A look back…
On Sunday, Troy Percival blew a save for the third time this season…Can Percival be trusted right now with a 1-run lead?
The Rays are 3-0 in games in which Percival has blown a save. Still, it was the 3rd time since coming off the DL, in which he has allowed a run. In those 7 appearances, only once did he get through his appearance without allowing a baserunner. He has also been touched for 3 home runs, and a couple of near-misses, after only allowing 4 home runs in his first 29 appearances. To us, it just doesn’t look like he has the same swagger he had in the first-half of the season. But we also know we wouldn’t want to be the one to try and tell Percival he should make a couple of non-save appearances to get his timing back. So, Percy will remain the Rays closer, but the 9th inning is no longer a sure-thing, and eventually it is going to bite the Rays in the ass…NO
After sweeping the Tigers this weekend, the Rays have extended their lead in the AL East to 3 games. More importantly, the distance between the Rays and out-of-the-playoffs is now 5 games over the White Sox (5.5 games over the Yankees)…Can the Rays start printing playoff tickets?
Don’t look now, but the Rays only have 52 games remaining (51 for NYY and 52 for CHW). The Rays are up 5 in the loss column on the White Sox and 6 over the Yankees. It may not seem like much, but with only ~50 games remaining, we are quickly getting to the point where it is going to be very difficult to overcome that deficit. If the Rays only play .500 the rest of the season (26-26), the Yankees would still have to go 31-20 just to tie. That is a .608 winning percentage, and only one team in baseball has posted better than a .608 winning percentage this season. The Angels (.622). And let’s say the Rays go 28-24, a very reasonable mark. The Yankees would then need a 33-18 finish (.647). In other words, the Rays truly hold their destiny in their own hands. It would require a nose-dive over the final 2 months to keep the Rays from the playoffs. We don’t see that happening…NOT YET. MAYBE NEXT WEEK.
Rocco Baldelli could be activated as early as today. Earlier this year, many, us included, wondered aloud if Rocco’s career was over after he was diagnosed with a mitochondrial disorder that left him fatigued after even moderate exercise…Now that his return appears imminent, should this be a bigger comeback story than even Josh Hamilton?
We are on record as one website that has openly rooted for Hamilton all along. We truly wanted to see him succeed and make his way back, even after he was no longer a member of the Rays’ organization. Still, the love-fest that is now the Josh Hamilton Story, is a little disturbing. We are still talking about somebody that pissed away his talent, millions of dollars and several years of his life, so he could do every drug under the sun. We should help people like Hamilton and we should root for them to straighten their lives out. But while he may be a hero to people addicted to drugs, he should not be treated as a hero to everybody, especially children. It is a fine-line to be crossed before we are saying it is better to do drugs and do what Hamilton did than to stay clean your entire life. Then we have Rocco who is coming back from something not of his choosing and unlike Hamilton, it appeared his career was over. Unfortunately, it still appears Rocco will never return to being an everyday player. But we will stand and cheer when he steps to the plate for the first time, and to us this is a bigger story…IT SHOULD BE
John Jaso continues to tear through the IL’s pitching since his promotion to triple-A Durham…With the emergence of Dioner Navarro and the solid bat of Shawn Riggans on the bench, what is Jaso’s future with the Rays?
Jaso was the Rays’ 12th round pick in ’03. Few have doubted Jaso’s ability to hit. He has hit at least .300 each of the past 4 seasons, and after hitting .271/.408/.405 with double-A Montgomery and making his second consecutive SL All-Star team, Jaso was promoted to Durham. Since he arrived he has cranked it up a notch, hitting .370 (17-46) in 12 games. The question still remains whether or not Jaso can step-up defensively. Reports from Montgomery are that Jaso has improved behind the plate but he still has a ways to go. Also keep in mind that both of the Rays catchers are young. Dioner Navarro will be eligible for arbitration for the first time this off-season, and won’t be eligible for free agency until after the ’11 season. Riggans on the other hand has one more season before he is even arbitration-eligible. Jaso will likely spend ’09 at Durham and the Rays will have to make a decision at the end of that season what move to make. Then again, Jaso could be a gigantic trade piece next year when the trading deadline approaches…DURHAM IN ’09, AND THEN TRADE BAIT
Mark Cuban is one of the finalists to purchase the Chicago Cubs from The Tribune Co…If the Cubs are sold to Cuban, how does this affect the Rays?
Even though the Cubs are in the NL, this deal could have a huge impact on the Rays and every other small- to -mid-market team in baseball. The feeling is Cuban will turn the Cubs into the Yankees-West. That is, he could run the payroll up to the $200-250 million mark without hesitation. With another team bidding on free agents, prices will go through the roof. This could effectively eliminate most of the league from ever even considering upper-echelon free agents. And the next tier of free agents will base their values on what that group is making. The trickle-down affect could be catastrophic…IMMENSELY
A look outside the box…
What other series in baseball should RAYSHEADS keep on eye on the next few days?
With the Red Sox in Kansas City, we can only hope the Royals win one game and we would be stoked if they could take 2, but we are not getting our hopes up. Rather, the series we will pay close attention to is the Yankees at the Rangers for 4 games. With about 50 games to go, the Yankees are getting dangerously close to becoming an afterthought in the race for first in the East. If the Rays can win 2 or 3 against the Indians, the Rangers could do the Rays a huge favor with 2 or 3 wins against the Yankees…YANKEES @ RANGERS
Games for Rocco Baldelli in this series: 0.5
The Rays face 2 lefties in this series, with Cliff Lee on the hill tonight and Jeremy Sowers on Wednesday. If he is not activated today, we do expect him to be activated for Wednesday’s tilt, which will be a huge boost for our Live Blog-A-Baloo ratings…OVER
Wins for the Rays in this 3-game series with the Indians: 2.5
Cliff Lee versus Matt Garza will obviously be tough and we still are not to the point where we can trust Edwin Jackson or even Scott Kazmir. Will he pitch 5 innings, or 7? Too many question marks in this series. Not to mention, in at least the first two game, the pitchers will not have the benefit of Jason Bartlett behind them…UNDER
The last time the Rays played the Indians, it was the last series prior to the All-Star break and the Rays were swept in a 4-game series in Cleveland that concluded a 7-game skid…Do the Indians just have the Rays’ number, or will we see a different Rays ballclub this time around?
As we mentioned above, the pitching match-ups make us nervous in this series. We think the offense will be fine as we have seen signs of life. And after getting swept in Cleveland, we think the Rays will be fired up. Winning or losing in this series won’t have anything to do with Cleveland “having the Rays’ number”, but will have everything to do with how the Rays pitch…DIFFERENT
Putting out the fire…
With the sweep of the Tigers, Detroit has now fallen 7 games back in the division and 8.5 games in the wild card race…Did the Rays just eliminate a potential foe for a playoff spot?
We showed you already how difficult it will be for a team to come back from just 5 games. 8.5 games at this point in the season is like being 6-feet under with the first scoop of dirt already in place…YES
Victor Zambrano has signed with the Yankees and is working out in Tampa…Should RAYSHEADS be worried about Zambrano being too close to the Rays when the going is good?
Are you kidding? RAYSHEADS should be ecstatic. This guy, along with Jim Duquette, Al Leiter and John Franco are the 4 people most responsible for starting the turn around of the franchise. And since he was signed by the Yankees and started working out in Tampa, the Rays are undefeated…THE RAYS SHOULD RETIRE HIS NUMBER