This tweet from Sean Rodriguez reminds us Rays fans, that Spring Training is just around the corner. I, for one, cannot WAIT for baseball season season to begin!
With the acquisitions of Luke Scott and Carlos Pena, many baseball analysts have ranked the Rays second, just behind the Yankees, in their power rankings for the upcoming season.
As can be expected, the Rays will consider numerous batting orders this year, predicated on the righty vs. lefty pitching match-ups. TBT Rays beat writer, Marc Topkin, put together a possible lineup (below) alternating right-handed and left-handed hitters:
1. LF Desmond Jennings (R)
2. DH Luke Scott (L)
3. 3B Evan Longoria (R)
4. 1B Carlos Peña (L)
5. 2B Ben Zobrist (S)
6. CF B.J. Upton (R)
7. RF Matt Joyce (L)
8. C Jose Molina (R)
9. SS Sean Rodriguez (R) or Reid Brignac (L)
At first, I thought this batting order was a bit off-putting. To be honest, I’d prefer to see Rodriguez bumped up in the batting order. He’s a smart and aggressive base runner, and we all saw what he could add offensively toward the end of last season. Then again, bumping SeanRod up in the order, based solely on his improved numbers at the plate in the last third of 2011, may not necessarily be the wisest decision. Keep in mind too, that the ninth spot is effectively the first in many instances over the span of nine innings.
You’d better believe that JoeMa, and the rest of his saber minded wizards, will obviously change things up based off of righty vs. lefty match ups. Just by looking at the first five hitters in this hypothetical batting order, my word, the Rays are going to be a beast this year!
With all of this in mind, we ask you this, dear reader: What would be your ideal batting order? Feel free to leave your comments below.
St. Petersburg mayor, Bill Foster, has made his first official statement with Bay News 9 regarding yesterdays two hour meeting with Rays principal owner, Stu Sternberg. Foster said he “came out of the meeting confident that Sternberg and the Rays organization are prepared to honor their current contract through 2027.” Foster also said he “tried to bring up the issue of tearing down the Trop and building a new stadium to Sternberg, but the Rays had no real interest in the idea.” That offer was left on the table.
If the mayor is not speaking in hyperbole, which he has been known to do in the past, why has Sternberg changed his expectation about the future of the Rays in the Trop? One wonders if he’s realized that building a new stadium, especially one in Tampa, is not going to effectively change the attendance woes, at least in the long run? I suspect more will come out from both sides over the course of the next few days and weeks.
The mayor and city council will meet Thursday to discuss ways to better market the Rays. One idea that, reportedly, will be discussed is the potential to make the Trop a stop on the proposed 24 mile long light-rail system, running from Clearwater to St. Petersburg, and eventually connecting with Tampa.
In the end, if we’re talking about a “value of a market, as opposed to the location of a new stadium” type of scenario, it will be incumbent on both the Rays organization and the city of St. Petersburg (as well as region wide leaders) to do exhaustive studies on what could put more bottoms in the seats, and maintain a steady fan-base. I predict that the narrative will soon change to where the Rays can move outside of the region, especially if improvements are not made on that end. With that in mind, asking the leaders in Detroit and those involved with the Tigers organization, how they are able to maintain a steady fan-base in an area that is, arguably, in greater economic dire straits than the Tampa Bay region is a good start. It would also be beneficial to look at, and begin conversations with, other smaller market teams (the Brewers come to mind) in order to see what they do to keep fans coming out to the ball-park. It’s obvious that those who want to make sure that the Rays stay within this community need to look no further than Oakland, as the perfect non-example of how to maintain and sustain a sports (rather multiple) organization in a non-economically viable environment. However, dialog with successful franchises in other small markets, or successful franchises in economically strapped regions need to be on both the leaders of our region, and the franchises, collective dockets.
The Yankees and their $212 MM payroll, have limited funds to spend in their search for an affordable DH. Call me crazy, but maybe, just maybe, if they didn’t owe someone like Grimmace $92 MM+ over the course of the next five seasons, they’d be able to afford a Johnny Damon, who made $5.25 MM last year as DH for the Rays.
In the case of the Red Sox, they’d have to make some sort of move to free up some money for Roy Oswalt, who’s looking for $9 MM (or less) for a one year contract; a number that, in previous years, would have been a drop in the bucket for the Red Sox. Gee, do you think that maybe the failed John Lackey and Daisuke Matsuzaka experiments came back to bite them in the ass? How about the signing of Carl Crawford, who certainly didn’t play up the the expectation of someone with a $142 MM contract?