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    The Tampa Bay Ray offense put on a power display in the finale of the 3 game set against the LA Angels.  The offense put up 15 hits, 7 for extra bases including 4 home runs.  Carlos Pena, Dioner Navarro, Evan Longoria and Carl Crawford all went deep while Navi, Ben Zobrist and Reid Brignac checked in with doubles.   Gabe Gross chipped in 4 RBI’s in his 3 for 4 performance while swiping a couple of bags as well.  Gabe has been swinging the bat well lately as he’s getting more regular playing time.  Now that Matt Joyce has been sent to Durham with the activation of Pat Burrell Gabe should be able to keep his groove on as he gets time in the OF. 

    SP David Price threw out a mixed bag of good and bad.  He did not figure into the decision as he had to be lifted after 4 1/3 innings due to a very high pitch count (105).  To be honest he got into a lot of trouble in the first inning with a base hit and 2 walks to load the bases but wriggled free without any damage.  Here’s how mixed his performance was – 6 K’s with 6 free passes.  He was brilliant one minute and couldn’t hit the zone the next.  I attribute this to youth and as the season develops so will David.  The bullpen backed Price by going 4 2/3 allowing only 2 hits, 2 free passes while striking out 6. 

    Grant Balfour was credited with the win, his 3rd of the season; half of what he won all of last season.  This is really indicative of the issues our starting pitching has had going deep into games.  There have been at least 3 guys that struggle to get through the 5th inning Niemann, Kazmir and Sonnanstine.  You can now switch Price with Kazmir and add him to that list. This presents the obvious issues for the bullpen being worn out early in a lot of games.  On the upside Niemann has shown much better location as of late allowing him to conserve pitches and go deeper in.  Sonny I think will always be hit or miss and I think he will find himself in the pen upon Kaz’s return.  Price should work it out like Niemann has and, when this happens, will solidify a brutal 5 man starting rotation.

    The Rays host the Washington Nationals this weekend at The Trop for 3.  This series should be a “gimme” for the Rays and allow them to, at least, keep pace if not make up some ground.  See you at The Trop!

     

    Post info: By Rays6 on June 12th, 2009
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    The Rays dropped the finale Sunday afternoon to the Twins.  This was SP Matt Garza’s first taste of facing his former team and they got the best of him.  Garza went 7 innings allowing 3 ER on 7 hits and 1 BB while collecting 6 K’s.  Ironically he gave up a first pitch HR to the guy who was traded for him, Brendan Harris, to lead off the scoring for the Twinkies.  Look the only issue I have with Garza’s performance was this.  The Rays were up 2-1 in the 6th inning.  With first base open, a runner on 2nd base and a 3-2 count on Morneau my humble opinion is you throw something in the dirt.  Maybe he swings, maybe he doesn’t.  I say you go after the next batter, Kubel, who Garza had owned with 2 strikeouts already in the game.  Instead Garza served up a pitch that was good enough for Morneau to send back up the middle for the game tying RBI.  This was NOT a good decision.  I know Matt was pumped to pitch against the Twins but let’s be smart here.  Morneau is too good a hitter to take that chance.  This was definitely a turning point in this game!

    Garza was certainly not the only reason the Rays lost that game.  The offense was anemic.  The 1-5 hitters for the Rays were 2 for 18 with 1 run scored, 1 RBI and 2 hits.  One of those hits, the run scored and the RBI all came off the bat of Carlos Pena who gave the fans in RF a souvenir.  The Rays were 0 for 3 with RISP. 

    A big welcoming shout out to Matt Joyce who made his Ray debut and made a big splash.  Joyce went 2 for 3 with a HR.  Joyce was the high point of this game as the Rays never seemed very energized. 

    This is the time when the “big guys” must step up.  Longo, Pena, CC must all kick it into high gear to account for the injured players.  We are once again weak against LHP as we miss Bartlett and Burrell (not that he has done much but I’d take him over Kapler any day).  We have a weak bench with not much to do against RHP.  The Rays cannot afford the number 1-5 guys going 2 for 18.

    Hopefully todays off day will give thee guys some pep in their step!  

    Post info: By Rays6 on June 1st, 2009
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    http://tampabay.rays.mlb.com/images/2009/04/09/ZG8TFORq.jpg

    Matt Garza threw a gem against the Boston Red Sox to clinch the series victory Wednesday afternoon.  Garza threw a very strong 7 complete innings to earn his first W.  The only inning Garza ever faced any trouble was the 6th in which he gave up a lead off 2B which would score 2 hitters later on a 3B before recording the final 2 outs of the inning.  His control was excellent aside from the 2 pitches he left up in the zone in the 6th.  His line was 7 innings, 5 K’s, 3 BB and 1 ER.  I have to admit knowing how intense and pumped up Matt can get I was expecting a shaky first inning before he’d settle down.  Garza never showed any negativity on the mound.  His mound presence was intense but controlled.  He was very impressive today!

    The Rays offense also had a nice showing chasing Dice-K after only 5 1/3 innings.  The Rays were banging the ball all over Fenway!  Offensively we knocked out 10 total hits 7 of which were for extra bases!  Matt Joyce began the scoring in the 2nd inning with his first blast of the season.  Evan Longoria followed with a 2 run shot in the 3rd.  Shawn Riggans added to the scoring by sending out a beautiful opposite field blast in the 4th. 

    Shawn Riggans got the call behind the dish today and called an excellent game!  

    The bullpen had a bit of a hiccup giving up 2 runs in only 2 innings pitched.  Brian Shouse gave up one manufactured run but, in my opinion, the big blow came in the 9th when Troy Percival entered the game.  Percy came on and gave up a blast to Varitek on the 2nd pitch he threw.  He then enticed 2 outs but allowed a free pass to Ortiz bringing the game winning run to the plate in the form of Youkilis, something I’m sure many Ray fans were not too comfortable with.  He eventually ended the game when Youkilis flew out to deep CF but it was not pretty.

    First series victory in the books and a HUGE start to the season.  Now off to Baltimore where the Orioles are playing some tight baseball.  Should be a very exciting series!

    See you in Camden Yards!

    Post info: By Rays6 on April 10th, 2009
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    Spring training is right around the corner Ray fans!   YAY!!!  I cannot wait.  Although the new MLB Network has relieved some of my withdrawal it’ll be nice to see live action again.  With that being said, let’s look at the major moves the RFO has made and grade them:

    1.  Joe Nelson.  Nelson has been around a while but has played in limited duties at the major league level.  His first significant ML experience was 2006 with the KC Royals.  He made a big splash in the BP for the Florida Marlins last year.  He has a lifetime WHIP of 1.36.  He racked up 60 Ks to 22 BB last year finishing the year with an ERA of 2.00.  Anytime you can bolster a BP – especially one with little needs like the Rays – it is an excellent signing.  My only concern is that Nelson has not pitched in the majors in back to back years since he first emerged in 2001.  I still consider this a solid signing and will give the Rays a solid B+.

    2. Matt Joyce.   It appears that the Rays got the better end of this trade with Detroit.  We get a solid young (24) player to mold in the “Ray Way.” Joyce has played only 92 ML games but has a decent BA (.252) and has shown some pop (12 HR in 242 at bats).  If you extrapolate that number out to a 600 AB season he has the potential to crack about 28 dingers.  On the downside he only has 92 games of major league experience.  He also has a 2/1 K to BB ratio – if he were a pitcher that would be good thing but….he’s not a pitcher.  Clearly Joyce has some things to learn yet so he may begin the year in Durham.  What we lost in the trade as a pitcher (Edwin Jackson) who may have had the best year he may ever had.  Yes, he won 14 games but Jackson gets in his own way when it comes to growth and improvement.  There was no room in the starting rotation with the emergence of David Price and his focus issues made it clear the BP would not be his place and no options remained.  So, we got a solid young player with a lot of promise and options.  This is an excellent trade and I’m giving the RFO an A.

    3.  Pat Burrell.  Burrell is a veteran leader with great clubhouse presence.  He will fill the void left by the departure of guys like Hinske and Floyd.  He is a slugging RH hitter that has been sorely absent from the Ray lineup. He has racked up and average of 28 HR and 92 RBIs in his 9 seasons.  Add those power numbers to the middle of the Ray lineup with Longoria, Pena and a healthy Upton and you have the power line up we were missing to take us to over that final hurdle last season, a World Series victory.  On the downside Burrell does K a lot, an average of 141 K’s per season.  He also carries a low BA at career .257.  A change of scenery and a new role may spark Burrell to increase his productivity.  I’m giving the RFO a B.

    The Rays made these 3 very significant moves to fill specific needs.  Each of these players possess the ability to become the final spoke in the wheel that is the Tampa Bay Rays.  The RFO have made decisions that, at this point, appear to be ideal for our current situation.  We all know the reality though, only time will tell.

    See you in Port Charlotte! 

    Post info: By Rays6 on January 7th, 2009
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    joyce

    Hope everyone is enjoying their holiday season so far. Personally, I’m bored without baseball! Football is a distraction but its 1 day a week. Anyway our Rays finally made some moves we can talk about!

    SP Edwin Jackson has been traded to the Detroit Tigers for home grown OF Matt Joyce. Ok, so we kinda figured E-Jax was going to be the odd man out with SP David Price looking so good after his call up. Price pitched well in some pressure packed situations and proved his future worth. Jackson struggled with his focus throughout the season and into the 2nd season. Granted he won 14 games BUT we have to remember wins and losses belong to the team. They may get credited to the SP but if he did not have the defense behind him and the BP to bail him out of a few situations he very well could have finished with a lot less than 14 wins. A victory earned by Jackson did not come without its issues usually. Jackson did not have the mental strength to come out of the BP which is unfortunate. He has the stuff to be a great closer. Personally I think Jackson will be one of those players that never can get over that hump and live up to all the potential he clearly has.

    So, that being said lets look at Matt Joyce.

    Joyce is a 24 year old LH OF. He had decent numbers in 92 games with Detroit (.252, 16 2B, 3 3B, 12 HR and 33 RBI). He has been blowing up his BA to a healthy .292 in the Mexican Winter League. Joyce has pop in his bat, has a gun for an arm and has a little bit of speed. Matt can play all 3 OF positions as well. And equally important is the Rays will control him for 6 years and he has options. I can see Joyce beginning the year in AAA as Gross and Perez alternate in RF until he is called up midseason. I like the outfield of Crawford, Upton and Joyce at some point in the season. I think this deal is another Andrew Freidman gem!

    The only other big name item to cover is the non-tender of crowd favorite, Jonny Gomes. Ok, let’s not act surprised here. We all knew this was going to happen. Gomes may be a great team player but he is not worth $1.275mil or more. His salary would have probably gone up in arbitration even though he hit only .182 with 8 HR and 21 RBIs in 77 games this season. People love to argue that Gomes wasn’t given a fair shake, Maddon didn’t give him time, yada, yada, yada. Fact is folks – he was given plenty of opportunity and failed PERIOD. Gomes did a great job being a great teammate but between the lines he was less than spectacular. Being a poor fielder Gomes best hope is that a team may look at him for the DH role. Good Luck Jonny!

    So folks…..that’s all to report as the Rays have been fairly quiet so far. But it’s still not over! They have spoken to a few potential DH – Milton Bradley (who is also being courted by the forever cursed Cubbies), Jason Giambi, and Bobby Abreu with a few others still looking for work, Adam Dunn and Pat Burrell to name a few.

    So folks – keep checking back!!

    Go Rays!!!

    Post info: By Rays6 on December 13th, 2008
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