Posted tagged ‘Tampa Bay Rays’

MLB Hot Stove: Moves that get overlooked so far this winter

November 25, 2013

When it comes to the MLB offseason and Free Agency everyone looks to the Jhonny Peralta’s new 4 year contract with the Cardinals or the big trade swap between Texas and Detroit involving Prince Fielder and Ian Kinsler. While those deals are significant for the 2014 season, there are moves that go on throughout the winter that doesn’t get everyone’s attention on television or in the newspaper that should be noted to all baseball fans.

Nick+Punto+Arizona+Diamondbacks+v+Los+Angeles+JTUk13Yrdh4xLet’s start with infielder Nick Punto signing with the Oakland A’s. In Los Angeles last season with the Dodgers, he had a very good defensive year at 3rd Base and Shortstop. But let’s start off with his value. He had a WAR (Wins Above Replacement) of 2.2 and 22 RAR (runs above replacement). He had a line of .255/.328/.327 in 335 plate appearances for the Los Angeles Dodgers but it wasn’t his bat that makes him so important because he defense makes up for that line. His Rdrs/year (Defensive Runs Saved) at 3rd and SS was 11 which is very good at the hot corner including 48 double plays turned and a .974 fielding percentage. Note, this is a utility player who will bring leadership and depth to a team that was lacking that in the postseason. Like I said, this is not a sexy signing but it is very influential to the Oakland A’s ball club in 2014.

Colby+Lewis+Toronto+Blue+Jays+v+Texas+Rangers+kQR2Vtq3VDmlNext is a signing that occurred today with Colby Lewis and the Texas Rangers. He signed a minor league deal with an invitation to spring training. If Lewis makes the major league team, he’ll make $2 million in base salary and can earn up to another $4 million in incentives. He won 26 games for the Rangers in 2010-11 and in the playoffs he was 4-1 with a 2.34 ERA. Here is the important part, he started 200 innings in both of those years and had a winning record in a ballpark that is tough to pitch in. The Rangers will lose Matt Garza and lack veteran leadership in their rotation. If he can get it right after shoulder surgery in 2012, he can be an innings eater and can be that important back of the rotation guy at a very low cost compared to the Royals signing Jason Vargas for 8 million a season with a career 4.30 ERA. At the age of 34, he shouldn’t be the same pitcher we saw 3 years ago but I expect him to be effective and help the club get more wins this season. Watch for his story when Spring Training arises. I like his comeback potential.

penaCatchers are at a premium in baseball, especially defensive ones. When the Cincinnati Reds signed Brayan Pena and the Tampa Bay Rays signed Jose Molina on two-year contracts, I thought they were extremely smart moves from both clubs.

For the Tigers last season, Pena had a good percentage catching 30% of runners stealing bases. He also presented some pop in his bat with a .297 average, 4 home runs, and 11 doubles in 71 games. Not many backups catchers have those types of numbers in the big leagues and the Reds lacked a catcher with home run power and strong defense behind the dish.

molina raysOn the other side, Molina is a defensive wizard and is essential for Tampa Bay’s pitching staff. During the 2012 season he held the staff to a 3.22 ERA and a 3.74 in 2013. He had a value defensively of 6.2 compared to the league average of 0.9 in 2012 and 3.9 compared to league average 1.4 in 2013. In his two years with a Rays uniform he has had 55 runners killed on the base paths which shows how valuable he is compared to any other catcher in the market. Plus, he ranks first in framing runs above average with 33 which is 5 better than his brother Yadier Molina who is the best defensive catcher in the National League.

As for the offense, he has batted a poor .228 with the Rays but his defense is more valuable than his offense and you could see that in the 2013 Wild Card game against the Indians as he led Alex Cobb to 6 2/3 scoreless innings and striking out five.

So after reading this I hope you realize that while adding a player like Robinson Cano can make a huge difference in wins for any roster in the major leagues, it is the buying low and getting high reward players that fans don’t know about going into spring training. I hope I have kept you informed on smart deals for teams that needed improvements at those positions.

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The Sports Cycle Video: MLB Playoff Race with special guest Mark Freund

September 21, 2011

Donnie Dwyer talks to MUTV Assistant Sports Director Mark Freund about the playoff race in the month of September and about the great career of Mariano Rivera. Check it out…

Video: A Look back at Derek Jeter’s 3,000 hit day

July 11, 2011

Here is a video about Jeter’s 3,000 hit game against the Rays:

AL East Preview

April 1, 2011

Donnie Dwyer of the Sports Cycle breaks down the toughest division in baseball, the American League East.

Johnny Damon and Manny Ramirez introduced as Tampa Bay Rays

February 1, 2011

Via ESPN:

“Our goal is to repeat as division winners this year and then moving on from there,” Maddon added. “These two guys definitely make us more solvent. There’s no question.”

…This move for the both of them is smart and it makes baseball fun again. The AL East is the best and most talented division in baseball. With both Damon and Manny on the same team, it will bring new life to the young Rays team. They will bring hard work, dedication, amusement, and hopefully wins to the young squad. With Damon, Ramirez, Longoria, Zobrist, and Upton in the lineup they are still dangerous. Watch out cause magic might be spurring in South Beach…

Photo courtesy of: Getty Images

The Rays swimming in a dead sea?

September 28, 2010

Via ESPN:

When 12,446 fans showed up Monday night to see if the AL East-leading Tampa Bay Rays could clinch their second playoff berth in three years, Evan Longoria decided he’d seen enough empty seats and said something about it.

Longoria, who did not play in the Rays’ 4-0 loss to Baltimore, spoke at length about the team’s chronically low attendance, calling it “disheartening” and “embarrassing.”

 “We’ve been playing great baseball all year. Since I’ve been here in [2006], the fans have wanted a good baseball team. They’ve wanted to watch a contender,” Longoria told reporters. “And for us to play good baseball for three years now, and for us to be in a spot to clinch again and go to the playoffs, we’re all confused as to why it’s only 15,000 to 20,000 in the building.”

Monday’s announced attendance was a little more than half of the 23,047 the team has averaged at home this season, despite battling neck-and-neck with the New York Yankees for the AL East lead and baseball’s best record for most of the season.

Tropicana Field, the Rays’ much-maligned domed stadium, holds 36,973 for baseball during the regular season.

“In 2008, when we clinched, this place was packed,” Longoria said. “It’s kind of like what else do you have to do to draw fans in this place. It’s actually embarrassing for us.”

Longoria said the attendance has not had any bearing on the team’s on-field effort at home, where the Rays are 48-31 entering Tuesday’s game against the Orioles.

“But we’re talking about a team in a playoff hunt with the opportunity to clinch. You could at least get 30,000 in here to cheer you on to it,” Longoria said.

“It’s a tough situation for us,” he added. “A lot of the visiting teams come in and wonder where are all the fans. It’s actually a little bit embarrassing for us. We’re one game away from clinching a postseason spot. We have enough guys in this room to celebrate with, but we’d love to celebrate it with the fans, too.”

The Rays have a roster full of young, talented players and are polishing off their third straight winning season after starting their existence with a decade of dreadful results. But small crowds at home have been a constant issue, despite the team’s dramatic improvement.

Longoria said he had been thinking about addressing the Rays’ home attendance for a long time.

“I’m not trying to take a low blow at the fans. I’m actually trying to rally the troops and get more people in here,” he said. “I’m not trying to say that we have bad fans or any of that because, believe me, I’ve been here since ’06 and I love the Tampa Bay community. It’s just tough to see, and I felt I was the right guy to say it.” 

The current Rays roster might not be in place for fans to watch next season.

Team owner Stuart Sternberg said last week that no matter what happens, the team will cut payroll during the offseason, meaning pending free agents Carl Crawford, Carlos Pena and Rafael Soriano likely will not return.

Tampa Bay’s current payroll of $71.9 million — a team record, but tens of millions less than the AL East-rival Yankees and Boston Red Sox — is expected to drop to $50 million or less next season.

“No question. Nothing can change that,” Sternberg said of the coming payroll reduction, according to the St. Petersburg Times. “Unfortunately there’s nothing that can happen between now and April that can change that unless [manager] Joe Maddon hits the lottery and wants to donate it or I hit the lottery.”

…I can feel for Evan here in this situation. Florida is not the best place to be when it comes to attendances in baseball. The Marlins barely have anyone come to the game even when they are playing well and the Rays are having the same problem to. Many can say it’s the economy, but still, if your team is playing well there usually is support to back it up. In this case, there isn’t. I like how Longoria used the words, “It’s actually embarrassing for us.” Cause they used to be embarrassing and now they are promising. I think this will help the Rays get more people in to the next games but I also think you won’t draw attendance when Monday Night Football is on and you are also playing the Baltimore Orioles who are the worst in the AL. Let’s see what the attendance numbers are tomorrow and see if Longoria still will have an impact…

Funny Sports Video of the Week

September 22, 2010

…This is probably the funniest video I have ever seen. The Rays really need a rap star like this to make it big. It is just so classic. A kitty rapping in a Rays jersey and chains with the matching cap is just priceless. I know I got a kick out of it. What do you think?…