A look back…
13 players on the Rays current roster were acquired via trade, most of whom are role players, and 2 players were signed as veterans to minor league deals…Have the Rays become the masters of finding hidden talent?
Carlos Pena and Eric Hinske are obvious, but take a look at some of the “minor” trades the Rays have made in the last year-plus and what the Rays received. Players like Grant Balfour and Willy Aybar were practically cast-offs from other teams. While most teams seek difference-makers in trades, the Rays seek role players. Aybar has been even better than Evan Longoria since the Dirtbag went down. In the first 11 games of Longoria’s absence, Aybar was 16-44 (.364) with a 1.111 OPS. And this is a player the Rays got for a minor league relief pitcher that is barely a prospect. Our only fear is the Rays will become the current version of the ’90s and ’00s Braves. The Braves were so good at trading pitchers, that it got to the point teams got skeptical when the Braves tried to unload one and held tighter when the Braves wanted one…SINGLE BIGGEST REASON RAYS ARE ON TOP
Joe Maddon is making a lot of headlines for his no-nonsense, hard-nosed, risk-taking approach with the Rays…At some point should RAYSHEADS be worried about utilizing this style in the playoffs where a more conservative approach is usually favored?
Well. We doubt he would pull BJ Upton in the middle of a game for not hustling. But would Papa Joe be willing to intentionally walk David Ortiz with the bases loaded in the 9th inning of a 4-run game? We wouldn’t be surprised. If Maddon has shown us anything, it is that his managerial style is fluid. He adapts very well to different situations, and while the Rays are winning in the regular season, the post-season is an entirely different monster. Just ask the ’01 Mariners. It will be interesting to see how he manages in the post-season should the Rays make it. Keep in mind, this is not Papa Joe’s first rodeo. He was with the Angels in ’02 when they won it all…NO BUT WATCH CLOSELY
The Big Lead says Bud Selig and the post-season TV networks are rooting against the Rays…Is this possible and should they?
Certainly Bud Selig wants the best ratings possible, but we are always skeptical when people say he is rooting for certain matchups. Selig wants all of his franchises strong and the Rays have floundered for 10 seasons. Going to the World Series will help the team’s fanbase grow. How is that bad? Would the Red Sox in the Series be better for the ratings? Probably. Would it ultimately help baseball? Not likely. Now the networks could care less and just want ratings, but baseball has somehow survived 2 world series won by the Marlins and yet teams somehow still have enough money to give players like Torii Hunter $90 million. We think baseball will be just fine, thanks…GO RAYS!
Jeff Niemann threw his first career shutout in his last start after struggling for over a month…Is it possible Niemann is finally turning the corner and could we now see him in a Rays uniform in September?
We need 2 straight good start before we start believing in Niemann. Even this last start was not the “dominating” performance Niemann should be providing on a regular basis as he only struck out 6. Our only hope is that Niemann follows the path of other tall power pitchers, and is a late-developer. As for a September call-up, we don’t see it, unless the Rays want to see how he handles a role in the bullpen. And that would have been more likely if the Rays were out of the playoff race. More likely, Niemann will be shutdown at the end of the IL playoffs and given the winter to get in shape for the Spring with one final chance to show the Rays he can be the pitcher they believe he can be…MAYBE AND NOT LIKELY
A look outside the box…
With the Rays facing the Central-leading White Sox…what other series this weekend should RAYSHEADS watch closely?
Again, nothing tricky here. The Rays are up 5 games on the Red Sox in the loss column. It is not too boastful to say the Rays are only 2-3 more games from switching the Red Sox focus to the Wild Card. After this series with the White Sox, the Rays have a stretch of 9 straight at home and 12 straight against teams out of the race or on life-support, before facing the Red Sox. On the other hand the Red Sox have 9 of the next 15 on the road including their last-ever series in Yankee Stadium. If the Rays can keep status quo this weekend, they could very well have the East wrapped up by the time the Rays and Red Sox face each other again. To do that the Rays have to win 2 in Chicago and hope for at least one loss by the Sox in Toronto against a team that thinks it is still alive…RED SOX @ BLUE JAYS
Position in the standings the Yankees will hold when the season ends: 3.5
This team is just about ready to implode. And when it does, it will not be pretty. We watched as they gave up 14 runs to the Blue Jays last night, a team who does not have a player with more than 11 home runs. The Yankees looked like a team that just doesn’t care anymore. And tomorrow they are starting Carl Pavano, who hasn’t pitched in 4 years. That was $40MM well-spent…UNDER
Lead the Rays will have on Sept 1: 5
The lead right now is 4.5 and the Rays are in Chicago, then home to the Jays and O’s, while the Sox play 9 on the road against the O’s, Jays and Yankees. We see the Rays going 5-4 or 6-3 depending on how they do this weekend. The Sox on the other hand could easily go 4-5 on this trip. Either way the Rays pick up at least 1 game in the next 9, maybe 2…OVER
Number of teams from the AL East in the playoffs: 1.5
This would have seemed like a silly question at the beginning of the season. Baseball playoffs without the Yankees or the Red Sox? Impossible. And yet here we are with ~35 games remaining and the Yankees are out and the Sox are only tied for the Wild Card with the Twins with a tough 9-game road trip ahead of them. Somehow we still can’t see any other team as the Wild Card, even if it comes down to the final week…OVER
Wins in this series at the White Sox: 1.5
We don’t like this series at all. No James Shields. No Matt Garza. After a very emotional series with the Angels. At a White Sox squad fighting for a playoff spot. Several offensive players are due to come back to Earth a bit. This series screams “let down.”…UNDER
On Sunday Andy Sonnanstine will take the mound seeking his 14th win of the season, which would tie the Rolando Arrojo’s franchise record for wins in a season…How is it that this guy is leading the team in wins?
We have never liked the stat “Quality Starts” as we feel it is too forgiving, but Sonny only has 10 this season in 25 starts and yet he has 13 wins. He has the highest ERA on the squad. Oh yeah, and The Duke receives the second most run support at 5.20 runs per start. This on a team that only averages 4.58 runs per game. As for run support for the rest of the rotation: Scott Kazmir (5.09), James Shields (4.68), Edwin Jackson (5.48), Matt Garza (4.61)…LUCK, BUT ALL HE DOES IS WIN
Putting out the fire…
David Price is 1 of 5 finalists for the Minor League Player of the Year Award…Does King David deserve to win?
We don’t even care who the other players are that are nominated. We are sure they are all fine prospects, but nobody in the minor leagues can match King David’s talent and his numbers are nearly perfect. If you ask us Price should be all 5 nominations. Case closed. Next…YES
Gerry Fraley says the Rays could lose the rest of their games and Joe Maddon would still win AL Manager of the Year…Hyperbole or truth?
While we certainly think Papa Joe will win the award, we are not sure it is a slam dunk considering the season Ron Gardenhire and the Twins are having. If the Rays fall out of the playoffs and the Twins win the Central, then Gardy will certainly get his fair share of votes…HYPERBOLE
Joe Maddon was once again ejected during a game with his former team. Of his 10 career ejections, 5 have come against the Angels, or once ever 5.4 games versus 1 in 89.8 games versus the rest of baseball…Is this just a weird coincidence like how Keanu Reeves used to star in popular movies?
Well, we don’t think anybody can blame Maddon for the latest ejection which was one of the worst calls we had ever seen and the worst call Dwayne Staats had seen in 35 years in the game. By the way, “Speed” and “Point Break” are two of the best Unintentional Comedies ever. No coincidence that Keanu starred in both just as there is no coincidence here…PAPA JOE HATES LOSING TO THE ANGELS
It is the end of August and the Rays have had sole possession of first place since the All-Star break and yet it seems everyday we see another major newspaper with an article entitled “Rays are for real“…At what point will people start to believe the Rays are actually for real?
We are just waiting for a New York City tabloid to uncover documents that supposedly show Akinori Iwamura and Evan Longoria are both 14 years old and hence ineligible for the World Series.