Monday Morning Rays Wrap Up: Signing Day & the Week That Was

It is that time of the year where my Twitter feed seems to fill up with College Football Preseason Poll rankings, NFL Preseason Play by Play, and who should be drafted where in fantasy football. Additionally, many people are out enjoying a summer vacation with the family and baseball takes a back seat.

With each loss, the dream of a miraculous finish becomes more and more absurd, which is why Saturday's loss to the Yankees and Sunday's rainout was more of an enthusiasm drain on the fanbase than a gain that the five wins at the beginning of the week supplied. The Rays did finish the week with a 5-1 record and are on their way to Fenway Park for a 4 game series beginning Tuesday. The Rays begin the week 9 games behind the Red Sox in the AL East and 8.5 games behind the New York Yankees for the wild card.

  • Today is the deadline to sign the June draftees and the Rays have yet to sign first round draft picks #24 pick Taylor Guerrieri (RHP), #31 pick Mike Mahtook (OF), #41 pick Tyler Goeddel (3B), #59 pick Grayson Garvin (LHP). It should be a busy day for the Rays front office and a fun day for the fanbase to follow the ups and downs.
  • One of the few interesting stories relayed during the Fox Telecast of the Yankees and Rays game on Saturday was that Casey Kotchman is not only chasing a batting crown this year but is also chasing George Burns for the biggest batting average swing (.126 points) from one season to the next. In 1917, Burns hit .226 for the Detroit Tigers. Following the season, Burns contract was purchased by the New York Yankees and sold to the Philadelphia Athletics where he hit .352. Kotchman hit .217 for the Mariners and is presently hitting .335 for the Rays, a swing of .118 points. It should be noted that Burns' BABIP increased .119 points and Kotchman's BABIP has increased .135 points.
  • One of the more irritating statements made Tim McCarver during the Fox Telecast of the Yankees-Rays game was the assertion that Joe Maddon employs shifts on hitters to mess with the hitters head.
  • Another interesting story to watch is the development of Matt Moore who has been dominant since his promotion to AAA. He has made 5 starts, posted a 3-0 record with an ERA of 0.88. He has 49 strikeouts in 30.2 innings pitched and only walked 7. For a more thorough look at Matt Moore's progress check out Jason Hanselman's first hand account in the Idiot's Guide To Scouting Matt Moore. Moore has pitched 133 innings this year after throwing 144 last year, but I have to wonder if the Rays will bring up Matt Moore for a few September starts or possibly some bullpen work?
  • Desmond Jennings continues to be a force for the Rays. Since his recall, Jennings has hit .338/.424/.625 (1.049 OPS) including 8 stolen bases and has played a tremendous defense in left field. Does his end of the season performance make it more likely that the Rays move B.J. Upton in the offseason or is it irrelevant?
  • Given Upton's apparent and quite vocal "worry" about being dealt this trade deadline, does it seem probable that the Rays will be able to find an agreeable path and sign B.J. Upton to an extension this offseason?
A quick look at the week's actions after the jump. 

Monday: Casey Kotchman displays serious power with a walk-off home run to straight-away centerfield:

The Rays waited for Kotchman at home plate, but he was concerned with something else as he rounded third.

"I was kind of distracted," Kotchman said. "There was a huge wad of gum on the plate. We've got to find out who did that. That's probably not real sanitary." - mlb.com

Tuesday: Big Game James Shields with his 8th Complete Game Shutout of the season.

"I didn't think I was going to get one complete game," he said. "I hadn't had one since 2008 ... Fortunately, for me it's been a lot. I'm really, really, happy with the way I've pitched this year and hopefully we can get a couple more here."

Since 2000, only Roy Halladay in 2010 and Mark Mulder in 2003 have had as many complete games by Aug. 9. - mlb.com

Wednesday: Sam Fuld adds to the legend with a spectacular sprint around the bases for a crazy walkoff victory.

"It was the craziest 360 feet I've ever run," Fuld said of his first career walk-off hit.

And for Fuld, it was an at-bat and a celebration to remember.

"The most exciting two minutes of my life," he said with a smile. - mlb.com

Thursday: Jeff Niemann is nails again as he and Evan Longoria leads the Rays to the 4-game SWEEP!

Despite his team's little jump in the standings, Maddon isn't straying from his patient approach.

"It's not going to happen overnight," said Maddon after he earned his first-ever four-game sweep at home as the manager of the Rays. "It just doesn't work that way. You're going to have your little spurts and then something negative might occur. You can't just stop believing because of that."

Right now, Tampa Bay is definitely going through one of its "little spurts." - mlb.com

Friday: The Rays blast 5 solo home runs off CC Sabathia and David Price goes 8 strong innings as the Rays win their fifth in a row with a 5-1 series opener in New York. The video shown below shows 4 of the 5 home runs. Click here for the full game highlights.

"It's baseball," Sabathia said. "It's a humbling sport, and today was definitely humbling." - mlb.com

Saturday: Jeremy Hellickson takes the mound for the Rays but is never able to find his command and the Yankees tee off on Hellickson and the Rays bullpen to end the 5 game win streak with a 9-2 victory. 

Sunday: Yankee and Rays rained out.

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