Joe Nelson is Working on His Fastball, Grant Balfour on His Curve, Andrew Friedman on His Swavor

“Ultimately you’re trying to get things squared up for April 6,” Nelson said. “Sometimes you may not be happy with the results, but it is a process. In years past, I might have freaked out if I gave up a run or two during spring training and said, ‘Oh God, they’re going to send me down.’ But I realize know there is a process that goes into getting ready for a sixth month season. I’d rather give up runs now and make the adjustments I need to make then start on April 6.”

Bradenton Herald

Very well then.

That's your second pitcher on record as saying it's about processes not results. I'm beginning to wonder if these aren't isolated cases and instead something the Rays preach to their players.

 

 

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Balfour walked the bases loaded in a game against the Phillies because he was working on his curveball. He didn’t miss the strike zone by much. In fact, home plate umpire Sam Hollbrook told Rays manager Joe Maddon that Balfour wasn’t missing the strike zone by much.

Either Balfour's "curve" moves too fast and is being classified as a slider, or it's a new pitch. I'm leaning towards the latter, but we'll find out I guess.

We've talked about Balfour's arsenal quite a bit, may as well touch on it once more. Having 2-3-4-5 pitches does not automatically make you a better pitcher. Look at Ryan Franklin. Having n number of good pitches does. Balfour doesn't need 3-4 pitches, just a change-up, curve, or slider that's quality enough to leave a hitter guessing. Balfour's fastball is good, fast, and moves, but major league hitters are good enough to know -- and hit -- what's coming when a pattern is set like this: FA, FA, FA, FA, FA, FA, FA, SL, FA. That's 90%, and when you start every plate appearance and every outing with a fastball, eventually someone is going to jump on it.

Throwing a first pitch slider or change or curve or whatever disrupts that pattern. Start an at-bat with a slider then a change. That would really mess the hitter's idea and expectations up.  Winning the game theory battle only goes so far, but it's one way to put the odds in your favor, and really that's the only thing you can ask of your pitchers.

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Also, Friedman has a random cameo in an USA Today article:

"The economy makes long-term contract discussions more difficult," says Andrew Friedman, Tampa Bay Rays executive vice president. "There are so many variables that make it hard to forecast."

That's understandable. I can't help but wonder which long-term contract discussions he's referencing though. I don't know if Willy Aybar's deal counts, maybe Dioner Navarro? Maybe someone else?

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Finally, Project Prospect launched their top 200 prospect list. Quite a few Rays made the cut:

2. Price

31. Beckham

44. Hellickson

49. Davis

75. Jennings

118. Barnese

122. Moore

151. Niemann

163. Brignac

175. Lobstein

Not too shabby.

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