FIRST INNING (A look back)…
The Rays are 2-5 in their last seven games. In the two wins, the Rays scored 26 runs, but in the five losses, the Rays scored 11 runs…Should we be concerned about this lack of consistency being seen from the offense?
It is tough to say. The upside is we have only seen the complete lineup twice. BJ Upton missed the first six games, Evan Longoria missed the last two. And Pat Burrell’s bat has missed all but one. More concerning is the lack of plate discipline. 88 strikeouts and only 36 walks is a bit worrisome. Strikeouts in and of themselves are not terrible. After all it is only one out. But a nearly 3-to-1 ratio suggests this team has little plate discipline…THIS IS NOT THE OFFENSE OF A CONTENDER
SECOND INNING (Headlines)…
Jason Isringhausen has accepted an assignment to pitch in double-A with an understanding he will be promoted to triple-A in the near future. However, there is still no timetable for his promotion to the big leagues…When will we see Izzy in a Rays uniform?
Based on his comments so far, we would be surprised if Izzy was willing to spend more than two weeks at either location. So that would be a month total or about mid-May for a deadline or whenever the first reliever goes on the DL, whichever comes first. And with the way Troy Percival (all over the place) and Dan Wheeler (ugly) look, we would be even more surprised if one of them wasn’t on the DL in the next two weeks…..FIRST WEEK OF MAY
THIRD INNING (Headlines)…
With the minor league affiliates in full swing and everybody with their collective eyes on David Price, Wade Davis and Matt Joyce…Who is the one player outside of those three that Raysheads should be watching closely?
This is a bit of a make or break season for Desmond Jennings. Many will tell you that the two biggest jumps for a prospect are from triple-A to the majors and from single-A to double-A. The double-A level is where prospects and never-will-bes are separated. There are only three likely outcomes for Jennings: 1) Jennings justifies his promotion to double-A and proves that he belongs on top of the prospect charts; 2) Jennings struggles against the tougher competition and starts to look like Reid Brignac; 3) Jennings suffers yet another injury and starts looking like Wade Townsend. If the first scenario happens, the Rays may have a nice problem on their hands in the outfield as early as next season…..DESMOND JENNINGS
FOURTH INNING (Headlines)…
Joe Maddon has decided to give some of Gabe Gross’ at bats in right field against righties to Ben Zobrist. With Gabe Kapler struggling…What does this mean for Matt Joyce in 2009?
It certainly opens the door for Joyce because it shows that Maddon is not tied to the All-Gabes, All-the-Time right field platoon. And no matter what Maddon says, Zobrist is not a “Rays” type of outfielder. His defense will likely cost the team runs. If Zobrist becomes a regular in right field, I think that means we will see Joyce sooner rather than later. The all-star break seems like a logical point…..ONE STEP CLOSER TO THE BIG LEAGUES FOR GOOD
FIFTH INNING (Headlines)…
Jeff Niemann has now made two starts…What have we learned?
We learned that he was nervous in his first start, to the point that he looked like he was having trouble breathing. He then settled down and gave up just 1 run over the next 4+ innings. And last night he ran into trouble in the second but looked not bad the rest of the night. He is giving up too many hits and not striking out enough for a power pitcher, but so far we see the potential. But for a team in the pennant race, the Rays need more than potential…ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT
SIXTH INNING (A look outside the box)…
The AL East is a big jumbled mess right now. With the Rays hosting the White Sox this weekend and traveling to Seattle on Monday…What other series should Raysheads keep an eye on?
This weekend, the Yankees have an easy opponent in the Indians at their new ballpark. So the big series is the O’s in Boston against the Red Sox. The Sox have struggled so far and if the O’s can take a couple, Boston will have dug themselves a deep hole. Early next week the Sox are at home against a tough Twins squad and the Yankees host the A’s. But the big series is the Rangers in Toronto. The Rangers are an up and coming team and if the Jays want to prove they are for real this season, this is exactly the type of series they have to win…O’S AT RED SOX AND TEXAS IN TORONTO
SEVENTH INNING (Over/Unders)…
Evan Longoria’s finish in the AL MVP race: 2.5
He has the hot start and he has the name recognition. Now he just needs the Rays in contention…OVER
James Shields’ finish in the AL Cy Young race: 4.5
Unless he wins 21 or 22, we just don’t think Shields puts up enough fancy numbers (super low ERA and lots of Ks) to get the voters attention…UNDER
David Price’s finish in the AL Rookie of the Year: 1.5
A 65-pitch limit last time out suggests he will be with the Rays later rather than sooner. Too little, too late…UNDER
Gold Glove awards for the Rays this season: 1.5
Carlos Pena has already broke through and Evan Longoria will probably get his first this year. BJ Upton and Carl Crawford also will get consideration this season…OVER
EIGHTH INNING (On deck)…
With 3 more at home against the White Sox and 3 on the road against the Mariners…How many wins do the Rays need in these two series combined?
What the Rays cannot afford at this point of the season is to get lulled into that just-below-.500 mentality. After a while it can get tough to break through that psychological barrier. And these games are against two teams that are on the fringe of being contenders this season. These are the teams the Rays should be better than. 3-3 would fit, but the Rays would look real nice at 4-2…RAYS NEED 4 WINS
NINTH INNING (Putting out the fire)…
Some Orioles fans accused Evan Longoria of corking his bat…how ridiculous is this?
Amazing that somebody spent that much time trying to create an argument based on how Longoria looked at that person. And of course we would like to remind these fans that Eddie Murray’s career high in the minors was only 17. Steroids?…STILL MAKES US GIGGLE
BJ Upton’s catch against the wall…greatest ever by a Rays player?
Based purely on difficulty, yes. But not as big of a play as Justin Ruggiano’s game-ending grab last fall…NO