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.

Jan 29, 2012

FLASHBACK: Ghosts invade Tropicana Field

by Aaron Giddens

Do you remember the Ghosts who invaded Tropicana Field the night of August 22, 2011 as the Rays faced the Tigers and Justin Verlander? This ghostly sound tortured everyone in the Trop for a couple of innings that night after a strong thunderstorm messed with the power at the Trop. I believe it ended up being the sound system creating the ghostly howl. Enjoy as we flash back to August for this clip.

Jan 28, 2012

Surviving Fan Fest

by @MandaGator

Rays Fan Fest
As opening day 2012 draws near baseball fans the country over are tired of trade rumors and back office magic! We want to hear an umpire (anyone but Joe West please) yell "Plaaaaaaaay ball!", smell hot dogs cooking, say "Go (insert fav team)" to everyone we meet. Rays fans, well we're ready for Rays Fan Fest to kick things off! February 18th seems far off but the time to start training for success at the Trop is now!

Assemble your team!! Your current friends & family are already Rays fans who will be by your side so recruit from outside sources too! Don't be afraid to swoop in and snag free agents or even rookies! Choose your roster wisely! Who will hold places in line when a rest room is necessary? Who will carry the bag 'o swag? Who is primarily responsible for photos? Put yourself in Joe Maddon's shoe's, this is your line up card!!

Are the Rays ready?

by Aaron Giddens

We know the new season is almost upon us. But are the Rays ready roster wise? Let's take a look at the infield, outfield, bench and pitching individually and see where we stand.

Jan 23, 2012

FUNNY: David Price enjoys rounding the bases

by Aaron Giddens

Last year as Rays pitchers prepared for interleague play, David Price hit a home run in batting practice. The resulting trot around the bases caught MLB fans attention, especially Rays fans. Do you remember this?

Jan 22, 2012

Where's the Rays fans?

by Aaron Giddens

Empty seats
Courtesy: Tampa Bay Times
We hear it every year, "There are no Rays fans." Of course we know this to be an extreme exaggeration by the Rays-haters. But something we also know is that Rays attendance at the Trop sucks. Yes there are many things factoring in to it and there being "no fans" is not one of them. But this is a deep problem that at the very least needs to be "patched" if we are to "earn" that new stadium most Rays fans want.

Just look at the facts, the Rays have ranked at or near the bottom in the league in attendance for quite some time. The least attended game last season, April 14 against the Twins according to Wikipedia, only drew 10,042. Yeah it could be worse, but it could also be so much better.

Jan 19, 2012

According to ESPN, Rays DON'T have a Top 5 rotation

by Aaron Giddens

Rays don't have a top five starting rotation.

That is according to David Schoenfield of ESPN's SweetSpot blog.

In full, he said under the "I can't believe I'm leaving these guys off" section:

The Rays led the AL with a 3.53 rotation ERA in 2011 and will be adding ├╝ber-prospect Moore this year. That said, keep in mind: (A.) The Rays play in a pitcher-friendly ballpark; (B.) They have one of the best defenses in the majors to help out; (C.) Hellickson lived off an impossible-to-repeat BABIP of .224, the lowest average a starter has allowed since 1988; (D.) Shields was awesome with a 2.82 ERA, but he's also one season removed from leading the AL in hits and home runs allowed.

Such a weak argument to leave the Rays out of the Top 5. Let's break this down.

Jan 18, 2012

Time to get pumped

by Aaron Giddens

It's January. It's 4 weeks 'til spring training. 4 weeks 'til we start the baseball season cycle again. I think it's safe to say that Rays' and their fans' expectations have never been higher. Despite the gloomy stadium situation, we have a magical 2011 season to follow up.

Some fan favorites are gone. Some new, sure-to-be fan favorites are here now. And some already hated players are here now too (yes, I'm looking at you Rodney). But with those sunny days in Port Charlotte come renewal.

Renewal of hopes. Renewal of dreams. This could not be more relevant for the Rays this year. With the Red Sox reeling and the Yankees still not as strong as usual, now is the time to capitalize. But don't underestimate the Orioles and Blue Jays who would obviously love to play spoiler.

Rays have a solid starting rotation. Rays have a solid offense, that there still solidifying, looking for one more bat. There are a few questions still, but don't let that stop the euphoria of the upcoming baseball season.

Baseball is 4 weeks away. Just 4.

But before we officially start looking to 2012. Let's take one last look at the final night of the 2011 regular season.

Can baseball top that night? Can the Rays make it back to the World Series and possibly win it all?

The path to find those answers begins in 4 weeks. Let's go!

Jan 16, 2012

BRaysball Talk will participate in SOPA protest

by Aaron Giddens

I don't like to mix politics with baseball, but I feel must right now. I'm semi-pleased to announce that BRaysball Talk will join several other websites around the internet, including Wikipedia and Reddit, and blackout for 24 hours on January 18, 2012. This blackout will be in tact from 12:01am ET on Jan. 18th to 12:01am ET on Jan. 19th.

We are doing this because we do not want corporations to have the ability to control the internet. For more information, see our subpage here.

Jan 11, 2012

Damon responds to Luke deal

by Aaron Giddens

Johnny Damon
Courtesy: Flickr
We all knew Damon wanted to come back, he specifically stated so after Game 4 of the ALDS when the season had ended for the Rays. With the signing of Luke Scott he won't and he has something to say.

"It's an unhappy day," Damon texted to Mr. Topkin. "Didn't realize the DH and 1B brought the offense down. Thought we would've had an offer."

Yes, Johnny you did, you had consistent hitting and fans who loved both you and Kotch. But with Luke comes a little more power you didn't have. And that's something we need, because Longoria will not always be able to hit one out. And people like Dan Johnson won't always be waiting in the wings for a moment of glory either.

"You wonder why fans can't get involved with players," he said, "because they are here and gone."

This is something you get used to, we just don't have the money other teams have to keep bringing the fan favorites back year after year. Our only hope of something like that eventually happening, is if we get a new stadium that fans are more likely to visit in droves on a nightly basis.

Maybe Amanda's idea would do something? But first we need to get discussion actually happening next week and maybe John Romano's idea from the Tampa Bay Times has the answer of how to break the stalemate. Who knows, right?

According to Marc's article, Damon was looking to finish his career here in Tampa Bay, due to our proximity to his home in Orlando not to mention he loved the team. Needless to say, he will be finishing else where, maybe back in Kansas City where it all began for him. He did state that he would like to go in the HOF as a Royal if he gets inducted, which I think he should be.

Where ever he ends up, I have confidence he will help that team. Easy come, easy go on the fan favorites here in Tampa Bay. Good luck, Johnny!

Rays sign Luke Scott

by Aaron Giddens

Luke Scott
Courtesy: Flickr
Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times is reporting the deal for Luke Scott is signed and will be officially announced Thursday. Scott is likely to be the DH, effectively ending Johnny Damon's 1 year tenure with the Rays.

I like the deal because it gives us a power bat boost that we desperately needed. I don't like that Damon's tenure with the Rays is over. If you've been reading this blog this off season, you know I've been a strong proponent of bringing back Damon for 2012.

The deal is for 1 year with an option for 2013. Scott has spent the past four seasons in Baltimore. You can see his stats here.

All in all this looks like another solid signing by Andrew Friedman. World Series?

Jan 7, 2012

Isla Rays Republic

by @MandaGator

@MandaGator is back with another guest spot for us. This month she's talking about two ideas she has for solutions to the Rays stadium saga. After you read the article, please vote in the related poll at the bottom of the article.

Aerial shot of Tampa Bay
Courtesy: (Click image to enlarge)
A lot of people in the Rays Republic have been musing about the about lack of a proper home facility. While the drama has been simmering, I've come up with two solutions I'm happy to share! The first idea would create a number of Florida class tourist attractions as well as a world class Stadium for our beloved Rays to play in! The second is more practical however would still result in a great home theater for our boys in the show!

I propose a man-made island in the geographic middle of the ACTUAL Tampa Bay. (Palm Jumeirah is a prime example) It would be named "Isla Rays Republic" (duh) and would be built in the shape of the Rays sunburst logo with a retractable roof stadium being at the center.

The stadium grounds would be the only actual permanent "island" with the 7 sun rays being moveable barges containing a variety of Florida type attractions. Those could include a traditional carnival style theme park with rides, an amphitheater for concerts and shows, an aquarium and a water park. The remaining 3 sun ray barges would provide a hell-pad and bulk receiving dock, a boutique hotel and an adult evening venue in the style of Universal Orlando's Citywalk . Other shopping & dining options would be integrated throughout Isla RRs attractions.

To access Isla RR water taxi's would be available from locations surrounding the bay alleviating traditional parking woes. Additionally, each of the 7 movable barges would have dock & marina facilities which many pleasure boaters & fisher folk would enjoy.

There are many practical and environmental concerns which would need to be addressed with the creation of Isla RR there fore as an alternative, I suggest that Tropicana Field could be upgraded.

For those coming from out of town, who aren't familiar with downtown St Pete's one-ways and dead end streets ease of access continues to be an issue. Thus first and foremost, highway access to the current location must be tweaked!! Paving lot 2 and adding a second level which would have a ramp directly accessing 275 would help to ease local street traffic. While at it, add another level to lots 6 & 7 with direct access to 175.

As to the facility it's self I say strip it!! Bring it down to the bones! Then blow the top off! Install a retractable roof! Upgrade every nook and cranny! Make the seats a couple inches wider, escalators too! Do everything just a tad more posh than other stadiums do. Use porcelain soap dispensers instead of stainless steel and use premium products in them!

Open up the outfield! The BBQ & party deck is nice but the green wall reminds me of another Green Monster we all love to hate! Instead build a long bar and booth seating that allows more patrons to enjoy the concessions while overlooking the the field instead of the current concessions that pull you from the game. The current location of the ray tank would form the south end of the BBQ bar and would transform to a hot (cold?) tub available to Rays patrons when not rented to a private group.

South side of the press level could be an oasis of luxury suites unlike any other! Each suite would consist of three congregation areas, the first being in the location of current press level seating. Big cushy comfy chairs, larger monitors, walls insuring privacy from the adjoining suites would be incorporated in the "traditional" seating area of the the luxury suite. The current recessed suites would be expanded to encompass the current walk way/mezzanine. A private kitchen and bar would be necessary as would a private rest room w/ full shower and exit to the pool. What?? PRIVATE POOL?? Read on...

The third aspect of the new luxury suites would push the experience over then edge! What corporation wouldn't want to sponsor a luxury suite that includes a private lush courtyard with an outdoor plunge pool which encompasses the Florida lifestyle?? As expected, each suite would be accessed by private elevator. The usual concierge services would be available and everyone would live happily ever after.

I've just given two shining (?) examples of what a random fan with a broad imagination can come up with off hand however my point isn't to propagate either of my whimsical ideas. My point is that if I can come up with two (somewhat) valid ideas, does that not magnify the absurdity of our current government & Rays administration's inability to do so??? Let's hope for some progress as Mayor Bill Foster meets with Stuart Sternberg on the 17th!

Related poll

Jan 5, 2012

Trade for Trumbo?

by Aaron Giddens

Jeff NeimannMark TrumboWade Davis
Courtesy: Chron.comCourtesy: FlickrCourtesy: Flickr

One of the many moves the Rays have yet to make this off season is sign, trade for or name a new first baseman. I saw a few days ago a national writer suggest the Rays should trade of their six major league ready starting pitchers to the Angels for Trumbo who is now destined for the bench or minors now that they have a 10 year deal with Pujols.

This got me wondering if the fans would be favorable towards this idea. So we posed the question on Twitter and Facebook. We asked if they would be willing to part with Davis or Neimann to get Trumbo. These are the responses we got (more will be added as they come in, be sure to check back):

I personally like the trade idea and hope to see it done. This guy finished 2nd in AL Rookie of the Year voting this past year and is a star on the rise, we could sure use him.

Jan 4, 2012

Rays sign Fernando Rodney....wait, what?

by Aaron Giddens

Fernando Rodney
Courtesy: Flickr
Today the Rays announced the signing of RHP Fernando Rodney to a 1 year $1.75 million dollar deal with a club option worth $2.5 million with a $250k buyout. Either way the deal is worth at least $2 million.

I'm all confused. Why would the Rays sign this guy? And I know the Rays have done this before and it's worked out unbelievably good. But I just don't have any confidence in this signing and looking at his stats for last year and Angels fans' reactions, it not hard to see why.

In 32.0 IP last year he and his crooked hat posted a 4.50 ERA with a 3-5 record and blowing 4 saves in 7 opportunities. (More stats here.) While that's not remarkably bad, it's still easy enough to see why Angels fans acted like the world is ending every time he entered the game last year.

This signing confuses me and makes me want to reach for the Tums, Pepto and Mylanta all at once. Maybe I'll be proven wrong and he'll be this year's surprise like Farnsworth in 2011 and Soriano in 2010. It's a wait and see game and I've learned not to doubt the Rays front office as they rarely turn in deals that blow up in their face, but it does happen. (Remember Burrell?)

So, of course, it's a wait and see thing but I do not have any confidence in this signing. *Takes a sip of Pepto*

Jan 3, 2012

The stadium fight continues

by Aaron Giddens

Tampa Skyline
Courtesy: Flickr
If you pay attention to the news, you know that the Marlins organization is under investigation for how they publicly financed their new stadium. This has turned a lot of Rays fans sour (some were already sour so are now even more sour) towards a possible new stadium for the Rays. And in my opinion, this is unjust.

What everyone needs to realize is that the Rays are not the Marlins. Yes, they share the same state but they are in two different leagues with two different (sets of) owners and two different markets. So this is not a fair assumption to say the Rays would screw over Tampa Bay in the same way, I'm not saying they wouldn't but it's not something we can assume. The safe thing to assume is that they wouldn't screw us over until proven otherwise.

In a similar fashion, what St. Pete and some Tampa citizens are saying continues to break my heart. For example:

Send the Rays to Las Vegas. Who cares !!!

And then there's this one:

The Rays have an indoor stadium and a contract. If they want to leave, let them buy out the contract and wish them well. Hopefully some other city will be dumb enough to foot the bill.

Why do people do this? It doesn't help, it doesn't solve problems. What these guys (I'm assuming) need to get is that the loss of the Rays will hurt the bay area financially. With the loss of the team, the people that visit places like Ferg's nightly goes away. Tourism drops because visiting MLB fans no longer have a reason to come down here and with that, their tourist dollars stay away too. Sure it saves you money personally but it hurts your city's and local business' budget.

What the second guy needs to get is that the Rays stadium, while fiercely defended by fans like myself, is grossly out of date and away from the population center which is just two of the many reasons the stadium doesn't draw like a stadium closer to the Howard Franklin bridge would. The current location also lacks adequate public transportation. The use agreement the Rays were stuck with is also a death nail. If the Rays were to serve this contract out, there won't be a team come 2028. I don't care what needs to be done but this use agreement needs to be killed if the team is to survive, especially in Tampa Bay.

There is so much to this problem and these people don't get it. It's like trying to explain it to a opposing fan, except their local. I've said before that I don't think the fans should exclusively foot the bill. However, the fans do need to pay some, with the Rays either paying the same or more. But tax payer money should not be the exclusive source for funding this new home for our Rays.

This fight continues to rage on with all sides throwing mud and no constructive talks taking place, and it's aggravating. Whatever happens, I hope this dispute comes to a close soon with the Rays remaining in Tampa Bay. But I'm not too optimistic.

Jan 2, 2012

Could Ryan Madson be a closing option for the Rays?

by Aaron Giddens

Ryan Madson in 2007
Courtesy: Flickr
First of all, happy new year to all the readers of BRaysball Talk.

Now, as many know the Rays bullpen is being reinforced this off-season after going above and beyond expectancy for 2011. And while we love the work Kyle Farnsworth did in the closer role for 2011, essentially being the 2011 version of 2010's Rafael Soriano, I have little hope right now he could repeat this performance for 2012 and would like to see a more solid closer have that call in the 9th for 2012. Enter Ryan Madson.

In 2011, he took over the closer role in Philly for the injured Brad Lidge (You know, the guy who nailed the coffin shut on the Rays' 2008 magical run by striking out Eric Hinske swinging?) and proceeded to go 32 for 34 in save opportunities and posted a 2.37 ERA in the role.

With the Phillies signing Johnathan Papelbon to do the closing for them in Philly, it has effectively left him without a home. Enter Tampa Bay.

The Rays need a solid closer. One that will not leave the question of "Will he revert to his old self or be solid?" lingering in the back of the mind. This could be that player.

The thing is how much money and for how long. To be honest, I don't know what Madson wants. However, Scott Boras is his agent, which will mean it's not gonna be easy and it will probably be a multi-year deal with incentives wherever the 31 year old finally signs.

This is just an option, of course, and it probably won't happen. But it's worth noting and looking in to. And it should also be noted that MLB Trade Rumors is currently talking as Anaheim being the most likely future home for him.

This all just speculation, only time will tell.

[UPDATE, 1/10/12 11:12pm]: Jon Heyman of reports the Reds have agreed to sign Ryan Madson.