Wouldn’t you know, the Rays waited until the Winter Meetings were over to put together a block-buster deal with the Royals? Tampa Bay gave up “Big Game James” Shields and Wade Davis to acquire the highly regarded minor league slugger Wil Myers as well as Jake Odorizzi, a potential starter, and two other minor leaguers. The Rays are reported to be sending along a player to be named later.
[Editor's note: After this piece was written, MLBTradeRumors.com posted that it looks like Wade Davis could be traded for a catcher or outfielder. The Rays will listen to offers for James Shields, but Davis is te pitcher who is most likely to be traded.]
The Tampa Bay Rays picked up the option on pitchers Kyle Farnsworth and James Shields while cutting ties with catcher Kelly Shoppach and optioning Dan Johnson to AAA, an assignment Johnson passed on to take a shot at free agency along with Shoppach.
Farnsworth, 35, finished this past season with 25 saves, and a 2.18 ERA in 63 appearances. The big righthander will make $3.3 million in 2012.
Shields was 16-12, with 11 complete games and four shutouts. His contract for next season calls for a salary of $7 million. According to Bill Chastain of MLB.com, Andrew Friedman said “James and Kyle played very large roles in our postseason run and are ready to help lead us back there in 2012.”
Other Rays eligible for free agency include Joel Peralta, Johnny Damon, Casey Kotchman, and Juan Cruz. All had important roles in the club’s successes this past season.
Will Damon test the free agent waters and then return to the Rays? Damon brings some important ingredients to a ball club aside from talent. He hustles, has a smile on his face, and leads with his overall attitude. His interviews aren’t scripted, they are from the heart. And his heart kept the Rays season beating while Evan Longoria was out with injuries.
Kotchman is truly the hometown kid. With his slick glove and .306 average, he proved he was worth more than his salary. Will he decide to come back? Will there be a hometown discount?
To see Shoppach in an interview is worth the time taken. What a great team-centered guy with a sense of self-deprecating humor. Rumor has it that he would like to stay with the Rays. If he does come back, it will be for the right reasons. He knows how to play a role, and the Rays know how to assign them.
Juan Cruz gave Tampa Bay many important innings before handing the ball to Joel Peralta, who generally took over in the eighth inning. Middle relief and set-up men are incredibly important to any club. The Rays will make the right offer, and call on both.
There is the ongoing question regarding what the Rays will do with what seems to be more than enough starting pitching. Alex Cobb, Wade Davis, Jeremy Hellickson, Jeff Niemann, David Price, James Shields, and a kid named Matt Moore could all vie for the five spots in the starting rotation. Let’s see, that’s seven pitchers goes into five spots…who’s left out?
» Continue reading “How Warm Will The Hot Stove Be For Tampa Bay?”
As a Rays fan, I’m used to preparing to bow down to Andrew Friedman’s genius during the draft each summer, after the winter meetings and at the trade deadline. Tampa Bay’s GM deserves another nod after helping to ensure that Matt Moore would get the start last night. If you don’t know how Game 1 against the Rangers went, let me just say it was glorious if you were rooting for the Rays. Tampa Bay came out on top 9-0. You can read my recap here.
Joe Maddon is still a genius, but we need to thank Friedman for making the case for Moore to Maddon. Rays Index has an excerpt from Jeff Passan’s column for Yahoo! describing how Maddon and Friedman met with the rest of their “brain trust” before the game to discuss who would make the start.
Friedman, the man who worked from a hospital bed around this year’s trade deadline following an emergency appendectomy, wanted Moore to get the nod.
It’s kind of surprising that Maddon wasn’t the guy campaigning for Moore in the beginning, but I think it says a lot about our manager that he was able to leave the meeting thinking the 22-year-old lefty was the man to put on the mound. The ability to adapt and “find another way” to win is the reason the Rays are in the postseason.
Originally Maddon wanted to go with Wade Davis. Davis was used in relief instead and closed out the game with an inning of work in the ninth. Moore picked up the win by pitching seven innings of two hit, shutout ball.
Good call, gentleman.
Jeff Niemann gave up two runs in the top of the first inning, on a walk and Jose Bautista’s 43rd home run of the season, then gave way to rookie southpaw Alexander Torres, who shut down Toronto for five innings. Tampa Bay countered with two unearned runs in the bottom of the first off Blue Jays’ starter Ricky Romero, and parlayed a 3-for-3, four R.B.I. day by Johnny Damon into a 6-2 Rays’ victory, as they closed to within a game-and-a-half of Boston in the American League wild card chase.
In a game that had a bit of something for everyone, Tampa Bay’s relief corps came to the front, while allowing Toronto zero runs on only four hits, while tallying ten strikeouts over eight innings of rock-solid work.
Johnny Damon had a hustle double in the bottom of the first inning on a ball that could have been caught by a handful of Blue Jay defenders. Ben Zobrist scored on the play, after having reached base on a throwing error by Jays’ shortstop Mike McCoy that allowed B.J. Upton to score from second base. All tied up at two apiece, the Rays’ relievers took over. Torres struck out five while allowing only three hits in his stint, and Brandon Gomes, Joel Peralta, and Kyle Farnsworth threw zeroes up on the board the rest of the way.
Tampa Bay scored a third run in the bottom of the fourth on a screaming line drive home run by Zobrist, his 18th of the campaign. In the bottom of the eighth, Romero gave up a three-run bomb to Damon, which easily cleared the right field fence. It was Damon’s 18th long ball of the season, and gave the Rays some insurance going into the ninth inning.Romero, 15-11, was victimized by three Blue Jays’ errors, and little offensive support. Tampa Bay stole two bases, had two home runs, and played perfect defense in the victory. At this point, with every game being a must-win, the Rays pitched well and got timely hitting, and Joe Maddon pulled the trigger in going early to his bullpen.
Today, the Rays will hope to fire on all cylinders and push the right button again, starting at 1:40, sending Lake Wales’ native Wade Davis to the hill. Davis is 10-10 for the year, and is coming off a rough start against the New York Yankees, in which he gave up five earned runs on eight hits in 4.2 innings. Toronto sends lefty Brett Cecil to the mound in an attempt to slow down Tampa Bay’s playoff chase.
Joe Maddon told Marc Topkin of the St. Pete Times:
“We normally do the tightrope routine on a daily basis. And it’s kind of comfortable for us now.”
Tampa Bay rode the right arm of Wade Davis and the hot bat of John Jaso to take down the Boston Red Sox by the score of 7-2. Davis introduced a new pitch, a cutter, to the BoSox, and improved his record to 10-8 with his first complete game of the season. Jaso was two for four, scored twice, and knocked in three with a home run in the bottom of the second inning.
Davis was sharp early, setting down the Sox 1-2-3 in the first inning.
After the second inning, he had allowed only one hit, and infield dribbler, to Dustin Pedroia. The Boston second sacker was out at second on a stike ‘em out, throw ‘em out double play that ended the frame.
While Davis was hitting his spots and slicing the strike zone with a new pitch in his arsenal, Boston’s John Lackey was struggling to find the strike zone.
In the second, with Johnny Damon aboard on a fielder’s choice, he walked Casey Kotchman. Nibbling around the zone and falling behind, Lackey fell behind Jaso three and one before missing location badly. A pitch that was meant to be low and away ended up low an in, and Jaso deposited it over the wall in right-center for a 3-0 Rays lead.
Tampa Bay would add two more runs in the third. With two out, Evan Longoria singled, and Ben Zobrist walked. Johnny Damon, back in the lineup with healthy legs, beat out an infield hit, and Longoria hustled his way home, scoring from second on a ball that didn’t go much past first base. Matt Joyce then singled Zobrist home to up the Rays lead to 5-0, all the runs being scored with two outs.
Boston’s scoring took place in the top of the sixth. Josh Reddick singled, and Jarrod Saltalamacchia doubled. Jacoby Ellsbury’s infield hit resulted in a run, and Marco Scutaro’s sacrifice fly brought home Saltalamacchia to end the scoring. Davis would only face ten BoSox hitters over the next three innings to close out the game.
Tampa Bay would return the favor in the bottom of the sixth, scoring twice off reliever Scott Atchison, to send the lead back to five runs. Jaso’s 14th double put him on base, and he was promptly knocked in by Reid Brignac, who doubled to center. Evan Longoria finished the scoring, with the Rays’ third double of the inning, a ground-rule rocket that bounced into the stands over the short wall in left.
With the win, the Rays now stand at 5.5 games behind Boston in the race for the American League wild card playoff spot. This evening, Tampa Bay will send Rookie of the Year candidate Jeremy Hellickson to the mound today. Hellickson is 6-5 at home this year, with a 2.27 E.R.A. Boston counters with rookie Kyle Weiland, who has given up nine runs in eleven innings over three starts this season. Game time is set for 7:10 pm. » Continue reading “Davis Cuts Up Red Sox, Rays Take Boston 7-2″
Tonight’s game against the Tigers is still in progress as I type. We’re currently knotted at two apiece heading to the top of the 10th. If we’ve learned anything from the first two games of this series, it is that this game will cause Rays fans some anxiety.
Wade Davis stayed on the hill through the ninth, with Joel Peralta coming in to begin the bonus baseball. The Rays have turned into a complete game, or nearly complete game, machine.
Max Scherzer lasted five innings for the Tigers. Daniel Schlereth pitched an inning and a third of relief before being replaced by Ryan Perry.
To be completely honest, I prefer Daniel’s father, former NFL star and current football analyst Mark Schlereth, when it comes to the looks department. I choose to ignore the fact that the senior Schlereth’s nickname was Stink. But I’ve already said on this site that I like ‘em a little older. Ya know? Like Johnny Damon. But I digress.
I tried to distract myself from the tension of the game with a glass of wine over dinner, but I felt the need to address the Andrew Friedman situation.
Because it’s hump day, the FOX Sports broadcast team is conducting another Website Wednesday so you can ask questions through Game Connect. One fan asked a question about the rumors swirling regarding Andrew Friedman’s future. Here’s what broadcaster Dewayne Staats and Brian Anderson had to say:
Staats: First, I think that is a compliment.
Anderson: I took it as one.
Then Staats elaborated:
“The Andrew Friedman story has been obviously the topic of conversation in a couple markets. the answer is that for one, he’s a loyal guy and they’ve had some great things Going here. obviously that’s why you hear those stories and of why other clubs would naturally have an interest. I wouldn’t think every team in baseball would have an interest. other teams have an interest.
He doesn’t look for the limelight, really he’s uncomfortable hearing these things, but it’s hard to find a guy who has done a better job than Andrew Friedman.
Number one he’s a very bright guy and number two he’s willing to work hard. And I don’t care what you do, if you have those two combinations, you’ve got a pretty fair chance to succeed.”
Because of Friedman’s traits and the successful club he has built in Tampa Bay, most Rays fans love the guy. He worked from a hospital room after having his appendix removed just prior to this year’s trade deadline. The guy’s for real. » Continue reading “Pleeee-ease Don’t Leave Me”
Tampa Bay and the Twins played a game of give and take before the Rays’ bats exploded late in the game to secure a 12-5 victory at Target Field. With the score tied 5-5 in the top of the eighth, Tampa Bay pushed four runs across the plate, and added three more on an Evan Longoria home run in the ninth frame.
In all, the Rays had fourteen hits, including three home runs, three hit by pitches, and a typical Raysball safety squeeze, with B.J. Upton getting the RBI.
Starter Wade Davis battled his stuff as well as the Twins, but managed to leave the game with a 5-4 lead after five innings, while walking three and giving up three earned runs on nine hits. The Rays chased Minnesota starter Francisco Liriano after 4 1/3 innings. The southpaw allowed five earned runs on six hits, three hit batsmen and four walks.
Juan Cruz followed Davis on the hill in the sixth inning, and after giving up a game-tying home run to All-Star Michael Cuddyer in the seventh, he was replaced by J.P. Howell. The left-hander sat down the side in order while talying two strikeouts. That set the table for the Rays’ offense in the top of the eighth.
With one out in the visitors’ half of the eighth, Sam Fuld reached on a scratch hit, and Ben Zobrist followed with a walk. Evan Longoria singled off Twins’ reliever Alex Burnett, scoring Fuld and sending Zobrist to third. B.J. Upton and Zobrist executed a perfect safety squeeze, and Tampa Bay was up by two runs. Sean Rodriguez scorched a line drive into the left field seats for his fourth home run of the season, and the inning ended with the Rays leading 9-5.
Joel Peralta spelled Howell for Tampa Bay in the bottom of the eighth, allowing two singles before silencing the Twins. The top of the ninth saw the Rays add three runs off Minnesota reliever Phil Dumatrait. Fuld singled, Zobrist singled, and Longoria hit his eleventh home run of the season, a line drive into the front row, just over the left field wall. In the bottom of the inning, Adam Russell kept the Twins off the board while allowing three walks.
The win kept the Twins from sweeping the three-game series, and also left the Rays four games behind the New York Yankees. The Rays open a four-game set with the Evil Empire this evening at 7:05 at Yankee Stadium. In a battle of behemoths, the Rays will be sending out 6’9, 260 pound Jeff Niemann, and the Yankees will counter with thirty-eight year-old, 5’11, 265 pound Bartolo Colon. Niemann, at 3-4, is coming off a six inning outing in which he allowed only one earned run on five strikeouts, while scattering nine hits. Colon’s record stands at 6-3 with a 2.88 ERA.
*Wade Davis said â€œIt was probably some of the worst stuff that I’ve had all year…but I just kept battling through it…and it’s a good win for us.â€ You can’t measure a player only by how they perform when at the top of their game. You have to look at how they compete when they aren’t at their best. And Davis did what a starter is supposed to do: he gave his team a chance to win.
*Joe Maddon: â€œWe mad a lot of subtle mistakes today that we’ve got to do better with if we want to go back (to the playoffs) â€“ which we do. We were fortunate to get by today.â€ A good skipper often challenges his club to get better coming off a win. Joe Maddon is a good skipper!
*As the world awaits Derek Jeter’s 3,000th hit, here’s a comparison of his numbers and those of Johnny Damon. Remember, Jeter is a guaranteed, sure-fire lock, first-ballot Hall of Famer. Where does JD stand? Here’s DJ vs. JD
Games Runs Hits 2B 3B HR RBI SB BA
Jeter 2360 1725 2997 479 62 236 1157 330 .312
Damon 2358 1605 2662 502 103 224 1088 392 .287
While Jeter leads in almost every category, a pretty good case can be made for Damon getting into Cooperstown without having to pay for a ticket. While Jeter certainly leads in World Series rings (the only ring more important is a wedding ring), how many might Johnny have if he played most or all of his career with such a hallowed franchise as the Yankees?
As much as DJ means to the Yankees, look at what JD has meant for the Rays this season. Both are great at their craft, classy, and integral parts of their teams, both on the field and in the clubhouse. Both lead by example â€“ Damon just kills it down the line every at bat â€“ and both remain true to their personalities. Who wouldn’t want either on their club? I’m with Joe Maddon on this one. Johnny Damon has to get into The Hall. We know Jeter’s place has long been reserved. » Continue reading “Rays Win Leads Them To Gotham Just Four Back”
I hope that you were in a post-barbecue food coma last night. If that was the case, you were able to avoid some of the pain the Rangers unleashed on Rays fans during their 11-5 win.
Wade Davis dropped to 4-5 on the year after giving up seven earned runs in two and two-thirds innings. Ouch.
And for once, Sean Rodriguez’s sad eyes fit the situation perfectly. S-Rod committed three errors and single-handedly stopped the Rays’ MLB record streak of consecutive games to start a season without multiple errors in a game at 52.
The Rays will look for redemption in the Trop tonight. C.J. Wilson will start for Texas. Whenever I hear Wilson’s name, or see one of his many tweets, I get a painful flashback of Game 2 of the 2010 ALDS when he shutout the Rays over 6 and 1/3 innings. We can all relive that nightmare, courtesy of MLB.com.
Tampa Bay will send some fresh meat, in the form of right-hander Alex Cobb, to the mound. Reliever Brandon Gomes was optioned to Triple-A Durham last night following to 2 and 1/3 innings of work so Cobb could be called up.
Want a little good news? It doesn’t look like Casey Kotchman’s ankle sprain will land him on the DL and Rays Index hasn’t forgotten that there are more than two teams in the race for the top spot in the AL East.