Before and after throwing out a ceremonial first pitch, with gusto, on Thursday, Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn chatted with team president Brian Auld and other Rays officials.
That level of banter is about all they can do for now, at least until St. Petersburg and the Rays work out a deal for them to discuss stadium sites on the other side of the bridges. Those talks are on hold, likely until after the season, after the St. Pete City Council rejected the last proposal.
“We still are willing to talk when they get the opportunity,’’ Buckhorn said. “We just want the Rays to be able to stay in this area. Until the city of St. Petersburg and the Rays come to an agreement, we truly are in the dugout. But when that day comes, I think the entire community will say, “Okay, let the Rays look, let them make the appropriate decision.” The decision may be Pinellas County, it may be Hillsborough. But they’ve got to have the ability to look.’‘
And though Jeff Vinik’s master development plan doesn’t include a stadium, Buckhorn said he was confident there are good options in downtown Tampa.
Former Devil Rays infielder Julio Lugo (2003-2006) has been charged in court with kidnapping, according to multiple reports out of the Dominican Republic.
Lugo last professionally played baseball for los Leones del Escogido, and last played stateside for the Braves in 2011.
Lugo’s arrest warrant was issued in the cities of La Romana and Santo Domingo for kidnapping and the posession of fire arms. According to the paper, Lugo and four men held their hostage and his girlfriend at gunpoint, demanding money that had allegedly been invested in a business venture.
A rough translation of the article includes how Lugo had, “always been willing to talk about it, assuring him that the money invested in the company, as well as that of other investors, was sure.”
This unconventional strategy is emblematic of the cutting edge of modern, in-game sabermetrics. With every team from the small-market Rays to the moneyed Dodgers now employing a host of analysts, all the obviously beneficial tactical techniques are already in use. All that remains are the scraps. So even as the tactics have become unconventional, the margins have become thin and the advantages minute. For clever front offices like the Rays, negotiating the brave new world of saber-equality may mean relying on subtle, trifling tweaks like reliever-first outings.
Does Uncle Charlie really believe the Rays will be better offensively?
The same brainy and creative 20-man baseball operations staff now run by Matt Silverman, who merely changed seats after a decade working alongside Friedman, and backed by the same cutting-edge computer system — still named Uncle Charlie — packed with proprietary data and research that is at the core of much of their decision-making.
The Rays are one step closer to moving to Paducah, Kentucky.
ch over a minor monetary amount, with many council members taking offense that the team was not interested in negotiating in public forums.
The sticking point were any profits that might have been had if the City redeveloped a portion of Tropicana Field’s 80-acres while the team still occupied the site. Under the current agreement, the team and City split profits equally….
The Rays owner has already made two intentions very clear: that the Rays must be allowed to explore all options in Tampa Bay for their next stadium in order to have a long term solution, and that the search will begin by 2022 with or without City Council approval due to necessity. The Team and Council are at odds.
Separately, Sternberg has also said that without a new stadium, the Rays will be sold and likely moved out of Tampa Bay. By denying consideration of the amended agreement, particularly after efforts by the Rays to re-negotiate the deal to meet the Council’s concerns, means the Rays are that much closer to leaving Tampa Bay.
The team is being backed into a corner, being legally unable to search for a new stadium means the ownership’s prospects of staying long term in the area are not bright. How will that impact their pending negotiations for a new television contract?
Welcome to Grantland’s 2015 MLB division previews. From now through next week, Jonah Keri and I will analyze each team in each division, focusing on offseason triumphs and failures, roster strengths and weaknesses, telling projections, revealing stats, and off-field story lines, and wrapping up with our over/under verdicts on each team’s projected record. As always, all overly pessimistic opinions should be blamed on the well-known grudge we bear your team, and only your team, because of that thing it did to us that one time that we’re still extremely bitter about.
“He has not done anything this spring to look like he’s lost range,” Cash said last week. “If I had to say, from spring training, this spring, I’ve had the benefit of seeing him his last two years in Cleveland, he looks better. … His body looks better. He’s moving really well.
“He’s made a couple nice plays where he is moving, soft line drives, a couple plays up the middle, and then a backhand play (last week) where he kind of pulled (first baseman James) Loney off the bag, but still he showed his range.”
The New England Patriots, San Francisco Giants and Tampa Bay Rays have all signed onto an amicus brief urging the United States Supreme Court to legalize same-sex marriage across the country, according to the Huffington Post. They are among almost 400 companies - many of which are some of the biggest corporations in the country - to support the brief. The Supreme Court will hear a case on gay marriage on April 28 and is expected to make a determination by June.
All of these teams have strong histories on LGBT issues. The Patriots’ owner, Bob Kraft, supported LGBT rights years ago and the Patriots appeared at an LGBT fundraiser years before it was en vogue. The Giants were the first team to produce an It Gets Better video in 2011, sparking a string of other MLB teams to follow suit. That list included the Rays.
Can the Yankees compete with the large market teams?
Due for a better year: Rodriguez? CC Sabathia? Carlos Beltran? Take your old, injured veteran and project better numbers. And then go buy a lottery ticket.
Due for a worse year: Did Miller turn the corner in 2014? After averaging 5.3 walks per nine innings over his career, he lowered that to 2.5 while striking out a dominant 14.9 per nine. The Yankees forked over a lot of money to get the big lefty and now he and Betances could make for the best one-two relief punch in the majors if Miller replicates his 2014 success.
I’m just the messenger: Can the Yankees get 90 starts from Sabathia, Masahiro Tanaka and Michael Pineda? Those three combined for just 41 last season, although Tanaka and Pineda pitched some sweet baseball when healthy. All are major health risks, of course, but keep this in mind as well: The Yankees are losing some quality starts from 2014. Kuroda, McCarthy, Greene and Phelps combined for 77 starts and a solid 3.68 ERA. Even if those guys stay healthy they may not be any better than that rate of production.
The final word: The Yankees have been outscored each of the past two years, although they managed to finish over .500 both seasons. While a lot of people are pointing to a healthier rotation and better seasons from some of the veterans as reasons the Yankees will contend this year, I turn that around and say: Who’s a good bet to improve? The only thing I’m sure of is the Yankees will have better defense at shortstop. I’m taking the under .500—for the first time since 1992.
Ultimately we would like our core guys to have a good sense of where they’re hitting in the lineup,” Cash said. “Some would be planted, whether in the No. 3 spot or No. 4 spot or wherever. And some we’d like to have it be, ‘You’re going to hit either fifth or sixth’ or ‘You’re going to hit first or second,’ something of that degree. Our goal coming in is to have a righty lineup and a lefty lineup, and have that be very similar on a daily basis.”
So whether the Rays decide to put Evan Longoria third (where he has preferred) or fourth (where there is potential for him to be more productive), and whether they settle on Kevin Kiermaier or Desmond Jennings or even John Jaso at the top, expect them to stick with that plan. (Last year, for example, Jennings hit in six spots, and no lineup was used more than five times.)
Cash’s theory is that the stability is better for the players, thus the team.
I’m interested in seeing how Jaso does as a full-time DH. About a 1/4 of his PA so far have come at DH. He’s essentially hit about the same as he does behind the plate.
“We have an understanding that they want me to hit, and putting me in the instance where I could be in harm’s way — where I would then be on the bench for the rest of the year — that’s not worth it at this point,” he said.
Jaso said he plans to eventually return to catching, though it’s possible — and potentially better for him — that he would wait until next season, allowing for more time to pass since his most recent concussion.
Last season, Rays pitchers threw 56% of their fastballs at least two and a half feet off the ground, which is approximately the vertical middle of the strike zone. This was the highest rate for any team in baseball. The Nationals finished second, but they’ve also lost prolific high-fastball throwers in Tyler Clippard and Rafael Soriano. They’ve been open to moving Jordan Zimmermann. The league average, by the way, was a hair under 48%.
With the additions of Ben Zobrist, who will become Oakland’s primary second baseman, and shortstop Yunel Escobar, the A’s are likely done assembling their 2015 team – and there is little doubt they plan to contend.
Zobrist was hotly pursued by numerous teams this winter, including the Giants, but the fact that Oakland could also find a spot for Escobar probably helped the A’s complete the deal. The A’s will send catcher John Jaso to the Rays along with two minor-leaguers, top shortstop prospect Daniel Robertson and outfielder Boog Powell.