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.

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6 Comments

  1. Don says:

    THe problem with Jennings being fast...but having a weak bat is Maddon will probably hit him 1st or 2nd...then oh no....Maddon goes back to hitting Upton 2nd...now you have TWO .240 hitters 1st & 2nd....a disaster for scoring runs....
    Rather have Jaso 1st, then someone like Zobrist 2nd...
    best chance to score....but you know Maddon...he can't replace Carl at the 2nd spot with weak hitting...

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    • Derek says:

      LOL Jaso is the .240 hitter, not Jennings. Jennings does have power. Maybe not homerun power, but he hit 31 doubles and ten triples mostly in AA in 09. Why would you even think Jaso's bat isnt as weak as Jennings'?? This guy was a top prospect coming into 10, got hurt, and still had a really good year. Jaso had a decent couple of months.

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      • Justin H says:

        I agree that Jennings isn't a .240 hitter, but neither is Jaso. Jennings has proven he can get on base and hit at the minor league level. While Jaso last year proved he can get on base at the major league level, while also catching. I understand he only batted .263 but his obp. was .372. I think all of us would be happy if Jennings did that in his rookie season. The place were Jennings separates himself is with his speed and defense, that's why he is considered a much higher prospect. If it was based solely on hitting Jennings is still better, but it's not as much of a landslide.

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        • Derek says:

          I agree, but I feel like Jaso has holes that have been exposed at the major league level. Some say the same about Jennings too I guess, but Ill hold judgment till he gets regular playing time. Jaso has always be able to draw a walk. I think Jaso is around a .250 hitter that draws walks because of his crouching stance. Thats fine, but Jennings, even in his first year, should be better than that. Ill take Jennings then Jaso as my one and two. Then Zo-Evan-Manny-Danjo-Upton-Rodriguez-Reid. That as my lineup against a RHP.

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      • Don says:

        Justin pretty much answered you...basically Jaso has "proven" himself in the majors and will only get better as an experienced (2nd yr.) player...
        Jennings "should" be ok, but has proven nothing by hitting in the minors, pitching being the difference, the few at bats he had last year with the Rays... I wasn't too impressed
        ...certainly not enough to hit him 1st or 2nd....but again his speed and Maddon thinking puts that in jeopardy....

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  2. Kyra says:

    I feel like everyone has forgotten about Fernando Perez. If he can stay healthy during ST he could/should make the team & he will be the fastest Ray next year. He could easily steal bases if he gets on...same with DJ (Desmond Jennings not Dan Johnson lol) & BJ. They can steal if they get on base.

    Can't wait for ST & next year.
    Go Rays!!!

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