Thursday, July 31, 2008

Postseason history favors Rays

Despite what happens before Thursday’s 4 p.m. trade deadline, the Rays appear in great shape to make the postseason.

Why? Because during the Wild Card Era, 73 percent of the teams that were in first place at the trade deadline reached the postseason, and the Rays have a three-game lead over the second-place Boston Red Sox.

The legwork was done by Sam Mellinger of the Kansas City Star.

Read it here:

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Rays interested in Pittsburgh's Bay

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette is reporting the Rays and Pirates are involved in trade talks for outfielder Jason Bay, who would give the Rays the right-handed, power-hitting right fielder they seek.

The trade deadline is 4 p.m. Thursday.

Bay is batting .284 with 22 home runs and 62 RBIs. He is in the third year of a four-year contract that will pay him $7.5 million next season, which means the Rays should be able to afford him next season, as well.

Bay is a two-time All-Star and former rookie of the year.

After slumping last season, Bay is putting up pretty good numbers this year, and those numbers are even better when compared with the numbers generated by any Ray not named Evan Longoria.

Rays manager Joe Maddon told reporters in Toronto before Wednesday's game there is a "50-50" chance the Rays could swing a trade by Thursday's deadline.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

A pair of all-stars: Navarro and Kaz

So it’s Navie and Kaz going to the All-Star Game. Congrats. Both are deserving.

Dioner Navarro turned his career around during the second half of last season and is now the best defensive catcher and the second-best offensive catcher in the American League.

Scott Kazmir shrugged off a strained left elbow suffered in spring training, joined the team one month into the season and has been pretty solid.

Andy Sonnanstine has more wins and James Shields has been more consistent, but the way Kazmir pitched in May started the Rays climb to the best record in baseball.

We can whine all we want about having just two players from the best team in baseball on the American League All-Star team, but with the way the Rays win, having two is almost enough.

Personally, I would have liked to have seen J.P. Howell land on the team. Take him out of the bullpen and who knows what happens to this team.

But, as manager Joe Maddon said, it’s a different bus driver every night, a fact that bodes well for the second half of the season. The Rays aren’t relying on two or three players who are having career-years.

Navarro helps drive bus every night when he catches with the way he handles the pitching staff and the way he know handles himself at the plate.

There are few pitchers better than Kazmir during those nights when his fastball is blazing and his command is sharp.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Ripken and Eck dig Longo

The guys who cover baseball for TBS have noticed the Rays.

Harold Reynolds, Cal Ripken and Dennis Eckersley voted Evan Longoria their first half American League rookie of the year. Chip Carey split his vote between Longo and Jacoby Ellsbury.

Buck Martinez and Eckersley voted Joe Maddon the top AL manager through the first half of the season.

Can’t say I disagree with their picks.