August 2011

Running with the Bulls: A Rays farm report

In just the last month, 4 Ray top-prospects have been promoted in the Rays farm system. 3 of them participated the 2011 MLB Futures Game in Phoenix. Two of the four prospects were acquired in the Matt Garza trade. Let’s start with phenom southpaw Matt Moore.                                                   20110828-113744.jpg
Moore has some great stuff, including a blazing fastball that lights up the radar gun in the high-90’s. He’s started 7 games since being called up to Durham, and all he’s done is rack up 63 strikeouts with a 3-0 record and a 0.89 ERA. Many prospect watchers around the country are saying that Moore and Stephen Strasburg are the two best prospects in the minors right now. It’s great when your team has a young pitcher that is often compared to Stephen Strasburg. Matt Moore is definitely something special.

Next is Chris Archer, who was just called up to Durham and made his first Triple-A appearance yesterday.                                                                                                                                                      20110828-113804.jpg
He recorded a win with six inning and only a run allowed, and also stuck-out six. Chris Archer is another pitcher with a very bright future in the big leagues. He was the best prospect acquired in the Garza trade, where the Rays also acquired Hak Ju Lee, Sam Fuld, Brandon Guyer, and Robinson Chirinos. 20110828-113818.jpg
That trade couldn’t of been much more perfect than for the Rays. Garza has had a bad year this year, and the Rays acquired 5 MLB quality players including two top-prospects. Friedman really knew what he was doing when he made that trade, but no surprise there.

So how are Lee, Guyer, and Chirinos doing in the minors this year? Hak Ju Lee was just recently promoted from Single-A Charlotte, to Double-A Montgomery. Lee has played 17 games for the Biscuts, and has batted just .225 so far, although he has shown some speed with an impressive four triples. Brandon Guyer has swung a hot bat all season long, while continuing to be a solid outfielder. The Rays know what he can do at the Major League level, after he blasted a 3-run homer in his first MLB AB at Camden Yards early in the season. Guyer is batting an impressive .313 this season, sharing that average with teammate and All-Star Russ Canzler. Canzler, a third baseman, has knocked in 78 runs and 18 home runs. Chances are he’s going to get some big league playing time next year, after such a phenomenal 2011. Chirinos has struggled a bit since being called up to the big leagues in replacement of the injured John Jaso. He’s batting .262 now for the Bulls, and he’s been working hard to improve his footwork behind the plate. Catcher is really the only position the Rays lack solid defense, and Chirinos could be the future at that position.

The last prospect to talk about is Tim Beckham, who was recently called up to Durham. 20110828-113832.jpg
Beckham is a speedy shortstop, and has been making a lot of progress to improve defensively at that position. Beckham started out very hot with Durham, but has now started to cool off and is batting .268. He has hit 2 triples and 4 homers in only 16 games though, which is pretty good. Beckham was another Ray in the Futures Game in July. He contributed to the US’s with a base hit and run; where he showed off his great speed. The future is very bright for the Rays, there’s no doubt about that!

Poll of the Day (8/26/11)

Not your average Joe

20110825-040139.jpg

The other day, sportsillustrated.com released a MLB players’ poll on which manager they would most like to play for. Much deservingly, the #1 honors went to Joe Maddon. The man who coaches baseball from his own view behind his trademark, thick-rimmed glasses. Whether he’s impersonating Johnny Cash, starting new fashion trends on the team, or wearing a Bucs helmet at a press conference; he never gets boring. 20110825-040508.jpg
He’s the most unpredictable and unorthodox baseball coach who ever stepped foot on this planet. What’s not to love about the guy? Not many skippers can have such a successful team while having so much fun. That’s why I think it’s a no-brainer that Maddon was #1 in the poll. What amazes me is how Maddon became such a great coach with a baseball background nothing like most MLB skippers. First of all, Maddon never made it past single-A as a professional catcher. Second, he only managed (as an interim) two years with the Angels before managing the Rays. The only explanation I can give for how Joe became such a great manager, is his influence from Mike Scioscia. Mike Scioscia is also one of the best managers in baseball, and knows the game as well as anybody. Maddon was the bench coach for the Angels for many years while Scioscia was in charge. He learned many things, as he was virtually his apprentice there. Scioscia definitely was an important person in Maddon’s baseball career. Joe even said that he made him the man he was today.

                                                                                                          20110825-040920.jpg
It doesn’t explain one thing. How did Maddon become such an unorthodox coach? ‘Unconventional’ is the name of the game for Joe; pretty much every baseball fan knows that. He has already written his own legacy with untraditional calls that helped the Rays win. For example in 2008, when he told Grant Balfour to intentionally walk in a run with the bases loaded. Or even all the suicide squeeze plays that the Rays executed to leave their American League opponents in awe. Whatever method he uses, Maddon knows how to win and transform young athletes into winning baseball players. Some people are just born with natural wisdom and people skills; experience is not always everything. His legacy will live on and he will influence future MLB managers for many years to come.

For more on the SI.com poll: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/multimedia/photo_gallery/1108/most.popular.manager/content.1.html?eref=sihp

“Will he stay or will he go now”?

                                 20110823-032733.jpg
Many of us have heard the rumors about Rays GM Andrew Friedman that branched off the firing of Cubs GM Jim Hendry on Friday. The Cubs have an vacant spot in their front office, and they’re out on a mission to find the best General Manager they can get. Unfortunately for the Rays, Andrew Friedman’s name comes up on that list. The Cubs and their owner, Tom Ricketts, know very well that Friedman is one of the best GMs in the MLB. 20110823-032826.jpg
One feature Friedman has that attracts the Cubs, is that he isn’t under any contract with the Rays. But there’s a lot to like about Friedman. He has 6 years of experience with VP of Baseball Operations with the Rays, he turned a franchise around and won a pennant with a minimal payroll, and he is liked among the players. Ex-Rays Matt Garza and Carlos Pena, who are Cubs, spoke up about Friedman. Pena talked about how he turned a losing Devil Ray team into an American League champ. Garza said how he would love to have Friedman in Chicago.                                                                                                                              
The Chicago Cubs are not the only underachieving NL team to target Friedman as a possible GM. The Astros are also interested in him. Kenny Friedman, Andrew’s father, has actually been interested in buying the club. If he does one day end up buying the Astros, it will be interesting how that plays out. Some good news about the Andrew Friedman rumors, is that he’s not the only GM that interests the Cubs. Brian Cashman name has come up, along with the A’s GM Billy Bean. 20110823-032839.jpg
Cashman’s contract expires at the end of the season, so hopefully that’s a beacon in the Cubs’ interest. It’s always nice to know that you have a guy in the front office that always takes care of things. That’s why it’s great to have Andrew Friedman in town.

For more on this story: http://espn.go.com/video/clip?id=espn:6886911

Poll of the Day (8/23/11)

Down to the last month: The Rays are red hot and still have a shot

     20110821-034648.jpg
The Rays are feeling the heat and have now won four straight games and have won 14 of their last 20 games. The Rays still have a lot of fight in them and are out on a mission to prove a lot of baseball fans wrong. They still have a lot of work to do though. As of today, they stand 7 1/2 games out of a playoff spot with 38 games remaining. There going to have to win most of those games in order for 9 to equal 8. The impressive thing about this winning streak is that the injuries have not slowed them down. During the run the pitching has been great, and Damon and Longoria are starting to swing a hot bat. The Rays competition isn’t getting much easier as the Red Sox and Yanks are playing pretty well. Luckily the Red Sox are starting to lose some games now. The Rays are going to need all the help they can get from their AL East rivals’ opponents in September. The schedule for the Rays doesn’t get much easier at all. Here’s the Rays season schedule: 20110821-034705.jpg
As you can see, there are some pretty tough matchups against the 3 best teams in the AL, including 6 games against Texas and plenty of more games against the Yanks and Sox. Not great news there, but the Rays know what it takes to get to October. They won this tough division twice outplaying moneyball, now just a Wild Card spot would be great. Rays baseball is at it’s peak of intensity now. There’s going to be a lot of exciting baseball played in the AL East in September, and you can be sure the Rays are going to be right in the middle of it.

Poll of the Day (8/19/11)

David Price: A 2011 Disappointment?

20110818-024335.jpg
Throughout his short career, David Price has always lived up to high expectations. Once he closed out that last magical out in game 7 of the ALCS in ’08, everyone knew that he was something special. Last year Price put up ridiculous numbers, with a 19-6 record and a stunning 2.72 ERA in just his second full MLB season. He came second in the Cy Young voting ahead of Sabathia, Verlander, and Weaver.

20110818-024536.jpg Since that phenomenal season, the height of the expectations had reached their peak. It seemed like only an injury would get in the way of Price being one of the top pitchers in baseball for many years to come. 2011 has not been what most baseball fans expected out of Price. He is 11-10 with a 3.59 ERA so far, not nearly as good as last year. So what has been the difference; why is David Price not having as good a season as 2010? My best explanation for this is that Price is experimenting with new pitches too much instead of just sticking to what he does best; pitching the fastball. A young pitcher shouldn’t be trying to perfect so many pitches to add to his arsenal when he did fine with just 3 pitches the previous year. I believe that the fastball, slider, and curveball is the only pitches he needs in his arsenal. When most of his pitches are fastballs, he usually has a quality start. Price is just confusing him self and getting farther away from his style of pitching. I’m not worried at all that Price won’t find how he is comfortable pitching. What he needs is just a little bit of time to realize how he is best and what pitches he needs and doesn’t need.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 20110818-025211.jpg Fortunately for the Rays, it seems like Price may be starting to find his stride. He went 8 scoreless innings against the big bats in Fenway and gave the Rays a important series victory. When i watched the game, I noticed there wasn’t a surplus of off-speed pitches thrown. At the end of the day, David Price is just a work in progress. A work of a masterpiece that will be a rock in the Rays rotation for many years to come.

For a recap of yesterday’s Rays victory: http://mlb.mlb.com/video/play.jsp?content_id=18118751&query=%26game_pk%3D288750

Poll of the Day (8/17/11)

Patience Pays for the Rays

The Rays home grown stars. Some names include Evan Longoria, Carl Crawford, Jeremy Hellickson, James Shields, and many more.

                                        20110816-115102.jpg

What’s the Rays secret for their success with bringing up prospects that are quality MLB players? Many ask this question. The answer is patience. Nobody is rushed through the Rays farm system, every player is 100% percent ready to take their first steps in the big leagues. This is another example of the Rays organization’s ability to always look ahead. The Rays know the possible consequences of calling up a minor league player to early. Keeping a top prospect in the minors for a while will make him develop and prepare better for a big league career. To me it’s just common sense; would you rather have a player develop in the minors or during a pennant race in a MLB season. Jeremy Hellickson and Desmond Jennings are great examples of how being patient payed off for the Rays. When asked about the subject Hellickson said, ” It definitely helps, the longer you’re down there, the more opportunities you’re going to have to develop and work on stuff.” Jennings is also is thankful that the Rays took their time to call him up. Last year at the end of the season they called him up just for a few games. It was obvious he needed a little more time to develop. The Rays were very aware of that, and almost a year later Jennings is playing like an All-Star.

 20110816-115151.jpg

The next Ray prospect to probably be called up, is fireball southpaw Matt Moore. Expect to see him work on his stuff in the minors for a while. Patience is just another example of “Doing it the Rays’ Way”.

 

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 461 other followers