Well it's ranting season it seems around here. We've got new additions just in time for free agency to begin. I welcome Matt to D'Rays Bay and must admit that for a `radio guy' he's got some writing talent, I look forward to seeing more of his work. The other new thing is the addition of advertisements, Patrick all ready voiced his opinion and I don't want to beat a dead horse.
While I don't want to rant I do want to take this chance to address a few issues I've seen around and by doing so combine them into this (semi) long piece.
Let's start with the rumors about Mark Mulder, I of course posted the article that addressed the rumor that we're speaking to him. My view is if we do indeed sign Mulder then great, but this is no at all a `boom or bust' situation. In my estimation this is a win-win situation for the Rays.
First off, we're getting our name out to the entire FA populous as well as the message that we're going to start spending money on parts that will help carry us towards victory. I know some fans say ,"Why would __ sign here if he can get the same from the other 29 teams?"
Well my response to that is quite simply, if he's looking for a payday, then he needs to look elsewhere, but if he's an educated baseball player then perhaps he decides to come to Tampa (or St. Petersburg if you want to be politically right in estimations of where we play, St. Pete Rays anyone?)
How many other teams have what Baseball America and especially Jim Callis has hyped as `the best farm system in all of baseball', oh boy prospects, that doesn't effect a guy like Mark Mulder does it. Well actually considering he knows the team is well loaded for a while, and if it needs can go out at the trade deadline and make a move that could decide the playoff race, which we should be in.
Next look at the current roster, three players in particular to begin with; Carl Crawford, Rocco Baldelli, and Delmon Young, the best young outfield in all of baseball. What pitcher wouldn't feel safer about a fly ball with those three in pursuit? That's not even taking into account their bats which figure to be pretty good.
Next, ignoring the plethora of infield talent, said free agent would see the amount of arms in the system with decent potential. If it's Mulder in this case he can look and see Scott Kazmir, James Shields, and Jeff Niemann possibly joining him in a rotation next year. Now I'm not going to get religious but every person ever born should want to be remembered when his time is gone. Obviously Mulder is a long time away from that (let's hope) but his baseball life will end sooner, by tutoring these three youngsters he could easily increase his legacy as a player by adding that very exclusive `helped to tutor youngsters towards first title in team history' line to his résumé.
Finally, so as not to make this too long of a rant of many in this piece looks at the geography and the state itself. Okay so if he has kids it may not be the greatest place for education, and Florida doesn't have that `big city' feel like New York or Chicago but isn't that a good thing? The pros are great weather, great beaches, no state income tax (more money is always a positive) and we're a republican state which is always good (I apologize for that, I'll give equal time to the democrats in a few lines, trust me.)
So as you see there are many more positives than what we'd initially think of (101 losses, see I told you I'd give you democrats equal time, and don't send me hate mail, I'm just joking.)
Next issue, Jeff Niemann and the concerns over his AFL playing time. I think this is a general reaction to a guy with an injury history (like when Rocco first sat out a game, some of us suspected the worse) I feel pretty confident that he's healthy as he said so himself, and the AFL would send him home for anything more than a flea bite, or a flesh wound, which may or may not mean he still has his right arm.
I am saddened that my `letter to Tomas and Brian' has been taken as venom, truthfully I only intended it as two things. First off I tried to do it as a `news' post without the whole `serious' tone, and two just to have fun with it. I like to read, whether it be books (if you haven't all ready do yourself a favor and pick up Philip Roth's `Plot Against America') or just articles / essays, and something that I hate is dry, serious toned articles, but only when I think they can infuse some personality into it.
I just wanted to clear that up to anyone who found my post a little `hate-filled', and also wanted to correct something I said in that article, Tomas' dream isn't to become a clown, but rather to master the `Thriller' dance, my apologies to anyone that was hurt by that erroneous statement.
They say good things (and celebrity deaths) come in threes. Well I'll add `comedic values' as our friends in Washington D.C. (neither political party) have acquired three ex Rays. First off Jim Magrane who is of course related to Rays' announcer Joe Magrane, not a really big deal. Next was former first round pick Darnell McDonald, who was actually my prediction for the 2007 Kevin Witt Memorial trophy in which honors career minor leaguers who have enough fan hype and a good enough AAA campaign to warrant a call-up, in which they do absolutely nothing to actually stay on a roster.
Finally we've found out that former Rays general manager (and since this tag only applies to one...) Chuck Lamar has finally found a job. Now my first reaction was something like "old Jimmy boy must be drinking again." But as Patrick pointed out, Chuckles wasn't that bad as a non-GM in Atlanta, of course he wont have John Schuerholtz in Washington (and wouldn't have in Atlanta if Lonnie Smith had gone through with his despicable plan.)
Jean Machi landed on Toronto's 40 man roster. I must question the Jays motives, personally I don't think he would land on a 50 man roster here, if one existed. He did post some nice numbers in Montgomery but can anyone honestly see him pitching in a major league game next season? I think this speaks more of the depth in the Jays system, or lack thereof rather than Machi himself, that or he becomes the next Mariano Rivera and wins several World Series rings for the Canucks.
Speaking of minor league free agents, am I the only one waiting for us to sign one just so I can start the hype machine. I'm hoping it's like Bobby Hill (or one of the abundance of former Rays who are minor league free agents.) Why Hill? Well I can play him off the `King of the Hill' television show, "I like fruit pies."
In all seriousness I'd like to see Clint Nageotte signed, he's still recovering from some injury issues and if nothing else could just be a system arm. The same thing can be said for Guillermo Quiroz who could possibly be the Durham catcher next year, assuming the team does the right thing and replace Josh Paul with Shawn Riggans on the big league team.
Before we actually know the lineup for next year I'm starting to think of nicknames for the lineup (not for the team) and really can only think of `The Green Machine' and maybe something like `The Electric Rays'...or not, but seriously we need something to call our team affectionately, something that would actually fit no matter what happens after next year and possible name / color changes. Something catchy and cool that the hipsters at ESPN would steal and make their own, like `Murderer's Row and Cano', if there's one thing we've learned, good nicknames always win the whole thing....
Okay we're nearly half way down the third page in my Microsoft Word file, and if your still reading this do yourself a favor, take a breather, move around, listen to a tune or two, drink a glass of water or shower if need be and then resume reading. If your just a rebel without a cause then don't move at all and continue reading, but considering I'm actually typing the thing and have had to change positions three to four times means you needed this paragraph to let it all sink in.
Now back to the real thing, we here at D'Rays Bay have began thinking of ways to make next year our best season. Ever. A few ideas are still popping around in the oven that is our minds but we have a pretty good idea of what would appeal to you the readers. Before I get to the few I want to share let me remind you that if you have a good idea for something you'd like to see added to the site, or something you'd love to see us debate or talk about then feel free to email it to one of us (see the staff links on the side an that'll take you straight to our emails), we're always open to suggestions.
Okay and now to the actual ideas themselves, first off one of the features we'll be implementing a `live blog' on certain occasions. These are entries in which one of us will watch the game, man the email / comments, and update with nuggets of information, stats you may have missed, humorous (or serious) observations of the game or happenings, and of course include you the reader in the action.
Tentatively we're planning for around 10 live blogs next year, that number may fluctuate depending on the success (or failure) of the first few. So when we will have a live blog? Well our first one will be in (check the countdown clock on the front page for exact time) since Patrick will bring in the 2007 season with a bang as the Rays battle the Yanks in New York. From there we will have at least two other guaranteed dates, in June Jake will give you analysis and wit during the Amateur Draft as the Rays hold the first pick (we would've given this to Patrick, but do you really want to hear factoids about David Price if the Rays select him?) Finally one of the staffers (which will be determined in a while) will bring you the latest rumors and trades on July 31st as we await what we hope will be our first real `buying' deadline.
The other seven (or more, again it all depends on the success rate) will be `big games'. That doesn't mean `whenever the Rays play the Yankees in New York', quite the contrary. We'll be scoping the schedule and probables for match-ups that intrigue us (Kazmir vs. Santana, Willis, Schilling, ect.) or debuts (think last year with Delmon or B.J. / Ben Zobrist / J.P. Howell games) so it's quite possible the first two games of 2007 will be live blogged and we could go a month or two without another, being that we'd cover Jeff Niemann's first career start, and maybe even the third game shall Mark Mulder or another free agent sign up for the Rays train.
Our goal by doing this is to get the reader involved and of course to see ourselves type and laugh at jokes we find funny as well as break all types of visits records from you the loyal readers hitting F5 again and again.
Well that's it, I think I've covered all that I wanted to cover so far, we'll have our free agency preview (along with a few targeted players) up by the 15th, the opening of free agency of course. Thank you for reading this, and feel free to leave a comment telling me the next time I type something this long to make it last for a week or two rather than a huge pile at once.