Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Bucs Decision to Cut Quarles all to Familiar

Stop me if you have heard this one before, an Older Buccaneer defensive player who has been part of the heart and soul of the team, has been cut because he "failed" a team physical. The player says he is fine and can play, but the management claims he has failed a physical. The management will not go into the details of the injury or even when this physical took place, but they say he failed and he is gone. First it was Jon Lynch, now its Shelton Quarles. Lynch was coming off of a good season, but the Bucs had Phillips behind Lynch and the current regime claimed Lynch could not pass a physical and he was cut. Since being cut from the Bucs Lynch has gone on to star on the Bronco's defense and has made 3 consecutive Pro Bowls while Jermaine Phillips has looked like crap.

Now we are in the off season 3 years later and Shelton Quarles has been cut for "failing" a team physical. Shelton is coming off of a season in which he had 136 tackles and was one of the best players on defense. The Bucs have Barrett Ruud behind Quarles and can save 3 million off the cap by cutting Quarles, but the management says this has nothing to do with it. I don't know about you, but this all seems a little fishy to me. The first reports of Quarles injuries and possible retirment came out the day he left to go to Afghanistan with the USO tour and he could not respond. When Quarles got back from his trip he made a statement that he was fine and he was not thinking of retiring. Seems to me like the injury and possible retirment coming out when Shelton could not defend himself was a well thought out plot by this current regime to get people thinking Shelton may be done.

The Bucs have said that Shelton understands and will probably be back with the team in some other capacity later, i wouldn't count on it with these guys in charge. Quarles knows, just like the rest of us, that he can play and he is being screwed over here. Go ask Jon Lynch about what happens in a situation like this and how he feels about this regime and how he was treated. This is another example of how this regime goes about its business and it is no wonder that players who leave here have nothing but bad things to say about the team. This is another shady move made by some a tyrant and his do boy.

Shelton, Bucs fans love you and hope you go to another team and perform just as Jon has. I for one hope you make 3 more Pro Bowls and tell this regime where to stick the "injury" you have. Thank you for all you have done for this team.

Here is a link to Shelton's interview on 620 WDAE today.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Bullpen continues to be downfall of the Rays

There is one common theme throughout this season and that is the Rays are scoring runs, but they are not getting the pitching they need from the bullpen. The Rays have scored the 5th most runs in the Major League so far (92), but have also given up the most runs in the Majors (114). The Rays are sporting a hefty 6.02 ERA, which is good for dead last in the Majors. Outside of Al Reyes no one on this team has below a 4.5 ERA. To be fair to the starters some of their ERA's are inflated due to the bullpen not being able to get an out when the starter has been removed, or becuase they are throwing too many pitches. The Starters are having to go 8 innings so that they can get to Reyes and not have to use the bullpen. Sunday, Jamie Shields did just that, but because Reyes had pitched 2 days in a row, Maddon called on Brian Stokes. Stokes proceeded to go out and give up 4 earned runs while only getting one out and destroyed the gem that Jamie pitched.
The Rays are sitting at 7-11 right now, but if they could have gotten anything from this bullpen they could easily be sitting at 13-5 and leading the AL East. There have been at least 5 games that were lost directly because of this bullpen. The Rays need to dump Stokes, Camp, and Lugo from this team. We have seen them pitch for a while now and it is evident that they are not MLB pitchers. The Rays have options in Durham and should call up Corcoran, Orvella, and Ridgway. The Rays have been rumored to be looking at Brad Lidge or Jose Capellan; both of those guys would be welcome additions to the pen and cold easily solidify the pen. If the Rays could get 2 solid guys in the pen to add to Reyes, they could make a nice run and get people excited about this team. Right now the bullpen is blowing game after game and destroying the effort everyone else on the Rays has put forth. The Rays need to step up and fix the pen before the season is lost already.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Rays Score 6 early and hold on

The Rays jumped on Steve Trachsel in the fourth inning and kept the pedal down scoring 6 runs in the inning and running Trachsel from the game. Casey Fossum responded to the run support going 7 innings scattering 5 hits and a walk while striking out 4 and giving up 3 runs. At times Casey looked unhittable as his pitches just dove out of the strike zone late confusing the Orioles. What would a Rays game be without a close call from the "pig pen" though right? After letting 2 runners get on base Casey Fossum was pulled for the greatness that is Brian Stokes, who responded by giving up a three run home run. Stokes finally got out of the inning and in came Al Reyes in the ninth and shut the door. Outside of Reyes the Rays do not have anyone in that bullpen that is worth anything. I watch every Rays game and it is inevitable that late in the game the other team will be allowed back in by these guys in the bullpen. We were lucky tonight as Stokes got out of the inning and allowed Reyes a chance to close it out.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Rays Need to Dump Camp and Lugo

The Rays followed up a great performance against Johan Santana by coming out and playing without any enthusiasm or pride. Almost every player on the Rays looked sloppy or unprepared to come out and play. For some maybe it was hiccup or just a bad day and it will be addressed, but for Sean Camp and Rudy Lugo it was just the same old thing. On the year 11 of the 19 batters camp has faced have gotten on base, opponents are hitting .500 and he has an ERA of 13.5, further 6 of the 8 runs he has inherited have gone on to score. Lugo is even worse with a 24.00 ERA, yes you read that right. In 3 IP he has allowed 11 H 8 ER, 4 BB, while getting 2 K and he has given up at least 1 ER in every appearance so far. In order for the Rays to win their starters need to go at least 7 and hope that Stokes or Ryu can hold the 8th so that Reyes can come in and shut the door. The Rays need to get rid of Camp and Lugo and bring up Corcoran and Orvella from Durham and have them work the pen. Corky gives the Rays a true MR who can work long innings if need be and can also spot start. Orvella struggled in the beginning when he went down to Durham after spring training, but has rebounded and in my opinion i believe he was disheartened by being sent down after having such a great spring. The Rays have the offense to be competitive and they have gotten some good performances by their starters, but if they keep letting Camp and Lugo come in they will keep losing. Someone needs to inform Joe Maddon that Camp and Lugo are awful and are not Major League pitchers.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Kazmir Wins Duel of Aces

The Devil Rays responded to yesterdays bad loss by beating the best pitcher in baseball. In one of the best pitching match ups during the season Rays Ace Scott Kazmir got the best of Johan Santana. The Twins had previously won the last 24 games at home that Santana had pitched. Kazmir went 8 innings giving up 6 k's no walks and 2 earned runs. Al Reyes came into the 9th and shut the door giving up only one hit to Justin Morneau.

The Rays were down 1-0 going into the fifth inning when Delmon Young led off the game with a single, extending his hitting streak to 10 games. Akinori Iwamura followed that up with a hard fought walk and the Rays were in business. Josh Paul cam up with 2 on and 1 out and hit an RBI double, BJ upton followed that with an infield single, and Rocco ended it with a fielders choice that had the Rays up 3-1 on Johan Santana. Scotty responded by shutting down the Twins 1-2-3 in the bottom of the inning. Carl Crawford led off the 6th inning with an infield the park home run making up for yesterdays gaffe. Justin Morneau later hit a solo home run, but that would be the last run the Twins would score.

Aki and Wigginton kept the hot hitting going and Aki flashed more of his great glove and arm during the game.

Next up for the Rays: Sydney Ponson v. Edwin Jackson in Minnesota.

NFL Mock Draft

  1. Oakland Raiders -- Calvin Johnson WR Georgia Tech. Everyone has assumed the Raiders would go QB at number one since they do not have a QB on their team, but they will not pass on the best offensive talent in the draft. The Raiders will take Calvin Johnson here and than maybe take Drew Stanton, QB, MSU in the second round.
  2. Detroit Lions -- Gaines Adams DE Clemson. Lions coach Rod Marinelli loves this guy and he reminds him of Simeon Rice. The Lions don't want to take him here and I look for the Lions to try and trade down and still get Adams, but if no one wants to move up I believe Marinelli still takes his guy.
  3. Cleveland Browns -- JaMarcus Russell QB LSU. As much as Cleveland fans do not want a QB here the Browns need a QB for the future because Charlie Frye is not the answer and Crennel will take who they believe is the best QB here. Some say Brady Quinn will be the guy here because of his hometown roots and Crennels relationship with Weis, but the Browns staff and front office like the physical tools Russell possesses.
  4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers -- Joe Thomas OT Wisconsin. The Bucs love Calvin Johnson and that is who they want in this draft, but the problem is the Raiders are going to take him, so the Bucs will need to look elsewhere. With Gruden in charge Quinn may look good here, but the safest pick is to go with a LT who can anchor your line for years to come. By adding Thomas the Bucs can create holes for Caddy and protect their QB and finally have the offensive line they have desperately needed.
  5. Arizona Cardinals -- Amobi Okoye DE/DT Louisville. The Cardinals would love for Thomas to drop to them here as the O-Line has always been and still is a huge problem for the Cardinals. It is a little too early to take OT Levi Brown here so the Cards address another need with a guy who has shot up the draft boards and is only 19.
  6. Washington Redskins -- Adam Carriker DE/DT Nebraska. The Redskins do not want to be in this pick and have looked to trade it away, but with no suitors so for the pick they will take Carriker. Carriker had a great senior bowl and his draft stock has risen since then. He has the versatility to play end or tackle and should help the Redskins rush defense and pass rush.
  7. Minnesota Vikings -- Adrian Peterson RB Oklahoma. The second best offensive talent in the draft in my opinion will fall to number 7 and the Vikings will not be able to pass him up. The Vikes could go with Quinn, but Childress loves Tavaris Jackson and its too early for the WR in this years draft. The Vikes went LB in the first last year and they will address the offense here. The Vikes do have Chester Taylor, but he has yet to play in every game for an entire season and with the lean towards running back committee it makes sense to have to great backs, especially having to play against the Bears twice.
  8. Atlanta Falcons -- Laron Landry SS LSU. The Falcons need to get better on defense and have aging safeties at the moment. Landry is by far the best secondary player in the draft and his size and speed would be a great addition to the Falcons secondary. The Falcons could use some help up front, but Landry is too good to pass up.
  9. Miami Dolphins -- Brady Quinn QB Notre Dame. The Dolphins are going to be thanking the gods that Brady fell to them. The obvious need in Miami is a QB with Culpepper about to be released and the only QB with experience being Cleo Lemon. This is also a good situation for Brady to go into with have a great WR in Chambers and a great RB in Brown.
  10. Houston Texans -- Levi Brown OT Penn State University. The Texans addressed their need for a RB and got themselves a new QB in Matt Schaub. The glaring need of the Texans is and always has been on the offensive line. The Texans can address the LT spot and help their new QB and RB out.
  11. San Francisco -- Dwayne Bowe WR LSU. The Niners addressed the defense through Free agency, but did not address their most glaring need in a WR. The Niners have no WR and Alex Smith needs another target to go with Davis and Gore. Bowe has shot up the boards with his combine numbers and Senior Bowl.
  12. Buffalo Bills -- Patrick Willis ILB Ole Miss. I don't think their is a team with more glaring needs than the Bills. They lost Nate Clements and London Fletcher to FA and trade both Willis McGahee and Takeo Spikes. Marshawn Lynch would be an interesting pick here, but i believe Dick Juaron goes with the best LB in the draft in Willis.
  13. St. Louis Rams -- Jamaal Anderson DE Arkansas. The Rams were horrible on defense last year and the DL needs to be addressed. With Carriker and Okoye gone the Rams will go with the best DL available. Anderson is still a little raw, but will be a great pass rusher.
  14. Carolina Panthers -- Reggie Nelson S University of Florida. The Panthers would love to get Willis here to make up for often injured Dan Morgan, but with him gone they will go for Reggie Nelson. Mike Minter is set to retire and Nelson has all the tools to be a stud Safety in this league.
  15. Pittsburgh Steelers -- Lawrence Timmons OLB FSU. The Steelers will still be in the 3-4 or a hybrid this year, but they will move to the Tampa 2 by next year so they need a player who can fit both and Timmons does just that. Timmons can line up outside in the 3-4 and is the ideal size and speed for a weak side LB in the Tampa 2.
  16. Green Bay Packers -- Marshawn Lynch RB CAL. There has been talk that with the new rules and Lynch's off the field problems he would fall, but he will not make it past the Packers. After losing Ahman Green from a team that went 8-8 and almost made the playoffs the Packers need to replace Green with a RB who can carry the load and play well on what may be Favre's last year.
  17. Jacksonville Jaguars -- Jarvis Moss DE University of Florida. Jacksonville would love to get Reggie Nelson here, but he won't be available so they will go with their next biggest need a pass rusher. Moss has the speed to be a great DE and get around the OT in the league.
  18. Cincinnati Bengals -- Leon Hall CB Michigan. The Bengals most glaring need is at CB where they have dismissed one already and Deltha O'Neil has one foot out the door as well. Leon Hall is a great value in this spot and he can come in and be a shut down corner for this team immediately.
  19. Tennesee Titans -- Ted Ginn Jr. WR Ohio State. When Pac Man Jones was suspended for the entire year the titans lost not only their best corner, but also their return specialist. The Titans lack a true #1 WR and with the loss of Drew Bennett things aren't getting any better. Taking Ginn not only addresses the WR position, but also gives them the return man the need with the loss of Pac Man.
  20. New York Giants -- Joe Staley OT Central Michigan. Staley could actually go earlier to Houston if Levi Brown is gone there, but the Ginats will love him falling here. After a disappointing end to the season the Giants cleaned house releasing Arrington and Petigout. Staley will not only make up for Petigout, but will be an improvement. The Giants could use a WR, but Staley is too good of a talent to pass up and will help give Eli time to see if he really is a great QB.
  21. Denver Broncos -- Alan Branch DT Michigan. The Broncos have the Tools on Offense with Cutler, Henry, Smith, and Marshall. The Broncos went out and traded for dre Bly to go with Pro Bowl Corner Champ Bailey and still have Jon Lynch at Safety, so they will go with the best DL available and that is Branch. This is a huge value pick here and will help the Broncos stop the run and make a nice run this year.
  22. Dallas Cowboys -- Darrelle Revis CB Pittsburgh. Some say Revis is the best CB in the draft and the Cowboys will get great value here. By signing Hamlin to go with Roy Williams and combining Revis with Terrance Newman the Cowboys may have the best secondary in the league.
  23. Kansas City Chiefs -- Robert Meachem WR Tennesee. The Chiefs need a star WR to compliment Gonzo and LJ. Meachem has the size and speed to be the number 1 WR the chiefs are in need of. Good value at a big need for the chiefs.
  24. New England Patriots -- Paul Posluszny OLB Penn State. Bruschi and Vrabel are getting up there in age and adding Poz to Adalius Thomas will give them a great LB core for years to come. The Pats have been looking at Beason as well, but i believe the go Poz here.
  25. New York Jets -- Greg Olsen TE Miami. The Jets overachieved last year, but won a lot of those games closely and did not show much offense. The Jets have not had much production from the TE position in a long time and adding Olsen to Coles and Thomas Jones on offense gives Pennington some great wepons to work with.
  26. Philadelphia Eagles -- Michael Griffen S Texas. The Eagles lost Michael Lewis to Free Agency and need a Saftey to fill that role. Griffen has been moving up draft boards and has the speed and physical tools to play the run or the pass and will make a great combo with Brian Dawkins.
  27. New Orleans Saints -- Chris Houston CB Arkansas. Although the Saints lost Joe Horn they have the WR to replace him and the defense needs the players. The secondary is in need of a CB and Houston is a great cover man and posses the speed and physical tools to be a great shutdown CB.
  28. New England Patriots -- Aaron Ross CB Texas. The Pats need to add more to the defense and Ross is the best defensive player left on the board. Ross will be a great corner and will add to the Pats defense right away.
  29. Baltimore Ravens -- Anthony Spencer DE Purdue. Spencer will replace Thomas who was lost in FA. The Ravens do not have any glaring needs and this pick makes sense since they lost Thomas and rely heavily on the defense.
  30. San Diego Chargers -- Dwayne Jarrett WR USC. Eric Parker and Keenan McCardell aren't getting any younger; combine that with the fact that Vincent Jackson did not show that he is a true number 1 and the Chargers will draft a WR to help out this aging core. Jarrett will add to the weapons for second year starting QB Philip Rivers.
  31. Chicago Bears -- Ben Grubbs OG Auburn. The Bears also have no glaring needs, but Grubbs is a definite upgrade at OG and will help the Bears run the ball and protect Rex Grossman. Grubbs is the best OG available and is a great athlete for an OG.
  32. Indianapolis Colts -- Jon Beason OLB Miami. The Colts lost Cato June to Free Agency and will need to replace him in the draft. Beason is a great LB and could go earlier in round 1, but i see him here and the Colts will be happy that he did fall to them. Beason is fast and undersized, perfect for the Tampa 2.

Horrible Baserunning and Bullpen Lead to Loss

Casey Fossum pitched 7 great innings for the Rays allowing only 2 runs on 6 hits and leaving the game down 2-0. The Devil Rays led by Ty Wigginton and Carlos Pena tied it up in the 8th and went into the 9th all tied up. What looked like a promising inning against on the games best closers, turned into one of the worst base running plays i have ever seen. Ben Zobrist led the inning of with a single and Carl Crawford followed that up by lacing a shot into right field. Crawford, who had his head down, raced around second unaware that Zobrist had no chance to score on the play. Zobrist tried to run home to save Crawford at third and preserve one man on base, but was caught in a rundown and CC was thrown out at second trying to retreat to allow Zobrist back to third. Instead of having two runners in scoring position with no outs or at worst one man on 3rd base with one out, the Rays had no one on and 2 outs. Joe Nathan got the final out of the inning and you just knew the Twins were going to win. Joe Maddon trotted Brian Stokes back onto the mound for his second inning of work and he proceeded to give up the game winning home run to Justin Morneau, the first batter he faced. The Rays had their chances and blew them, these are the types of games the Rays cannot afford to lose, they just are not good enough.

Tomorrow is a battle of the Aces with Johan Santana (2-0 2.77 ERA) going up against Scott Kazmir (0-1 6.75). This game should be a great pitchers duel and fun to watch. I can see a combined 30 K's between these two starters.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Lightning Open the Playoffs Tonight Against Devils

The lighting open the NHL playoffs tonight going up against the New Jersey Devils. The Devils are led by all-star goalie Marty Brodeaur, who set a record for most wins by a goalie this season. The Lightning on the other hand are hoping that Johan Holmqvist will come up big now that he has been annointed the guy for the Lightning throughout the Playoffs. Holmqvist is by far a better goalie that Marc Denis and i believe that this is a great move by coach Jon Tortarella. Holmqvist will not be looking over his shoulder during any of the games and can go out and play his game, which has been pretty good this season. The Lightning big 3: St. Louis, LeCavilier, and Richards are going to need to come through with goals oon one of the tougher goalies in the league, but it can't be only these guys. The lightning are going to need some help from the other lesser known players like Craig, Roy, and Prospal. The Lighting beat the Devils 3 of the 4 times they met in the regular season and should be able to win this series.

I am prediciting the Lighting in 6

Rays Pen Finally Comes Through

Jamie Shields was spotted with a 6-1 lead against the Texas Rangers last night and needed all six runs to get the win. Jamie gave up only five hits, but three were home runs, including a three run home run by Michael Young in the 6th inning. Normally Maddon would have gone to his bullpen, but he did what was right and let Jamie finish the inning, which he did and after 7 innings it was 6-5. Brian Stokes pitched a perfect 8th inning, and Al Reyes followed up with a 1-2-3 9th inning with 2 K's to get the save.

The pen coming through in this came is big for the Rays and their moral and belief in there pitchers. This was a game they had to have after Shields pitched well and they got the runs they needed. Maddon finally did the right thing by letting his starters get out of innings after they have made a mistake and the starter responded to the challenge. These lessons can only help the Rays going forward.


Wiggy continued his hot ways going 2-4 scoring a run and getting an RBI
Zobrist finally came around going 2-5 including a solo home run in the first inning
Carlos Pena got the start at 1st and responded going 2-4 with 2 RBI

The Rays now go to Minnesota for a three game set.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Brian Kelly and Shelton Quarles No Show for OTA's

620 WDAE is reporting that Brian Kelly and Shelton Quarles are no shows for voluntary OTA's. The two have very different reasons for not being there. Kelly is not happy with his contract, which has 2 years left on it. Bruce Allen has a history of not negotiating contracts until they come into the last year, but they may want to get the Kelly deal done. Last year without Kelly the Bucs looked horrid in pass defense. Kelly is a stable solid Corner who knows this system and helps to take pressure off of Ronde on the other side, and makes tackles in the open field. The Bucs did the right thing last year in paying Ronde, they need to do the same for Kelly, take care of the guys who have got you to where you are.

The Quarles situation is a little different. Right before Shelton Quarles went over to Afghanistan for a USO tour a report in the St. Pete times and Tampa Tribune came out that Quarles had some injuries that were career threatening. The reports ranged from concussions to his back and knees. Shelton has yet to confirm any of these injuries which is a little suspicious. Any fan of the Bucs can remember a similar thing happening with a man name John Lynch. John said he could play, but the organization felt otherwise and he was let go. Lynch has gone on to star in the Denver Bronco defense making Pro Bowls. It is all to familiar sounding situation with a regime that is known for screwing its players and doing what they want with the players they want to have around.

The Bucs as an organization need to sit down and rethink how they are handling this situation. When two guys who have been the heart and soul of this team are treated like this, what does it tell other players not only on the Bucs, but throughout the league? The Bucs need to talk with Shelton and if he is ready to go, than get him on the field and give Kelly what he deserves as well.

Rays Should Trade for Lidge

If you have seen the Rays you know that the bullpen is absolutely horrible and needs to be addressed for this team to compete. Brad Lidge has been demoted in Houston and his stock can't get much lower than it is right now. Last year Francisco Cordero, a great closer for sometime, had issues and was demoted in favor of Akinori Otsuka and was subsequently traded to Millwaukee. Cordero was named the closer and has been pretty close to lights out for the Brew Crew and has returned to form. Closing baseball games is funny business and sometimes a change of scenery and teams they go against can do wonders for a closer. The Rays can look to when they got Joe Borowski and he was lights out for months after switching leagues and helped this pen look respectable.

The St. Pete times is reporting the Astros are interested in JP Howell, Andy Sonnestine, Rocco Baldelli, Jason Hammel and Sean Riggans. The Rays should look at moving Riggans and one of the young starters, preferably Hammel, for Lidge. The Rays do not need Riggans with Navarro and Paul on the Roster. Also, with Talbot, Niemann, Howell, Sonnestine, Hammel, Davis pitching so well, they can afford to combine one of them with Riggans to gain Lidge. Adding Lidge to Reyes would immdiately upgrade the pen and lead to more wins. Also, don't forget who our pitching coach is, former Astro Pitching Coach Jim Hickey, who had Lidge when he was dominant. The Rays should go out and make this deal and reunite Lidge with Hickey and give Lidge a change of scenery that may bring him back to his previous form. Lidge has not lost the physical tools if you watch him pitch, he just is lost mentally. Give Lidge a new place and less pressure and he will return to form and give this team what it has lacked the entire 10 years it has been in existence, a great closer.

After Promising Home Opener, Rays Revert

The atmosphere was electric and the crowd was into the game. The Rays had sold out their home opener in advance of the game for the first time since the Inaugural game, and the Rays responded. Jamie Shields pitched 6 2/3 innings giving up 3 runs on 6 hits and striking out 3. After Stokes finished off the 7th inning for him, good ole Shawn Camp proceeded to give up 2 runs in 2/3 inning. The Jays called on stud closer BJ Ryan in the 9th and the game looked just about over, but the young rays responded to the electric crowd that was left. Delmon Young hit a 2 run home run and BJ Upton had the winning hit, knocking in Aki who went 4-4 in the game. After the game, things looked like they were clicking for the Rays, they woke up alone in 1st place in the AL East for the first time in Franchise history and the city was excited, but then came reality, our bullpen sucks.

Since the Home Opener the Rays have now dropped 4 in row. The bats are not the problem, the rays have scored runs and have scored a lot of them. The Rays have been let down by the pitching time and time again. The day after the exciting home opener, Fossum took the mound and looked horrid giving up 7 runs in 3 2/3 innings. Sunday brought hope with Ace Scott Kazmir taking the mound. Kaz looked amazing outside of 2 mistakes which caused him to give up 4 runs on 2 home runs. Kaz left the game down one and Stokes proceeded to give up 2 runs in the 8th and the Rays couldn't come back against the Jays on this day.

The Rays are now on a Road trip and have stopped in Texas. The Bats have stayed hot, but the pitching, has stayed crap. Edwin Jackson started the first game and looked very good going 6 2/3 getting pulled with 2 on and 2 out, in comes.... you guessed it Shawn Camp. Camp proceeded to give up 2 hits and the 2 runs scored, Camp was pulled for Lugo who gave up 2 more hits and the Rays found themselves now down 8-2 and Gary Glover was called upon to get the final out and finally ended our suffering. Crawford hit a 2 run bomb, but the Rays could not get to 8 runs. Last night Jae Seo looked horrible giving up 10 runs in 3 innings. The rays fought back, but again the bullpen gave up more runs.

The Rays have the bats and the talent offensively to compete, but there pitching, mainly the pen is letting them down. This is something that will not change unless they change the players. Camp, Lugo, Stokes and the like are not Major League pitchers, they need to be replaced with guys who can get outs and can hold a lead or keep the Rays in the game. If we are going to lose like this, why not call up some of the younger pitchers we have and let them gain experience because the guys we have now are not going to do it. Another possibility is going out and making a trade for a guy. Why not go after a guy whose stock is very low right now, but has a high upside, Brad Lidge. Lidge could be a great addition to the Rays and could add much needed help in the pen. The pressure will not be there on Lidge and a change of scenery will bring him back to his form in my opinion. Francisco Cordero looked horrid last year until a trade sent him to Milwaukee and he returned to form, why not Lidge? The Rays need to do something because after a while the position players are going to get tired of busting their butts only to lose because of the pig pen.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Billy Donovan Staying at Florida

ESPN is reporting that Billy Donovan listened to the KY offer, but turned them down. Donovan told Jeremy Foley this morning that he will stay at the University of Florida.

This is obviously great news for the Gators and the Gator Nation. I am not surprised that Donovan stayed at UF. The talk of how great the job would be for Donovan didn't make much sense. By staying at Florida he can continue to show that he created a program and keep it at a high level.

The Gators will have a news conference today at which Brewer, Noah, Green, and Horford will declare their intentions about the draft and Billy will address the fact that he is staying at Florida.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Bucs Should Stay at 4

There have been rumors of the Bucs looking to trade up from the fourth spot in the draft to the first or second spot in order to make sure they get Calvin Johnson. This is a mistake that the Buccaneers cannot afford to make right now. Yes Calvin Johnson is the best prospect in this draft and I would love the Bucs to draft Calvin Johnson, but not at the cost that they would have to pay to move up in the draft.

The Bucs have many needs on the team ranging from the aging defense that has not been addressed in the past couple of drafts to an offensive line that still needs some more help. Right now the Bucs are in a good position to address many positions with quality first day guys with there draft picks. In order to move from the fourth pick to the first pick the Bucs are going to need to give up there fourth overall pick and most likely BOTH of their second round picks. With so many needs on the team why would you give up those draft picks in order to move up and get a receiver who only gets the ball so many times on offense? The Bucs are at a crossroad in the franchise and they need to end down the right road. The Bucs have the money and the draft choices to set this team up not only for now, but for the future. The current regime as used the excuse that they did not have the draft picks they needed because they were traded away for Jon Gruden, now they have the picks and they want to give them away.

The Bucs need to stay at the fourth spot and take the best player available in that spot. Calvin Johnson could fall to the Bucs or maybe even Joe Thomas who could be a staple on the offensive line for years to come. Whoever it is that the Bucs draft in the first round it needs to be in the fourth spot. The Bucs need to keep their draft picks and address all the needs on the team.

Rays Open in New York with a Loss

The pitching match up looked to be in the Rays favor on Opening Day with ace Scott Kazmir going up against Carl Pavano, who had not thrown a pitch in the major leagues in over a year. Crawford led off the Rays season with a single to left field and then promptly stole second base, but just as the Rays in the past, these Rays could do nothing with runners in scoring position and left Crawford stranded in the first inning. The youngsters did respond later in the game with Upton, Young, Dukes, and Crawford leading the charge. Dukes not only had a solo shot, but gunned down Melky Cabrera trying to tag back up after Dukes made a catch in center. As usual though the 5 runs scored by the Rays would not be enough.

Scotty did not have his best stuff, but he had enough to hold one of the most potent offenses in the league to 3 runs in 5 1/3 innings before handing it over to the bullpen. The bullpen blew it just as they have done the past couple of years. Sean Camp, Brian Stokes, Ruddy Lugo, and Juan Salas combined for 6 Hits, 4 ER with no K's in 3 innings of relief work. Once again a good offensive production was spoiled by the bullpen. Where is Chad Orvella who pitched stealer in Spring Training, oh yea he was demoted to Durham to make room for the other bums we have in the pen.

The Rays have the offense and decent enough Starters to win a good number of games, but with the crap that they have in the bullpen they will need the starters to either go the whole game or for the offense to put up 10 runs. This problem is not a new one for the Rays and it will last a long time until they address this mess. The Rays have the talent on offense and have some young starters who can get this team to compete, but when the bullpen blows every game all it will accomplish is to demoralize the team and the starters who busted there butt on the mound.

Highlights of the game included:

Crawford 2-4 RBI, R and SB
Dukes 1-3 Solo HR
Upton 2-4 R, RBI, SB

Great defense all around by the guys. Had the bullpen been able to pitch at all, the Rays would have won on opening day.

Sleeper- Josh Barfield

The position with the biggest drop-off in fantasy baseball this year has to be second base. After Chase Utley is gone, the next ten seem to be separated by minor nuances in what you prefer in a player. While others will take Cano early (ADP of 54) or believe that Dan Uggla (ADP 82) will reproduce last year’s stats, you can sit back and wait to take Josh Barfield. Last year many saw Barfield as a sleeper second baseman and then were disappointed with his .280/13HR/72R/58RBI/21SB line. Many fantasy players have the “What have you done for me lately?” mentality and have forgotten about Barfield. The average fantasy player may not even know that Barfield was traded to the Cleveland Indians in the off-season. In any case, Barfield is a talented second baseman who is now in a better lineup, better division, and better park, can be your everyday two-bagger, and you don’t even have to take him early.

In five years in the minors, Barfield turned out numbers to the tune of .300/.351/.445. While certainly not a power hitter, he has good power for a 2B, averaging 15 HR in the minors and majors over the last four years. The Indians have Barfield slated to bat ninth at the moment to be the “second leadoff” batter that managers love to have. With Sizemore leading off, Barfield could put up some huge numbers in the runs category. Eric Wedge also loves to be aggressive on the base paths, so Barfield will be running and should contribute over 25 SB this year. Barfield projects out to be a two-hole-type hitter, and if he is moved in to the second spot, that would only increase his value. He would have Sizemore in front of him with Martinez and Hafner behind him. His RBI totals would increase and his runs may go up even more with the big bats behind him.

Petco Park, where Barfield toiled last year, is a park where hitters go to die. Everyone knows how much of a pitcher’s park Petco is and Barfield is a prime example of what it can do to a player:

Home: .241/.279/.361 with 6 HR/32 R/22 RBI/8 SB
Road: .319/.355/.484 with 7 HR/40 R/36 RBI/13 SB

Jacobs Field is not the greatest park for hitters either, but it is a step up from Petco. It also has a big OF which could help a guy like Barfield who knows how to hit the gaps. I can see a .305/90/75/25 line from Barfield this year, which are better numbers than Cano had last year (outside of the average). Now consider that Barfield’s ADP is 132 while Cano’s is 54. Instead of taking Cano, why not pick up a Prince Fielder for your Utility spot and then grab Josh later in the draft?

After Utley, the second basemen seem pretty much the same. So, while people grab Cano, Uggla, or Roberts early, you can afford to sit back, fill other needs, and know you can take Josh Barfield later on and get the same (if not better) production.