Monday, October 5, 2009

And So It Ends....

With yesterday’s loss to the Yankees, the 2009 baseball season ends for your Tampa Bay Rays. We had an exciting season for the most part, as the Rays were in contention until the middle of September. An 84-78 record is nothing to frown at, especially with this team’s history. There is still a sense of disappointment in not making the playoffs just one year removed from making the World Series. However, think about how far this team and baseball community has come. Attendance was up even though the economy is still struggling. The team had its first league leader in homeruns as Carlos Pena tied for the American League lead. He also became the first player to tie or win a league homerun title while missing over 25 games. Finally, we saw what it’s like to have real expectations. I am proud to be a fan of a team in which winning 84 games in a season can be disappointing. It keeps both the players and fans hungry, and it will leave everybody wanting more next year. I am proud to say I am a fan of the Tampa Bay Rays and I am excited for next season when the Rays will be competitive once again. When do pitchers and catchers report? It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see why this team is ready for 2010, and the fans should be ready as well.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

To Those Of You Who Want Upton And Burrell Traded....

To those of you who want BJ Upton and/or Pat Burrell traded, stop dreaming. I read it in blog comments every day. I hear it on sports talk radio almost every day.

Of course the two players have been sub-par this year, and the 2009 Rays would have been better without them, but you have to look at contracts, control, and potential. The main reason that the Rays wouldn't be able to move Upton or Burrell is the fact that they also have to have a trade partner willing to take on the contracts and give fair value.

I will get Pat Burrell out of the way because this will be easier. Burrell will be owed $9 million next season. He has struggled mightily and has failed to come close to expectations. What team that you know of would take that contract off the Rays' hands? Anybody? Beuler? Exactly, nobody will take the contract. The Rays can't afford to release Burrell and pay him all that money to suit up for another team. All that can really happen is that Burrell bats 5th or 6th every night and hopefully next year he meets or beats expectations.

Now let's look at BJ Upton. He is arbitration eligible so he will garner some sort of a raise, but not a huge raise because he is coming off a down season. He is under team control for 3 more seasons, so there is no real need to move him for fear of not being able to lock him up long-term.
Upton may not have been valuable at the plate this season, but he sure has been solid in the field. His speed and cannon have saved multiple runs throughout the season.
Now, I don't know if injuries were a real of fabricated excuse for Upton's mediocre season at the plate, but we know what Upton can do when he is on his game. He has so much potential. After this down season, the Rays would not get anywhere close to fair value for Upton's potential. Trading Upton would basically be a player dump and would say the Rays have completely given up on Upton. It is way too early in his career to give up on BJ Upton, and the Rays front office is much smarter than that.

So, for those of you who want to see Upton and Burrell traded, stop wasting your time and wishes. Stop calling into talk shows and stop writing comments on blogs about it. It's not going to happen. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out why.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

RIP 2009

After all the magic that took place in 2008, the 2009 baseball season is now officially over. With the 4-3 loss last night to the Mariners, the Rays are eliminated from playoff contention. This was just a formality, as the season was doomed by an inconvenient 11 game losing streak. However, it is still a sad day. This season had high expectations coming off a World Series appearance. So, today, we pour out a bit of our beer and throw a couple of peanuts and Cracker-Jacks on the ground for our dead season. RIP 2009. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out why we should all be in mourning today.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Give Me One Reason....

Why Joe Maddon is going to continue to stress the starting pitchers' arms. He is going to continue to pitch James Shields and Matt Garza on normal rest, while giving Wade Davis one extra day. With the Rays out of the playoff hunt, why not shut these guys down and have them ready for 2010? One of the reasons the Rays have struggled this year is tired arms. Since 2009 is gone, I see no reason why Joe Maddon shouldn't be thinking about 2010. Is he worried that a sub-500 record will look very poorly on his job? If that's the case, he should have thought about that all season while making many questionable decisions. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out why.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Riddle Of The Day

Q: A guy is at home with 2 men in masks. He leaves, makes 3 left turns, then returns home to the 2 men in masks. What just happened?
















A: A batter faced the Rays' bullpen with the game on the line in the 8th or 9th inning.

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out why this is the answer.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Question Of The Day

Was anybody else not sure what to do when the Rays won the game last night?

I didn't know if I should celebrate, say "it's about freaking time," or still be pissed off that the Rays lost 11 in a row and blew their shot at the playoffs.

I went with option b. I will still consider finishing over .500 a success. It will be disappointing, but a success, especially compared to seasons of the past. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out why.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Embarrassment

Embarrassment \Em*bar"rass*ment\, n. [F. embarrassement.]

1. A state of being embarrassed; perplexity; impediment to freedom of action; entanglement; hindrance; confusion or discomposure of mind, as from not knowing what to do or to say; disconcertedness. [1913 Webster]

The embarrassment which inexperienced minds have often to express themselves upon paper. --W. Irving. [1913 Webster]

The embarrassments tom commerce growing out of the late regulations. --Bancroft. [1913 Webster]

2. Difficulty or perplexity arising from the want of money to pay debts. [1913 Webster]

3. Going from being a playoff contender to out of contention by losing 11 straight games

(from www.dictionary.net)

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out why the last 2 weeks have been a major embarrassment.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Ways To Salvage The Season

The last few weeks have been rather frustrating. After losing 2/3 to the Sox at the Trop, I resigned to the fact that the Rays will not be making the playoffs. There are some ways that the Rays can entertain us over the last few weeks of the season, and here they are with the odds of them happening.

1) Carl Crawford wins MLB Stolen Base title - CC had a huge lead over Ellsbury earlier in the year, but Ellsbury now has the lead. Ellsbury will be in a lot more situations where he is taking bases to help his team win, but CC also now has nothing to lose by getting caught. Odds: 33%

2) Jeff Niemman ties Rays record for wins by a pitcher - Right now Niemman has 12 wins. Niemman probably has 3-4 starts left in him. He had a win all but locked up this past week if it weren't for the pen. If the pen could learn to hold a lead, I think he at least ties the record, especially if he continues to pitch as well as he has the second half of the season. Odds: 52%

3) Wade Davis gets first MLB win - See: discussion on the bullpen in the Jeff Niemman discussion. Odds: 66.67%

4) The Rays sweep the Red Sox, putting the Rangers as the front runners for the wild card - Well, if the Rays couldn't sweep the Sox when the season was on the line, why would they do it now? Odds: 4%

5) The Red Sox get swine flu and have to call up their AAA team who blows their playoff chances - This is probably more likely than number 4. Odds: 4.1%

6) Andy Sonnanstine pitches more than 2 innings of scoreless ball - HAH. Odds: 0.5%

7) Evan Longoria wins the AL RBI title - Longo trails only Mark Texeria, who may be very tough to catch, although he will be getting a few days off coming up once the Yankees clinch the AL East. Odds: 40%

8) Joe Maddon goes through an 8th and 9th inning without going to the bullpen more than once - During September callups with a deeper pen? Maddon is more likely to bat Sonnanstine 3rd in a game....again. Odds: 2%

9) BJ Upton gets to 10 homeruns - BJ has said he wants to play the rest of the season and prove he belongs. My advice: actions speak louder than words BJ, time to step up. Odds: 7%

10) Pat Burrell hits more homeruns than Jason Bartlett - I have this because Pat Burrell was supposed to be a power hitter while Bartlett a contact hitter. Currently, Pat is down by 1 to Bartlett. There is no reason that Burrell can't wind up ahead of Bartlett if he is playing up to his ability, which he is yet to do all season. Odds: 35% Odds of Pat Burrell hitting a homerun off a lefty, which is what he was brought to this team to do and is yet to do: 20%

11) The bullpen holds onto a lead - The pen has been just terrible lately. Even a blind squirrel finds a nut every now and then. To me, that means the bullpen has to hold onto at least 1 lead at some point this season, and thus the odds should be 100%. Then again, what pitcher in the pen do you have confidence in? Nothing? Nobody? That's what I thought. Odds: 75%

12) 25,000 people show up to a game at the Trop - I sure hope this happens, even though the Rays aren't in the playoff hunt. Odds: a sad 40%

13) The Rays catch the Red Sox and make the playoffs - This is the Red Sox the Rays are chasing, not the Mets. Odds: 0%

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out where these odds come from.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Will they stay or will they go?



After 8 losses in a row, 6 by way of our bullpen straight up sucking it, it's time to look ahead to next year. Everyone has their opinion on what the rays should do with their limited payroll and here is mine. I will go through each key player individually and give my 2 cents on their future with the Tampa Bay frnachise.

Carl Crawford - The big name that nobody wants to see leave. Crawford has a $10m team option that the rays are sure to pick up. The question is whether or not they will keep him or trade him. We all know that they want to keep Crawford, he has been the face of this franchise since his arrival, but it's comes down to payroll. They Rays are trying to make room for his salary, and trading Kazmir went a long way in helping to accomplish that. However, Kazmir alone is not going to be enough. The Rays need to trade or re-negotiate more salaries if they hope to keep Crawford. But even if they can keep him for next year, is it worth it? There is really no chance he re-signs once he reaches free agency, as big market teams are sure to throw and entire Rays team payroll worth of money at him. So do you trade him now for top prospects, or keep him in hopes of another playoff run then let him walk and get the 2 draft picks?
Verdict: I don't think the Rays would have moved Kazmir if they weren't going to be able to keep Crawford. My guess is he stays, and if we are out of the race by july next year, then he is shipped out.

Carlos Pena - Not many people talk about what may happen to Pena in the offseason, but his salary is biggest on the entire team. Pena is owed $10.12m in the final year of his contract. You can't argue about how valuable pena is with his glove and his bat, but he is another guy who is very likely to leave after his deal is up. So, as it goes with CC, do you keep him or trade him? I can't say with certainty how much the Rays are willing to put in to their payroll next year, but I can say that if it came down to having either Crawford or Pena, I would like to see CC stay.
Verdict: I think the rays may try and move him in the offseason, but likely won't get the return they are looking for. He stays....for now.

Pat Burrell - Owed $9m in the final year of his 2 year deal, Pat has been a waste of money so far. Hopefully he can rebound from one of the worst years in his career. I'm sure the Rays would love to shed his salary in a trade, but is their a team that stupid to deal for him?
Verdict: No, there isn't. We are stuck with The Bat for the rest of his deal.

Akinori Iwamura - Has a $4.25m team option for 2010. At this point, he is not worth 5 million when we have Zobrist who can field the position, or at the very least Willie Aybar. I know the Rays would love to keep him and have Zobrist in RF, but not for the price. Also If Desmond Jennings is ready to play at the big league level out of Spring training, then there is a cluster in the outfield and 2b might be the only place for Zobrist to start regularly.
Verdict: Attempt to sign him for a lesser contract, but he goes elsewhere. Sayonara Aki.

Greg Zaun - $2m option. This seems like an easy call but may be determined with what the Rays decide to do with Navarro in Arbitraion. Zaun proved to be a great addition late in the year and his leadership in the clubhouse is just as important.
Verdict: Option picked up

Dioner Navarro - Guaranteed to make at least 80% of his current $2.1m salary and probably more. He wasn't even half the player he was last year, so is it worth it to keep him around? Obviously Zaun is not going to be around much longer, and Riggans is certainly not the answer. The Rays could let him go and try and go after a cather in the very limited free agent pool, but a young catcher isn't easy to come by. The best move would be to deal him so you at least get something in return.
Verdict: 50/50. At this point he isn't worth the money so it depends on what the rays can get for him.

BJ Upton - Upton still hasn't developed in to the player the Rays think he can become, and his time may be running short in Tampa. With Desmond Jennings ready to be a big leaguer by next year, the outfield is going to get crowded with BJ, CC (if he stays), Joyce, Jennings, and Possibly Zobrist. BJ has shown flashes on greatness (June) and then not shown up at all (all other months of the season). He is due for arbitration and will get a significant increase from his 09 salary, think in the range of $3-4m. You obviously sign a guy like BJ instead of letting him go for nothing, but how much longer does he have in Tampa if he doesn't perform?
Verdict: I think the Rays give him one last year to become the player he is expected to be. If he has a repeat of the season he just has, we most likely will be saying goodbye to Mr. Upton.

Jason Bartlett - In my opinion, Bartlett has been the MVP of the Rays this year, and it isn't even close. He has been the most consitent by far and his power number compared to last year our astonishing. He is due for a significant raise as well, likely in the $4-5m range I would guess. He deserves every penny if not more. Pay him what he wants, because neither Bignac or Beckham are ready for the big leagues.
Verdict: Pay the man.

Starting Rotation - James Shields, Jeff Neimann, David Price, and Wade Davis are all under contract for next year. All are quite inexpensive too. Matt Garza is the only starter heading to arbitration. We have all seen what garza can do when he is on, and we have also seen what he can do when he loses his head. Expect soemthing in the area of $3m for Garza next season.
Verdict: The most likely opening rotation for next year will look like this: Shields, Garza, Neimann, Price, and Davis. Things will get interesting pretty fast once Hellickson is ready, thoguh.

Bullpen - Expect to see the greatest amount of change in the bullpen for next year. The bullpen started slow, but showed flashes of greatness during the middle of the year. But the biggest reason why they fell out of the playoff race is due to the bullpen being terrible right now. Dan Wheeler is under contract for $3.5m next year, but I can't see him staying. Expect Wheeler to get dealt at some point in the offseason. Grant Balfour and JP Howell are both due for arbitration and will likely get something in the range of $2-3m. My opinion, JP stays and Balfour goes. Joe Nelson is also due for arbitration but spent the end of the season in AAA, so i think it is safe to say he won't be back next season. Brian Shouse has a team option for $1.9m which is a waste considering we can keep Randy Choate thruogh Arbitration for much less, so consider Shouse gone. I do think we offer arbitration to Lance Cormier and keep him. He shouldn't get much more than $1m and was a pretty reliable reliever for most of the year.
Verdict: Lots of changes. Expect to see Howell back, but not in the closer role. I think the rays need to trade or go after a free agent closer that is proven. Howell showed he can get the job done for periods of time, but he clearly cannot handle the full work load. Cormier and choate should be back, along with andy sonnenstine in a long releiver role. The rays will need to go after some releiver via free agency or trades, because the last thing we want to see next year is a repeat of September 2009.










Bullpen Poll

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

One Positive Thing

If there is one positive spin I can put on this season going down the tubes, it's how well the young pitchers in the starting rotation have done over the last month. In fact, James Shields may be pitching worse than the other 4 starters right now (of course, not including Andy Sonnanstine). Next years' rotation looks very promising. Shields, Garza, Price, Niemman, and Davis should all be solid starters for a few years to come. Since their arms won't have the stress of a postseason, all 5 should be fresh and ready to go come April. 5 pitchers of that quality have the ability to carry a team a long way should they stay healthy and pitch to their potential.

Now the bullpen, that's a whole other story. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out why.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

This Quote Makes Me Sick

Joe Maddon on the bullpen in between games of yesterday's double header:

"I don't want to do anything differently, because it's been so successful," Maddon said. "Just because we've had a little bit of a hard time, that doesn't mean you blow everything up. And quite frankly, we can't. That's who we are. That's how we do business."

Really Joe? You would call the bullpen's performance successful over the last few weeks?

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out why this quote made me just vomit all over my desk.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

One Team, Under Porn-Stache


The porn-stache. Simply incredible.

What is with the porn-stache? I don't really get it. There is no real way to describe it, you just know it when you see it. No one laughs at you if you have a porn-stache. Everyone just says "that's an awesome mustache." Dale Thayer was the first to show up with the porn-stache this year. Later on in the season, we saw BJ Upton with one, and now Fernando Perez. The porn-stache rocks. I'm not sure why random players are showing up with the porn-stache this season, but I think there should be more. The ray-hawk was 2008, the porn-stache needs to take over the clubhouse. It will be a lot more bonding than a "Ring of Fire" or urban cowboy road trip. Come on Rays. Now is your chance to come together as a team, and maybe get on a 2008-esque hot streak. The porn-stache could be the Rays' key to either finding a pulse, or at least really enjoying the last month of the season. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out why.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

So Many Questions?

I wrote yesterday about how the Rays NEED to sweep the Red Sox. A disheartening loss later, I'm not sure where we go from here as fans and as a team. The fans really didn't show up. The fact that only bringing 17,000 people showed in the biggest game of the season is just sad. The players didn't show up like they are playing an elimination game. They struck out way too much, committed 3 errors, and left a major opportunity on the field. In the 8th, the Rays were down by 3 runs, bases loaded, nobody out, and nobody scored. BJ Upton could have made us forget about a dismal season. Jason Bartlett was close, and then, it all crashed down. The Rays finished the inning down 7-4 and wasted a great chance. The players did not execute. And finally, the manager had a pitcher who was demoted earlier this season starting. This starting pitcher walked 4 in a game for the first time in 3 years. He was slightly handcuffed since it was a choice between Andy Sonnanstine and Wade Davis, a pitcher with zero MLB experience, but he still made the choice and has to live with it. I'm frustrated on all fronts. The Rays won all the big games last year, and this year, opportunities are left on the table.

This leaves me with so many questions, and here are a few:
What is different about this team?
Why was last years' team great and this years' team good?
Why are some players struggling so much?
Where are the fans?
Can the September callups make a difference?
Where is this teams' heart?
Why is 09 not greater than 08?

And one last question:
When do pitchers and catchers report?

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out why I'm asking that last question.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

There Should Be 1 Word On The Rays' Minds This Week

SWEEP

That is all.

SWEEP

2 out of 3 is not enough

SWEEP

Nothing less is acceptable

SWEEP

You have an opportunity to redeem yourselves for games blown in the past

SWEEP

Get right back in playoff contention

SWEEP

Get it done, or the countdown to pitchers and catchers reporting begins.

SWEEP

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out why the Rays need a...

SWEEP

Monday, August 31, 2009

Poll

Questions I Would Like To Ask Joe Maddon

It's very easy to second guess a manager, even if he is reigning AL Manager of the Year. It's also very easy to wonder what is going on in Joe Maddon's brain. If I had a chance to ask him 10 questions, here is what I would ask:

1) Why do you always insist on giving players a day off on the day before or after a scheduled day off?

2) What is the best concert you've been to?

3) Andy Sonnanstine over Wade Davis? Really?

4) Do you always think about protecting your starting pitcher so that he cannot qualify for a loss in a tight game?

5) What percentage of your yearly salary do you spend on wine?

6) How much of your match-ups are based on numbers and how much is based on feel?

7) You have helped in turning around a once dismal franchise, what do you think led to these changes?

8) Why do you think the players struggle on getaway days?

9) What is your barber's response when you keep telling him/her what your new hairstyle is going to be?

10) I understand having faith and trust in your players, but why do you insist on letting struggling players continue to struggle instead of moving them down in the lineup and let them fix their problems in a position that hurts the team less?

These are just my questions, some baseball, some not. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out why someone would want to know these answers.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Scotty Noooo!


And just like that, in the blink of an eye, the Rays all time leader in wins, strikeouts, and ERA is gone. I can't say I didn't see this coming, but I can say I didn't see it coming NOW. 3.5 games out of the wild card with 3 days left in August seems like an odd time to trade away your #2 starter and most reliable pitcher over the past months. But it was a move that needed to be made for the future of this franchise, and I am pretty confident that Kazmir wasn't going to carry us to the playoffs on his back.

So lets dissect this deal a little more. First the negatives, and there really aren't that many other then the timing. Trading a team player like Kazmir, someone that I consider an "old school" D-Ray, pretty much out of nowhere is going to take it's toll on the locker room. Players know it is part of the business of baseball, but I don't think anyone saw this one coming and it is going to affect the locker room atmosphere no doubt. Kazmir is only 25, but I think it's pretty safe to say he has reached his prime in Tampa Bay. He was a great player, but never really developed in to the player we thought he would be when we traded for him with the Mets. That doesn't mean he won't be, it just means he won't be here. I think Kaz needed a change of sceanery much like Edwin Jackson, who has done very well in his first year with Detroit.

The pros definately outweigh the cons in this deal. For one, we have $22 million of Kazmir's salary off the books. 22 Million. That is a lot of money, money that we desperately need if we want to re-sign the face of this franchise, Carl Crawford. I was almost sure that either Crawford or Kazmir was going to have to be traded in the offseason because of payroll restrictions, and when it comes to it, Crawford is a much more essential part of this team. The rays are loaded with minor league talent at the pitching position, and can afford to take their chances now on another young arm like Wade Davis or Jeremy Hellickson.

Joe Maddon seems excited about the prospects we are getting in return for Kazmir, Matthew Sweeney and Alexander Torres. On paper, these guys look good. Torres as done great this year, going 12-4 between high A and AA. Sweeney is a power hitting 3rd baseman who we could maybe transition into a first baseman. But the real prize seems to be the PTBNL, who Maddon said was a key piece in this deal (Brandon Wood?). Getting 3 good prospects for Kazmir is about as much as you can ask for when your payroll is as restricited as it is in Tampa.

It's sad to see Kazmir go, he was an integral part in the turnaround of this franchise. He was very active around the community and liked by everyone in Tampa Bay. However, this is part of the game. 5 years from now this team is going to look completely different other then Longoria and Price. Kazmir came in as the savior of this franchise, did his job, and now its time for him to move on. He has a long career ahead of him still and i think i speak for all rays fans when i say we wish you the best of luck, Kaz.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Please No....

As I'm hearing and reading the Scott Kazmir rumors, all I can think is "Please No!"

A few months ago, or even this past offseason, I could have understood a trade of Scott Kazmir. In fact, I even had told a friend this past offseason that the Rays should trade Kazmir at that time. He was on the decline at the time and we were not sure if he would be able to rebound. However, Kazmir has come back with a vengeance.

The timing of this trade, assuming it happens, makes zero sense.

To me, this says the Rays are starting to give up on the season. That's the only way I can see this trade being justified at this time. Kazmir has been very very good lately and would be an integral part of the rotation in a playoff push. The Rays are only 3.5 games out, and have no reason to give up on this season. Not only that, but the Rays signed Kazmir to an extension last season. He is not eligible for free agency for a few more seasons, and his contract is relatively cheap compared to his potential ability.

If Scott Kazmier were a lost cause and his value would never be higher, I would say go ahead and trade him for whatever you can get. But I don't see it this way after the way Kazmir has pitched over the last few weeks. I really hope the Rays' front office has a plan and a reason for trading Kazmir at this time. Otherwise, there are going to be a lot of disappointed fans and I am going to start counting down the days until pitchers and catchers report. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out why.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Best Way To Describe Carlos Pena's Week


There have been a lot of random quotes going through my head regarding Carlos Pena over the last week. Of course I can go with the "Zoolander" quote that of "Pena, so hot right now." Another option is to go with the classic song "Feelin hot hot hot." But I believe the best way to describe Carlos Pena's last week all inclusive is by playing a game of NBA Jams. Here is Carlos Pena's last 5 games in a nutshell as quoted by the classic video game.


"From Downtown" - A Pena bomb on August 21st against Texas starts the hot streak off


"He's Heating Up" - Need 2 straight baskets to start heating up, and Pena is there with 2 homeruns against the Rangers on the 22nd.


"At The Buzzer, YES!"- An RBI walk0ff single in extra innings against the Rangers, driving home Evan Longoria


"He Can't Buy A Bucket" - The 3rd game in the Texas series in which the Rays get shut out


"For 2!" - Another huge homerun, this time a 2 run shot against the Blue Jays on Monday


"From Wayyyyyy Downtown!" - A 2-run upper-deck shot against the Blue Jays on Tuesday to give the Rays a 2-1 lead


"Boom-Shaka-Laka" - Pena's 2nd homerun and 6th in 5 games, another upper-deck bomb against the Blue-Jays Tuesday night. Dave Wills really should have yelled "boom-shaka-laka" when this ball was hit as there was no doubt.


After this last week, there is only one way to describe the way that Carlos Pena is playing.


"HE'S ON FIRE!"


It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure this out.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Why...

....do so many pitchers have career games against the Rays?

Are pitchers really getting that much more hyped up to play the reigning AL champions? Is it the Rays' knack for the strikeout that is helping opposing pitchers out? How is it that a pitcher will throw a perfect game against the Rays and then go 0-4 in his next 6 starts? Why is it that a team with this quality of a lineup strikes out 15 times in one game?

So many similar questions have been baffling me all season. The Rays need to bring their best day in and day out through September. Allowing pitchers to continually have career days may really hurt the Rays' chances at playing in October. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure this out.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Headlines I Would Like To See

"Rays new stadium built without taxpayer money and a sweet retractable roof to be ready for 2010 season"

"Rays acquire Usain Bolt as pinch base runner"

"Each home run hit by Rays player gets you a free lap dance at Mons Venus"

Headlines I Would Like To See

Entire Boston Red Sox roster tests positive for PED's.

Team suspended 50 games

Pawtucket Red Sox organization gets called up.

Headlines I Would Like To See This Weekend

Here is the list of headlines I would like to see this weekend:

"Rays Pull Within 1 Game of Wild Card"

That is all.

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out why.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

A Bone To Pick With ESPN

I rarely like to call out professional writers, unless I have a good reason. Today, I have to call out Jayson Stark. In his weekly "Rumblings and Grumblings" column, he decided to talk about the struggling closer position for most of the contenders. Here is what Stark said about the Rays:

TAMPA BAY RAYS
The Rays got to the World Series last year via the mix-and-match bullpen hodgepodge route after Troy Percival went down. They're trying it again this year.
They've already had eight different relievers save at least one game. And they've had 14 different relievers finish a game. So one thing you can say about Joe Maddon, besides the fact that he sure looks cool in black hair: He's no push-button manager.

The good news for them is that, believe it or not, 14 teams in the division-play era have made it to the postseason in years in which at least eight different pitchers saved a game. But the bad news is, only three of those teams -- the 2003 Red Sox, 1991 Braves and 1992 Braves -- have won a postseason series.
And the worst news is, none of those 14 won it all. So as much as some people in this sport would love to disprove the necessity of the one-monster-closer concept, reality isn't cooperating very well.
The funny thing is, though, that the Rays have had a remarkable flair for making this work. They've blown only one save in the ninth inning all year -- and it was by a pitcher (Isringhausen) who isn't even on their active roster anymore.
Nevertheless, says one scout, "They might be No. 1 on this list for me, because the pitchers they're using back there are not really 'closers.' It's just a collage of guys trying to do a job. On the right day, it can work. But on other days, you say, 'What are they thinking?'"


There is one major thing missing in this piece, and it's the name J.P. Howell, the Rays' closer. Yes, Joe Maddon likes to mix and match his matchups, especially in the latter innings of a ballgame. Maddon does NOT do this in the 9th inning anymore. The Rays have their go-to-guy, and it's J.P. Howell. In an article about closers and a long paragraph about the Rays, Howell's name wasn't even mentioned. This is preposterous. Stark discusses closers being solid if they have under a 2.50 ERA. Well Mr. Stark, Howell's ERA is right now 2.18. Sure, Howell only has 14 saves, but he has only been the closer since June. Stark mentions Howell in this article under the list of closers with the worst save percentage, noting Howell's percentage is 73.8. He did not look at the fact that Howell has only 3 blown saves since May 23, the day that Troy Percival was placed on the disabled list. The last of his blown saves was June 9. Funny, Jonathan Pabblebon has also blown 3 saves since May 23rd. And let's not forget that J.P. Howell has a 6-1 record since May 23rd.

So, Jayson Stark, I am really disappointed in your article. I was not with you when you wrote this so I will not guess as to what you looked at and didn't, but it seems to me that you did not give your fair time to J.P. Howell. He may very well be the Rays' 2009 team MVP and easily could have been an all-star. J.P. Howell deserves a lot more respect than this. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure that out.

I Don't Want To Jinx This But....

I am starting to think Pat Burrell and BJ Upton have turned the corner. Both have been struggling very much this season. We have been waiting the entire season for these 2 players to start to play to their ability, and I am starting to think they are there right now. I even started to think twice about this fact when Burrell flew out with the bases loaded and 2 outs last night. Then I realized it was a hard hit ball, just in the wrong location. They have combined for 4 homeruns over the last 2 games. It's not just the homeruns that have me excited, as Upton was a double short of the cycle Tuesday and his defense is irreplaceable. These 2 players breaking out and continuing to play this well over the next month and a half could be exactly what the doctor ordered to push the Rays over the hump. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure that out.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

This Pisses Me Off

Before I write this post, I'd like to point out that it's currently the top of the 3rd and the Rays are winning 1-0.

It really pisses me off when Joe Maddon gives these players extra rest, especially at this point of the season. Earlier today, I touched on the fact that it's now a sprint to the finish line. Joe Maddon needs to be playing his best players every day for the rest of the season. The Rays CANNOT afford to give up games here. Why Joe Maddon is giving Jason Bartlett a day off right after a day off is beyond me. Bartlett is a better fielder and better hitter than Reid Brignac. He is the leadoff hitter, and potentially the team MVP. The manager's job is to put the players in the best possible position to win. Joe Maddon has failed to do that tonight, no matter what the outcome of the game is. It doesn't take a pissed off rocket scientist to figure this out.

It's a Sprint

"The marathon is over. It's not a sprint. It's a good thing we are fast."
-Matt Garza on the Jim Rome Show

45 games to go, the Rays are down 4 in the wild card race to Texas. It's time to sprint and sprint fast. I could list all the cliches in the world such as "forget the past," "what's done is done," or even "it's not over 'til the fat lady sings" and they would all be fitting. Really, there is one thing left to do, win. The pitchers need to make the pitchers, and the hitters need to come up with the clutch hits. The Rays have dug a hole for themselves and now have no margin for error. Execution now is more important than effort. This is a playoff team that's currently on the outside looking in. Opportunities will present themselves over the next few weeks. Sweeping the hapless Orioles and then winning the series against the Rangers will go a long way towards putting the Rays back on the inside track. There are enough games left against the Red Sox and the Rangers that the Rays control their own destiny.

The Rays' fate is in their own hands, it's now time to execute. It doesnt take a rocket scientist to figure this out.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Why The Rays Can Do This Long-Term

Being an armchair general manager is a lot of fun. As a fan, it is very easy to say "we should sell the farm to win now." While in a pennant race, prospects are thought of as trading tools and not future stars.

If you are a fan of a big market franchise, you can afford to live by that philosophy. The Rays' front office is smarter than that, and that is why the Rays will contend for a playoff position for years to come.

Example A: The Rays do not trade Jeff Niemman in a deal for Jason Bay. The Rays make the world series in 2008. The next season, Jeff Niemman leads the team in wins in the middle of August.

Example B: The Rays do not sell the farm for Victor Martinez. Instead, the Rays get a post-deadline deal for Greg Zaun. Zaun and Martinez have comparable stats for their new teams, but Zaun has played in about half the games. Now we can wait and see what Wade Davis will turn into as a Ray.

Finding lower-cost and higher-efficiency trades is the reason the Rays can afford to contend for years to come. The Rays are proving this with smart deals for the second straight season. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure this out.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Days 2 And 3 From Anaheim: All I heard Was “The Rays Suck”

I heard one sentence repeatedly from Angels’ fans. “The Rays suck.” When I first heard this on Tuesday night, my response to the fans was “Did you stay up all night thinking of that one?” I mean seriously, that’s all you got for me? At least insult me with something intelligent. Talk about how 2 out of the 3 hits are from a catcher that we’ve had for less than a week. Talk about how your worst starting pitcher has held us to 3 hits. Tell me how a rally monkey would tie a sting ray into a knot. I heard none of that, just “The Rays suck.”

Then, there was Wednesday. I thought I might finally get my retribution and see a victory on the road. The Rays had a 2 run lead with 2 outs in the 6th. There were 2 runners on base, but I was fairly confident with Grant Balfour on the mound and the number 8 hitter, who has hit 2 homeruns all season, Gary Matthews Jr. at the plate. I figured worse case scenario would be a single and 1 potential run. I didn’t see a bomb that would wind up 10 rows deep into the right field bleachers. That’s when everything unraveled and next thing I knew, my ticket was good for free buffalo wings since the Angels had put 10 runs on the board.

All the sudden, I heard it again, “The Rays suck.” This time, I didn’t even try to balk back at the fans. Right now, they were right and I deserved to hear it. Less than a week after the Rays closed the gap in the wildcard race to 1.5, the Rays were swept out of the building and luckily ended a 1-5 road trip. Of course, I don’t think this team sucks. I do think this team is failing to meet expectations and is not playing to their potential. I think there is some poor execution at the plate, in the field, and on the mound. Time is running out. If Rays keep playing like this, Rays’ fans should expect to hear “The Rays suck” all through September as fans won’t be hearing it in October. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure this out.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Percival Done


Na Na Na Na
Na Na Na Na
Hey Hey Hey
GOODBYE!

After (technically) 2 seasons of blowing saves and making Rays fans nervous with a 3 run lead in the 9th inning, Troy Percival finally realizes what just about every Rays fan realized 2 months into last season......Time to hang up those cleats big guy. To be fair, Percival was an All-Star closer in his prime and could very well end up in the Hall of Fame someday. His 358 saves rank 8th on the all time list. Unfortunately, none of those prime years were with the Rays. Instead, we got 34 saves and an ERA of about 4.90. Thats means Percival earned $245,376 for every save he made. I'm not a financial advisor, but I think the Rays could have done better.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

TV Programming Alert

Evan Longoria will be in studio with Jim Rome on "Jim Rome is Burning" today. Hopefully Rome brings him some good jungle karma for tonight's game.

Rays-Angels Game 1 Thoughts And Observations

First off, I am really proud of the Rays fans. This is my third year going to a Rays' road game. The first year, I saw 1 other fan. Last year, I saw a small handful. This year, half of my section were fans of the Rays. We represented very well. One guy had some good signs, including offering Todd Kalas a beer. Of course, the back of that sign said "Future Rays Player in the Oven" with an arrow pointing down, so from behind, people must have thought he was pregnant. Ooops. I hope the blue and white shows up again tonight.

Second off, I want to thank the Angels for running a quality ballpark. The fans were classy and fun to talk to about baseball. The ushers helped a lot, and didn't mind us moving around to open seats. They had a nice bit for Vlad Guerrero on his 400th homerun, which is an accomplishment even I can applaud. And, well, putting Dwayne Staats and Kevin Kennedy on the kiss-cam together was a nice humorous touch.

Third off, I want to touch on the game a bit. BJ Upton looked like he wasn't even trying at the plate. BJ, if you are struggling, there is a lot you can do to help the team that doesn't involve base hits. Those things all take effort. And before you complain BJ, please realize that your on base percentage is lower than Pat Burrell's. That is not ok. As for Willy Aybar, I do think he needs to get in the game more, but not in the field. I have touched on his fielding before, and it can be costly. Giving away outs is brutal. Speaking of giving away outs, Greg Zaun dropping a pitch on a Bobby Abreu steal is bad, very bad. It was a free out with Abreu trying to just attempt to take an extra base on a 2 strike count, figuring even if he gets thrown out, he gives the batter a fresh count. The next pitch was hit 10 rows deep into right field. Execution and effort need to be there in a pennant race.

And finally, I didn't find the Longoria family last night. I will be searching again tonight.

Those are my thoughts from night 1. I will be back tomorrow with more from night 2.

Monday, August 10, 2009

ROAD TRIP!


We are taking our act on the road this week. It is time for us to be obnoxious fans of the opposing team. This week is the Trop it Like it's Hot unofficial road trip! I will be attending all 3 games in Anaheim. Although I will not report live from the games (because I refuse to be "that guy" who brings a laptop to baseball games, and if you are "that guy", you are a tool), I will be back the following day with reports and observations. Enjoy the games and stay up late to watch so you can look for me on TV. GO RAYS!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

How They Match Up: East Side vs. West Side

It is time for another tale of the tape matchup. Today, the Rays are hopping on a chartered flight to the other side of the country. So, I want to look at which is better, East Side vs. West Side.

Better baseball history:
East Side: Yankees, Red Sox, Brooklyn Dodgers, New York Giants, Rays
West Side: Lots of teams moved from the east side
Advantage: East Side – The West Side was so jealous that it had to steal a few teams from the East Side

More current baseball teams:
East Side: A lot
West Side: Padres, Angels, Dodgers, Mariners, and I will even give you the Diamondbacks and the Rockies
Advantage: East Side – The Rays play here

Major metropolitan city:
East Side: New York
West Side: Los Angeles
Advantage: Push - Hard to determine between the business capital of the world and the entertainment capital of the world

90's Rapper who was killed:
East Side: Notorious B.I.G.
West Side: Tupac
Advantage: West Side – Even though Tupac is (possibly) still alive, he was a much better entertainer. His music was great and he even was solid in “Above the Rim”

Disney:
East Side: Disney World
West Side: Disneyland
Advantage: East Side – Disneyland could fit into Disney World’s parking lot

Hosts of late night talk show:
East Side: Letterman, Fallon
West Side: Conan, Kimmel
Advantage: West Side – Conan is the selling point

Natural Disaster:
East Side: Hurricanes
West Side: Earthquakes
Advantage: East Side – At least they can be somewhat predicted

Gambling city:
East Side: Atlantic City
West Side: Las Vegas
Advantage: West Side – VEGAS BABY!

Colleges:
East Side: Ivy League Schools
West Side: Stanford
Advantage: East Side – Just because of the way people can pronounce “Haaaaaaaarvard”

Time zone:
East Side: Eastern
West Side: Pacific
Advantage: West Side – You can watch a Rays game then still go out at night afterwards, or if a game goes 13 innings, you can still make it to work the next day easily

Place where Evan Longoria played:
East Side: Tampa Bay Rays
West Side: Long Beach State Dirtbags
Advantage: East Side – Dirtbags are an awesome mascot, but we love him playing for our favorite team

Superhero:
East Side: Batman
West Side: Ironman

Advantage: East Side – Hands down

TV Show Settings:

East Side: “How I Met Your Mother,” “The Office,” “30 Rock”
West Side: “Entourage,” “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” “Arrested Development”
Advantage: Push – All those shows are way too good

Star athlete turned felon:
East Side: Michael Vick
West Side: OJ Simpson
Advantage: West Side - OJ didn’t kill anything, errrrrr, wasn’t convicted of killing anything, and I guess that makes him better than a convicted dog killer

Annoying things said:
East Side: “Wicked haaaaad” by someone from Boston
West Side: “Hella” by someone from San Francisco
Advantage: Push – I want to punch both in the face equally hard, or as someone from Boston and San Francisco would say, I want to hella-punch both in the face wicked haaaaad

Final Results
East Side: 7
West Side: 5
Push: 3

So there you have it, the East Side has shown its supremacy. Maybe this is because of my east coast bias, but the results do speak for themselves. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out why the East Side is better than the West Side.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Hebrew Hammer

Wikipedia told me Gabe Kapler is Jewish and also hinted that he took a year off to let his system flush itself of any roids. So like any good reporter, i believe it one hundred percent. Also a quick google search made me wonder...

How many guys at the local JCC are swole like this?!


"Put down the Manishevitz and pick up a lox flavored protein shake"

At least we don't have to put up with the narcoleptic Rocco B anymore...enjoy that half-season worth of starts Boston.

"Me so tired"

And just because...

That Magical Moment

One pitch, one catch, or one swing of the bat can turn a season around. Any of those things can erase bad memories of a perfect game or blowing a big lead.

Was Evan Longoria's homerun last night that moment for the Rays?

Forget the new lineup. Forget the 2 homeruns that Matt Garza allowed. Forget not scoring a run until late in the game (again). Forget about 16 team strikeouts. Forget the strange play in the 8th in which Ben Zobrist was only awarded 3rd base. Forget blowing a chance with the bases loaded and nobody out twice. None of that mattered.

Forget the golden sombrero that Longoria was wearing for his 4 strikeout effort. That's ancient history.

A swing and a drive, deep to left field. GONE!

This doesn't instantly make up the distance that the Rays are behind the Yankees, Red Sox, and Rangers. This doesn't clinch a playoff spot for the Rays. However, this may be the moment that will propel the Rays right back into the hunt. It may just be one moment of one game, but that one moment may be just what the Rays needed to find the magic that they had in 2008. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out why.

Work tomorrow is gonna suck.....

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Road Signs For Joe Maddon

During yesterday's postgame interview on the Rays Radio Network, Joe Maddon said that this morning he was going to take a bike ride and think about what lineup he wants to use today. Here are some road signs I hope Joe Maddon sees during his ride:



































As I've said before, I am a major advocate of Joe Maddon doing whatever it is to put the Rays in the best possible position to win and I will not judge based on results. Yesterday shows that the lineup is better with Bartlett in the leadoff role. BJ Upton needs to play in the field, but Jason Bartlett seems to be a better fit for the leadoff spot. I still think Pat Burrell should be the DH more often than Willy Aybar, but right now Willy Aybar has deserved a chance to play more often while Burrell needs to get himself together. And oh yea, I'm tired of Evan Longoria getting thrown at. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure all of this out.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Give Me Runs Or Give Me Death!

If I were James Shields, I would be pissed off today. What an effort wasted.

With runners on 2nd and 3rd and 1 out, Dioner Navarro struck out. I saw it coming.
With BJ Upton on 2nd, Evan Longoria drilled a signle into center. Tom Foley waved BJ Upton home. Upton was thrown out by a few feet. I saw this coming also.

For some reason, the Rays just aren't giving James Shields any run support. Maybe it's bad luck or a mental block, but it can't continue. 3 runs or less in 14 starts? That's just sad. That's a major reason that his record looks very mediocre.

If I were James Shields, I would be pulling my hair out or punching a gatorade cooler (with my non throwing hand).

If I were James Shields I would stand up in the middle of the locker room for my Patrick Henry moment and say "Give me runs or give me death!" It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out why.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Deadline Dud

So, the trade deadline came and went just like it did last year. Lots of hype, and then a big let down. I'm sure a lot of people are wondering why we just sat there scratching our (insert body part) while other contending teams tried to improve. Others are probably saying to themselves that we did nothing last year, and still ended up in the World Series. That may be true, however, this is not last year. We are 7 games back of the Yankees, 4.5 of the Red Sox. The Yankees are healthy, unlike last year. The Red Sox added an all star player. So why did the rays just sit back and do nothing?
Joe Maddon has an interesting look on it - He believes that we are getting the 2007 Scott Kazmir back, since he did have his first quality start in over a year. Well, thats the same as trading for a Cliff Lee or Roy Halladay right there. Then there is Pat Burrell and Carlos Pena. Both are struggling and playing well below their expectations. Pena is doing his job with the homers but has fallen off his early season pace, and is basically striking out every time he doesn't hit a long ball. Burrell, on the other hand, has pretty much been the worst Rays hitter all season other than maybe The Fat Catcher. So we can assume he will all of a sudden become the power bat he was in Philly and that's another big "trade". Speaking of the fat guy behind the plate, if he can boost his average up from the .220's to maybe the .280's, that would be another huge acquisition of a former all star.
Of the pitchers, only Jeff Neimann is doing his job at or beyond expectations. Shields hasn't been horrible, but he hasn't been a #1 either. Yes, he gets basically zero run support, but a great pitcher will be able to carry his team to at least a few wins on his own and Shields has not been able to do that this year. Garza is just so hot and cold you never know what you are going to get, and Price is worthless on the road. So if those 3 play the way they are expected to, that blockbuster 3 player "trade" for the Rays.
So, if you are a genius like Joe Maddon, then you would realize that the Rays had the most unbelievable trading deadline day in the history of baseball. Or, if you are not an idiot and don't rely on your under performing players to all of a sudden play like all stars, then you basically saw today as us waiving the white flag. I guess we will find out in the next couple months.

Trade Deadline Updates

With the trade deadline approaching at 4pm today, we here at Trop it Like it's Hot will be keeping updates on the Rays moves as well as other major MLB moves.

4:35: Jake Peavy approved deal and has been traded to the White Sox
What does this mean to the Rays? Absolutely nothing.

4:27, Roy Halladay was not traded according to the NY Post

4:25, more potential trades, this time with big names?
A deal is in place to send Jake Peavy to the White Sox for a package of minor league players. This deal is awaiting Peavy approval.
There is still word of a potential trade of Roy Halladay to the Angels.

4:15pm, is naptime over?
Seems like it has been a fairly boring trade deadline, especially for the Rays. Some more trades will come through over the next half hour or so.
Here are major acquisitions made in the last hour:
Marlins get Nick Johnson (who cares?)
Reds get Scott Rolen from Blue Jays, Jays get Edwin Encarnacion
Roid Sox send Adam LaRoche to Braves for Casey Kotchman, Kotchman quickly went out and bought needles, probably
Rockies get Joe Beimel (who cares?)
Yankees get Jerry Hairston Jr.

Sox seemed poised to acquire Victor Martinez....ugh
mlb.com's Jonathan Mayo reports Justin Masterson and Nick Hagadone will be going to the Indians. I want to vomit.

Twins get Orlando Cabrera
Oakland gets Tyler Ladenorf in return. Yawn

BREAKING NEWS: Brett Favre has come out of retirement and will pitch for the Washington Nationals...probably.

T-minus 4 hours left, random thought:
Anyone have the gut feeling that the Red Sox are going to pull off something major, while the Rays are not going to make any moves with any major significance?

Washburn to Tigers
Mariners to get 23 year old lefty Luke French and another prospect. French had appeared in 7 games, starting 5 of them and going 1-2. He only had 1 appearance in which he allowed more than 2 runs. As a young lefty with 3 pitches, he looks to have a promising career. With Washburn off the board and the first big trade of the day complete, look for trades to start pouring in a bit more as the chess pieces start to move.

Rays claim C Jose Lobaton off waivers from the Padres.
Analysis: Rays added a 24 year old switch hitting catcher with some MLB experience (7 games, 17 at bats). This is a nice minor addition, as Lobaton will join AA-Montgomery and didn't cost the Rays any players. What it means for the Rays is that they probably won't be adding Victor Martinez, as they now have 5 catchers on the 40-man roster. It also opens up the potential to move catching prospect John Jaso, who could give the Rays a pretty decent return. There has been talks of Jaso struggling defensively, could it also mean that Jaso might switch positions? To make room for Lobaton, the Rays moved Troy Percival to the 60man DL. Who is Troy Percival? I forgot.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

CHEATERS!


Buy, Sell, or Hold?

We are approximately 27 hours from the MLB trade deadline.

3 days ago, the Rays were buyers.

2 days ago, the Rays were sellers.

Yesterday, the Rays were buyers.

After last night's debacle against the Yankees, now what are the Rays?

First off, forget unrealistic ideas like trading Pat Burrell, no one else wants him.

So, do they sell the farm? Trade Wade Davis, Reid Brignac, and others in Durham for that extra player or 2? Do they trade players off the big league club and clear salary? Dump off Carl Crawford, Scott Kazmir, and Carlos Pena while starting to plan for 2010 and later? Or do the Rays not make any major moves and hold steady?

That's the great thing about the trade deadline, we just have to wait and see. Nothing will be fully answered until 4pm tomorrow (or 4:05pm if you are the Red Sox). Any of those 3 options will be ok with me if they are executed in the standard Andrew Friedman fashion.

What I do know is that over the next 27 hours, there will be a lot of questions answered about the path the Rays will take for the rest of 2009. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure that out.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Welcome Back Scott Kazmir?

Scott Kazmir was in a groove last night. He had a rhythm, and he looked confident. He had a little extra fire, as the radar gun was hitting 93 again. I wasn't going to over-value his performance in my mind since he had boatloads of help from the defense. Then there was one at-bat, a mono e mono match-up against Alex Rodriguez. A perfect pitch that A-Rod couldn't catch up to for strike 3 gave me glimpses of the ghosts of Kazmir's past.

I won't say that Kazmir is back to his all-star form yet, or that he could lead the AL in strikeouts again yet. I won't even change my stance that he should be traded at this point, since one game doesn't change everything. However, Kazmir had a confident and comfortable look that I hadn't seen since 2007. His confidence is improving, and his game is almost there. He is 1 grand slam (which frankly doesn't really matter since the Rays didn't get a base runner in that game) away from giving up only 3 runs in his last 3 starts. Last night, he was finally rewarded with his first win since May 9.

So, Scott Kazmir, we would like to welcome you back. If this was your last start in a Rays' uniform, we thank you for all you have done. If you do stay, we are excited to see if you can continue to work your way back to the Scott Kazmir we saw in 2007. Either way, it is now a win-win situation for the Rays. I wouldn't have been able to say that at this time yesterday, and it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out why.

Monday, July 27, 2009

The Problem With Comebacks

Comebacks are exciting and a lot of fun to watch. They surely can boost team morale. However, they are bad for the team in the longrun.

The problem with comebacks is that it means the Rays are getting behind and getting behind early. There are only so many teams with a terrible bullpen that can give the Rays the game back. I like the Rays' chances against the Royals when down a run. I don't like the Rays' chances against the Yankees and Mariano Rivera, who has 20+ consecutive saves.

Another problem with comebacks is that it means the Rays' starting pitching is struggling. In order to make a playoff run, starting pitching needs to be the anchor. The Rays cannot rely on 9th inning heroics and need to rely on keeping their opponent's runs to a minimum.

The main problem with comebacks is they will only happen so often. They are exciting, but not reliable.

It is nice to have hope in the 9th inning. It is better to have a lead. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure this out.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Road Curfew Needed?

Does anyone else think the Rays players are partying a bit too hard on road trips?

It seems like every day game on the road, the Rays look sluggish physically and mentally. They look tired, worn, sick, and just out of it. Basically, they look hungover.

Teams are going to have off days, but this has happened multiple times now, and it always seems like its a day game on the road. Finally, yesterday needs to be the last straw. Going 0-27 and being on the wrong side of baseball history is an embarrassment.

This is all speculation, but everything is adding up in my head. I hope the players realize that they are killing their own playoff chances by not showing up during these games. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out why.

Things That Have Happened More Often Than The Rays Getting a Baserunner Yesterday....


Things that have happened more often.....

Dinosaurs become extinct
Man invents the wheel
Columbus discovers America
JFK is assassinated
A black man is elected President
The Titanic sinks
A-Rod denies taking steroids
Jason Giambi admits taking steroids
Andy Pettite admits taking steroids
A-Rod gets caught and admits taking steroids
Brett Favre retires 3 years in a row
Saddam Hussein is executed
Pearl Harbor is bombed
The Taco Bell dog dies.


Things that will happen more often....


A woman is elected President
Dinosaurs are genetically re-engineered
Man walks on Mars
Lost City of Atlantis found
The Yankees are suspended for 50 games for using PEDs.....the entire team.
Brett Favre actually retires
Armageddon




Thursday, July 23, 2009

Rays Box Score from July 23rd, 2009

BJ Upton - 0-3
Carl Crawford - 0-3
Evan Longoria - 0-3
Carlos Pena - 0-3
Ben Zobrist - 0-3
Pat Burrell - 0-3
Gabe Kapler - 0-3
Michel Hernandez - 0-3
Jason Bartlett - 0-3

Not Good

OFFICIAL PETITION

This is a petition for Joe Maddon. It is a request to force you to make Dale Thayer bring back the 'stache. Please sign, as Dale Thayer is not the same without the porn-stache. The team and the fans NEED the 'stache. Make Dale Thayer bring back the 'stache!


Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Rays Have Their Closer

Forget Troy Percival.

The Rays have their closer.

Forget closer by committee.

The Rays have their closer.

Forget needing help at the trade deadline.

The Rays have their closer.

Hey baseball world, in case you didn’t meet him in 2008, meet J.P. Howell. In the last 4 games he has pitched, he has faced 13 batters, allowed 1 hit, got 12 outs, and has 4 saves. Find me a closer with better statistics than that. That’s a WHIP of 0.25. He has a season WHIP of 1.05. Brian Fuentes, who leads the MLB in saves, has a WHIP of 1.13 on the season.
It is time for teams to take notice. The Rays’ bullpen has overcome their early season struggles, and it all starts with the back end.

The Rays have their closer.

Get used to it baseball, because he will be a star for a long time.

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to see this.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

To Deal or Not To Deal

It's getting close to that time of the year, and the big question on evryone's mind is whether or not the Rays will be buyers or sellers at the trade deadline. One can also look at this as whether or not we are going to try and compete for the playoffs or throw in the towel and build towards next year. The Rays have already said they are about 10 million dollars over budget for next season. That does not take in to effect the expiring contracts of several players, but it also does not include arbitration hearings for players that are due for big raises, such as BJ Upton. It's also no suprise that the player at the top of the list to get dealt is most likely Carl Crawford. The Rays hold a team option for CC for $10 million next season, which happens to be how much we are already over next years projected payroll....hmmmmm. So the Question now seems to be not IF we will trade Crawford, but WHEN? We would probably get more value for him if he was traded before the deadline to a team fighting for the playoffs and desperate to improve their team. We could also hang on to him and deal him in the offseason but likely get less value then what we could have before. The third and least likely option is to sign him to an extension, and then start letting other players go. Those "other players" would likely include one of, if not both, BJ and Matt Garza. Crawford can be replaced over time, with Matt Joyce, Fernando Perez, and Desmond Jennnings all waiting for their shot. However, CC is the face of the Tampa Bay Rays franchise, and that can not be replaced. So, what would YOU like to see happen?


Aggressive Mistakes vs. Mental Mistakes

I saw a major and borderline unforgivable mistake made by the Rays last night in the game against the White Sox. With one out in the 8th inning, Jason Bartlett was standing on 2nd base while B.J. Upton was on 1st. Bartlett broke for third base and was thrown out. The Rays continued the inning with a runner or 1st and 2 outs. Although Bartlett was thrown out, he did not make the mistake.

I will never ever criticize somebody for being aggressive while playing within their means. For any of you who question Jason Bartlett’s attempt to steal third, shame on you. If he made it, you would have said how great of a job he did. I like his aggression and his desire to give his team the best possible chance to win. Bartlett is an accomplished and proven base-stealer, and he should be trying to get the extra base. He knows if he can get to third with one out, it’s a huge advantage. I will not judge Bartlett based on the result that he was thrown out. Good job Jason, I hope you try it again.
The problem I had on that play is with B.J. Upton. With a runner on 2nd base and a lefty at the plate, Upton was not held tight to the base. He needs to be aware that there is a potential base stealer on 2nd base. His focus as the pitch leaves the pitcher’s hand should be on Bartlett. If he sees Bartlett break for third, Upton HAS TO break for second. He has the speed that he should beat a throw to second, and he should have a big enough lead that it won’t be an issue. There is no excuse whatsoever for Upton to not get into 2nd base. It was a mental mistake, a moment of lost thought, and an opportunity wasted.
Just like all of you, I was very frustrated when I saw Carl Crawford hit a single into deep left field. However, I didn’t once say “Bartlett would have tied the game if he didn’t attempt to steal third.” I did say “Upton would have tied the game if he didn’t make a mental mistake.” Mental mistakes are brutal and may have cost the Rays a win. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure this out.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Rays Power Rankings

7/20/09 Edition

Top 10


1) J.P. Howell – Second pitcher in Rays’ history to save all 3 games in a series. Of course, the first was Troy Percival.

2) B.J. Upton – I will take 6 hits over a series from any player any time.

3) Joe Maddon – Every change Maddon made during the Kansas City series seemed to work, including starting Willy Aybar Saturday.

4) Bobby Ramos – The Rays’ bullpen is shining again after a few bad days before the all-star break. They allowed 7 hits and 1 unearned run over a 3 game series. They also got the win in all 3 games.

5) Pat Burrell – Forgetting about the golden sombrero Sunday, Burrell is heating up. He had 4 huge RBI and a 2-run blast this weekend.

6) Ben Zobrist – Quietly, Zorilla has a 9 game hitting streak.

7) Carl Crawford – 2 more stolen bases for CC, not to mention his speed leading to a big 2-base error.

8) The double-play – The Rays turned 4 over this series, including a huge one with the bases loaded and 1 out

9) Joe Dillon – Only because he actually got in a game

10) The Royals bullpen – Thanks for the sweep

Bottom 5

5) The Kansas City Infield – A bad bounce on a tailor-made double play ball to Willy Aybar nearly gave the Royals Saturday’s game.

4) Dioner Navarro – 0 for the weekend is not acceptable.

3) Matt Garza – Anyone have the number of the sports’ psychologist that helped him last year? Clearly, he was battling himself yesterday.

2) James Shields – He allowed 11 hits and 7 runs in 5.1 innings Friday. As a number 1 starter against the Royals, that needs to change.

1) The dirt on my floor – I was inspired to do some sweeping yesterday.

That is how I rank the Rays. Feel free to comment as to who should be higher, who should be lower, or who was left off that should be ranked. These are just one man’s rankings, they aren’t rocket science.

Friday, July 17, 2009

The Joe Maddon Match Game

Match what Joe Maddon says with what he really means.

What Maddon Says:

1) “He is ok and he won’t miss any time”

2) “The injury is minor. He will only be out 1-2 days tops”

3) “We are going to put this player on the 15-day disabled list, and he will be back in 2 weeks.

4) “Did you see the play that the backup made? Other teams would be lucky to have starters like that.”

5) “Even though this player is struggling, we are going to stick with him.”

6) “9=8”

7) “We want to give this player 2 days off in a row so he is rested up for a long road trip.”

8) “We are going to use a bullpen by committee”

9) “Did you see the play that Navarro made?”

10) “We were stimulating the economy”

11) “His pitch count was up there”

12) "We will not drink Merlot"

What Maddon Means:

A) The player will be out for 1-2 days, even though he can play today

B) The player is going on the disabled list tomorrow and will miss 2 weeks, even though he could play in 2-3 days

C) Although the player is healthy after 2 weeks, we want to make sure he is 110% and he will be back in 5 weeks.

D) If we play hard daily, we will make the playoffs

E) I want to give a starter an extra day off and this way when the backup plays well, I get credit, and when the starter does something good on the road trip, I get credit. It’s a win-win situation for me.

F) This player is really sucking right now but I refuse to change the lineup because it might hurt his feelings, so hopefully we will naturally break out of the slump. I don’t care if it costs the team wins, as the players’ feelings are most important.

G) We have to remember he was an all-star last year and can still make great plays, even if he forgot how to hit and plays the field like a sloth.

H) I am going to switch pitchers for every batter from the 7th inning on until I find someone that works.

I) The pitch count is approaching 90, time to take him out, even if he does have a no hitter going

J) See, the backups can make great plays too! This means I should start them more often to give the starters more time off, even if we are playing on ESPN tonight.

K) The players are going to play dress-up on the upcoming road trip.

L) We will not drink Merlot


After following his trends for a few seasons, it really doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out what Joe Maddon actually means when he talks.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

What To Do On Your Day Off

I am not sure what I do anymore during the offseason. Today is the second day in a row without any Rays baseball, and the fourth day without any sort of meaningful baseball to us. I am going through withdrawal. Since you all are probably as bored as I am, here is a list of things to do with the last day off.

Go see “Bruno” and tell me how it is, since I plan on seeing it tonight

Actually do work

Re-watch the season premier of “Entourage”
Speaking of “Entourage,” find out where I can buy a bottle of Macallan from 1971 for less than $1200 (the bottle Ari Gold was drinking in the office)

Work out, since fall and laziness are right around the corner

Perfect your skills at MLB ’09 for X-box 360 since Maddon 2010 and NCAA 2010 come out shortly and thus MLB ’09 will be retired

Buy the new “Punch Out” for Wii, pretend you are Mike Tyson, and bite your opponents ear off

Clean the house, mow the lawn, and take out the trash, then be sure that your wife knows you have done this so that next time she tells you that you don’t do anything, you can say “remember on the Rays’ day off when I did everything?”

Work on a science experiment in which you can take meth and pass a test, present results to Jeremy Mayfield and remind him that he is an idiot

Do above experiment (except instead of meth, use female fertility drugs, and instead of Jeremy Mayfield, use Manny Ramirez)

Practice catching a baseball, bunting, base-running, and losing weight. Send training video to Joe Maddon and explain to him why you would be better than Dioner Navarro.

Watch any sort of program on any sort of science network on Apollo 11

Protest the ESPYs giving the Rays the shaft by watching a sports highlights show on your local Fox Sports affiliate instead of Sportscenter

Egg Derrick Jeter’s new mansion on Davis Island

Watch Tom Emanski’s Defensive Drills videos, why not?

Dress up as your favorite “Star Wars” character, show up to a showing of “Harry Potter” and remind the fans on line dressed as Harry that they are unoriginal tools
Solve the following math/logic equation: You need to build a new baseball stadium and need to raise $500,000,000. The state won’t give you any money and you can’t raise taxes. With the economy, you can’t fund the effort yourself. You also need to find a location, however the residents of St. Petersburg don’t want a new stadium in their city, but also won’t let you break your lease with the city. How do you accomplish all of this? (Please send all answers to S. Sternberg Wall St, NY)

I take no consequences if you do any of the above. Trust me though, you will enjoy. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out why.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


Rays Fantasy Value

- “So, what do you do for work?”
- “Oh, I manage a baseball team”
- “ Little League?”
- “Nah…..fantasy”

Instead of the typical midseason report card, let’s take a look at the Tampa Bay Rays and their value to your fantasy baseball team. This review will be based on a standard head-to-head league with 5 position categories and 5 pitching categories. The categories are as follows: .Avg/Hits, RBI, HR, steals, runs, wins, ERA, WHIP, strikeouts, and saves.

Hitters:

1B - Carlos Pena - If you manage your team well, ‘Los can be quite an asset to your team. Clearly he is not going to win you the average and steals categories, but he gets on base a lot and hits home runs. Both of these will lead to RBIs and runs, which makes Pena a very solid player for 3 of 5 categories. He is currently 2nd in home runs and runs scored to the machine that is Albert Pujols.

2B - Ben Zobrist - What can’t Zorilla do? For a second baseman, the answer is not much. Zorilla hits for average and power, and has surprising speed with 11 steals. His 17 homers are 2nd at the position and his 52 RBI are only 9 behind Chase Utley for the most at 2nd base. Zobrist has been one of the best waiver wire pickups all year.

3B - Evan Longoria - Longo was arguably the MVP of fantasy through the month of May. He has since cooled off from his torrid pace, but is still one of the top 3 third basemen in the game. His 68 RBI are the most of anyone at his position, and his 17 home runs rank 6th. Longoria isn’t worth much in terms of steals, and his average and runs scored don’t jump off the page, but in terms of overall well-rounded value it doesn’t get much better then Evan.

SS - Jason Bartlett - With career highs of 5 home runs, 43 RBIs, and 23 steals, you would not expect to see Jason Bartlett being drafted anywhere in the top 20 rounds or so. Clearly, you were all mistaken. JB has already surpassed his career high in long balls with 8 in the first half of the season, and is just 5 RBI short of his career high. Oh yea, he is also 3rd in the league in batting average (we added those hand full of at-bats he needs to qualify). Bartlett has established himself as a top 5 fantasy shortstop for the first half, and there is not reason he can’t keep it up in the second half.

OF - B.J. Upton - Upton was one of those him as a top OF. He is a 5 category threat, and even with a slow start he ranks at the players that you drafted very high, then spent the next 2 months trying to convince yourself not to drop or trade him. After a terrible start, Upton is starting to become the player everyone had hoped for when they drafted him as a top outfielder. Most of Upton’s value comes from steals and runs, but he is starting to get his swing back and should be a threat for average and home runs as the season goes on.

OF - Carl Crawford - Crawford has been everything and more for fantasy owners so far this season. He is hitting over .300, leads all of baseball in steals, and is top 5 in runs scored. You can’t expect too many home runs from CC, but that’s not why you draft him. His overall value is unmatched by any one outfielder except for his neighbor in the field, BJ (when he plays to his potential).

OF - Gabe Grosslsar - Gross and Kapler are great role players for Joe Maddon’s style of baseball. Unfortunately, Maddon is most likely not the manager of your fantasy squad. Unless you are in a deep AL only league, these guys have no business being on your team right now.

C - Dioner Navarro - Hitting in the low .200’s, last in home runs by a regular catcher, few RBIs and too fat to steal. I can justify having Navi as your catcher this year if you are in a 30 team league.

Pitchers:

SP - James Shields - Shields has been the recipient of absolutely horrible run support this year. He should have 10 wins on the season, but has to settle for 6 instead. Even so, his ERA is very repectable at 2.42 and he is close to 100 strikeouts. He walks very few batters, which is great for his WHIP. Overall, Shields is a solid #2 guy on your fantasy staff.

SP - Matt Garza - Garza started off great, but has since looked very shaky. His ERA is starting to creep towards 4, but his 100+ strikeouts give him good value as a # 2-3 starter. He should definitely be owned, but if he doesn’t start to show the stuff he had earlier in the season, you may want to start playing him on a matchup basis.

SP - Scott Kazmir - Let’s give Kazmir a compliment sandwich, where we say something good, then something not so good, and then another something good. Kazmir has the ability to strike out any batter he wants to. He sucks and doesn’t want to, he would rather walk them then give up a home run. He has nice hair. That’s as nice as I can be for now.

RP - Howell/Balfour/Wheeler/Chadford/Chode/Nelson - Of these guys, the only one that should really be owned is Howell. He is starting to see more save opportunities, and is giving up very few runs. He could be a top 15 closer the rest of the year. Unless you are in a deep league or a league that counts holds, the other guys are basically worthless.

Just for fun, I decided to add up the Rays normal position players’ stats to see where I would rank in my own fantasy league for each category. We will include Howell and Choate as the closers since they have the most saves on the team.

Runs - 393 - 10/10
Hits - 651 - 10/10
RBI - 387 - 8/10
HR - 98 - 9/10
Steals - 121 - 1/10

Wins - 35 - 10/10
Losses ( instead of WHIP in my league) 34 - 6/10
Saves: hard to judge because the rays use so many relievers, still safe to say it would be dead last.
ERA - 4.15 - 9/10
K - 456 - 10/10

Okay so I thought that would be closer then it actually was. Bottom line, it’s called fantasy baseball for a reason. Don’t draft every player from a single team.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Rank The Rays – All-Star Break Edition


The all-star break is a time for the stud players to show off their skills, the rest of the players to get a few days break, and the bloggers to grade the team that they cover. We here at Trop it Like it’s Hot are happy to include ourselves in the grouping of people who will give our opinion as to how the players have done in the first half of the season. However, like normal, we will not use a typical A-F grading scale, and I’d be damned if I were so boring as to grade the team using 1-5 baseballs. In honor of the all-star game being in St. Louis, American’s unofficial home for beer, I am going to rank the Rays based on types of beers and their quality, commercial appeal, and value.

1) Natural Light – Just like Natural Light is barely beer, you are barely playing like a major leaguer

2) Keystone Light – Although Keystone Light commercials say it will never give you a bitter beer face, your play sure gives me one

3) Miller High Life – You would think this would be tasty based on name, but just not living up to your ability

4) Milwaukee’s Best Light – You may have been Milwaukee’s best, but you sure aren’t Tampa Bay’s best

5) Bud Light –Playing up to your value consistently

6) Amber Bock – You are working your way out of the red zone and starting to really play up to your potential

7) Budweiser – You are worthy of a mid-summer trip to St. Louis, whether you are going or not, but you were on the fringe as to whether you are an all-star or not

8) Hefeweizen – Way too good to be ranked lower, but not performing up to your ability lately. You are probably an all-star based on what you did in April and May.

9) Guinness – You make Joe Maddon look “BRILLIANT!”

10) Delirium Tremens – Often named worlds best beer, or also known as team MVP of beers

PITCHERS

Grant Balfour: 6 – Amber Bock – Although Balfour started off slowly, he has really picked up his game lately. He now ranks 9th in the AL in holds with 11. (Author’s note: We here at Trop it Like it’s Hot would like to offer our condolences to the Balfour family)

Chad Bradford: 3 – Miller High Life – Bradford has given up at least 1 hit in all 8 appearances this season. That needs to change before his ranking goes up, especially since the Rays are carrying his 3.67 million dollar salary.

Randy Choate: 7 – Budweiser – Choate isn’t really worthy of a trip to the all-star game because he has not been on the team long enough, but opponents are hitting .176 against him and lefties are only hitting .161. As a lefty specialist, I will take this any day.

Lance Cormier: 5 – Bud Light – Cormier is a consistent pitcher with a 2.81 ERA, but still isn’t seeing the mound at all with the game on the line

J.P. Howell: 9 – Guinness – Since the “injury” to Troy Percival, Howell has allowed a run in 1 game, which was yesterday. Although he is not an all-star, he easily could have been if 5 other Rays were not already going. Howell has truly been brilliant.

Joe Nelson: 6 – Amber Bock – Nelson also started off the season slowly, which is why his ERA is 4.50, but has really settled down since June. He has only allowed 2 runs since May 31st.

Troy Percival: 0 – Zima – That’s right, he isn’t even worthy of being a beer on this list.

Brian Shouse: 3 – Miller High Life – Lefties were hitting .235 off of this lefty specialist before he was placed on the DL.

Dan Wheeler: 6 – Amber Bock – Wheeler is another reliever who struggled early but has been pitching well since June 1. I see a trend here.

Matt Garza: 5 – Bud Light – Garza started off the season hot, but is now 6-7 and has a loss in 5 of his last 9 starts. Some games he is lights out, but others he just isn’t getting the job done like the stopper we saw in the ALCS.

Scott Kazmir: 2 – Keystone Light – Just when I thought Kazmir was starting to return to form, he gave up 7 runs and 2 homeruns in 6.1 innings to Toronto last week. I still have a bitter face from watching that game. At least the walks are down, which is the only reason he didn’t get a 1.

Jeff Niemman: 6 – Amber Bock – Niemman is now 8-4 after starting the season 0-2. He is 6-1 in his last 10 starts and has 2 complete game shutouts. I am starting to be sold on Niemman and I really like his future with the Rays.

David Price: 3 – Miller High Life – Price has all the ability in the world, but hasn’t lived up to the hype. He has had some decent showings, but has also walked 5 or more in 5 of his 9 starts. That is NOT ok.

James Shields: 7 – Budweiser – This is high praise for a pitcher who is 6-6, but his ERA is lower than it was last season and he has zero run support. Shields has 12 quality starts, yet the Rays are 9-10 in his 19 starts. If Shields had more run support, he easily could have 10 wins at this point of the season and would then be a potential all-star.

Andy Sonnanstine: 1 – Natural Light – Sonnanstine was pitching all year like he was tired on the mound. Perhaps he has had mono since April but didn’t tell anyone?

CATCHERS

Michel Hernandez: 5 – Bud Light – A solid backup catcher

Dioner Navarro: 2 – Keystone Light – Do you remember how when you would make funny faces as a kid and your mom would tell you that “if you keep doing this, your face will look like that permanently”? Well, if I keep cringing at all of Navarro’s mental mistakes, my face may permanently turn into a bitter beer face.

John Jaso: Incomplete – He is on the team but hasn’t played. He is like the water cup in beer pong.

INFIELDERS

Willy Aybar: 5 – Bud Light – Aybar is a very serviceable backup who has been hitting well lately and could be a starter for a number of teams in the MLB. A few errors this season have been costly.

Jason Bartlett: 10 – Delirium Tremens – If Bartlett continues to play as well as he has, he will not just be team MVP again, but will also receive consideration for AL MVP. If it wasn’t a popularity contest, Bartlett would be the AL starting shortstop for the all-star game without a doubt. Bartlett is the Rays’ first half MVP.

Joe Dillon: Incomplete – He is like that micro-brew you see at a specialty beer store that you’ve never heard of. The only way Dillon made headlines is when Andy Sonnanstine pinch hit in a game, while Maddon left Dillon on the bench.

Akinori Iwamura: 5 – Bud Light – Aki was playing decent ball before blowing out his knee.

Evan Longoria: 8 - Hefeweizen – Longoria hasn’t been the same since pulling his hamstring a few weeks back. Still, Longoria has 17 homeruns, 66 RBIs, and has been stellar in the field. I cannot rank him lower because Longoria was a 10 and a potential league MVP before his injury.

Carlos Pena: 7 – Budweiser – Pena is leading the AL in homeruns with 24 and is deserving of a trip to St. Louis this week. However, he is striking out too often and his glove is not as solid as it was in 2008. Now would be a good time for Pena to take his game to another level.

Ben Zobrist: 9 – Guinness – What does Zorilla not do? Zobrist has simply been brilliant!

OUTFIELDERS

Pat Burrell: 3 – Miller High Life – Burrell is making $7,000,000 to be a right handed power bat and has only 4 homeruns, 10 doubles, and 28 RBI’s. Burrell has the ability to get very hot and seems to be on an upward trend, but his ranking won’t rise until we really see the balls flying off his bat.

Carl Crawford: 9 – Guinness – 44 stolen bases? That’s just brilliant. Don’t forget a .309 batting average to go with 8 homeruns.

Gabe Gross: 6 – Amber Bock – Gross is hitting .276 quietly, but I didn’t give him this ranking because of his bat. Gross has 5 outfield assists and is very solid in right field.

Matt Joyce: Incomplete – Ever give your friend a beer that you think wasn’t going to be good, but ends up being amazing? It’s hard for your beer, no matter what you are drinking, to then live up to that potential. Joyce is in a tough spot with Edwin Jackson becoming an all-star in Detroit. We haven’t seen enough of Joyce to fairly rank him.

Gabe Kapler: 4 – Milwaukee’s Best Light – Like you didn’t see this coming…

Fernando Perez: Incomplete – He is the glass bottle that your friend dropped while fancily throwing it to you. You just wonder how it would taste if it wasn’t splattered all over the floor.

B.J. Upton: 6 – Amber Bock – On May 12, Upton’s batting average was .160. He went on to hit .324 in the month of June. He also has 31 stolen bases, which is good for second in the AL. Upton is really starting to come into his own as a leadoff hitter. If he can continue to play as he did in June, you can look for very good things from Upton in the near future.

After doing those rankings, I am now rather thirsty. It’s 5 o’clock somewhere, right? These are just my rankings; it’s not like they are rocket science.