J P Howell’s Return Warrants Rays Roster Move

With the proverbial clock ticking louder and louder, it is only a matter of hours before the Tampa Bay Rays have to make an executive decision on who might be demoted back to the minors to make a roster space for Southpaw reliever J P Howell to again don a Rays uniform( # 74) in the  Rays Bullpen. Believe me, there are plenty of viable candidates for a one-way ticket to Triple-A again.

 Surely the first thoughts have to go towards the recent 2 relief pitching additions this month, and that by itself should certainly have the Rays relievers firmly in the harsh spotlight. But could the Rays staff possibly throw in a unforeseen breaking ball and make a move no one seriously saw coming? It would not be unprecedented as this Rays management sometimes likes to ruffle a few feathers with unconventional thought processes and decision as opposed to doing the “ normal” route for such transactions.

Most Rays Republic fingers will automatically be pointed towards young relievers Brandon Gomes and Rob Delaney as instant “shoo-ins” to possibly be heading back to the Triple-A Durham Bulls since both have minor league options still at the Rays disposal. Both Delaney and Gomes have also done a few things on the mound recently to gather more and more momentum towards one of the pair getting demoted.

Some have hinted that SS Reid Brignac or possibly 1B/DH Dan Johnson could be in need of a “vacation” to Durham to find their stroke again. It makes sense,but with Inter-League beginning in less than 24 hours against our inter-state nemesis from South Florida, any hitters getting a ticket to Triple-A is as valid as a night of FREE beer at your local wings & things joint…Not going to happen, even with the Mayan’s doomsday prediction.

Delaney in particular might be the most recent Rays Bullpen member in Maddon’s wine cellar doghouse after coming on this past Sunday against the Baltimore Orioles and not recording a single out in his appearance. Sure he walked 3 Orioles, including 1 Intentionally, which has not been done since former Rays RP Jason Isringhausen performed his own meltdown version in the infamous Cleveland Indian 11-straight runs debacle back on May 25, 2009 (I still blame the RED TB caps).

Somehow it seems like a long time since Delaney’s May 8th promotion to the big leagues and his perfect inning of relief work during his 2011 debut in Baltimore. Something seems to have  happened to Delaney since his move up to the Rays. Suddenly a guy who was 1-0 with a 1.50 ERA in 12 appearances at Triple-A is seeing his MLB ERA skyrocket to 13.50 in just 3 MLB game appearances.

I can Definitely can forecast a red circle on Maddon’s sheet in respect to Delaney name possibly sending him down for more Bullpen seasoning in the minors again.

 Gomes also left a few Rays open wounds recently fresh on the frontal lobe of Maddon after surrendering 2 earned runs in the top of the 9th inning to the New York Yankees in the Rays final homestand defeat. It was a career high earned run implosion for Gomes.

Heck in 8 innings of Bullpen work so far with the big club, Gomes has given up 3 earned runs in his 7 game appearances. Not the kind of stellar performances that make you invisible at a moment like this.

In Gomes favor is his recent Saturday night romp on the hill where he struck out the side in order, but did give up a double to Orioles 1B Derrick Lee, his first extra base hit surrendered in his short MLB career in the 8th inning.

Gomes has come a long way since his MLB debut back on May 4th against the Toronto Blue Jays and left a massive impression on Maddon when Gomes tossed 2 innings of relief for Rays starter Wade Davis. With a 3.38 ERA in 7 games, seems Gomes might not be the first choice for demotion. Still things can change in a New York minute when you are a relief pitcher. One bad outing can get you sent out and down before you ever get your uniform off.

Weighing the pros and cons of each guy carefully it seems that Delaney might be the guy with the short straw at this moment.

 We still have a contest to play tonight, and an implosion by either Gomes or Delaney could seal their own fates in either direction the moment Maddon heads to the mound to take the ball from either pitcher. I throughly expect to see both possibly take the hill tonight in a last ditch relief effort for Maddon and Rays Pitching Coach Jim Hickey to solidify their choice and make it stick before boarding the charter flight back to FL.

 Even though I truly feel Brignac might need some time to “ find his bat” again, the cards are severely stacked towards a reliever getting a ticket to Triple-A tonight. My gut feeling is that Delaney is the guy in the ledge right now, but Maddon could be playing us all and possibly send down Left-handed reliever Cesar Ramos  with Howell eager and ready to go……Still, someone has to go tonight and the last two guys promoted seem to be the logical choices….Right?




This is why I don’t want to be a GM. One man’s logic is another man’s insanity ;o) Better them than me…lol

It is a wonder Andrew Friedman and Joe Maddon still have an ounce of sanity, especially after this last Winter. But having talented guys with options is a great thing to have….Most teams do not have that depth or a pool to even pluck such talent within their systems.
Can’t wait to see what the Rays do with their upcoming draft…I think we kind of have too many selections at this time.

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