Saturday, March 28, 2009

How They’re Doing #6

The Rays are 12-13-1 in spring training.

It looks like the Rays aren’t going to make too many more moves before the start of the season, so the stats here are even less meaningful than they have been. Box scores from the minor league games are not available and I don’t think that they’d tell us much anyhow.

So I think I’ll give up on this series and go back to trying to chase down a couple more of the guys we aren’t going to see this year, notably Josh Johnson, Nathan Haynes, and Jorge Velandia. Pretty sure I’ve found them.

If you’re wondering about the Bulls roster, the International League website has this about the Bulls upcoming season. I’ll probably have my own ideas in a week or so, or maybe just wait until they show up on April 9th.

March 25
DURHAM BULLS ROTATION TAKING SHAPE: With arguably baseball’s top prospect David Price optioned yesterday to Durham, the Bulls rotation is nearly set. Price will more than likely be rejoined by righties Mitch Talbot and Wade Davis. Former major leaguer Carlos Hernandez, who is coming back from
shoulder troubles, is expected to join Triple-A newcomer James Houser in the Bulls starting five. If this turns out to be Durham’s rotation, three of the five starters to begin the year will be lefties.

PEN PERFECT: The bullpen certainly has the ability to be one of Durham’s strengths to start 2009. The following pitchers were in major league camp and have been either optioned to Durham or assigned to minor league camp: Winston Abreu, Jason Childers, Randy Choate, Dewon Day, Julio
DePaula, Chad Orvella, and Dale Thayer. Every member of that group has either MLB experience or is currently on the Rays 40-man roster.

IN THE FIELD: The following players are still in MLB camp with the Rays, but are expected to be part of Durham’s roster: Michel Hernandez, Chris Richard, Ray Sadler and Jon Weber. Reid Brignac, John Jaso, Elliott Johnson, and Justin Ruggiano were optioned to Durham yesterday, along
with Price.

WELCOME BACK: Bulls Manager Charlie Montoyo returned to camp late last week. Montoyo was a coach on Team Puerto Rico in the World
Baseball Classic.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

David Price Sent to the Bulls

Probably the most talked-about topic in the Rays blogosphere and the print media this year was the status of left-hander David Price. The Rays have an open spot in their rotation and the chatter was about who was going to fill it. It won’t be Price. See a couple of comments here, here, and here. It must be a really big deal, it even made the N&O (print edition, very small print).

Here’s my two cents worth:

Will Price be allowed to win any games for us? My guess is only on the days the bullpen is able to back him up. Even if he has a great start in a game, he will very likely be on a very low pitch count. So look for a lot of no-decisions. If he gets in trouble in an early inning, if he sneezes, stubs his toe, gets dinged by a line drive, he’ll be out of there. Last year he appeared in 6 Bulls games and faced 129 batters. He had 2 wins, 1 loss, and 3 no-decisions. The Bulls ultimately lost all three of the no-decisions.

So, I have mixed feelings. I have no doubt he is an extraordinary talent. I am looking forward to seeing him pitch again. On the other hand, last year’s fans will remember the game in June when Montoyo left Chris Mason just twisting in the breeze out there. Mason was getting hammered (25 batters, 13 hits, 1 walk). I’d swear Mason then deliberately hit a batter just so he could get thrown out of the game and get off the mound. No way Montoyo will let that happen to Price.

So, welcome to Durham, David. Here’s hoping that you bring with you a bunch of solid middle relievers. Kind of odd being essentially a set-up man isn’t it?

Several other players we’ve been watching were included in the transaction: Justin Ruggiano, Elliot Johnson, John Jaso, and Reid Brignac. That leaves two players we’ve been watching still with the Rays: Chris Richard and Jon Weber.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Interesting Links

Here’s a link to a RaysProspects story with profiles of players he thinks are (1) top prospects and (2) will be playing in Durham this year. Includes position players Reid Brignac, John Jaso, Justin Ruggiano, Elliot Johnson, and Chris Nowak; and pitchers David Price, Wade Davis, Mitch Talbot, James Houser, and Chris Mason.

Anyone else notice the number of Chris’s on the team?

Her Rays catches a spring training game and comments on Elliot Johnson.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Perez Out Four to Five Months


First it looked like Perez was going to start in center for the Rays until Upton was back in shape, so we might not see him here until late May or June. And then he dislocated his wrist. Now he’s had arthroscopic surgery with pins put in to help things heal up right.

Not good for Fernando, not good for the Rays, not good for the Bulls.

Apparently it all goes back to Fernando trying out a very slightly larger glove (maybe a 1/4 to 1/2 inch longer fingers) that caught on the turf as he was diving for a ball. Trying to find something positive in this, but not having much luck. We wish Fernando well and we look forward to seeing him later on in the season.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

How They’re Doing #5

The Rays are now 11-9-1 in spring training.

Two potential Bulls in particular are having very solid springs, Jon Weber and Chris Richard.

got a nice write-up in the St. Petersburg Times, including this poignant quote:
“It would all pay off with one game. It really would. I could walk away from this game saying, ‘All right, I did it.’ ”

He’s gotten a fair amount of playing time, 30 a-bats, and is hitting .367, better than any of the Rays’ starting outfielders. He’s tied for the lead in RBIs (12).

Chris Richard’s playing time is dropping off as Carlos Pena gets into shape. He’s hitting .275.

Possibilities to stay with the Rays at the start of the season are Elliot Johnson and Justin Ruggiano

Reid Brignac’s hitting is improving slightly, but he’s seeing less playing time. Michel Hernandez is getting a bit more playing time.

Complete stats here.

Lastly, to follow up on my comments regarding Port Charlotte, it seems that the real problem isn’t alligators but wild boars. See the comment at the end of the St. Pete Times article cited above.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

B.J. At Bat For the Durham Bulls

B.J. Upton came to bat in a Durham Bulls spring training game today. It was his first time at the plate in spring training and he was pleased with himself. Stories in the Tampa Tribune and St. Petersburg Times. Upton had surgery immediately after the 2008 season and has been in rehab ever since. There was some thought that he might show up in Durham early in the season. However, based on these stories it looks like he’ll be ready much sooner, if not for the Rays’ opening day.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Players We Won't See in 2009 -- Joel Guzman

The most often used adjective in our section of the stands regarding Joel Guzman over the last couple of years was awkward. Watching him at 3rd or at the plate he just never seemed quite ready. As for running the bases, it sure took a long time for the 6'6" guy to get going.

And yet every now and then he would just crush the ball over the Blue Monster. I remember one that went into the framing of the under-construction Diamond View II and just banged around up there where the second floor would be going. There was another the next year that bounced off the third floor glass of the completed building. There was another that went over the Bull. More than once he went deep behind 3rd and made a loooong and accurate throw to get a runner out.

Now with the Nationals with an invite to spring training. We may see him with the Syracuse Chiefs this year. We wish him well (except we really don't want to see him hammer Diamond View II while in a Chiefs uniform).

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

A Few More Bulls Identified

A press release from the Rays listed a few more players specifically designated for the Bulls. Pitchers Wade Davis, Dale Thayer, and Mitch Talbot will be coming to Durham. Several others listed were dropped from the Rays’ “invitation” roster and sent to the minor league camp. Hard to tell who among them will end up as Bulls at the start of the season.

Charlie Montoyo’s Puerto Rico team is more than hanging in there in the World Baseball Classic (they beat Team USA 11-1 a couple of days ago in a game called in the 7th by a mercy rule, but will meet USA again after falling into the loser’s bracket yesterday). So Montoyo still isn’t going to be back to get his licks in regarding who comes to Durham. At a guess, a pitcher named Carlos Hernandez has a good shot at staying in Durham since he’s had some big league time with the Astros and has had a good spring so far.

Strange as it may seem, the N&O actually covered this story, at least in their new baseball blog, Balls and Strikes. Does that mean that the N&O is going to cover the Bulls this year? Good news if they are. Would be nice to have something more than a box score in my home town newspaper. The blog is also trying hard to cover ACC baseball, a real challenge this time of year as anyone in the Triangle who isn't filling out NCAA brackets is considered some sort of alien being.

Reid Brignac is not on the list, but I mention him because over on Rays Prospects he among those listed as "overhyped" by some of the bloggers there, as is Fernando Perez.

Jeremy Cummings remains a ghost. Can't find him anywhere on various rosters.

Monday, March 16, 2009

How They’re Doing #4

Rays are now 8-7-1 (Can have tie games in spring training, I guess. They quit after 11 innings against the Pirates.)

Justin Ruggiano is still doing very well, so with Perez’s injury and a bit of confusion in the Rays outfield, I’m not sure we’ll see much of him this year, if at all. See a recent story here.

Reid Brignac
continues to get a lot of playing time and his hitting has picked up to .219.

Given his playing time it looks like Elliot Johnson has a decent chance of staying up, but the Rays have plenty of infielders still on the roster.

Weber’s and Richard’s playing time has fallen off even though their numbers are still quite good.

Catcher Michel Hernandez is still with the Rays, as is catcher John Jaso, but I'm guessing that they’re spending most of their time in the bullpen. Wonder if Hernandez will be the “old hand” we need this year in Durham? See stats for overall spring training numbers.

Just have to add a comment about Ruggiano. The Rays yanked him back and forth all last year. He did a great job for the Bulls, but mostly sat on the bench for Tampa Bay. Doesn’t seem to me to be a good idea to take guy back and forth like that. And then the Rays spent a lot of time trading and chasing down outfielders during the off season. He’s been called a “AAAA ball player," but I wonder how much of that simply isn’t getting the chance to really look at big league pitching. Much as I’d like to see him back in Durham, would rather see him get a place of Tampa’s 40-man with a shot to stay up there and play this year.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Making Predictions About Future Rays (and Potential Bulls)

Over on the blog RaysProspects they’ve opened up a discussion among several well-known Rays bloggers regarding various players in the Rays system.

Of interest to Bulls fans is not so much what we might think about how good a Ray a player might become, but when or if we might get to see them play in Durham, and what impact they might have on the Bulls. Some of the discussion centers around Jeff Neimann, whom I doubt we’ll see this year (too bad, fun guy to watch). Much more likely are pitcher Wade Davis, shortstop Reid Brignac, and catcher John Jaso who are very likely to start the year here.

In Brignac’s case, he’s having a very poor start at bat in spring training and they’ve given him a little bit of time at second base.

As mentioned earlier, I’m having a hard time getting my head around our potential pitchers, so I’m not going to comment on Davis just yet.

We saw Jaso some last year and I’m looking forward to seeing him this year, with the caveat of that we will likely see the Bulls try to balance him out with an experienced catcher to work with the pitching prospects along with an upcoming catcher such as Jaso. The norm in Durham over the last couple of years is to have three catchers on the roster, so will have to see who the others are going to be.

Looks like this discussion is going to go on for a while, so worth a look.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

How They’re Doing #3

The Rays are now 6-6 in the spring.

Several prospective Bulls are doing very well. Jon Weber leads the non-roster list with 22 at-bats, an average of .364 and leads the team in RBIs with 10. Elliot Johnson is also doing well with an average of .333 in 21 at-bats, 6 RBIs, and 3 homers. Chris Richard is getting a good bit of playing time with 19 at-bats, an average of .316 and 3 RBIs. Reid Brignac finally got a couple of hits, bringing his average up to .130 in 23 at-bats. And Fernando Perez (more later) is hitting .211 in 19 at-bats, with 4 RBIs and 2 stolen bases. Complete stats here.

In yesterday’s game Perez hurt his wrist going after a fly ball. He could be out for at least a week, according to the Rays website. Reporting in the St. Petersburg Times discusses the impact that may have on where he goes at the beginning of the season.

In the same article we hear that several players have been taken off the Rays roster and sent to minor league camp. Since it's in the same location (Port Charlotte), guess that means moving your gear out of one locker and into another nearby. Of interest to Bulls fans are two pitchers, Chad Orvella and Calvin Medlock. Neither pitcher got much time with the Rays this spring. Orvella got 2.2 innings and Medlock got 2.1.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

How They’re Doing #2

The Rays are now 5-4 in Spring Training games. For some reason their loss against Puerto Rico doesn’t show up.

Potential Bulls are getting a fair amount of playing time, probably because several Rays regulars have yet to show up on the field. Pena has only played in one game, Upton has not played at all, Akimura is playing for Japan in the World Baseball Classic, and the Rays can’t seem to make up their minds about right field.

Justin Ruggiano leads the Rays in at bats with 19, and is hitting .316 with 2 RBIs. Elliot Johnson is hitting .389 in 17 at bats, with 5 RBIs and 2 home runs. Reid Brignac isn’t doing too well at the plate, hitting only .063 in 16 at bats. That’s just one hit, his first at the major league level, but that was a home run. Fernando Perez is doing just OK at .188 in 16 at bats, but he’s stolen 2 bases and scored 4 runs. Jon Weber is a standout, hitting .313 in 16 at bats with a team-leading 8 RBIs. And Chris Richard has had a great start hitting .357 in 14 at bats, 3 RBIs, 1 homer, and an outstanding .500 OBP.

Complete spring training stats are here.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Montoyo v Maddon -- Oops

Guess I should have looked at rosters more closely. Charlie is the coach, not manager, of Puerto Rico’s team. José Oquendo is the manager. (Thanks, N.)

Montoyo vs. Maddon -- Follow-up

The matchup got exactly zero attention in the Tampa Bay press or Rays blogosphere. Too bad. Montoyo’s team beat the Rays 2-1. Could have been an interesting take on the game, at least for Bulls fans. Box score here.

Mitch Talbot looked good for the Rays and there’s a very good chance that he will start the season with the Bulls.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Talk About Conflicts -- Montoyo vs. Maddon!

In general, I really couldn’t be much more disinterested in the “World Baseball Classic”, but tonight’s tuneup game between Puerto Rico and the Rays could be interesting. (Not quite sure why Puerto Rico counts as a country, but that would require digging into the Classic deeper than I want to go.)

The manager for Puerto Rico is Charlie Montoyo, the Bulls manager. So it could be his chance to show up his big boss, so to speak. On the other hand, a number of prospective Bulls are still on the Rays roster and they have the chance to give their future boss (Montoyo) a hard time. Of course, what they’re probably thinking is that they want to play so well that they never have to play for Montoyo in Durham.

Will be fun to see how it turns out.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Fan Fest 2009

Don’t know about others, but on the weekend evenings where kids get to run the bases after the game, I sometimes wonder, “What about old farts like me?” I wouldn’t mind a trot (well, maybe shuffle is the right verb) around the bases or at least just a look at the DBAP from the players’ perspective.

This Friday, the 6th, you can do that.

Looks like the snow and ice will have melted by then, so a good time to get out of the house and go have lunch at the DBAP. Should be fun. From 11 to 2. See the link here for more info.

Monday, March 2, 2009

How The Players are Doing, #1

My guess is that anyone who’s managed to find this site also knows how to chase down the box scores for Rays spring training games, so I won't post the links here. They’ve played five games so far, winning 1 and losing 4.

But we can keep an eye on potential Bulls by checking out their spring training stats. They can be found here. Several are doing just fine, with the exception of Reid Brignac who’s yet to get a hit. Jon Weber’s gotten a couple of RBIs, as has Eliot Johnson and Fernando Perez. A couple of key Rays players are either not yet playing or off with the World Baseball event, so several potential Bulls are probably getting more playing time than they’d normally get.

Missing from action on the pitching side is Jeremy Cummings. He was on the roster at the start of training, but he’s yet to make an appearance. Too bad. He played very well for us last year, filling a big hole in the rotation when he showed up from Taiwan. See the item over at The Rays Party (Thanks, Cork).