Results tagged ‘ Rays Baseball ’

With Cabrera Now a Ray, Who in the Infield is Expendable?

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Sure he still has a physical to pass, but we might as well get used to pronouncing and saying Asdurbal Cabrera’s name here in Tampa Bay. His $8 Million 1-year deal will eat some of that fat cabbage the Rays have saved on a few deals already completed this off season, but his addition also means someone will surely be dealt in the coming weeks. 

The only real question remaining is when the Rays make a move to shed another high profile player.

images (7)You have to think the signing of Cabrera a shuffling of the Rays infield as the Rays would not have signed him as an everyday DH, or keep his defensive skills on the bench.

Now the question is which part of the Rays prolific 2014 double play tandem could be packing their gear? Do they entertain offers only for Ben Zobrist, or does the team also put Yunel Escobar on the trade block as a second viable option?

While most people would immediately point to 2B/INF Zobrist as being the odd man out, I am not so sure. Even though Zobrist is entering his walk season in 2015, the former AL All-Star might just be more valuable to the Rays.

images (4)Zobrist does have huge trade value in his “plug-him-in-anywhere” versatility that every team covets.

Of course this is just my opinion, but I think the Rays should keep a firm grip on Zorilla and possibly look a little more towards the Shortstop position for a guy who is expendable, especially with the Cabrera signing.

People tend to forget Cabrera was the Cleveland Indians starting SS in 2015 before his late season trade to the Washington Nationals who used him primarily as a Second Baseman.

With the Rays currently having Logan Forsythe and Nick Franklin on their roster, 2B is becoming a mighty crowded space and quite possibly the Rays could look a bit west of the pivot for some roster reevaluation.

So let’s take a gander at both Zobrists and Escobar’s number from 2014 and see who might be offensively expendable:

images (2)Zobrist played in 146 games in 2014 posting a .272 average with 10 HR and 52 RBis while maintaining a sparky .749 OPS. He also posted a .983 Fielding average with 8 errors, 224 assists and 44 double plays.

Stats might be viewed by some as close, but the reality is that Zobrist can be plugged into more offensive scenarios like hit and runs, suicide squeezes and running the base paths.

downloadIn comparison, Escobar played in 137 games, posted a .258 average with 7 HRs and 39 RBis and .664 OPS. Yunel posted a .965 Fielding average with 16 errors, 267 assists and 50 Double plays.

One last glaring stat about the pair: Zobrist had 10 stolen bases in 2014…..Escobar had 1 SB.

Escobar to me has been a great Rays player, but the switch-hitting Zobrist give the Rays more options both in the field and at the plate.  And Cabrera is a step better than the Rays current SS option of Escobar both on the field and with his bat and that combo could spell Escobar’s name being shopped harder than Zobrist right now.

images (8)So let’s compare Cabrera’s combined 2014 stats at the plate and in the field to further show Escobar might be a name to watch closely in the coming weeks.

Defensively Cabrera posted a .964 Fielding percentage with both the Nats and Indians in 2014, but he also posted a .995 Fielding percentage in 48 games with Washington as a Second Baseman.

Cabrera had a total of 15 errors in 2014, 14 with Cleveland, and 1 with Washington. If you combine his two teams, he posted 255 assists and 57 double plays.

images (6)These stats might conclude a dead heat for Escobar and Cabrera defensively, but when you look at their offensive numbers Cabrera might be the better offensive weapon for the Rays than Escobar.

Cabrera posted a combined .241 average, which might not be as appealing, but his 4 Triples and 14 HR show he still has some pop in his bat. Cabrera also had 61 RBIs and posted a .694 OPS.

Cabrera’s offensive totals might not get you jumping for joy, but put his name into the bottom half of the Rays lineup and the team instantly gets a second burst of potential power to drive in runs and provide stability for the bottom of the lineup.

images (9)Let’s not even remind ourselves Cabrera as a member of the Tribe was the AL All-Star in 2011-12, a Top 20 vote getter in the AL MVP Award, plus a Silver Slugger winner in 2011.

Escobar also was a Top 20 NL MVP vote getter in 2009 while with the Braves, but has never appeared in an All-Star game in while at the MLB level.

Ultimately you and I will not be making this decision, but you have to think that a offensively-challenged team like the Rays would keep their best power option not matter the salary.

Cabrera and _______ seems like a better double play tandem option in 2015. Now the Rays just have to decide if they pencil in Escobar’s name or Zobrist’s in that sentence heading into 2015.

Rays Renegade & The Pitchouts (2010 edition) Wish You Happy Holidays

 

 

As we gander closer to the Holiest nights of the year, I want to take a moment out and thank the many viewers, commentator’s and baseball friends who have made this year of 2010 so…well glorious.

I might not be sporting 5 Golden Rings, but another A L East banner for the Tropicana Field rafters was an expensive present, but more than enough to send 4 Lords a-leaping in my book.

I thought it was only right to honor and pay a holiday tribute to guys who made a lot of what happened for the Tampa Bay Rays possible in 2010.

No, I am not talking about the Rays 3 Wise Men, Stuart Sternberg (Owner), Matt Silverman (President) or Andrew Friedman (VP of Baseball Ops), even though their leadership and vision, along with over $ 70 million little helpers did play a significant role.

I am talking about the quintuplets of quality, the Rays starting 5 rotation. These five hurlers rocked both the Trop. and everywhere else in the MLB this season to produce 96 wins (only 1 win short of their 2008 record).

The Rays rambunctious five even tried to produce 5 separate 200+ innings producers, and only got derailed by a late season road bump by Jeff Niemann and Wade Davis and still came within 37.2 innings of the feat.

So it was only right that the Ray Clubhouse new Rock, Rap and Reggae band, The Pitch-Outs should bring you a little holiday cheer.

The band is led by the dramatic and charismatic vocal soundings of Matt Garza, who gets to those classic Rock falsetto high notes just as quickly as his 95+ high and tight fastball screams over the plate.

His physical nature as the Punch-Outs front man is showcased by him toying with the crowd before delivering a solid move that is more crippling than his backdoor slider.

Behind him we have the always rock solid lead guitar work of the Ace of the quint, James Shields, who sometimes wears a gray beard off stage as a disguise to keep his many fans at bay.

But on stage there is no disputing the talents and ability of this emerging rock legend as his fingers take to the Stratocaster and take you on a melody ride on his crazy train. 

On the left side of the stage we have the southpaw David Price who is very noticeable in his blond flowing locks and seems to be the shy guy of the bunch until he get his guitar strap over his shoulder, then he turns into a modern day Bootsy Collins just up there trying to seduce, embrace and groove to the music.

His rhythm guitar is one of the solid reasons this Rays band of hurlers is going places, and might just eventually challenge Garza for some of the band’s spotlight in 2011. 

On the bass guitar is country born and bred Wade Davis, who has taken to the music the same way he takes the mound…with authority and has produced one of the best Rays rookie campaigns in the team’s short history.

In his first extended time at the MLB level, Davis has shown he can step to the mound and deliver and be a consistent part of the future of this amazing band. Sky is the limit as Davis enters his Sophomore tour with no signs of letting up or moving into the background.

Last, but definitely not least we have the Tall Texan, Jeff Niemann who was put behind the drum set only because he kept hitting the band’s stage lighting with his head during their earlier sets.

But the big man can definitely hit the skins and showed in 2010 that his beats are as good as anyone out there, and that you can never count him out. With his patented move of jumping up from the drums set and leaping into the air with the band’s last number, the 6′ 8″ Niemann suddenly produces one of the band’s great moments of the night.

So this holiday season it just seemed only fitting to let the band successful CD’s like “Buckled your Knees” ,”Backdoor Slider Blues“, ” KO Blues” or even the emotional passion of “Pitching My Heart Away” should be in the stocking of the ones you love.

The band optimizes the energy and gusto that is the frankincense and spice that encircles the Rays Republicuniverse. So be sure to watch and listen to the holiday styling’s of The Pitch-outs and look for another CD to drop in April 2011.

From everyone, even the mice at the Rays Renegade abode, I want to wish you a Merry Christmas and hope that all of life’s gifts are delivered to you under your glistening Christmas tree or in your stocking this holiday season.

 

Balfour to Visit Homeland as an MLB Ambassador

 

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Say what you want about Tampa Bay Rays reliever Grant Balfour. Some comments center on his spiral anger issues, while other wonder why during years with even numbers his stats tend to go a bit south.

imagesPersonally, I think the guy is a great competitor and even with a few terse moments on the mound talking to baseballs and angering foes, the guy always enjoys and looks forward to giving back.

So it is no surprise to me that Balfour along with Chicago Cubs P Andre Rienzo and Milwaukee Brewers Manager Ron Roenicke will make up an extremely diverse Major League Baseball trio of Ambassadors during their trek to Balfour’s homeland of Australia from Dec 12-21st.

Some people say the “Angry Aussie” has easily compiled the best career mark ever in the M L B among those bearing Aussie roots, and so many around the baseball world and in his home country view him as a bit of a cult hero because of his tirades with those white Rawlings baseballs, and has ruffled quite a few feathers among M L N hitters.

downloadFew players display their passion on their sleeves like Balfour in the game today and his outward pouring of high energy emotions and a few choice words can polarize some baseball fans opinions of the pitcher.

But that persona of anger and disdain for baseballs of aspects of the game is not the true essence of Balfour, or the Balfour I have known during his times with the Rays. He has always been cordial to fans, stopping to talk with them, hold endearing conversations and offering friendship to many who sit around the area of the Rays Bullpen.

images (4)During my time in that same area of Tropicana Field, I have not seen Balfour refuse an autograph, not stop to at least acknowledge a fan calling out his name and for the most part being a great ambassador of the Rays.

So it must be thrilling for Balfour to get the chance to visit his homeland and I imagine a stop in his hometown of Kings Langley which is a suburb of Sydney.

But the fact is Balfour has done some amazing things over his 11 years playing professional baseball in the U.S. with visits to the World Series with the Rays, plus being selected to the American League All-Star squad during his tenure with the Oakland Athletics back in 2013.

images (6)Balfour has gotten a chance with 3 different teams to pitch in the M L B postseason and sports a career ERA of 3.46 over 528 appearances with 84 saves and 571 K’s in 535.1 innings.

Balfour and crew are expected to arrive in Sydney on Thursday, Dec 11th and enjoy a free day before commencing on the 8-day M L B Ambassador Tour.

Here is a tentative sampling of the events and activities that Balfour will attend and participate in during the 8-day MLB Ambassadors Tour:

On Friday, Dec 12th, Balfour will be present at a Welcome Home Press Conference in Sydney and then to Blue Sox Stadium and will meet fans before throwing out the First Pitch at the Sydney Blue Sox  and Adelaide Bite game.

On Saturday, Dec 13th , Balfour and his fellow Ambassadors will hold a MLB Training with the Pros session at Sydney’s Blue Sox’s stadium for local junior players.  If you have not heard about the Training with the Pros sessions, it is a long standing MLB program in partnership with Baseball Australia and the teams of the Australian Baseball League which provides hands on skill-training from Australian and foreign-born professional baseball players.

B4nUp52CIAExNEdDuring this visit, the Ambassadors will present the Ambassador’s Cup Trophy to the ACT Junior Club with the most new baseball recruits this season.

Balfour and the group will then travel to meet fans who attend the Canberra Cavalry and Melbourne Aces match later in the day.

On Sunday, Dec. 14th, Balfour will be in attendance in Sydney and also take part in what should be an emotionally-charged tribute to his father, David Balfour, acknowledging his contributions to Australian baseball. Balfour will also be on hand to meet fans pre-game who came to watch that days Sydney Blue Sox versus Adelaide Bite game.

The group will take Monday off as a travel day and land in Melbourne.

On Tuesday, Dec. 16th, Balfour and his fellow Ambassadors will hold a press conference at Melbourne Ballpark and meet with the Australian Baseball All-Stars team members.

On Weds., Dec 17th, Balfour will serve as an honorary Team Australian Captain during the Australian All-Baseball League All-Star game that pits the best home grown Aussie talents against the best of the imported players in the league.

On Thursday, Dec 18th, the group will travel to the Gold Coast and hold a special Training with the Pros session in Coomera with local junior players.

On Friday, Dec 19th the Ambassadors will travel to Brisbane and hold a MLB Training with the Pros session at AFA  Stadium at Holloway Field. The group will then meet fans and attend the Brisbane Bandits versus Canberra Cavalry game.

muu_jOoHIsQT1J7mB3P-5NAIt is great to see Balfour and his MLB  colleagues hit Australia this off season and give back. You have to believe it will be especially satisfying for Balfour to see how the game has grown in his home country and the heights it has reached in each of these vistas he and the MLB Ambassadors will visit during their trip.

I have no worries Balfour and his MLB crew will not only make a difference, but I know Balfour will bring back so many grand stories of how much the game has changed and how it has further impacted his life.

Can’t wait to hear a few of them while leaning on the Right Field rail this spring.