THE GOOD: Gabe Gross. Gross is heating up at the right time, hitting a home run for the second straight game…James Shields. James the Greater rebounded from the embarrassment of his last start to pitch 4 innings, giving up only 1 run, striking out 4 and walking just 1…Carl Crawford. CC’s wheels are just fine thank you, as he stole his 8th base of the spring…Joe Nelson. Nelson had his best outing of the spring at the right time, throwing two perfect frames, striking out 2.
THE BAD: Lack of patience. Even with the regulars playing most of the game, the Rays still aren’t drawing walks. Yesterday it was just 1 (Carlos Pena).
THE TELLING: Grant Balfour pitched in back-to-back games for the first time this spring…Ray Sadler led the Rays with 4 spring home runs. Of players with at least 35 at bats, Gabe Gross led with a .453 OBP. Jason Bartlett (.423) and Ben Zobrist (.406) were also over .400. Bartlett led the team with a .362 average. Morgan Ensberg led with 5 errors. Nobody else had more than 2. Jason Hammel threw the most innings (25). Nobody else even had 17. Hammel also led with 18 K’s. For pitchers with at least 10 innings, Lance Cormier led with a 1.23 ERA and Carlos Hernandez was second at 2.25. Joe Nelson gave up the most home runs (5) and Mitch Talbot was second with 4.
DEVIL DOGS WEBTOPIA…
- David Price got beat up pretty good in a minor league start, giving up 6 runs including 3 home runs. [Biscuit Crumbs]
- According to Marc Topkin, the Rays may wait until the 3pm roster deadline on Sunday before making decisions regarding the final spot in the rotation and the final spot in the bullpen. Lance Cormier will travel with the team to Philly, while Jason Hammel and Jeff Niemann will stay behind in Port Charlotte, with Niemann pitching a minor league game on Sunday. Finally, Topkin says there is no timetable for Adam Kennedy who was demoted to Durham yesterday. [St. Pete Times]
- Troy Renck of the Denver Post says the Rockies are considering whether to make a deal for Jason Hammel, but notes they may try and hold out for teams to start designating pitchers for assignment. [Denver Post]
- Spring training attendance in Florida was down 20% this year, but for the Rays it was up 30%. [St. Pete Times]
- Ten minor leaguers will travel with the Rays for their two-game set in Philadelphia this weekend. Stacy Long has the list. [Biscuit Crumbs]
- Jake McGee is back throwing off a mound and last week began throwing breaking pitches. He expects to return to game action in June but is aiming to be 100% in 2010. [Montgomery Advertiser]
- Stacy Long says Desmond Jennings has been “impressive” this week and Jennings hopes to start the season in double-A. [Biscuit Crumbs]
- Marc Lancaster compares the defenses of the Rays, Red Sox and Yankees. Of course, that really isn’t fair to the Sox and Yankees. [Tampa Tribune]
- Joe Posnanski makes some “semi-bold” predictions about the upcoming season and he predicts the Rays will be better this year. [SI.com]
Now many people seem to think that the Rays will fall off this year — and I guess that’s logical — but I can’t help but think the opposite. Now, they have David Price, who I think could have a huge rookie season. Now they have PatBurrell, who I think will have a big impact on that offense. And more, I think all those players I mentioned above could be BETTER in 2009. Upton has the ability to be an MVP candidate. So does Longoria. Pena could be more like he was in 2007. And so it goes…I don’t know how much better a team can be than the Rays of 2008. They won the American League East and went to the World Series. It’s hard to improve on that. But I think, all in all, the Rays are a better baseball team now.
- Rays Prospects has the transcripts from a recent interview Tyler Hissey conducted with Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus.
- Part 1 discusses what Goldstein thinks of Desmond Jennings.
- Part 2 takes a look at David Price and where he should start the season as well as how much the Rays could expect in return for Jason Hammel.
- Part 3 is a discussion about Tim Beckham.
- Peter Gammons uses the Rays as an example of how success in baseball “begins with youth.” [ESPN]
- David Chalk is the busiest man in Rays coverage…First up is his Rays preview for Sharapova’s Thigh. [Sharapova’s Thigh]
- Then there is the Rays preview he wrote for Diamond Hoggers. [Diamond Hoggers]
- And of course, his side-by-side beat downs of the rest of Major League Baseball is nearing its logical conclusion, as he shows us why the Angels “Ain’t S#!t” compare to the Devil Rays. That’s right. We said “Devil Rays.” Got a problem with that? [Bugs and Cranks]
- Joe Maddon provides a list of the places he likes to bike when he travels to different AL cities. [Tampa Tribune]
- Finally, we have a video clip via the Montgomery Advertiser of Joe Maddon talking about the upcoming season and the importance of having the minor leaguers in the same camp as the big leaguers