Our other thought was, and we have read this same sentiment in several locales, we were surprised that Crisp charged the mound. Maybe yell a little bit. Maybe take a few steps. But he had to know it was coming. In fact, he practically begged for it after Wednesday’s game while talking to reporters. We said it during the Live Blog. Coco Crisp won that game. But sometimes the bigger picture is more important than one game. Besides, the reason the Rays lost the games last night was not because Shields got ejected, but because Maddon chose to pitch to Manny Ramirez in the first inning with first base open…We don’t have a problem with the timing.

THIRD INNING
Yesterday the Rays selected Tim Beckham, a high school shortstop with the first pick of the amateur draft…Did they make the right move?

How the hell do we know? It is not like we have actually ever seen this kid play. We have seen highlights of the other choice, Buster Posey and he certainly looked impressive. However, everything we have read says that the upside on Beckham is higher and even though he is only 18, he is not that far away from being ready for the big leagues. This is the way the Rays have gotten to be a contending team, and we are glad that they didn’t deviate from the model just because there are no legit catching prospects in the minors. We hear all about the plethora of pitching prospects. Why not trade one of those for a catcher?…YES

FOURTH INNING
Do you believe Andrew Friedman when he says the decision to draft Beckham had nothing to do with signing demands of Buster Posey?

We do believe that the Rays got the player they wanted and we do believe that the demands by Posey for $12 million had something to do with it. There were reports that the Rays brass was split between Beckham and Posey. The scouts preferred Beckham. The front office preferred Posey. If there were eyes that looked at both players and saw a future major league all-star and one was demanding a heck of a lot more money, why not pick the cheaper one? Sounds like good business sense to us. Last year David Price got $8.5 million guaranteed with the chance to earn another $3 million. There is no way Posey was worth $12 million. He might only be worth half that. It looks like the Rays wanted both players and took the cheaper option…NO

CLICK HERE TO CONTINUE READING…FIFTH INNING
In the most recent confidence graph results, Rays fans gave the ’08 Rays a 7.9 and the future of the franchise a 9.3. Are these a little high?

Personally we would have gone 8 and 8. They will be in playoff contention all season, or at least they will be playing meaningful games in September, and that is all that matters. As far as the future of the franchise goes…The Rays are still a small-market team, and until the stadium issue gets resolved, there is still room to worry…JUST A TAD

SIXTH INNING
Matt Garza was awful in his last outing and gave up 7 runs and was pulled in the 6th inning. Should Rays fans be worried?

Matt Garza is what he is. On some nights he is going to look like the second coming of John Smoltz and on other nights, he is going to look like Victor Zambrano. And we never seem to see anything in between. The part that scares us is we don’t know if a team can truly contend with this level of inconsistency from their 3rd starter. The good thing is The Garza Complex is now with a franchise that will be patient and let him grow as a pitcher. He will get better and more consistent. It just might not happen until 2009…A LITTLE BIT

SEVENTH INNING (OVER/UNDERS)
9 wins for Scott Kazmir by the All-Star break.

He is 5-1 now and nearly unhittable and he looks to have 6 or 7 more starts before the break. He is on an absolute roll right now and despite the tough roadtrip, Kazmir should have at least a couple of easy wins in the next month, including the Pirates, the Royals and a couple of starts against the Marlins who may be playing well, but let’s see that young lineup handle a pitcher like Kazmir…OVER

5-game suspension for James Shields; 5 games for Jonny Gomes and 3 games for Carl Crawford.

The rule of thumb with starting pitchers is make sure they miss at least one start. However, the trend in recent years seems to be, give the player an extra game in anticipation of an appeal and then knock 1 game off then. So look for a 6-gamer for Shields…Gomes might be in trouble. This is his second incident of the year and even though he was in the lineup, he did come from the bench and that will be frowned upon. Crawford is probably in a bit of trouble also since this had little or nothing to do with him…OVER FOR ALL 3 BUT LOOK FOR APPEALS TO BRING SHIELDS’ AND CRAWFORD’S DOWN TO THESE NUMBERS

1.5 Wins against the Rangers in this weekend set.

The Rangers have their Ace, Vincent Padilla going tonight against Scott Kazmir, but the Rays will avoid Sidney Ponson and Kevin Millwood. Kazmir has been unbeatable so far this season and until we see something different we have to expect more of the same. And with decent matchups the next two days and what we have to expect is a fired-up clubhouse, the Rays should get back on the winning track this weekend…OVER

EIGHTH INNING
After dropping out of first place in the East, the Rays now move on to the Rangers and then the Angels. How important is this series for the Rays’ season?

This series is immensely important. We will be worried if the Rays lose 2 of 3, but we will be down-right scared if they get swept. If that happened, we could easily see the Rays fall into a free-fall that will get blamed on game 3 of the Red Sox series and the brawl. The Rays HAVE to win a game in this series and we will feel a lot better if they win 2.

NINTH INNING (PUTTING OUT THE FIRE)
Even though Kazmir missed the first month of the season, is he a legitimate contender for the Cy Young award?

AL Pitcher of the Month in the only month he has pitched…YES

The Boston Globe said this week that the Rays are the team that other GMs will be jealous of for the next 10 years…Are they right?

What’s not to love? One of the best records in baseball. The best farm system in baseball and they just added Tim Beckham…YES

Bugs & Cranks has a power poll in which the Rays are ranked #1 for the second straight week…Was this justified?

After the Red Sox series? More like 4-6…NO

Raymond was #4 on Maxim’s list of “5 MLB Mascots That Deserve a Groin-Punching” Is this deserved?

Does Raymond even have a groin?

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1 Comment

  1. Scot says:

    1st: agreed - Sox are better team and it has little do with playoff experience.
    2nd: Its early in the game - why load the bases for Lowell who has already showed he can hit the long ball. Shields made the mistake, not Maddon. Anyway, it was only 3 runs.
    3rd: Thank you, I don't know either . Maybe since the team is coming together now, a HS player represents the next wave.
    4th: Maybe, maybe not - Friedman probably would be in trouble if he said that money scared them. Would be showing their hand in future drafts.
    5th: I'm still closer to 7 and 8.. but inching up.
    6th: Very few pitchers are 95% consistent (Kazmir, Peavy). Garza is pitching at better than expected.
    7th:?
    8th:Against the Rangers? Its 50/50, so only 0-3 series might be "viewed" as a problem. The probability that a team which wins 60% of their games will have a streak of 5-10 is extremely high.
    9th: Kazmir wins Cy Young? Could be - he has a chance. (If he stays healthy, my first choice would be Harden of the A's.)

    But lets not forget the pitcher who is really pitching well (maybe over his head?): Jackson. He doesn't have the wins due to some blown saves, but in terms of keeping his team in the game, on average he is 2nd only to Kazmir, so far.

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