A look back…
The A’s threw three lefties in this series against the Rays and yet the Rays still won 2 games…Did this series lay any doubt on the notion that the Rays struggle against lefties and need a right-handed bat before the trading deadline?
In the series, the A’s starters tossed 16 innings and gave up 9 runs on 16 hits. And the starters also did a good job of beating themselves, walking 10 batters and striking out only 9. Still, it wasn’t like the A’s were starting ’02 Barry Zito in this series. And yet, we are still not really convinced that the Rays have a problem with lefties specifically. Much of the offense in the series came from the bottom of the order. Of the 9 runs scored in the 3 games, 5 of the runs were driven in by the bottom-third of the order. The Rays also struggled more against the bullpen, failing to score in 9 innings pitched by A’s relievers. It seems as if the Rays are just struggling in general but are better suited to face righties right now. Once the offense starts clicking, they have the ability to pound both righties and lefties…NO, BUT WE WEREN’T CONVINCED BEFORE
The Rays lead in the East over the Red Sox is down to half a game, but lurking just behind them are the Yankees who are now just 3.5 back…As Rays fans, should we be worried?
The Yankees have begun their annual second-half surge. There may be a battle for the playoffs between the Rays and the Sox, but it may end up being for the wild card if the Yankees run away with the division. On the other hand, there are plenty of reasons to doubt the Yankees. Two of the Yankees’ biggest bats, Jorge Posada and Hideki Matsui, could be done for the year. Offensively they are being carried by Jason Giambi. Can he keep it up at 37? And on the mound Mike Mussina is on pace to win 20 games, something he has never done. We really doubt he can keep that pace. All teams have hot streaks and the Yankees are in the midst of theirs. They will be around the rest of the way, but they are playing above their heads right now…YES, BUT NO NEED TO PANIC
With the trade deadline fast approaching, if the Rays are going to add anything of substance, they will need to give up a prospect. Most teams are asking for Wade Davis and Jeremy Hellickson, but the player the Rays would prefer to trade is Jeff Niemann…Come August 1st, will Niemann still be in the Rays’ organization?
We are sure that many teams would love to have Niemann and his potential. Right-handers of his size are rare and with his injuries, there may still be room for growth in his arm. The question is whether other teams are high enough on Niemann to take him as a primary piece. On the one hand, he can step right into a major league rotation, showing that team’s fanbase that they are getting somebody that is serviceable right now. But he is not really a big named prospect anymore. Still, our gut says that somebody will bite as most team’s are holding tight to their top prospects. Niemann might be the best available…NO
One piece that the Rays are rumored to be after is a relief pitcher (Houston Street, Tyler Walker?). With the injured Gary Glover set to come back in the next week, trading for a relief pitcher will mean 2 current members of the bullpen will need to be moved…If a trade is made, which 2 pitchers will be gone?
One will almost certainly be Jason Hammel who will likely be included in any trade for a pitcher. With Hammel out, JP Howell could certainly fill-in as the long-reliever even if that is not Joe Maddon’s first choice. And if David Price is promoted, Andy Sonnanstine or Edwin Jackson could be moved to the bullpen to fill the role of long-reliever. The other very well could be Glover who seems to be low-man on the totem poll right now. He would have to be DFA’s if nobody is put on the DL.
With an opening in the Durham rotation, David Price could be promoted to triple-A as early as next week, bringing him another step closer to an ’08 major league debut…If Price does come up to the majors as a starting pitcher this year, who will be bumped from the rotation?
Andy Sonnanstine has 10 wins, but he is sporting a 4.54 ERA. When he is on his game he can be very good and will almost always give the Rays 6-7 innings. But when he doesn’t have his best stuff, he is very hittable. Edwin Jackson is only 5-7, but has a better ERA (4.25), but his biggest downfall is his control, with 49 walks in 114 innings. We don’t trust either in a big game down the stretch, but which one? Jim Hickey in on the record as saying that Sonnanstine would be great in the bullpen because he can warm up quickly, but the biggest advantage is throwing strikes. The worst thing a relief pitcher can do, is come in and start walking the ballpark. Jackson would occasionally do that…SONNANSTINE
A look outside the box…
With the Rays in KC, the big series in the AL East this weekend is the latest installment of the Hatfields and McCoys also known as, the Yankees and the Red Sox…Who should Rays fans be “rooting” for in this series?
It pains us ever to root for one of these teams, so instead we will be rooting against the Yankees more. On the one hand, it is nice to have a one-team cushion between the Rays and being outside of the playoff picture, but it will be nicer to have that distance between the Rays and the Yankees a little bigger. Besides, they have been red hot recently, hopefully the Sox can cool them off a bit…RED SOX (UNFORTUNATELY)
3,000 hits for Reid Brignac in his major league career?
Brignac caught our attention when he did an interview for the New York Daily News and said that the one goal he has for his career is 3,000 hits. After his first major league cup o’ coffee, he is now just 3,000 hits short…UNDER
3 wins for the Rays in their 4-game series in KC?
Can we “push”? Well, they do have the Big 3 in this series, with Edwin Jackson taking the mound in game 2. Jackson struggled his last time out, but has been consistently above-average the last month. Our gut tells us that Papa Joe will have the Rays on top of their game with little chance of scoreboard gazing…OVER BUT PUSH IS MORE LIKELY
Winning a 4-game series is never easy, especially on the road, but with the Rays now beginning a stretch in which they will play 17 of 23 on the road…how important is it that the Rays win this series in KC?
Every win will be like a 2-game swing in the standings over whomever loses that day’s match between the Yankees and the Red Sox. This stretch is also fairly light with only the Tigers in the next 7 series that is a legit playoff contender. After that, things get much tougher, so it is important that the Rays either maintain or even stretch their lead in the next 3 weeks, before a 6-game stretch with the Angels and the White Sox and in the beginning of September when the Rays play a 15-game stretch in which 12 will be against the Red Sox and Yankees. The last thing the Rays can afford is to lose ground when playing one of the worst teams in baseball…HUGE
Putting out the fire…
Ben Zobrist was demoted to thie minors yesterday to make room for Jason Bartlett…Was this the right move?
Well, they demoted one of the hottest hitters on the team, but he was also one of the only position players with options left. Of course, Jonny Gomes has an option also, but he seems like a better RF/DH option against lefties right now…YES
Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports gave the Rays 2/5 odds of making the playoffs…About right?
We believe that means about a 70% chance of making the playoffs…The Red Sox are only a half-game back and the Yankees are only 3.5 back and one of the hottest teams in baseball. Oh yeah. And the Rays have 37 games on the road and only 25 games left at home…SEEMS A BIT HIGH
When Jeremy Cummings leaves the Bulls for the Olympic team next week, will David Price take his spot in triple-A?
6 starts in Vero Beach with a 1.82 ERA=promotion…6 starts in Montgomery with a 2.19 ERA=YES
Tim Beckham is struggling in his pro debut…Any buyer’s remorse yet?
With the success of Evan Longoria and David Price, the Rays could afford to take a bit of a gamble on Beckham. He could bust, but it is still very early…NO