If you have been hanging around these parts for a while, you know that the model for this site is to tell you what the Rays have done, what they are doing and try to project what they will do based on what we have learned. Think of RI as “Tampa Bay Rays 101.”
However, for the next 12 days we will step away from the standard, and we present to you 12 “presents” the Tampa Bay Rays should give to their fans. Looking back at last year’s 12 Days of Raysmas, we see that many of our wishes came true (including that sweet no-hitter), and the result was another division title.
Without further ado…
On the second day of Raysmas, the Tampa Bay Rays gave to us, TWO players with at least 40 stolen bases…
The Rays formula for success the last three years has been good pitching, strong defense and aggressive baserunning. The first two will be back in 2011. The third was a lot easier when the Rays had BJ Upton and Carl Crawford tearing up the basepaths. Those two players combined for 260 steals the last three years.
But with Crawford taking his talents to South Boston, that leaves Ben Zobrist as the second-biggest threat on the basepaths. And at 30-years old, Zorilla isn’t going to cause opposing catchers to lose any sleep next year.
But there is an easy solution to this problem: Desmond Jennings on the opening day roster.
There is some speculation that Jennings will start the year in triple-A. Extra time in the minors is something we usually support. But Jennings needs to be in the big leagues to start the season.
He has proven that he can get on base, posting a .362 OBP this year in triple-A and a .395 OBP in double-A the year before. And even if he struggles at times at the plate, he will still be an asset defensively, and should rack up steals. And at age 24, it is time for Jennings to make the jump.
In 2011, the Rays will need to be aggressive on the basepaths more than ever. That will be a lot easier with Jennings on the roster.