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


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?


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.


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!


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.

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