The Tampa Bay Rays Are For Real!
It's time to start giving the Tampa Bay Rays some gosh darn credit
Written by Joe Rivera - Sporting News•October 9, 2019
Rays heading back to playoffs for 1st time since 2013
ALDS with the Houston Astros vs the Tampa Bay Rays 2 - 2 as of October 9th. They lost game 5.
Here it is already, December and only 3 months away from 2020 season opening. The past few weeks there have been a number a news releases concerning trades that the Rays have made. Typical and to be expected but the last one reported has me steaming. Tommy Pham traded to the Padres for an outfielder and a shortstop. Whatever the reasons, I am upset as well as Blake Snell who posted on his Twitch account a rather profane response to the news of the trade. (later he apologized for the comments). With talk of splitting the season between St. Pete and Montreal, I am about to abandon the Rays as my baseball team. (the split season can not happen until 2027 because of contracts with The Trop and St Pete.) All I can say is that they better be a better team next year than they were this last season.
Well, it is October 9th and the Rays have beaten the Astros in two games at the Trop to bring the division series to 2 and 2. Remember that the Astros were 2 - 0 before heading to St. Petersburg. But when the Rays got back to their home field, Wow! They never gave up! They beat the Astros 10 - 3 in game 3 and 4 - 1 in game 4. What a comeback thanks to some great pitching and hot bats.
Whether the Rays win game 5, it doesn't matter at this point. They have proven themselves. They chased Justin Verlander from the mound in the 4th inning of game 4. The Rays have the lowest payroll in all baseball with a lineup of no name players. Yet they beat one of the best teams in baseball in two straight games.
The attendance of the two home game playoffs were near capacity which is amazing considering that through out the season they struggled to get 18,000 in the seats. But the crowds came and as manager Kevin Cash and many of the players said, it was tremendous crowd support that helped them with the momentum. Now Tampa Bay fans, win or lose, lets support the team next year!
Well, I have to admit the Rays are actually playing baseball now. Yes, there are a few slip ups here and there but overall they are doing well. I am partiuclarly impressed with the pitching lately. Example, in game two of the double header with the Orioles Tuesday night (Sep 3), seven Tampa Bay relievers combined on a five-hitter and the playoff-contending Rays blanked the Orioles 2-0. Diego Castillo has really improved in his last few outings too. Go Rays!
I can sum up the disappointing Rays season so far in one word. PITCHING! Granted they have a problem with injuries with their starters. Tyler Glasnow is out, Blake Snell is out with an injury, Yonny Chirinos is out with an injury. So they have only had Charlie Morton and Ryan Yarbrough as starters. Both have done a great job. So Cash has had to rely on the opener and the bullpen. There in lies the tale. The bullpen stinks. Jose Alvarado, Diego Castillo can throw the ball 100 mph but absolutely no control. Big deal but if you can't control the strike zone, it is a hindrance not an asset.
Here is a great example. With the series with the Houston Astros, in game three, Cash decided 85 pitches was enough for Yarby and decided to go to Diego Castillo for the 7th inning. It did not go well. Again in bottom half of the inning in which the Rays’ score the Astro’s also scored. Diego Castillo opened up the inning with a walk to Yuli Gurriel and a double to Aledmys Diaz to tie the game up, again. Jake Marisnick Singled, George Springer singled, and a throwing error by Eric Sogard that should’ve ended the inning causes 2 more Astros to score and its 6-4 Astros. Cash went from Diego Castillo to Oliver Drake in the 8th inning, and it didn’t get any better. Drake opened up the inning with a double to Alex Bregman and a single to Yordon Alvarez. A groundout of Yuli Gurriel would put runners on 2nd and 3rd with 1 out, which lead to Cash and Drake to intentionally walk Aledmys Diaz to load the bases and set up the double play for catcher Martin Maldonado.In theory, its nice. Bases are still loaded. Drake did get Jake Marisnick to strike out, but walked George Springer, and the Rays found themselves in a 8-4 hole.The silver lining of this loss, is that Willy Adames continues his dominance on the road, and hit a 2-run HR off Roberto Osuna to give Rays fans hope.
Another example, on August 29th the Rays were playing the Astros. By the way, it was one of the sloppiest games. Quoting from Mister Lizzie on the draysbay web site, "But from there the Rays pitching really imploded. And I do mean the pitching, because defense had nothing to do with any of this. Richards walked Gurriel and Toro. He then recorded two strikeouts and got a loopy grounder from Josh Reddick. After fielding it he had a relatively easy play for the last out at first base, but he misfired and Reddick reached on the error to load the bases. So Richards, meant to be the bulk guy, was done after a little more than 2 innings. Chaz Roe replaced him, and walked George Springer to bring in a run, making the score 4-3. He then mercifully got the out."
"Colin Poche was next up to pitch the fifth, and seldom have I been more tortured by an inning of baseball. Here’s how it went: walk, deeeeep fly ball out, walk, strike out, walk, walk, walk. If you lost count, all those walks resulted in two runs, as the Astros took the lead, 5 to 4.
To me, the biggest cardinal sin a pitcher can make is to walk a batter when the bases are loaded and a run scores. Poche did it for 2 runs on 5 walks. He needs to be sent back down to AAA or maybe even AA.
While I am on this topic and ranting about the Rays pitching, let me go on to say the entire bullpen needs to be sent backing back to the minors or better yet to another team if any other team would have them.
Why is it that one of the worst teams, the Baltimore Orioles, can loose the first game to the Rays 7-1 and the second game beat them 7-1? It happened August 24th. Pitching!
For nearly 65 years of my 72 years, I did not watch any sports. Well, being from Illinois, I did follow the Chicago Cubs and da Bears. It was not until I moved to Florida that I became a sports nut. My epiphany came when I watched a Florida Panther hockey game when there was nothing on TV and I was channeling surfing. I was hooked.
We moved about two hundred miles north of Tampa, so I adopted the Tampa Bay area sports teams to follow. The Tampa Bay Lightening hockey team, the Tampa Bay Rays baseball team, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers football team, the Tampa Bay Rowdies soccer team, the Orlando Magic basketball team, the Orlando City soccer team and the UF Florida Gators. By the way, The Tampa Bay Rays and Tampa Bay Rowdies are owned by the same guy, Stuart L. Sternberg. I subscribe to Hulu and ESPN, so I can get all their games.
Since only baseball and soccer are being played right now, I will be addressing these sports for now.(Oops, the football preseason just kicked off so now I have to juggle between the Rays, the Rowdies and now the Buccaneers.) Unforunately, I do not see that many Orlando City soccer matches, so I can't comment on them. The Tampa Bay Rowdies are in first place in their division, so not much to talk about them. However, for the Tampa Bay Rays baseball team, I have plenty to say. They are one of the fewest attended teams in the MLB. They are lucky if they have 10,000 in attendance given any day they play. Their attendance soars when big league teams like the New York Yankees or Boston Red Sox come into town. More often than not, the crowd ends of cheering for the opposing team. The reasons for poor attendance are mainly blamed on the location of the stadium. From the Tampa area, it can take a good hour to drive to Tropicana Stadium. There are also three other major sports franchises playing in this area with a population of 395,000 for Tampa and an estimated 4.5 million in the greater Tampa Bay area. So it is difficult to get sports fans to support a team with this population when there are choices, especailly if a team is losing! It certainly doesn't help the team when the primary owner says he wants to move the team to Toronto for half the season and the other half play in Tampa. Fortunately for us fans, he can't do it until 2027 because of the contract he has for the stadium owned by the city of St. Petersburg.
This is the second year I have been following this team. And while at times, they have shown brillance in their play, overall they are a big disappointment. Here are my observations of some of the individual players.
Here are my observations of some of the individual players.
Kevin Kiermaier. He is the second highest paid Rays ($8,000,000 base salary) only losing out Charlie Morton who receives %15,000,000. Granted Kevin makes some spectacular catches in center field and fire a ball back into home plate. But, he injury prone. All his antics result in an injury and he is sidelined for whatever period of time till he heals. Prime example is in the game with the Chicago White Sox, he hurt with a sprained left thumb diving headfirst into first base on an infield single in the eighth inning. Yep, 10-day injured list. However, as what noted at the time, if he only kept running instead of his head first dive, he would have been safe at first and with a much bigger chance. This is not the only case for KK. Click to see his history.
For the second highest paid player on the team and supposedly an invaluable player both in defense and offense, stop making bone head plays that result in injury. But maybe it is his plan all along, after all he still gets paid whether in the field or on the bench. In a Fox Sports Sun promo featuring KK, he says he will get dirty and bloody, whatever it takes. He plays at 100% in every game. For good for you KK. Afterall you are the second highest paid player on the team. But how about only playing at say 90-95% so you don't get injured?
Joey Wendle. Joey missed most of the first half games due to an injury in spring training. It is taking some time for him to adjust back into the swing of things. However, I find him one of the purest ball players today. He does not use batting gloves, elbow, shin or foot guards when batting. Pure sandlot player. Put a bat in his hands and he is good to go.
Tommy Pham. This guy is so intense in the game. His offense and defense skills are exceptional. I love this guy and his attitude. He takes his profession very seriously.
Willy Adames. I know all ball players go through a slump and have bad days with bad plays. But overall performance of Willy is not that great. When throwing balls from short stop position or any infield hits, hit throws were lousy making the first baseman to cover is sloppy play. Granted, after the All Star break, he has tightened up this problem. Offensively, he still suffers. From time to time, he will make a fantastic hit but those are far and in between. My suggestion to Kevin Cash, send him back down till he gets his game right.
The Bull Pen. I have lumped this into one group. Despite the stats and what the announcers have to say about the bull pen. It stinks. More games have been lost because of the bull pen. The starting pitcher has kept the runs down and the game is close. Then a relief pitcher comes trotting in from the bull pen and the next thing you know the Rays have lost another game. During the telecasts, they highlight prospect pitchers in the Rays minor leagues who have impressive numbers. Send some of the regular bull pen pitchers down and send up the prospects. They can probably do better than the veterans.
The key to any game is whether the offense or defense can execute, control, command, and consistency in their play. This is most important for pitchers. Can they effectively, using fastballs, curves, cutters, breaking balls, consistently to get batters out. Here's the thing about the bull pen relief pitchers. Here is where the bull pen fails miseably. Look at the number of years they have been in the MLB and yet they have not mastered execution, control, consistency.
As you can see with the list of Tampa Bay Rays pitchers, starters and relievers, Charlie Morton is the highest paid Ray and pitcher. He has been in the league for 17 years and his stats show his outstanding performance. Then look at Chaz Roe's line. He is paid over a million dollars a year and he has been around for 14 years, yet he has not mastered the basics of execution, control and consistency in his pitching. Trade him now if anyone will take him.
Another point I want to make about the pitching. Kyle Snyder is the pitching coach. It would seem that he is not getting the job done very effectively in coaching the pitchers. Is is because the pitching staff are too set in their ways and are just uncoachable? Sometimes you can see the pained face of Kevin Cash when he watches a relief pitcher blow it.
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