Jays 6, RAYS 1 (boxscore)
THE GOOD: Jeff Niemann. The Giraffe threw 6 shutout innings and after the game said it was “the best [he's] thrown all spring.” He struck out 3 and most importantly, he did not walk a batter. In the spring he has a very impressive 17-to-4 strikeout-to-walk ratio (4.3). But if there is a concern, it is his velocity. He was once again throwing in the mid-80s. That’s not a place you usually want your big right-handers. If Niemann does end up in the bullpen as expected, one reason may be that the Rays think he can find a few extra MPHs on the fastball if he is working shorter stints and less worried about endurance…Kelly Nash. The Rays’ new sideline reporter made her debut and she was great. A ton of energy, knows her stuff, and seems to be gelling already with the crew. Unfortunately for her, she did get photobombed by Fernando Rodney. But that’s par for the course with this group.
THE BAD: Oh Boy This Offense. Sean Rodriguez, Ryan Roberts, and Kelly Johnson will all see plenty of playing time, at least until Wil Myers is ready, pushing Ben Zobrist back to the infield. But until then, we should brace ourselves for what is going to be some offensive woes. In the spring, those three have combined to hit .158 with a .253 OBP and a strikeout once every 4.3 times they go to the plate. And these aren’t guys that are “just working on things.”
THE TELLING: Jeff Niemann’s mullet is in mid-season form…Luke Scott’s “gut feeling” is that he will be ready for opening day…The Rays are not expected to announce the 5th starter until tomorrow…It could be a lot worse. The Astros payroll is expected to be $20 million. Barring trades, the Rays will be $61.9 million….There are tickets still available or opening day, however, the Rays are expecting a sellout. Also, gates will open at 12:10 and first pitch is at 3:10….Brian Roberts of the Orioles is expected to start his 5th opening day in a game managed by Joe Maddon. That would match Carl Crawford for the most ever (Evan Longoria is also expected to start his 5th opening day under Maddon).
THE JUNKYARD DOGS WEBTOPIA…
- I was on 98.7 The Fan yesterday for a few minutes to talk about the Rays. You can listen to that spot here. [CBSlocal.com]
- The Rays released a couple of minor league pitchers, Nick Barnese and Joe Cruz. Barnese was a third round pick in 2007. [MLBTR]
- The Rays will wear camo hats on Memorial Day. No picture of the Rays version yet, but here are some others which should give you a good idea what it will look like. [Uni-Watch]
- David Price is giving away 100 tickets to Opening Day. It’s not clear how yet, but you probably need to follow him on Twitter. [@DavidPrice14]
- Here’s a look at how the Yankees’ and Dodgers’ franchise values have grown over last 16 years (hint: A LOT). [BI Sports]
- A preview of the AL East. This season could be a bizarro year in the East with the Rays, O’s, and Jays as the top teams. [Big League Stew]
- A lot of girlfriends/wives of current and former Rays on this list of the “Top 25 Major League Baseball WAGs of 2013.” (thanks Sean) [It'sAwaysSunnyInDetroit]
- Are fans really going to be upset if the Bucs don’t land Darrelle Revis? [JoeBucsFan]