The Rays always get ragged on because no one shows up to their games even though they’re a young, exciting team that wins a LOT of ball games. I couldn’t watch games at that dump either. It’s not easy to enjoy a baseball game when you feel like your sitting in the bathroom from “Saw”. Let’s take a look at your 2011 Rays, a team with some new, and yet, familiar faces.
Left field: Johnny Damon. 2010 splits: .271 average, 8 home runs, 51 RBI, .756 OPS. Brief: I like this signing by the Rays with the absence of Carl Crawford. No, Damon is no longer an all-star, but Damon was a steady, reliable fail-safe for the Tigers in ’10. Look for him to split left field duties with longtime teammate Manny Ramirez. What a wacky platoon that’ll be. Between Damon, who possess the arm strength of a 9-year-old girl and Manny’s head-scratching decisions, it should be fun, if nothing else.
Center field: B.J. Upton. 2010 splits: .237 average, 18 home runs, 62 RBI, .745 OPS. Brief: Too many strikeouts for somebody with as much talent as Upton. A disappointing year by most accounts in 2010, Upton still swiped 40+ bases. If he can tighten up that swing while still getting around 20 home runs, Upton could finally turn into the player Rays fans (the ones that actually go to the games) hope for.
Right field: Ben Zobrist. 2010 splits: .238 average, 10 home runs, 75 RBI, .699 OPS. Brief: Zobrist took a dip from his breakout in ’09. Still, 24 stolen bases out of your right fielder is impressive. He also has some flexibility with the ability to play first base. Man, I’m good at sugar-coating things aren’t I?
Third base: Evan Longoria. 2010 splits: .294 average, 22 home runs, 104 RBI, .879 OPS. Brief: It’s got to be nice to have a stud third baseman who excels both in the field and at the dish while still just barely entering his prime. More importantly, Longoria is one of the new spokesman for Gillette razors. You haven’t made it as a superstar until you’re in cool, chic commercials peddling crap to the masses.
Shortstop: Reid Brignac. 2010 splits: .256 average, 8 home runs, 45 RBI, .692 OPS. Brief: Sort of your run-of-the-mill shortstop with the absence of Jason Bartlett. He should be steady in the order as well as in the field.
Second base: Sean Rodriguez. 2010 splits: .251 average, 9 home runs, 40 RBI, .705 OPS. Brief: A lot of competition at second base means Rodriguez is going to have to produce if he wants to stay in the lineup. Still, a pretty big guy for a middle infielder at six-foot and 195 pounds means he could bring a little pop to a position that doesn’t normally see it.
First base: Dan Johnson. 2010 splits: .198 average, 7 home runs, 23 RBI. Brief: Rays fans are going to miss the pop at first base that Carlos Pena provided for so many years. I remember when Pena was with the Tigers, man he sucked. Maybe Johnson will take to the Trop like Pena did so many years ago.
Designated Hitter: Manny Ramirez. 2010 splits: .298 average, 9 home runs, 42 RBI, .870 OPS. Brief: I FREAKING LOVED this signing by the Rays in the offseason. Tampa acquired Man-Ram on the cheap for 2011. When healthy, and frankly, “all-there” Manny is arguably the best hitter in a generation. The key now is finding out whether Manny will give a rip this year.
Catcher: John Jaso. 2010 splits: .263, 5 home runs, 44 RBI, .750 OPS. Brief: Jaso won the catcher’s spot with his top-notch plate discipline last season. Man that’s exciting isn’t it? Right behind him is the free-swining Kelly Shoppach who possesses a lot more pop but also a higher potential to swing three times and walk back to the dugout with his tail between his legs.
Alright, be back next week to preview the starting rotation and relievers. Salude.
The Devil Rays are no longer. The team officially announced that their name has changed to just the “Rays” in a pretty poorly kept secret. The team unveiled their new logo and uniform today and while I’m not holding my breath, it’d be nice if this ushered the era of the “Winning Rays” versus the losing Devil Rays we’ve had for so long.
It also means I have to both change the name of my site and change the color scheme. Navy blue and light blue replace the green black.
It’s hard to believe I haven’t written in almost three months to the day. I got my butt chewed out because I’m supposed to be on a schedule but I’m not the only blogger in the network who’s gone missing. Anyway, it’s been a tough, but normal year for the Devil Rays. They have the worst record in baseball, again. It’s now the tenth consecutive season (yes, all of them since the Devil Rays existed) where they’ve lost 90 games. Not that the season didn’t have it’s highlights.
One of those highlights was Carlos Pena. Cast off by a variety of teams the past couple of years, Pena had a huge season as a non-roster invitee and he’s second in the American League with 40 homers. His .995 OPS is the fourth best in the American League and he has 91 walks to along with his power numbers. This is a guy who should get more MVP votes then he’ll end up with.
B.J. Upton was a pleasant surprise as well. He filled in nicely at second base after being slotted as a utility player coming out of spring training. He needs on more steal for a 20/20 season. Delmon Young was good but not great and Carl Crawford had somewhat of a disappointing season. Still I like the way this offense is looking, especially with the guys they have coming up through the ranks.
The pitching was another matter all together. Scott Kazmir wasn’t given enough support but he had a nice year as did James Shields. After that, it was pretty poor which explains the Rays league worst 5.54 ERA. Ugly, considering the offense was actually decent.
So we’ll have to see what happens next year. Some more of the kids should roll and we’ll get to see more of them. They are the future and it also looks like the Rays will be getting another top draft pick.
The Orioles and their big losing streak helped the Devil Rays get out of the cellar but at 31-39, they’re still one of the worst teams in the American League. Not that the Rays don’t have any individual performances.
Carlos Pena would be the biggest one and what a season he’s putting together. I profiled him briefly last month but he just continues to rake. He now has 17 homeruns and an impressive .401 OBP with a 1.066 OPS. Because the Rays aren’t great he probably won’t get much consideration for the MVP but this is one of those inexpensive, productive players who can really make an impact from time to time. You almost wonder if the Rays will trade him and try to get something for him, or whether they’ll try to commit to him long term because he’s only 29.
On the mound, it’s been Josh Shields who’s gotten it done. He’s dropped his last two starts but he still leads the team in just about every pitching category. Then again, Scott Kazmir is starting to get back to his old form and he’s had a string of nice starts.
Still, the Rays will once again be playing for next year as their chances are slim to none. The whole Elijas Dukes thing will have to come to a head at some point and you hope there’s some kind of resolution there. And what’s up with Carl Crawford. He’s not only stealing bases, but he’s driving in runs and he has his best shot at 100 RBIs this season then he has in any other season of his career.
Al Reyes has been a nice surprise and he’s a great example of why paying top dollar for a closer can be a waste of money. He’s striking guys out (36 in 30 1/3 innings), saving games (16) and he’s keeping base runners off base (0.89 WHIP). You can’t ask for much more then that.
Next up is three against a tough Dodgers team. Saturday’s matchup between Scott Kazmir and Randy Wolf should be a good one. Tomorrow it’ll be Andy Sonnanstine trying to get it done in the series opener. At least the series is at home so that games won’t be on really late.
The Devil Rays had the number one pick and they scooped up Vanderbilt pitcher David Price. This wasn’t a huge surprise with all of the hype leading up to the draft so now the Rays just have to work on signing him. It’s just one more gem to drop down into the Devil Rays Minor League system. He was actually drafted by the Dodgers back in 2004 but Price opted to stay in school so the Dodgers loss is our gain. This is a kid who, if he lives up to the hype, will be a number one or number two in three or so years.
In the meantime, the Rays are working on another top five draft pick although they’re on the cusp of a decent season. They’ve won six of their last ten and two in a row. With the team sitting at 26-32 and with the guys they have down in the minors, I’m getting a little excited about this team.
Jae Seo has had a pretty tough season so he was an unlikely starter to end the Rays six game skid but he threw seven shutout innings en route to his second win of the season. Just as impressive, he struck out seven and he gave up just two hits and two walks.
Carlos Pena provided the offense for the Rays in the 2-1 win with a solo homer and an RBI single and he’s been a very pleasant surprise for the Rays. He’s now hit six homeruns and he’s taken a rocky route to the team. He was the Athletic’s first baseman of the future before he was dealt to the Tigers where he became their first baseman of the future. He never panned out though and he was cut heading into the 2006 season before putting time in both the Yankees and Red Sox minor league systems. He did get some time with the Red Sox but then the Rays scooped him up for the 2007 and he’s put together a pretty nice season so far and at a pretty low price.
The Rays have the day off tomorrow and then they host the Rangers in a battle of last place teams. I like the pitching matchups in this series and I could see both Josh Shields and Scott Kazmir walking away with the win to give the Rays their second series win of the month.
This was pretty ugly, and you wonder why Fossum was left in there for so long. His already high ERA is even higher after giving up nine runs on nine hits and three walks in five innings. The pen didn’t fare much better as Ruddy Lugo was hammered for three run in two innings of relief.
Jonny Gomes drove in two of the Rays three runs in the 12-5 loss. Elijah Dukes went three for five and B.J. Upton finished with three hits and three runs.
Scott Kazmir throws tomorrow in the rubber game. I like our chances in the finale.
The Devil Rays took their series against the A’s and they did it behind a great start by Scott Kazmir. He gave up just two runs on six hits and two walks with one strikeout in seven innings. The win pushed him to 2-1 on the season.
The Devil Rays scored all of their runs via the long ball. B.J. Upton hit a three run shot and Elijas Dukes and Rocco Baldelli each hit solo shots in the 5-3 win. Carl Crawford also had a nice game and despite not getting a hit, he drew three walks and he scored a run.
Next up is three against the Twins. Edwin Jackson gets the start in the opener on Tuesday.
James Shields threw eight great innings yesterday as the Devil Rays took care of the A’s 4-1. He gave up just four hits with one walks and he struck out nine and the win improved his record to 2-0.
B.J. Upton was the only Devil Ray with two hits and he drove in one of the four runs. Carl Crawford just about did it all. He doubled, drew a walk, scored a run and drove in one run.
The Rays are out of the cellar so that’s some consolation. Casey Fossum will try to make it two in a row this afternoon in an late afternoon game.
I’m not sure what’s worse, 9-1 or 11-3. Either way, Jae Seo was pounded for six runs and he was gone before the second inning was finished. Gary Glover was also hit hard and he gave up five runs in 2 2/3 innings.
Carlos Pena provided most of the offense for the Devil Rays. He finished with two hits and one of them was a two run shot. Rocco Baldelli also had a nice game and he was two for two.
Next up is three against Oakland as the Devil Rays continue their little west coast swing and hopefully this weekend goes better then this later part of the week.
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