First Shields, now Kazmir, for the first time in the team's history the Rays had two pitchers reach the 200 innings plateau, Kaz doing so just barely (200.6 IP) after five innings last night. For all the grief myself amongst others have given Kazmir he's been automatic for half the year especially for the past 88 innings in which his ERA is 2.45 compared to 4.41 the prior 112 innings. Speaking of Shields; what a season the 25 year old had. 215 innings exact, 202 hits, 28 homers, 36 walks, 184 strikeouts, and an ERA that doesn't do him justice, 3.85. Perhaps what's most interesting is his monthly ERA breakdown:
April - 3.75
May - 2.66
June - 5.57
July - 6.62
August - 2.79
September - 1.64
Similar to last season where Shields started strong, hit a snag in the middle of his season, and then approached the ending very strong.
The general feelings amongst the majority of the Rays fan base is seemingly negative or apathetic towards the teams new found colors and uniforms, although the hat logo does seem to be an improvement the rest is under fire. Obviously merchandise sales are likely going to shoot up during the middle to late part of November, but the buzz created from the new unis, and the somewhat negative responses is likely to add to the figures. See Rays fans may dislike the new look, but wearing new "threads" is the fashionable thing; before the Falcons switched jerseys how many Vick uniforms did you see casually being worn? Like 50 Cent once said, and yes I'm quoting 50 Cent of all people, "Go ahead switch your style up and if they hate then let them hate and watch the money pile up."
As U.S.S. Mariner pointed out recently the Rays are looking at, of all things, a surplus of starting pitchers entering next spring, the well respected blog mentions that in suggestion of dealing for one of our starters, namely J.P. Howell (or Edwin Jackson) who they seemingly love. The idea is intriguing, and perhaps the two teams will revisit their pre-deadline negotiations that broke off at catcher Rob Johnson for Al Reyes, per our very good friend Jason Collete's Mariner sources.
The bullpen as of late has been disappointing, particularly my favorite Grant Balfour. The solution? Throw more sliders. I hesitate, and shudder, to suggest that his problem is the same as Seth McClung's but recently it has been. Even if he is a fastball pitcher nobody can survive in this league throwing just fastballs and especially not a pitcher in the American League East. Adding a bullpen arm or two remains a priority for the Rays this off-season although I am very hopeful that Calvin Medlock can take a spot for himself.
Concerning the off-season Cesar Izturis will be available and so will Barry Bonds. The latter is a defensive whiz who was well overpaid but the latter is far more intriguing, I suppose adding a player with near .500 OBP potential always is, but even more so when you consider the whispers last off-season of the Rays talking with Bonds, a year later adding Bonds to the mix alongside Carlos Pena and B.J. Upton is downright fearful, as for the distraction talk I'm not sure how big of an issue that would be, and for all you veteran presence nuts how about the greatest player, ever?
Finally addressing the question that our friend Jerry Scott at Buc'Em asked, and a few of you have emailed me about; "What is DRB going to do about the logo / color changes?" Absolutely nothing, for now. Don't be fearful of the URL not working suddenly and as far as the cosmetic changes they're being taken care of.