Thursday, June 25, 2009

Random Thoughts

As the series with the Phillies comes to a close and a weekend Citrus Series approaches, here are my random thoughts. Most of these will be related to the Rays, some will not.

Actions speak louder than, well, actions. Ben Zobrist is leading by example, whether he knows it or not. He hustles on every play. Last night, his hustle was the difference in a 2-1 lead and a 7-1 lead going into the 9th inning. That is the difference between a nail-biter and a blowout. Thank you, Zorilla. Other Rays’ players need to follow your lead.

2 of those players who need to follow Zobrist’s lead are Carl Crawford and BJ Upton. Usually, the 2 of you are full throttle all the time, but last night, you both got caught on camera jogging (“or it might be pronounced ‘yogging,’ it might be a soft j”) to first. For CC, it was the difference between a triple and being thrown out at 3rd base. For BJ, you got into 2nd base easily, but you still were yogging. EVERY time you hit the ball, you have to run it out as hard as you can. The proof is in the random thought above.

Ben Zobrist deserves to be an All-Star.

I met Batman the other day. That’s not a joke and I wasn’t dreaming or on any drugs.

Welcome back Pat Burrell. Now, in the wise words of Hans Gruber, “Hit it, again!” By that I mean please don’t go another 2 and a half months before your next homerun.

Did anyone else that Pat Burrell shaved off the beard, and then in the next game went yard?

With Scott Kazmir coming back, I think sending David Price down would be a mistake. Price is not going to progress by pitching to inferior opponents. He needs to be pitching against players who motivate him to continually improve. Saying that, I think we are going to see Andy Sonnanstine in the bullpen and Winston Abreu will be DFA’d.

When Chad Bradford gets back, the Rays are going to have some really tough decisions, as a second pitcher needs to go. However, I won’t be surprised if Joe Dillon is the odd man out, especially with interleague play ending. The Rays have a backup infielder in Willy Aybar and a super-utility guy in Ben Zobrist. They really don’t need a Joe Dillon on the roster at this point of the season. If Joe Dillon isn’t the odd man out, I hate to say it but it may be Lance Cormier if Andy Sonnanstine goes to the pen. This would be very unfortunate because Cormier has filled the role of long reliever very well.

Speaking of Scott Kazmir coming back, I am really hoping we will see 2007 Scott Kazmir. If this happens, the Rays’ rotation improves drastically. This will be like making a midseason trade without giving anyone away. Andrew Friedman and Matt Silverman need to be praying right about now that this happens.

USA 2, Spain 0. Spain had won 15 straight (tied for world record) and hadn’t allowed a goal in over 450 minutes. In terms of how amazing and unlikely of an upset this is, this match ranks somewhat close to the upset of the 1980 USA Hockey Team beating the USSR. This probably would be a top 5 sporting event in USA international sports history, if anyone in this country cared about Soccer.

Dionner Navarro, why do you ever square up to bunt for a hit? You are the slowest position player on the team. You don’t have an angel pushing you faster. Even if you lay the ball down perfectly and the 3rd baseman is playing deep, you still probably won’t beat it out. The only time that you should ever bunt is a sacrifice situation. I want to throw something at the TV every time you shorten up on the bat. I also don’t know if Joe Maddon is giving you the green light to bunt, but if he is, Maddon needs to be tested for hallucinogens.

The good Matt Garza showed up last night. You know the good Matt Garza is in the game when his fastball has distinct movement. Someone needs to videotape Matt Garza before every game. When the good Garza shows up, show him the tape of his pregame ritual and make him repeat it. That or Garza just needs to continually rely on his fastball.

Last week, Tom Jones of the St. Pete Times listed things to eliminate in sports. One of those things was Matt Garza spitting. I didn’t notice how much Garza actually spits until last night. Forget watering the infield, I think Garza’s intentions was to provide a natural spring inside Tropicana Field to save the owner’s Monday on buying bottled water for all the fans.

I am not sure why a suspended Major League player is allowed to participate in the minors to get ready for the end of his suspension. I think this rule should change.

I love the look on the player’s faces in the commercials when they are telling you to vote for the Rays for the All-Star Game, and then they have to tell you to vote for themselves.

I urge you all to go online and vote for the Rays for the All-Star Game. I’ll make it easy on you. Here is a link to the MLB website, then click on the link that says “2009 online All-Star Ballot.”

To all of you people in Tampa who don’t drive to The Trop because “it’s too far to get there from Tampa” or you don’t like the fact that owners are raising prices for marquee games, I want to remind you that you went at the end of last season and in the playoffs. This is a very good baseball team, again. Stop making excuses.

I finally saw “The Hangover.” Todd Phillips has struck comedic gold again. In a completely related thought, who wants to go to Vegas with me this weekend?

Although Joe Maddon preaches patience, I was extremely happy when he yanked Jeff Niemman early on Sunday. Maddon went for the win in that game and he was rewarded.

I felt horrible for Aki when he went down with his knee injury. For the Rays, it may have been a blessing in disguise, and so might him getting healthy earlier than expected. Ben Zobrist has been tearing it up since taking over an every day starter’s role. Aki is a solid second basemen, but Zobrist has proven that he is better at the plate and almost as good in the field. You aren’t going to take Zobrist out of the lineup. Aki was a very nice free-agent signing and has been the epitome of a team-player, but his chances of being a Ray in 2010 have gone from slim to slimmer. If he gets healthy before the trade-deadline, he may become trade-bait and could provide a decent return.

If Antonio Bastardo strikes anyone out tonight, the scoreboard worker needs to cue up a clip of Kyle Broflovski yelling “You bastard!”

A-Rod was benched for a weekend due to fatigue, but then was also seen at a Miami nightclub at 2AM. Why does this not surprise me?

Opponents are hitting .133 off Randy Choate. They were hitting .298 off Brian Shouse. I don’t see Shouse pitching for the Rays again anytime soon.

Kevin Kennedy talked about a catcher’s balk last night during the broadcast. I can honestly say that I have heard that rule before, but I have never once seen it called. I relate it to the Fair-Catch-Kick in the NFL. I wonder how many managers who were not catchers know the rule. If you ever play scorecard-bingo and you get catcher’s balk in on your card, just throw it away.

I am not completely against the Lightning trading Vincent Lecavlier. However, if the Lightning trade Lecavlier and do not get fair value in return, I will not be the only one who no longer supports the team. If ownership dumps him just to save money, they will lose a lot of attendance and merchandise money. These new owners are getting close to being compared to Naimoli.

The bullpen was maligned early this season, but is much improved. The last time a bullpen pitcher was credited for a loss was June 7 when Grant Balfour got the loss against the Yankees. The Rays’ bullpen has only accounted for 8 out of the Rays’ 35 losses. If the starting pitching improved just a little bit, that’s a few more very necessary wins.

Speaking of Grant Balfour, thoughts and prayers go out to his family in Australia. Last night during the broadcast, he mentioned that his grandfather is ill. We wish him the best.

Although BJ Upton should never be gunned down by Matt Stairs, I want to give some credit to the Phillies for that play. First off, Stairs took a perfect angle to the ball and was running forward at the time of the catch. Second off, he threw a 1-hop strike to Carlos Ruiz. Finally, Ruiz did a perfect job blocking the plate. Navarro, you should take notes on what you saw from Carlos Ruiz.

I really wish the Rays were in the same division as the Marlins. The in-state rivalry would be a lot better if they played each other 19 times a year instead of 6.

I would rather Evan Longoria take 2 weeks off and be 100% for the rest of the season than have him play every day at 80% for the rest of the season. He has not been the same since he first tweaked his hamstring. I know Longoria is a competitor, but it’s better to get this corrected now than deal with it and compensate all season. If you want proof as to why, see: Scott Kazmir.

Those are my random thoughts of the day. It shouldn’t take a rocket scientist to figure them out.

1 comment:

  1. I noticed the Pat "beard no beard" phenomenon. Mighta been cool while you were on the DL, Pat, but honestly? You just aren't a beard guy. Flavor saver, whatever, but the facts is the facts, and baseball is a game of intangibles and magic, and superstition. Let's hope he or someone else noticed the "beardy Pat problem," and will encourage him to keep his pretty face shaved.