That's it, guys, the season's pretty much over. The Rays, especially Jake McGee, had a rough go on Opening Day as they lost 7-4 to the Orioles and clearly they're not nearly as good as we thought. For Tom Jones of the Tampa Bay Times, who went against the crowd as he predicted the Rays would end 2013 in the AL East cellar, the game was vindication.
Tuesday gave us a sneak preview. They're going to be all over the road. You're simply never going to be comfortable watching this team.
Yep, this one game is going to be the story of this entire Rays season. After watching a game like this, clearly the Rays are in serious trouble. For all we know, Jones might be right by the end, but he probably should bear in mind that Rays fans like the community at DRaysBay might hound him about things like small-sample sizes and the fact that THERE ARE 161 GAMES TO GO!
On the other hand, though, it's kind of nice to have your team criticized like Jones did. It lets you know that people actually care. Jones' skepticism is exactly what the Rays waited a decade to receive: not hopeless indifference, not people giving up after mistakes that just never stopped, but fans being human and being scared even though a promising season could very well be ahead.
What might be an even-funner small sample size to discuss might be Wil Myers' first game at Triple-A. If he goes 0 for 4 with a walk, he's a bust, while if he goes 3 for 5 with a home run suddenly the Rays will get ripped for keeping him in the minors to begin the year. In any event, Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com talked to Andrew Friedman about the decision to leave Myers in the minors to begin the season and Friedman insisted that concerns about big league readiness were the primary reason, not Super Two eligibility.
"The AL East will expose very quickly any weaknesses that you have. So when we bring someone here, we need to feel that he's ready to step in and help us win right away. As [manager Joe Maddon] has touched on already this spring, if we add someone who's not ready, not only will it hurt the team, but it can really set the player back as well.".
The thing that some people forget about Myers is that while he's an incredible prospect, he was far from perfect last year at Triple-A, most notably striking out 140 times, and keeping him at Triple-A for a few extra months to make a better player moving forward seems like an easy decision. Friedman admitted that "there are a lot of factors to consider," but saving money isn't everything for the Rays and sometimes the right baseball move and saving money simply overlap.
Here are your links for today:
Scott Kazmir talked about facing the Rays in his first start back in the major leagues, asking "How ironic is that?"
Roger Mooney of the Tampa Tribune discussed the Rays becoming a destination for free agents.
Finally, Joe Smith of the Tampa Bay Times wrote about the emotion behind Don Zimmer and his family heading onto the field to throw out the ceremonial first pitch for the Rays on Opening Day. It's always been amazing to have Zimmer around baseball and around the Rays, and hopefully his 65-year run around baseball still has a few years left.