Joe Maddon to Manage Cubs in 2015

The latest info that sends Joe Maddon to the north side of Chicago for 2015.

Andrew Friedman leaves for the Dodgers

It's the end of an era in Tampa Bay. What does the future hold?

2015 Rays Schedule released

We disect the 2015 Rays schedule.

Jul 30, 2011

Random thoughts on today's game

by Aaron Giddens

First I want to emphasize that this IS NOT A GAME REVIEW! Just random thoughts on what I did see today, I missed most of the game due to a family emergency. (More about that when I can on my personal facebook and on my personal blog Christnrock Blog.)

Anyway, what we saw today was to be expected with our offense, it has been anemic all year long. One hit is all we could muster against the Seattle Mariners, the same team we had beat the night before 8-0. Today's final was 3-2 in favor of the M's. This is not to take anything away from the Mariner's pitching staff which, as I outlined in my series preview, is one of the best in baseball. But so is ours. Also just like ours their offense has been anemic.

I'm not making any excuses for this team, they are young and talented. What we need however is a new hitting coach, Derek Shelton ain't cutting it. If you remember the year before Shelton, Evan had nearly 40 HRs, last year, he could barely muster 20. Something Shelton has done has hurt our biggest bat.

I consider this season done essentially for us, but as I said in the series preview we should at least finish strong and try to spoil the Yankees Wild Card chances.

Alex Cobb, from what I understand, was terrific today. He did not deserve this loss. Unfortunately for us, the Mariner's pitcher was just better today. We ran in to the talented young arm of Pineda and we suffered for it. But no we should not have been no-hit for 5.2 innings. Nor should that 2 out hit in the 6th been our only hit.

We gotta step it up, should the miracle losing streak by the Yankees happen, we need to be ready to capitalize. And as of now, we're done for.

Jul 28, 2011

SERIES PREVIEW: The umbrella ready stop

by Aaron Giddens

Safeco Field
Courtesy: cronncc on Flickr

Once again the Rays dodge utter devastation. With our season all but over, the Rays will head to Seattle for the final leg of this 10-game road trip. If you don't remember our first time in Seattle this year, I don't blame you a bit. But just for the record let's recap. The Rays were owned. With that out of the way, let's preview our return trip to Safeco Field in Seattle.

Seattle probably has the worst luck of any team in the MLB. They are running fourth in the American League West with a record of 44-60 (.423 Win percentage). The Mariners are 25-27 at home this year. They're coming off a 1-8 road trip where they were swept by Toronto and Boston and narrowly avoided the sweep by the Yankees. They are also fresh off a 17-game losing streak and will be looking to build momentum.

As a team here are the stats. They have the worst offense in the league. 30th in Runs (345), Batting Average (.226) and OBP (.290). They are 29th in Slugging percentage with .335.

Pitching again is an entirely different beast. 9th in ERA (3.55), 5th in quality starts (64) and batting average against (.242). And 3rd in WHIP 1.21.

Individually their best player offensively has been none other than Ichiro Suzuki. He's batting .272. Pitching wise, always be aware of the dangerous Felix Hernandez.

The series will kick off tomorrow night with a 10:10pm ET first pitch with the Rays sending Jeff Neimann, who was masterful in his last start, to the mound. Last time Neimann once again lost in extras and took a no decision. The Mariners will send Erik Bedard to the mound. He holds a 4-6 record and a 3.00 ERA. The goal is to start strong and use the momentum from today's win to put them over the top. You have probably your hottest pitcher on the mound, get him some run support early and ride it to victory.

Saturday the Rays and Mariners will be on FOX Saturday Baseball with a 4:10pm ET first pitch. The Rays will send Alex Cobb to the mound. He is undefeated in his Major League career. The M's will counter with Michael Pineda, he holds a 8-7 record and a 3.64 ERA. One again you have a hot pitcher on the mound, but this time there's a good pitcher on the opposing side. Capitalize on early mistakes and score a few runs, they will be at a premium.

The series and the road trip wraps up Sunday. The Rays will send Jeremy Hellickson to the mound. The M's will send Jason Vargas to the mound. He hold a 6-9 record and a 4.09 ERA. I believe this game will be a slug fest, capitalize on mistakes and you can out slug the M's and go to a victory.

This series, after the last one, as a chance to be really ugly. It could also be a well needed weekend of our offense shows up and doesn't miss opportunities with RISP. Our season is, in my opinion, essentially over. Now we're fighting for our dignity. We must finish out this last 2 months on a strong note. So why don't we go rain on the Mariners' parade, shall we?

Jul 27, 2011

GAME REVIEW: Pitching go BOOM!

by Aaron Giddens

Click image for expanded Box Score.

CONGA LINE! Well that's what it seemed like anyway. This game was a disaster. Let's jump in.

What little good there was in this game is worth mentioning. Matt Joyce with the Rays down 13-0 in the bottom of the 9th hit a 2-run home run to center field to break up the shut out. Jennings and Damon each followed up with RBI singles to make the game 13-4, which would be the final score. Defensively, Fuld threw out Sweeney at the plate who tried to score from second on a single.

Now the bad news, and there's not a shortage of it. First, James Shields. What the hell happened?! Shields gave up 10 Runs, all earned, 12 hits, 2 walks and 2 home runs to A's hitters while only managing 2 strike outs in 4 innings of work. This was by far his worst outing of the year. In an attempt to get the bullpen back, the Rays called up Rob Delaney, he relieved Shields in the 5th and promptly gave up another 2 runs in a third of an inning, he gave up one more run before being relieved. Defensively, we had an error by Matt Joyce that allowed Weeks to go to third on his single. Offensively, too many runners left in scoring position, period.

What I take from this game is wrapped up in fourteen words. "I guess this is what it was like to watch the Devil Rays play." Tonight's game was minor league, we let a team with some of the worst hitting in baseball get to us for 17 hits and 13 runs. This is not becoming of a team who are trying to repeat as American League East champions. As far as I'm concerned, stick a fork in us, we're done. See ya in 2012.

Another botched call, another replay in baseball debate

by Aaron Giddens

We've all heard it before, a botched call is made by an ump on a crucial play and the calls from replay are heard for the week following. Well, here we go again. In last night's 19 inning marathon in Atlanta. The home plate umpire Jerry Meals missed a call with one out in the bottom of the 19th that gave the Atlanta Braves a 4-3 win over the Pirates. The Pirates were outraged, as they should have been. Here take a look.

Obvious right? It's obvious to me, the throw was well in time and the glove bent and the pants leg moved on the tag. Yet Jerry Meals called Julio Lugo safe and wouldn't listen to any argument other wise....til he was inside and saw the replay himself, but by that time it was too late. The Pirates were 4-3 losers. Shortly after the game Jerry Meals said he probably missed the call. Probably? Are you serious? The guy was out by 10 feet. Regardless the Pirates have filed a formal complaint with MLB. Executive Vice President for Baseball Operations Joe Torre said it appeared Meals missed the call. Well at least someone is willing to admit it. Jerry Meals earlier today changed his tune again and said he absolutely missed the call. Yeah no duh, Sherlock. No word yet on what, if anything, will be done.

So how many more of these blow calls must we have before we move baseball in to the 21st Century? "Baseball Purists" will say it's part of the game, part of the human element. But it doesn't have to be. Do I want replay for balls and strikes, no. Though I admit it's tempting with some of the strike zones I've seen this year against the Rays. All I want is a challenge system similar to in the NFL where the coach could challenge a ruling on a play. Except in this case it would be a manager and he could only challenge out/safe calls at the plate or at any of the bases. Maybe, maybe fair or foul calls on non-home runs. I want to keep baseball simple and quick but we got to get these calls right, so many teams over the years have been robbed on bogus calls.

How many more Armando Galarraga's must there be?

How many more Pittsburgh Pirates games must be botched? How many more times are we gonna see umpires like Bob Davidson blow calls before we say enough is enough?

I'm saying it now, implement replay NOW! This sport deserves better than what the umpires are doing to it. And just for the record I respect umpires like Jim Joyce who admit their mistakes. But the human element as outlived it's welcome, we need replay to help the umpires, not to replace them. And that's my view on this, what's yours?

Jul 24, 2011

SERIES PREVIEW: The Green and Gold stop

by Aaron Giddens Coliseum
Courtesy: LWY on Flickr
Well that was a fun stop in Kansas City, dropping two of three to the Royals was fun. Not. From Kansas City, our Rays make a west coast swing. Our first stop is in Oakland to meet the A's. From there we had to Seattle to face the Mariners who lost their 15th straight today.

In Oakland, expect to find very good pitching, but not so good Offense. Sound familiar? The A's are running 3rd in the American League West with 44 wins and 57 losses which is a .436 win percentage.

As a team offensively, they are 27th overall in batting average with .238. They are 28th in OBP with .306. They are also 28th in slugging percentage with .344. And they are 28th in runs with 356 runs as a team this year.

Pitching is an entirely different beast. 4th overall in ERA (3.29), 9th in quality starts (59), 11th in WHIP (1.28) and 7th in batting average against (.244).

The A's are coming off a road trip to Detriot and the Bronx where they went 2-3. More specifically they split thee two game series with the Tigers and dropped two out of three to the Yankees. They are 26-22 at home this year. Well at least one of us has a winning home record. Luckily for the Rays, we have a dominate road record and the west coast has been a bit kinder this year thus far.

The Rays will open up this leg of the 10-game road trip Monday night by sending Hellickson to the mound against Oakland's Moscoso. Moscoso is 3-5 with a 2.96 ERA this year. In this first game, I think the Rays need to come out strong and Hellboy needs to be the dominate pitcher he's capable of being. Hopefully our bats found their way to Oakland.

Tuesday, the Rays will send David Price to the mound. The A's will counter with McCarthy. McCarthy is 2-5 with a 3.74 ERA this year. Rays will have to just look for mistakes and capitalize, as always.

Wednesday is probably the best pitching match-up of this four game stop in Oakland. Rays will send "Complete Game" James to the mound against Oakland's Cahill who is 8-9 with a 3.77 ERA. I expect this to be what I'll call a "Pitchers Duel Lite", hard for hits to come by until later in the game and then the game will be blown wide open. This needs to be in the Rays favor and it wouldn't hurt to have a complete game from Shields to give the bullpen a break before we head to Seattle where our bullpen was absolutely owned earlier this year. It's the only time I've actually really hated our bullpen this year.

In Thursday's matinee finale, the Rays will send Davis to the mound. Before I get to Oakland's pitcher let me say something about Davis. I personally didn't set the bar very high for him Friday against Kansas City as he was coming off the Disabled List. But this is one start after that and he needs to have his stuff or he might as well just hand the ball to Ramos and just sit down. Oakland will counter with Harden who is 2-1 with a 4.63 ERA. We need to have momentum from a win in this game heading to Seattle where, in case you forgot, the Rays were devoured dropping 3 of 4 back at the beginning of June.

Overall, this will be a telling series, every game from this point on is do or die for the Rays. We lose more than three in the remaining games on this road trip and we're finished, start picking your playoff favorites and hope for a better 2012. The Rays will need their bats. Offense is crucial. Coliseum (better known to us Rays fans as Oakland Coliseum) does not have a kind history with the Rays. One note for this stop on the road trip is we will run in to our old buddy Grant Balfour who leads the team in Holds, this should be interesting. So hop-to, Rays, we have a season to save.

Jul 23, 2011

GAME REVIEW: Screwed in Kansas City

by Aaron Giddens

Click image for expanded Box Score.

Well another fun game. Yes that's sarcasm. No screwing around tonight, let's jump right in.

On the good side tonight we have our star, Desmond Jennings. Crawford who? In his first two at bats tonight he had a Triple and and Double, in that order. Rays fans went on Cycle Watch mode, but it was not to be as he would draw walks his next two ABs before being struck out in his next AB. We also hit the Triple jackpot tonight as two Rays hitters hit Triples, the hitters being Desmond Jennings, as we already know, and Elliot Johnson. Also good, which is an understatement, was Jeff Neimann. Ooh boy! He had his pitches going for him again tonight just like he did this past Sunday against the Red Sox. But just like his outting against the Red Sox, it would be in vain as just like Sunday he takes a no-decision in extra innings. Luckily this wasn't the 16 inning kind. Neimann pitched 6 strong throwing 92 pitches with 4 strike outs giving up only 3 runs, 2 earned and no walks. Joyce was clutch with his Pinch Hitting in the 10th. Too bad nothing came of it.

On the flip side tonight we once again have missed opportunities. Rays left the bases loaded twice tonight, once in the first and once in the 10th. The so-called Baseball gods don't like that. As a result of the second one, Gomes gave up the winning run in only two pitches in the 10th. Farnsworth...I'm trying not to blame him quite honestly, but more about why later. For now I will say he could have been a little sharper and what I'm about to mention wouldn't have mattered. The umps make a third appearance in as many days on BRaysball Talk. The home plate umpire's Strike Zone was the size of Russia. BJ Upton was called out on a pitch that was crossing the opposing batters box. But here's the kicker. Farnsworth gave up a walk to Getz in the 9th with an out. He proceeded to throw over multiple times, apparently getting him not once but twice, but of course, the Ump missed the call both times, look at the screen shot of one of the times provided by Cork Gaines of Rays Index.

Courtesy: Rays Index on Twitter
(c)2011 Tampa Bay Rays and Sun Sports

It's just crazy, how do you miss that if you're supposedly the best of the best? So the ump missed that call and Farnsworth was forced to get four outs. The batter, Escobar, would proceed to ground in to what could have been a inning ending DP. Instead, it was a fielders choice where he would score as the tying run on the next batter's double. And the winning run would score an inning later. This win was stolen by the umps. No excuses. I don't want to hear this "But Umpires are human too" BS. They are payed to get calls right in crucial moments and they blew this one. I'm sick of traditionalist keeping this game in the stone age. We deserve better. Get replay in here soon.

In the end, this game was well played until the 9th, sure there were two errors by the Rays, but each of them are forgivable as we should have still won. We have now lost two of three games to be played in Kansas City to the Royals, let's avoid the sweep. If we get swept, our season is over barring a miracle.

Jennings called up, Brignac optioned to Durham

by Aaron Giddens

This is interesting. Then again I said the same thing last year and Jennings stunk it up. I hope he's better this year and lives up to the hype. On the flip side, I love Reid. I love his glove, his bat could use some work though. Hopefully he gets that and is back up as soon as possible.

For tonight it seems we've dodged the dreaded Upton trade. Let's go.

Jul 22, 2011

Game review Rays @ Royals (7/22/11)

by Aaron Giddens

Click image for expanded Box Score.

Well that was fun wasn't it? Didn't think so. One interesting note before we jump in to this review, Reid Brignac was optioned to Durham, Desmond Jennings was called up. For more on that news wise, go to Rays Index. For opinion on it stay tuned here. Anyway, here's the review.

Not much good in this game. I love that Rays hitting went "belly-to-belly" with Home Runs tonight. Joyce and Longo went back to back with solo and 2-run shots respectively, not in that order. Also good tonight was that Davis didn't walk anyone, you have to go to the to the Bottom of the 7th before Brandon Gomes gave up the first walk to the Royals.

On the flip side, too much bad. Our outfield defense looked little league tonight. The Legend lost two balls in to the Kansas City sky. Upton and Joyce collided to botch one catch. It, it, it, it was just little league. Also, you can't win if your starting pitcher gives up 11 hits in five and a third while the offense only manages 6 hits off the opposing starting pitcher. Speaking of the offense, they load the bases with no one out in the first and leave them? Ouch. You can't win if you don't get the man in scoring position in. The umps also had their say again, unfortunately it was the ones calling the outs on fly balls that blew these. S-Rod was rung up twice on check swings that should have been called that he didn't go around. The umps also blew a call in the outfield. Fuld caught a ball in the Bottom of the 5th that was ruled a trapped ball by the umpire. After the multiple replays shown by Sun Sports show that he actually caught the ball. That inning would go on to deteriorate, though I will give it you it could have been much worse, it should have ended without any runs scoring. And this is just a small sample.

Overall, we blew way to many chances to get back in to this game. It became excruciating to watch. We pulled within one only to let the Royals to pull away even bigger than before. This game was horrible on both sides of the ball for the Rays. If they Rays are to have a prayer of getting back in the Playoff race, we must go on a winning streak which means the bats must start working and our staple, our defense MUST return with a vengeance. Let's get them tomorrow, we're running out of chances for 2011.

So Damon wants be inducted as a Royal

by Aaron Giddens

Damon told MLB Network if given the choice he would like to go in to the Hall of Fame as a Royal. This doesn't bug me quite honestly. He's had an illustrious career that's by majority happened elsewhere. We've only had him for what's not even a full season yet. He's been a Godsend. I think he deserves to choose, but alas the rules don't allow that.

One thing I will say is I thought this was our best chance to see someone want to be inducted as a Ray as we're his real hometown team as he lives and grew up in Orlando. Nevertheless, I respect Damon and his choice. I just hope that hometown factor factors in enough to keep him in Tampa Bay for the 2012 season.

Jul 21, 2011

Yankees @ Rays Game review (7/21/11)

by Aaron Giddens

Click image for expanded Box Score.

This is the first review of games on BRaysball Talk. Admittedly I'm a little nervous, but enough about me let's jump in to the game review.

For this I'm gonna have to "steal" the GBT format from Rays Index. Tomorrow I will try to have my own format conjured. For those that don't know, the GBT is "The Good, The Bad and The Telling." Though for me I will use the GBR "The Good, The Bad and The Ruling". So here we go.

The Good: James Shields. What more can you want? He shut out the Yankees, those dang Yankees, for 7.2 innings. Masterful job. Longo Goes Deep. In the first inning against CC Sabathia, Longo hit a hanging curve ball over the left field wall for the Rays first Home Run since Saturday. It finally broke the curse of the Air Conditioner that had been plaguing our hard hit balls since Sunday. Farnsworth. After the blown 5 out save from Monday night. The Professor was back to his old self tonight in the 9th. Getting to CC Sabathia. Tonight was Sabathia's birthday, and in those two previous starts on his birthday, Sabtathia was 0-1 with an ERA over 9. It was nice to see that trend continue tonight as the Rays got to him for 5 hits, 2 runs (both earned) and 4 walks, though one was intentional. Longo's Intimidation factor. I love this, in the 8th inning after hurting Sabthia the entire game he was intentionally walked. Could this be the beginning of Longo getting his pitcher intimidation back?

The Bad: 6 Hits AND 3 walks?! James Shields was masterful tonight but he still gave up six hits and three walks. He's lucky he was able to pitch around that as the Yankees would leave 8 men on base. Upton. The man went 0-4 with two GIDPs. That's not very productive. Umps. The strike zone was fairly consistent the Yankees favor. I lost count of how many pitches I thought should have gone the other way and then there was a couple pick off plays at first that were missed. Can we have replay yet? I'm getting sick of being screwed by the umpiring.

The Ruling: Overall this was a well played game by the Rays, any time you can hold the Yankees or Red Sox to one run. and shut them out for nearly 8 innings. You've done your Job, what's better is the win. So this win gets my seal of approval. Good work boys, see ya in, Kansas City.

Day 1

by Aaron Giddens

So here we are, the new blog home for all my rantings and opinions on the Tampa Bay Rays. Here's to a good time of sharing opinions. Be sure to check out my about me page by clicking the tab above. Enjoy. The first game review should be up by Friday.

Over the next couple of days you will see my previous blog posts from my other blog about the Rays appear here with their original timestamps. You will also see the design being tweaked.

With that, enjoy my new blog/site.