With a 4-day break, due to the "Idiotic Yankee/White Sox/Red Sox/Ozzie Guillen"-voted All-Star game, it's time for the Rays to set their sights on every Rays fans favorite time of the year...The 2nd Half.
In the past few years, the Rays seem to put it in another gear in the second half and actually get a majority of our wins then. Most of this upswing is due to the Rays unfathomable amount of 2nd Half hitters on the team. Knowing this, beloved(to some, not all) manager Joe Maddon has set the Rays 2nd Half goal at finishing the season with an 81-81 record. With 73 Games remaining, that would mean that the Rays would have to double the gap of wins-to-losses last year's 2nd Half Stretch(which was 39-34). So winning 42 games in the 2nd Half is on Rays Fans' Dry-erase boards everywhere.
Personally, my bar is set lower. If we can get a 36-37 record in the 2nd Half, I'd be ecstatic personally. A 75 win season by this year's team would be just as good as a 81 win season. With the injuries that had ravaged this team and our "amorphic" bullpen, 75 is the new .500.
Though my win-loss goal for the Rays is set lower than that of Maddon's, I want a few things to be done to make up for the 6 less wins.
Here's my list of "Things Needed to be Done"...
- Get pitching for Huff, no more sitting on your hands to get the perfect deal. You guys pulled the trigger on deals for Gathright, Hall and Lurch...don't get passive when trading Huff. He's not a "franchise" hitter anymore, don't treat him like one. If we're going to ask for a king's random for anybody, use that for Lugo.
- Call-up Juan Salas, Chad Orvella and Seth McClung when they're actually ready to be placed in the bullpen, and don't change their mechanics when they come up
- Tomas Perez, Russell Branyan and Damon Hollins are bench players and defensive replacements, not starters....please don't keep our utility hitters "sharp", they're all over 30 and should be as sharp as they can get.
- Call Delmon Young up after August 1st, unless our RFers continue to be automatic outs. If Lugo is traded on July 31st(or before), send Upton along with him
- Keep an eye on Niemann, if he can put together stretches of going 8 or more innings, insert him in the Rays rotation. I don't care if Montgomery has yet to get him a winning decision, he's needed up here.
- If Longoria continues to hit in the minors, the Bankston 3B experiment needs to be ended and Wes needs to be moved back to 1st. Longoria making it to AA in his debut year would be more than any Rays fan expected. If he can get 15-20 HRs before September, give Evan a September call-up.
- Figure out what to do with Edwin Jackson, Chris Seddon, Jason Hammel and Brian Stokes. If they're destined for the bullpen, move them there. If they're destined to start, keep them in the rotation..no switching back and forth.
- Give Elijah Dukes a Call-up, if he can keep his attitude in check.