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Game Preview; Friday (9/23) vs. Anaheim

Rays (64-89) at Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, Orange County, California, United States, North America, Western Hemisphere, Earth, Solar System, Milky Way, Universe (86-65)
10:05; Angel Stadium of Anaheim
NO TV; Radio: Rays Radio/1250 AM

Well, since our great  win over Boston was two days ago, and there has been big news since, I will use this space today to voice my two cents on Lou's departure. I could shorten this by just letting out a large cheer, but I will, instead, waste some space by complicating, in essence, a very simple matter. First off, let me just say this about Lou. He's a local product, a great baseball man, and a nice person, from my expierences. That being said, he has been an awful manager in three years here, and that has become more evident as time has passed. Mishandling of young pitchers, misplaced love for veterans, throwing his team under the bus, and constant bitching were all trademarks of his tenure. Often, you could go to a game and point out five different things he did wrong. That is unacceptable. Some of his actions aren't even subjective. The bottom line is, he is better than Hal McRae, slightly worse than Larry Rothschild (who got a bad rap). By no means is he a bad manager overall, he is just a bad manager for a young team such as this. Anyone who doubts this can go talk to Jake, and he'll supply you with one of his rants. But getting past the obvious, this team is about to go under as big of a change short of a contraction/expansion as I can think of. Look at it for a second. we have the potential to have a new manager, GM, AND owner next season. That is very rare in MLB. And it is a chance for a new start. Almost everything the team has done in the last ten years has been spectacularly wrong. Retaining Vince past the awarding of a team was a low point that has continued to get lower and lower. Hiring Chuck LaMar might not have been asinine, but keeping him for ten years is. Vince must be scared that some brains might come into the DRO. So we have a chance to rectify that. Then again, we could screw this up again by hiring Pat Gillick and Jim Leyland. We don't need the same old geezers intent on supressing new thinking. Furthermore, veteran-locving, prospect-trading GMs like Gillick are the reason Toronto, Baltimore, and Seattle have failed to make the playoffs since his departure. Do we want to beome a one year, flash in the pan, or do we want a smart train of thought that can carry us for several years? That is the question we must pose when suggesting new GMs/managers.

Rays-LH Casey "Mac" Fossum (8-11, 4.61)
ANA-RH Paul Byrd (12-10, 3.62)

BEHIND ENEMY LINES-ANAHEIM: So what's been goin on in So Cal since the last time we saw these Angels? Well, since we swept the Halos at home, thus putting Oakland in first  place, the Angels and A's have been locked in a tight intra-dicvision battle, with the Angels regaining the division lead. The Halos' staff has been decimated by injuries, so the pitching lines may change in this series as Bartolo Colon and Jarrod Washburn may be moved. On the playing field, Seminole High product Casey Kotchman hasn't just been feasting on Devil Rays pitching.He is batting .287 with seven long balls since an August 4th call up. eanwhile, Steve Finley  and his negative VORP continue to rot in center field; he is 15 for 86 since the beginning of August. The season series slides to the Rays' favor, 4-2, though they are 1-2 out west. Anaheim leads 49-26 overall.

BREAKDOWN: As I  said, the pitching lines in this series may change, but tonight's starters are a  sure thing. Going to the mound for the Rays is lefty Casey "Mac" Fossum. Foss is hot this month after an awful August, to the tune of 2.37 ERA-hot. He has struggled on the road however, as he has not won away from the Trop since July 14th. Mac was shaky last time out against the O's, surrendering seven hits an five walks over six innings, or a WHIP of 2. Nontheless, luck was on his side, as he  surrendered just one run. He hasn't faced the Halos for about a month, since last August 26th to be exact. In that  start, he had a horrible appearence to round out a horrible month in which he had a 8.44 ERA.  He went just five innings, giving up seven runs on nine hits. Ouch. That has been his only start against Anaheim thus far this year. Let's hope for better this time around.

Taking the mound for Anaheim is Paul Byrd, who has been mentioned as a possible target for the Rays this offseason. With his stats, not too many people would fight his signing. Byrd has been a stable innings-eater in the Halos' roation, sporting a nice 3.62 ERA in 22 decisions. He has been one of baseball's best starters in September, sporting a microscopic 0.91 ERA this month. Bad news right? Well, throw this into the equation. Previous to his first start of this month, the righty faced the Rays, giving up six runs  on 11 hits in six innings. He gave up three in six in his only other start against the Rays this season. Deja Vu tonight? Let's hope so.

THE BOTTOM LINE: The bottom line is, we only have nine games left, let's make the most of them. We have a three gamer here, followed by a set on Lake Erie, and then the final three home games of the year against the O's. I for one, am hoping for a 7-2 finish. Optimistic? Yes. Impossible? No. The Rays have showed an ability to tame the Halos this year, and their offense is no better than they were a month ago. If our hitters can  scrap some runs together, and the pitching can force a stalemate against Halos hitters, we have a shot. Granted, we lost two of three here in early August, but we swept 'em at the Trop, and need one win to clinch the season series. So let's finish the year on a high note and knock the Halos out of the playoffs!

GO RAYS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!