Results tagged ‘ Rays ’
Several years ago I started a MLBlogs.com Holiday tradition by posting about my personal character selections for that season’s All-Holiday squad. The first squad selected back in 2008 was composed of characters we all know and love from our favorite holiday movies and shows.
The usual suspects were invited on the team like George Bailey and little Ralphie, and of course Rudolph. But I knew I had to bring about a more super human strength factor this Holiday Season if we were to beat the current League Champions and their stormtroopers.
Since the “Evil Empire” took the trophy in 2009, I could always hit the “Stars Wars” human and machine memory banks and find more than enough characters and antics to post a pretty good line-up. This holiday season’s roster will be based on Super Heroes. So let’s get on with the formal introductions of my All-Holiday squad for 2011.
So with no further ado, let me introduce to you the 11 players of the newly formed N’oreastern Blizzard, the second franchise of the North American League.
This was a tough decision knowing that so many great super heroes could throw a baseball not only through a strike zone, but through the stadium backstop and wall. I decided to take it in a bit of a different direction. He might be the youngest of the Fantastic Four, but the Human Torch was an easy choice for my starting pitcher. This decision did come with some possible side effects with the baseball actually vaporizing before it gets near the plate. But I have a plan.
With the definite possibility that the other team could chart his flame path to try to steal his pitch locations, I asked Jonathan Lowell SpencerStorm to throw an extra puff of trailing smoke along with the ball to cover its path to the plate. I also dipped all 13 dozen game balls (the same number as the MLB uses per game) in a flame retardant liquid that would not leave a residue, but would leave the ball intact for numerous flights to the plate.
I decided to go with my gut instinct here and put Mr. Fantastic aka Reed Richards, the leader of the Fantastic Four at first base bag as much for his intelligence in the arts of alien biology and physics as for his vertical and horizontal dexterity. Because he could conveniently stretch out far and wide, it made him another clear choice because of his flexibility get errant throws and also provide superb dives and lunges for balls hit either to his left or right.
Here is the position where I am thinking I will get the biggest feedback in the form of the player I picked for this spot. I decided to give this spot to Super Sentai, who was actually the basis for the popular Power Rangers characters. Unknown to most of us in the United States, this Super Hero series has been translated and brought to other cultures around the world from Brazil, Italy, Spain and Portugal to even the US where they were transformed into the Power Rangers. Super Sentai is my only super hero that has come from overseas to play America’s game, and has found his rightful place among my team.
Spiderman aka Peter Parker was one of the only super heroes to not be a protegé at one point in his development. Parker seemed a natural and true choice for this position if you consider his web-shooting ability along with his uncanny spidey-sense. That essence of instinct and range makes him a natural for the spot. And with the mantra, “With great power comes great responsibility” spoken to him by his late Uncle Bob, Spiderman could actually maybe be a nice clone of a certain “Evil Empire” shortstop with his remarkable range and throwing accuracy.
I decided the Hot Corner should be patrolled by Spawn. Because most 3B’s are viewed as baseball mercenaries, this former CIA agent fits perfectly into the mold of a MLB 3-bagger. Considering his character has been known to morph and change during the course of his adventures, this might transform perfectly for him at third base where I though his uncanny ability to transform and stand tall and firm while guarding the line might be the perfect trait for this position. And knowing that games can be won and lost down the Right field line, his ever-expanding bag of tricks from sprinting in for bunted ball to making odd angle throws or even making full-body dives over the bag to snag balls screaming down the line at the speed of light makes him the perfect choice.
This line-up spot was actually very easy for me. The character taking this spot has to dive, block and basically be a human wall to the Human Torch’s hot tamale pitches. That is why Thing from the Fantastic Four was the perfect pick. As the founding member of the Fantastic Four, Thing also can be the field general that every team needs behind the plate. Born Benjamin Jacob Grimm, he was an avid football player, which will make him a perfect wall when he stands in front of the plate and blocks a runner from trying to score on him. And with his orange-colored skin, he will be an easy target for any member of the Blizzard’s pitching staff. Add on his comical tag line of: “It’s clobbering Time”, and you get one of my team’s pure power hitters.
I wanted to use one member from the Batman franchise here. For that reason I selected the Batman (Christian Bale version) who could be the most productive and intimidating based on the uncanny ability to leer into the infield might keep guys from trying to stretch singles into doubles. Just a glare from his eyes might freeze a runner between bases and hesitate just enough for him to get a quick throw in and nail him for an outfield assist. Added on the fact he has enough pieces of equipment on his utility belt to scale any wall, even the Green Monster and bring the ball back into play. Plus the caped crusader has some pretty cool rides which translates nicely into the MLB lifestyle.
Here is another spot that I thought demanded that I have one of the fastest super heroes in the corner outfield to cover the Centerfield-Right field gap. For that reason, Flash seemed to be the perfect fit. I decided that the Scarlett Speedster would be a nice deterrent to teams trying to not only run on his arm, but test his abilities to get to almost any ball hit his way. One of the greats attributes a Rightfielder can have is teams’ fearing what he will do once he has the ball in his glove or hand. Flash gives me that extra jolt of confidence that if a runner is trying to score from third base, the throw will be at the plate with authority.
This one was actually another one of the easiest positions to fill on this roster. Who else but Superman (Christopher Reeves version) could patrol the gaps and distances to the centerfield wall. Partner that with a great ability to keep the ball in the park hit at any height, and you get a solid defensive outfielder who also can bring some super power to the plate.He could take a bit of pressure off Batman in Left field, but it would be on a purely speed basis to secure the out and not be an ego thing. Mark that with his solid personal makeup and you got a guy that the fans would also enjoy having him autograph a ball with his eyes, or even pose for pictures strutting his muscles.
Here is a spot I did not include my initial 2008 squad, and I felt terrible about it. Every team needs a guy who can button down those close games and give them that needed push to hold a team scoreless and then win in walk-off fashion. For that reason, I think the Punisher is the perfect man for the job.
Not only does the Punisher have those human flaw trademarks we all know and love in our closers, he has that anti-hero trait that most MLB closer possess and use to their advantage. As Frank Castle, the Punisher will use whatever methods are needed to get a positive end result. That, is the ultimate goal of every closer, to have the game come down to his abilities and he conquer them single-handedly.
I think there is only one choice considering it has to be a position of power and great energy. Without a doubt, the prefect DH would have to be the Incredible Hulk. Just on his pure ability to hit the cover off the ball. Hulk has the ability to change, so he could be his green imposing self at the plate, and transform into his human form and become a speed merchant on the base paths. But, for the sake of argument, I think he will try to maintain his angered state throughout the baseball game just for team confidence.
So there you go. This is my player selections for my Christmas 2011 roster of the newly formed second team in the North America League. Unlike the AFL or even the USFL, this baseball league will continue to expand with at least one team forming every Christmas season until we have enough teams to play every day of the holiday season.
This is my own little personal Winter League experiment, and with three teams already in the books, it will be fun to watch both the N’oreastern Blizzards, Evil Empire and the Polar Express playing on a cool and sunny Florida baseball diamond near you. Admission is free and remember, a hot dog always tastes better at the ballpark!
Happy Holidays to everyone from Rays Renegade.
I’m dumbfounded and disgusted right now.
Not simply by the obscure comment I heard during today’s St. Petersburg City Council meeting made about the “arrogance of the Rays” in regard to this issue and if that is not the pot calling the kettle black then we seriously are in trouble as a city.
This Rays ongoing stadium stalemate is beginning to feel like a modern rendition of the tale regarding Sysphus.
I guess the best way to illustrate this point is if the Rays mascot Raymond on in this case Rays-phus begins pushing a boulder towards the tilted top of Tropicana Field and as he nears the cupola it begins to rolling back and Raymond must again repeat the process again…and again…to infinity.
I think the St. Pete. City Council has unknowingly finally jumped the proverbial shark and truly are not thinking about a lasting baseball presence in the city. But then again, what do you expect from a city that can’t decide on a Pier design and wants a modern masterpiece that will stick out like a sore thumb with the surrounding Mediterranean-Spanish influenced structures
Without a doubt this was a called Strike 2 on any baseball’s future in St. Petersburg, maybe even Tampa Bay.
Plain and simple, the St. Pete. City Council tonight might have finally made it morally and ethically for the Tampa Bay Rays to call the city’s lawsuit bluff and they might finally venture outside of St. Petersburg…. no matter the financial or legal repercussions.
I truly thought that St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman and the Rays President of Operations Brian Auld produced a fair and just starting pointof cooperation for the team to regain or provide some positive movement towards finding a new stadium for the team.
The St. Pete. City Council really had nothing financially to lose by approving this mutually arranged agreement with the Rays. Instead they might have caused the wheels to begin turning on the Rays exit strategy.
By them voting against this agreement the City Council might collectively risk St. Pete’s baseball future and force the hand of Major League Baseball who can without recourse oe worry pluck this team out of the region in a heartbeat and pay the Rays stadium contract out of their petty cash box.
So by a 5-3 vote to not approve the reached agreement by Mayor Kriseman and the Rays on a stadium exploration agreement outside the city limits of St. Pete, they must now accept the present and future consequences of this action.
First off, to St. Petersburg City Council members Karl Nurse, Charlie Gerdes (my Councilman) and City Council Vice- Chairman Daren Rice.. Thank you for your insight, confidence and trust that by voting in the affirmative we can find a viable solution to the Rays stadium issue whether within out city limits or outside them.
To St. Petersburg City Council members from Chairman Bill Dudley, Steve Kornell, Jim Kennedy, Amy Foster, and finally Wengay Newton…..Shame on you for letting this stalemate continue and not bring some sunshine back into the darkness that has been the Rays stadium saga with our fair city.
Some will say I have not right saying this, but I was born in St. Anthony’s Hospital, educated in St. Petersburg and I have given my heart and soul defending it in the past to disapproving souls, but tonight I’m embarrassed by the tunnel vision and negative energy created by this vote for the city and its citizens.
Without a shadow of a doubt right now I understand some of the logic for the rejection, but to slam the door on the Rays like this hastens the team’s ownership’s want to leave this region in the dust and fall into the welcoming embrace of a city like Nashville or Montreal.
I expect a terse and very firm worded response from Major League Baseball to hit the wires proclaiming their frustration that the team’s host city wants to play “hard ball”, but in essence MLB and the Rays truly hold all the important cards.
By negating this agreement fashioned by your own Mayor it not only proves he doesn’t have true support on the City Council, he has a band of talking heads who vote with their perceived notions, not the true intention of their voting public.
I do not only worry about this decision for my own St. Pete Rays fans and residents, but I feel like I need to apologize to every other city and country within Tampa Bay region for the audacious antics of my hometown’s City Council.
But I shouldn’t have to do that. The Rays are one of our largest spring to fall assets within St. Petersburg. They employ so many of our citizens, pay taxes, support the local economy plus give endless amount of time , money and energy to causes outside the Trop’s walls within this St. Petersburg community.
Instead out elected City Council decides they know the opinions of their represented people and basically tell one of our greatest tourism tool to “go to their room” like they did something wrong.
Seriously, if I was the Rays, I would not wait patiently with their bat on their shoulders awaiting the next St. Pete curveball. I applaud Mayor Kriseman for his due diligence in trying to keep this matter from escalating, but you have to think the Rays have the advantage now
And I guess the St Pete City Council doesn’t understand basic baseball realities. The Rays now have a full count 3-2 against them and believe me they will not give the city of St. Pete. The satisfaction of a strike out.
They could simply stand there and take the pitch calling the cities bluff …and walking…never giving St. Pete a second glance.
If you want to read the Rays and Mayor’s mutually agreed upon document put before the St. Petersburg City Council today, here is a link to the file (thanks to the Tampa Bay Times).
Matt Silverman, my cap is tilted to you.
Got to admit, I thought the Tampa Bay Rays might make a few moves to fill holes and bring competition into Spring Training, but I never imagined we would see the bodies fly this winter.
And that’s a good thing.
Sure I will miss the likes of outfield duo of Wil Myers, Matt Joyce and several of the Rays pieces that have left this team via trades this off season, but what you have brought back to the Rays with these trades will immediately make an impact on the Rays offensive and defensive alignments for many seasons to come.
That is what a true leader does. They go out and make a team better without a dollar spent or a moment of sleep lost. Right now the new President of Baseball Operations is healing the Rays Republic’s gaping mental and emotional wounds left by Andrew Friedman leaving for Chavez Ravine and bringing up morale and cohesion among the Tampa Bay fan base.
It took a lot of internal guts and fortitude to hire a first time Manager like Kevin Cash, but the guy has the energy, passion and baseball smarts to not only do the job, but have the rest of us want success for him right out of the gate.
An oversight most people are not connecting with is Cash will be an instrumental piece of the puzzle for the Rays young catchers as they come up and develop in the system or at the MLB level.
With Cash only a handful of seasons away from wearing the backstop gear, his insight and knowledge of the needed skill set of an MLB starting catcher cannot be taught or duplicated. It might not have been the most popular choice, but it will be one that works cohesively with the Rays style of play and should bring immediate results to this team.
For that, I want to say “Thank you”.
So many times when a team has the type of high level personnel changes the Rays have had since October, there is a shock and awe period where things stay the same and change is not aggressively embraced or executed. So far this off season, that has not been your game plan.
Instead you have shed several bulky salaries like Jeremy Hellickson and Joel Peralta and gotten enough in return to satisfy not only your bottom line, but let the system restock itself and possibly build a few more trade assets heading into the not so distant future.
Even more impressive has been you commitment that no one on the roster or system is safe from trade, and by not only making that statement, but showing it by trading Joyce and Myers, you have made a great statement to the rest of Major League Baseball that the Rays might not have the biggest payroll in baseball, but they will have the talent to stack up against their AL East foes.
As Boston, New York, Baltimore and Toronto re-stock and re-focus for 2015, the Rays have aggressively looked for stop-gaps and talented individuals to fill holes, provide added strength and stay competitive without rewarding a single player with a contract that could cripple the Rays chances of being the Beasts from the East again.
I have said for a while that the Rays are at a proverbial tipping point in regards to talent, payroll and their fan base. Moves and trades like the ones completed by Silverman and crew will go a long way into enticing the Tampa Bay community to embrace the Rays and show the rest of the baseball nation that Tampa Bay is a place where baseball can survive after the spring thaw.
Again, thank you Matt for taking positive steps so early in the off season to bring back so many and so much to the Rays fold.
Myself, as a long-time Rays fan am extremely grateful for the job you have done so far this offseason.
There are so many ways you can look at this 11-player trade that will be finalized between the Tampa Bay Rays, San Diego Padres and Washington Nationals.
Myers who had a wrist injury setback in his second season never seemed to be at ease at the plate after he returned from injury and quite possibly the Rays are playing the risk management odds and trading Myers now while he is a viable trade commodity.
Souza (#5 Nats prospect) unfortunately would have seen little or no play as the Nats outfield trio of Span, Werth and Harper would get the lion’s share of starts and even a great spring might not secure him a 25-Man roster spot. In Tampa Bay he will not only get a chance to compete for a possibly 25-Man slot, but quite possibly have an opportunity to see ample playing time possibly platooning with David DeJesus in left field.
Oh, and Souza is a part of MLB history. His acrobatic catch with 2-outs in the 9th inning secured Jordan Zimmerman’s No-Hitter…….Impressive indeed.
Others will see the two catchers involved in this deal as critical parts of the whole thing. One (Ryan Hanigan) will give his team some much needed financial room, saving his team close to $8 million over the next 3 seasons. While the other (Rene Rivera) will get a second chance for success and has a willing and able ex-MLB catcher (Kevin Cash) at the helm of his new team.
Hanigan is a master at framing pitches behind the plate. This in itself could pay huge dividends this spring as Hanigan could mentor Padres C and #1 prospect Austin Hedges about the art of framing.
Rene Rivera will immediately come to the Rays as their main backstop as the only other catcher on the Rays roster with any MLB experience will be Curt Casali who only caught 29 games in 2014. In Rivera’s early favor will be his arm as he caught 33 out of 58 base runners in 2014. Rivera also seems to have a bit more offensive firepower than Hanigan putting up a line of .252 average, 11HR and 44 RBI that easily overshadows Hanigan’s 2014 marks of .218 average, 5 HR, 34 RBI.
Sure only 4 MLB caliber players were included in this 11-player soiree, but do not discount any of the minor league pieces as each has the potential to make a mark in their new franchise’s farm systems.
The Padres will receive 2 pitchers from the Rays low level to complete their end of the trade. LHP Jose Castillo and Gerardo Reyes are still young,18 & 20 yrs. old respectfully, and have more than a few seasons in front of them before they will begin their path towards the MLB.
He was considered the 6th best prospect on the International market that summer. Castillo might be one of the dark horses of this trade as he has appeared in only 15 games the past 2 seasons all for the Rays Gulf Coast League (Rookies) squad.
Reyes spent his first professional season with the Rays Rookie short season team, the Hudson Valley Renegades and appeared in 20 games throwing 33 innings with a 2-1 record to go along with a 4.09 ERA and 39 strikeouts.
As you can see, both Reyes and Castillo will be in the Padres farm system for a few years before they even get a glimpse of the major leagues.
He started 13 games in the lower A levels in 2014 producing a 1-4 record over 44.1 innings while amassing a 3.93 ERA with 45 K’s. Ott will also have a get more than a few seasons under his belt before he reaches anywhere near the Rays AAA level.
The Rays will also receive from the Padres 2 players who might make a difference for the Rays in the next few seasons. One had a dark cloud over him during 2014 while the other advanced and could be a great addition to the Rays roister possibly in 2-3 seasons.
RHP Burch Smith (#16 prospect) is the player who had a dark cloud over him in 2014. He was shutdown with forearm tendinitis in April after only 2 starts at AAA El Paso. But before this setback he was streaming through the Padres system and even made his MLB debut during the 2013 season. He has a great fastball that can reach 97 mph with late cutting action that makes it extremely difficult for hitters to square-up on in the box. He has great secondary weapon in a clean change-up and curve, but the Rays might have him start in AAA to let him prove he is healthy and back on his game.
Jake Bauers might be a guy who could rise through the Rays system and make a late 2015, possible 2016 appearance at the MLB level. Sure the left-handed hitting 1B only rose to full-season Class A in 2014, but the Rays have a First Baseman weak system and if he has any success could find himself at Double-A easily in 2015.
Bauer played in 112 games for the Ft Wayne TinCaps of the Mid-West League last season with a .296 average with 5 HR and 64 RBI. plus 5 stolen bases. Recently Bauer drew comparisons to Blue Jays 1B Daric Barton, which could be a great thing for the Rays.
Scouts say he has a compact swing right now that as it expands will provide more power to go along with his great defensive skills at First Base. The key for Bauer now is to improve his hitting at each level and he could within 2-3 seasons fight for a Rays roster spot.
The last 2 pieces of this trade puzzle would have made their way to Tampa Bay if the Rays did not spin them on to the Nationals for Souza. Both RHP Joe Ross (#8 prospect) and SS Trea Turner (#5 prospect) might not make an MLB impression for 3-4 years with Ross being possibly the first of the pair to make his MLB Debut.
Turner is listed on the trade as the “Player To Be Named Later” only because he was drafted in 2014 with the 13th pick but has already played in 69 games at the Class A full season level.
He has blazing speed, a few years extra experience having played baseball at North Carolina State and could develop into a great top of the lineup hitter posted 23 stolen bases in 69 games in the minors this past season. He also put up a .323 average with 5HR, 2 Triples and 24 RBI splitting time between Eugene and Ft Wayne.
Still, the trade is in the books, physicals arranged and soon this trade will not only be put to bed, but be firmly in the Rays rearview mirror.
Let’s hope this one doesn’t end up stinging the Rays in the end….Only time will tell.
It was written in the Florida sands that the Tampa Bay Rays might trade their left-handed outfielder Matt Joyce before spring training.
Some would say it was out of the Rays usual character to trade 2 player’s straight-up for one another. But then again, until this afternoon we did not know of the Rays heightened want to find an immediate stop-gap to fill an early 2015 seasonal void left by an unforeseen pitching injury and subsequent surgery.
So the swapping of Joyce and reliever Kevin Jepsen takes on a far different hue than the usual off season trade of two players as Jepsen will be called upon immediately fill a late inning void left by the injury of Rays closer Jake McGee.
McGee who had been previously diagnosed with loose foreign bodies in his left pitching elbow and has undergone surgery and should not return to the team until possibly late May or early June. This leaves the Rays with two players, McGee and SP Matt Moore who both might not hit the mound until a third of the 2015 season is complete.
An interesting side note to this trade by the Rays and Angels is that both players will be leaving their hometown teams and journey across the country to play in 2015. Matt Joyce of course was born in Tampa , Florida and Kevin Jepsen was born in Anaheim, California.
Another similarity between the two players in this trade is Matt Joyce (May 5th with the Tigers) and Jepsen (September 8th ) both made their MLB Debuts in 2008.
So what kind of reliever did the Rays get when they traded for Jepsen?
If his stats are any true indication, the Rays will get a solid competitor who could be slotted in the Rays late inning 7th, 8th inning roles without hesitation. The injury to McGee and the previous trade of Joel Peralta would already redefine the late inning roles of the Rays Bullpen, but this injury takes one more talented and experienced arm out of the equation and demanded a direct sub sequential move to eliminate this hole in the Rays reliever corps.
A little background on Jepsen’s career with the Angels:
Jepsen is only 1 of 4 relievers ever to play at least 7 seasons with the club. Interesting factoid, former Angel and Rays closer Troy Percival leads that list overall with 10 seasons playing for Angels.
He ended his Angels career in 10th place on the Angels All-Time list with an career mark of 8.69/K’s per 9 innings.
Jepsen is currently under salary arbitration this off season with him projected to receive a salary of possibly $2.6 million and Jepsen will also be under team control for another season.
2014 was Jepsen’s best season in the MLB appearing in 74 games with a 2.63 ERA with 75 strikeouts and .05 HR per 9 innings mark.
His 74 game appearances in 2014 ranked 4th in the American League and was bettered only by fellow Angel Joe Smith (76) and the Indians duo of Cody Allen (76) and Bryan Shaw (80).
Jepsen also ranked 8th in the AL in Holds with 22 and he earned 2 saves in 2014.
He throws a 4-seam fastball(95-99 mph), a 2-seam fastball (94-97) a cutter (89-93) and a curveball (83-86 mph). His cutter is usually reserved for right-handers while his 2-seam fastball is used primarily against left-handers. Jepsen also uses his curve in 2-strike counts on hitters.
With the injury to McGee the Rays had to act quickly to find an experienced relief option to plug right in fill the relief corps void. Jepsen has the statistics and experience to come right in this spring and compete for a Bullpen spot as well as be a viable and consistent option to place in the late inning role previously held by Peralta.
Rays were swift, did their due diligence and quite possibly got the guy who could be an extremely valuable asset to the Rays late inning machine for the next 2 seasons.
Some people say breaking in a new glove is one of the hardest tasks in baseball. You can spend what feels like an eternity getting that cowhide to conform and evolve into a perfectly forgiving pocket for that spherical rocket to settle in.
No matter what level you are currently playing at, or even if you want a glove for ball hawking or even as a method of protection when a line drive come swirling into your section, breaking in a glove can be the difference between it popping out, a stinging palm and sometimes even that embarrassing miss-cue or as I like to call it, a E-10…Error on the fan.
That’s right…Never, ever will you have to sit a 1-ton car on your glove overnight, pop anymore rubber bands trying to get a pre-formed pocket in your mitt or ever again spend hours rubbing oil into the leather.
Of course this glove will not be cheap (it retails about $400), but you will never have to spend valuable time worrying about getting the rigidity out of your new leather glove, and with its neon green and black coloring, people will see your glove coming even in the most shaded parts of the ballpark.
The Vapor 360 glove by Nike uses a new glove construction method called hyperfuse to bring to reality baseball’s first ultra-responsive, lightweight mitt with the time-saving aspect of being the only fielder’s mitt on the market that can be immediately on the field without the hassle or time drain of the usual glove breaking in process.
Seriously, this glove can be snagging fly balls and be used in long or short toss the moment it comes out of its shipping box.
And Nike did get professional advice on the product as Colorado Rockies All-Star and 3-time Gold Glove winning outfielder Carlos Gonzalez was a hands-on consultant during the gloves developmental stages.
Nike stands by their claim of the glove needing no break-in time, and its ready to use application makes it an ideal glove option for everyday use by both professional as well as amateur players and for that fan who wants the gear the players use.
Nike Baseball senior designer Matthew Hudson told online website Stack that: “Traditional leather baseball gloves can take up to 3 months of break in. We’ve taken a traditional leather for the palm and perforated it to remove some of the structure so it forms more quickly.”
That means less sweat and toil oiling the heck out of the cowhide, putting it under your mattress and sleeping on it, or using your car as a machine press to quicken the breaking in process.
Gonzalez used the Nike Vapor 360 on the field during the last season (of course in a more neutral and approved MLB color scheme) and raves about the product.
So even if you do not have a professional baseball fan on your Holiday gift list this season, even the most dedicated and savvy baseball fan would cherish a glove like the Vapor 360 the next time they line up on the field, or reach out with their glove for that screaming foul or Home Run ball into the stands.
The Vapor 360 is available now on Nike.com.
It was an event that made spaghetti, pierogies and hand-formed meatballs fashionable at holiday time. Served meals to many who would not have a holiday meal in Pinellas, Hillsborough and Sarasota/Manatee counties. Thanksmas had become more than just a symbol of the season here in Tampa Bay.
It was a time for the Rays staff, front office and the community to celebrate after another great season as well as see old familiar faces and new smiles while dining on Hazelton, Pa classics. Sure 4 seasons ago Rays former Manager Joe Maddon inspired and perspired in the first carnation of this event, but as it grew so did the locations, participants and the joyous goodwill and harmony this embodies the holiday season.
But now that Maddon has traded his Carolina blue Rays jersey for Chicago Cubs pinstripes, what is the future of the event?
Maddon is adamant that the holiday event will continue in some form for years to come, but you have to wonder if the Rays might want to have their own face front and center starting with the 2015 event, or maybe even embrace a pairing of Maddon and Cash in a compassionate solidarity towards promoting a holiday harmonious event of giving back to Tampa Bay.
Maddon, who is also a part of Ava’s ownership stake spoke with his Ava partners and they were onboard with the Cub’s new skipper’s idea of bringing hot food and maybe some cold cash into the hands of the area’s homeless and unfortunate as sometimes a little extra money can transform a life on the streets into something amazing and uplifting.
Last night former Rays and Tampa native Tino Martinez and current Ray Kevin Kiermaier joined in with Maddon at South Tampa bistro Ava, to help collect $22,000 in donation to this year’s event which also will have some cash assistance and donation to its participants.
Maddon was proud to tell participants at last night’s fundraising gala: “This is the message I wanted to get out to the shelters and people connected with this…This is not going away.”
So we know that Maddon is committed to continuing the seasonal event, but you have to wonder if the Rays might also fashion their own version of “Thanksmas” in the future with Cash holding the golden spatula.
Thanks-Mas was a brilliant brainchild of Maddon’s to help the Tampa Bay community. It got people from all walks of life involved and wanting to give back to our community during the holiday season as well as be a great inspirational story for everyone involved.
We truly do not know what will happen in the future for Thanksmas, but we can dream.
Salvation Army Tampa area commander Major James Chip Hall probably summed it up best regarding Thankmas when he stated: “It’s important for people here to know they matter. That was the one thing Joe was good at. He told them that they’re not invisible. That they’re not forgotten.”
Maybe we should tinker the recipe of the event to include a dash of Cash to go along with the present ingredients of a cup of the Rays, an ounce of Maddon combined with a pinch of compassion and pound of giving that has made this event flourish.
That sounds like a perfect recipe for future success of the holiday event not matter what its future name might become.
Here is the 2014 Thanksmas Schedule:
Monday, December 15 Sallie House
Tuesday, December 16 St. Petersburg Salvation Army, Tampa Salvation Army
Wednesday, December 17 Homeless Emergency Project
Thursday, December 18 Coalition for the Homeless of Central Florida
Friday, December 19 Bradenton Salvation Army
I was sitting in a downtown Central Avenue wing and brew establishment with a view of Tropicana Field when the local news hounds blared the news the Rays future stadium site impasse between the City of St. Petersburg and the Tampa Bay Rays had finally been resolved.
People around me were clinking glasses, hoisting glassware full of adult beverages while saluting the efforts and powers that be that there would finally be sun light at the end of this stadium tunnel.
Not so fast friends, this announcement should not be time to openly celebrate. There will be stormy days ahead before all the fuss and bothered are cleaned away like a city street after an afternoon downpour.
Hidden from view to most of those here was the simple fact that even though Rays President Brian Auld and St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman stood on stage ceremonially hand-in-hand on this day, the agreement, is simply words and totally moot until the “St. Pete 8” also known as the St. Petersburg City Council give their blessing or denials of the document.
Per the St. Petersburg City Charter, the City Council during their meeting cannot change the agreement’s parameters, alter the language or even suggest subtle or economic changes. The recent decision by Mayor Kriseman to postpone the planned Dec 11th vote on the agreement and rescheduling the vote for Dec 18th has merit.
The delay in the City Council vote will give Mayor Kriseman him and his staff 7 more days to educate and answer any stumbling blocks in regard to the financial or binding aspects of letting the Rays explore Hillsborough County for a possible Rays stadium site, and the city’s financial rewards if the Rays do chose another locale for their stadium.
Some might view this as a simple delay tactic, but the Dec 11th City Council meeting’s agenda was already stuffed to the gills with awards and presentations from the city and quite possibly this agreement vote would overshadow some of the deeds and accomplishment of others.
Also, the Dec 11th City Council meeting would not have on their agenda a time set for public comment or interaction. The Dec 18th meeting will adhere to Florida state law that requires the public to have a say( voice) in an item that hasn’t and will not receive any public vetting.
Auld when asked by the Tampa Bay Times about the voting delay stated, “We don’t mind waiting another week. We’ve been working on this for a very long time. We hope to get to yes when the time comes.”
To the Rays credit, they have reached out to St. Pete City Council member Karl Nurse who was a member of the Protect Our Wallets and Waterfront (POWW) group that was a thorn in the Rays side when the team wanted to put a stadium on the St. Petersburg waterfront area where historic Progress Energy /Al Lang Field is located.
For until the St. Petersburg City Council give tally their respective votes and a resolution is announced, the Mayor’s agreement with the Rays right now is simply “written in the sand” and the whole positive step by the Rays and Mayor Kriseman could still be washed away thanks to an unforeseen public tidal wave, or the St. Petersburg 8 voting against the present agreement.
When Sean Rodriguez was designated last week by the Tampa Bay Rays, then dealt to the Pittsburgh Pirates, the move left a huge question mark on who might man the Rays First Base bag if something happens to James Loney?
This is not to suggest Loney will be hampered by injury or fall off his current offensive groove in 2015, but weirder things have happened under the tilted cap.
Early thoughts suggest that current Rays INF Logan Forsythe might be carrying an extra glove in his bag this spring, or quite possibly will be doing some additional reps this winter and during Spring Training learning the 1B nuances.
If you were wondering, Forsythe has lined-up at 1B once in his career and mans a perfect 1.000 fielding percentage on 1 career putout.
So with that small career sampling by Forsythe you might think the Rays would be better vested if they found another option at 1B, or at least someone with a little more experience scooping bad throws into outs.
First Base is not a spot you can master as you have to basically multi-task constantly throughout a game to keep runners, guard the line while also being a stop gap on the right side of the infield.
And I have not even ventured into the mental and physical bumps and bruises associated with those high throws, balls in the dirt that somehow bounce up and leave welts, bruises and nasty tell tales signs.
So I wonder if Ben Zobrist might be asked to take additional training and reps at 1B where he could bring another facet to his game and he does have a .983 career fielding percentage playing 1B 17 times in the past for the Rays.
There also could be a few guys outside the Rays system who could be viable candidate too.
Maybe recently non-tendered guys like Justin Smoak (Jays) or Gaby Sanchez (Pirates) who come into the fold with viable game experience, but might cost the Rays upwards of around $ 2 million plus a season.
Smoak might be in the Rays wheelhouse as a player who has experience at the position and has been a DH Smoak has had an up and down career since he was drafted in the First Round (11th pick) of the 2008 MLB Draft by the Texas Rangers. He was then traded to the Seattle Mariners, then after the 2014 season the M’s became disenchanted with him and he was claimed off waivers by the Toronto Blue Jays on October 28, 2014.
Seattle paid Smoak $ 2.6 million in 2015 during his first venture through the arbitration process. Even though Smoak’s career batting average of .224 and 74 career Hrs might not set your mind ablaze, his .995 career fielding average in 5 MLB seasons as a First Baseman plus the added bonus he could be a great bat off the bench (DH in 21 career games).
This current bit of fall from grace might benefit the Rays as well as offer Smoak a chance to re-establish himself as a MLB First Baseman.
Gaby Sanchez was a surprise non-tender by the Pirates, but you have to wonder if his 2014 offensive numbers were a fluke or a sign of aging. With the Pirates wanting to put versatile Josh Harrison at 3B bag, and move power hitter Pedro Alvarez to 1B for the 2015 season, Sanchez quickly found himself a man without a contract and team at the Arbitration Deadline
Like Smoak, Sanchez definitely has skills at First Base, but his offensive pedigree has taken a hit since he was dealt to the Pirates by the Miami Marlins 3 seasons ago. In his 5 years with the fish, Sanchez maintained a .243 average and showed power with 74 HR and 184 RBIs, but his 3 years with Pittsburgh he has maintained only a .241 mark with 18 HRs and 82 RBIs.
Sanchez main attribute might be his consistent glove and has a .995 fielding percentage mark.
There is also an outside chance that the Rays could just take a wait and see posture as the 2014 Triple-A All-Star Home Run Derby winner, Allan Dykstra (no relation to Lenny) could come in an further impress the Rays and quite possibly garner a utility and bench spot on the Rays 25-Man roster.
Darkening Dykstra’s chances might be his less than marvelous .981 fielding overage in 2014, and his career .986 mark might be fodder that he needs more seasoning before breaking the ceiling and making his MLB debut.
Even if the Rays do not have a clear leader in who might tag-in during the regular season for Loney at First base, there are many viable options and the off season is still young.
There is more than enough time for another name to surface, a trade to be formulated and quite possibly someone come to the Rays before the report to Port Charlotte, Fl in February.
Who knows, maybe Smoak or Sanchez could be there, or Dykstra could improve his glove skills and hit the cover off the ball.
It is the time that you truly find out what your club thinks you are worth.
First and foremost baseball is a business. And as such an arbitrary dollar amount is invisibly attached to each player, especially during the arbitration process.
On Tuesday, when the Tampa Bay Rays offer their first salary exchange in the arbitration process to their 6 eligible players, some will be within reason, a few might be on par to their tenure and abilities, and quite possibly one player might not see any figure exchanged and be non-tendered, thus becoming a Free Agent.
Ever since the 2007 off season, when the franchise abandoned the “Devil” in the woodshed, the Rays Front Office has been downright fickle when it comes to negotiating past a certain point in the whole arbitration process, and they have a very high arbitration winning percentage on their side of the table.
The Rays front office maintains an exceptional winning percentage, well over the .750 mark during the arbitrator’s segment of the process, and that can be very intimidating and has surely led to some players in the past just accepting what the club is willing to give them rather than possibly face defeat and a lesser seasonal salary amount.
And immediately you have to wonder if the Rays whole process might change in the organization since the departure of Andrew Friedman and the Rays could possibly morph into a more negotiations friendly or monetary complimentary Rays regime?
Don’t count on it.
Sure Friedman was the focal figure everyone looked upon when the arbitration process rears its ugly head each off season, but you have to remember new Rays President of Baseball Operations Matt Silverman was quite possibly always right next to Friedman offering up his own statistical research, calculations while safeguarding the Rays coffers.
And even if one cog of the Rays past arbitration machine is gone, there were plenty of folks in 3-piece suits and lambskins on their wall providing behind the scenes fortified data and scenarios thrusting out in all directions of any counter proposal of possible negotiation ploys that could be submitted to the Rays for consideration.
Current 6 Rays players who are under the arbitration umbrella this off season are: Matt Joyce, Alex Cobb, Desmond Jennings, Logan Forsythe, Drew Symly and Jake McGee. Each will be privy to an amount the team feels is fair and competitive for their services in 2015.
Several websites have their calculated guesses as to the Rays possibly offerings, but none of these website salary numbers are connected to the team’s first offering, or might be just arbitrary numbers of their own.
Currently most sites have the Rays offering a combined $20.9 million in possible 2015 salary for their 6 arbitration eligible players.
So let’s list the Rays 6 eligible players starting with the players we know will most certainly be offered salary arbitration and end with a few who might be on the fiscal bubble.
Heading the Rays arbitration salary list is RHP Alex Cobb, who is a key cog in the Rays pitching machine and has just over 3 years of MLB service and could be submitted at least a $4.5 million arbitration 2015 salary figure.
LHP Jake McGee who most have penciled in as the Rays closer in 2015 and has over 3 years of MLB service time quite possibly will be offered a team-friendly $3.8 million 2015 salary.
LHP Drew Symly has been a pure trade deadline delight since the Rays traded David Price to the Tigers and got this soft-spoken southpaw into their rotation. Symly, who has just over 2 years of MLB service time stepped up his game and could see his arbitration salary starting at a team-friendly $3 million for 2015.
CF Desmond Jennings who seems to have been here forever, but only has a little over 3 years of MLB service might see an arbitration figure of possibly $3.2 million offered on Tuesday.
INF Logan Forsythe, who was traded to the Rays in 2014 and is a part of the Rays crowded infield could get an arbitration salary offer of at least $1.2 million for 2015.
OF Matt Joyce who has had some great successes, but also some hitting flaws over 5 years of MLB service is expected to get a $4.9 million figure.
I personally feel there is a clear separation here of the players who the Rays might value as key to their success past 2015, and a few who might be walking more on eggshells than a firm footing with the team past this first exchange of arbitration salary figures.
Do not see any of these 6 remaining Rays players not being offered an arbitration salary amount tomorrow, but I believe the bottom 3 players listed above might be dealt a reality check and might find themselves a bit wanting in the salary department for 2015.