Category: Tampa Bay Rays

Despite Sold Out Stadiums, Tampa Bay Rays Will Get Limited Public Support

Spring training has returned to Tampa, which means that is is time to once again enjoy the spoils of being home to the Grapefruit League. On Sunday, April 2, the Tampa Bay Rays will host the New York Yankees for Opening Day. The first pitch is scheduled to be thrown at 1:10 p.m.


As expected, tickets to this game at Tropicana Stadium sold out rather quickly. Selling out early for Opening Day is a Tampa tradition that dates back more than 10 years, however, this type of public support will no longer apply to building new stadiums.


According to various news reports coming from Tallahassee, the Florida House of Representatives has voted against the use of public land resources for the purpose of funding stadiums for professional sports franchises. In other words, the Tampa Bay Rays’ search for a new stadium will not end up like the situation with the Miami Marlins a few years ago.


The Marlins were able to secure more than $400 million for the construction of their very own baseball park, but these funds came from a free loan originating from municipal bonds. In other words, Marlins Park will be completed with a chunk of taxpayer’s funds.


Florida House Bill 77 prohibits professional teams such as the Tampa Bay Rays to get public funding like the Marlins were able to secure in 2009. The bill passed by a wide margin of 82 votes in favor and just 33 against.


Critics of the bill complained that it places obstacles to economic growth in the Sunshine State. Aside from the Tampa Bay Rays, the Rowdies soccer team will also be affected by the measure. Rowdies owner Bill Edwards was seeking $80 million to convert Al Lang Stadium in nearby Saint Petersburg into a Major League Soccer venue. It so happens that Tampa is an adequate market for soccer, but Edwards will now have to spend more time looking for private sources of funding.


In the meantime, enthusiasm for the Tampa Bay Rays is not winning as local fans expect that their favorite baseball team will prevail against the legendary Yankees on Opening Day.


Jonny Venters Returns to Tampa Bay Baseball Organization

The Tampa Bay Rays in the Eastern division of the American League open their 2017 campaign on April 2 against the New York Yankees. Left-handed pitcher Jonny Venters will be with the Ray’s organization at the start of the season, but not in Tampa. He recently signed a minor league contract with the Tampa club.


At this point, the highlight of Venters’s career has been with the Atlanta Braves during 2010 to 2011. From the bullpen, he owned a 1.89 ERA and pitched 171 innings. In 2012, Venters injured his elbow and endured his second Tommy John surgery. While going through rehabilitation for that injury, he was injured again and required an additional surgery.


This is not Venters first venture with the Rays. In March of 2015, Tampa signed Venters as he was returning to baseball after his third Tommy John surgery. By mid-June of 2016, his pitch velocity was up to the middle 90s, and Venters pitched his first professional ballgame in four years on June 4, 2016. This comeback did not endure. In the course of his fifth appearance of the 2016 season, he had to leave the game with a torn UCL.


According to Baseball Reference, during Tommy Johns surgery the medial elbow ligament is replaced with a tendon from another part of the patient’s body or from a cadaver. The procedure is named after Tommy John, a major league pitcher and the first ball player to undergo the surgery. Prior to the development of the technique, pitchers were just noted to have a “dead arm” when their pitches no longer had the velocity from prior years. There is some disagreement in baseball circles if it is the speed of the pitches or the types of pitches thrown that result in a pitcher needing surgery.



Rays Star Says Team Will Turn it Around in 2017:

Last year, Evan Longoria had a great season with a .273 average, 98 RBIs, and a career high 36 home runs. That was about the only great thing about 2016 for the Tampa Bay Rays. The team finished in the basement of the American League East with a record of 68-94, the club’s worst mark since 2007. None of their starting outfielders hit above .250, the entire team batted .243, and the ace of the staff, Chris Archer, was a 19-game loser.


But Longoria believes the Rays made a lot of good moves in the off season, giving them a shot at contending in a very tough AL East.


“I think we’ve bettered ourselves a little bit,” the All-Star third baseman told the Associated Press. “I think we’ve positioned ourselves to be right there.”


One of the biggest acquisitions Tampa Bay made was catcher Wilson Ramos, who hit .307 with 22 home runs and 80 RBIs for Washington last year. Another key pick up looks to be outfielder Mallex Smith, who played 72 games for Atlanta last year, and has 229 career stolen bases in the minors. Your text to link…


The Rays also sought to improve their pitching staff by getting Jose De Leon from the Dodgers. The right hander had a 7-1 record with AAA Oklahoma City, and a 2-0 record when called up to the Dodgers. Tampa Bay also added two veteran relievers to its bullpen with Shawn Tolleson (46 saves the last two seasons for Texas) and Tommy Hunter (2-2, 3.18 ERA with Cleveland and Baltimore last year).


Tampa Bay opens the season April 2nd at home versus the New York Yankees. In fact, April will be a good test for the retooled Rays as they face all their AL East foes that month; Yankees April 2-5 and 10-13, Blue Jays April 6-9 and 28-30, Red Sox April 14-17, and Orioles April 24-26.



Forsythe Trade Suggests Rays are Looking to Replenish Farm System

A few days ago, the Tampa Bay Rays again did what the organization tends to do: trade an established veteran player for a promising prospect.


Tampa Bay sent second baseman Logan Forsythe to the Los Angeles Dodgers for prized pitching prospect Jose De Leon, a 24-year-old right-hander. The move may have cost Tampa Bay a reliable player, but does help replenish a farm system that is considered middle-of-the-pack at the moment.


Forsythe has had the two seasons of his career with the Rays, hitting .281 with 17 homers and 68 RBIs in 2015 and then belting a career-high 20 homers to go with 52 RBIs and a .264 average this past season. He also was considered an above-average defender.


In his place, Tampa Bay does land Jose De Leon who is regarded as one of better pitching prospects in the game. He is considered the third-best overall prospect in the Dodgers’ system after going 7-1 with a 2.61 ERA at Triple-A Oklahoma City. He struck out 111 batters in 86.1 innings there, then was 2-0 with a 6.35 ERA during a September call-up to the Dodgers.


While the trade of Forsythe won’t go down with the current roster as Rays third baseman Evan Longoria already has voiced displeasure over it, Tampa Bay has used its developmental program to good benefit in the past. The Rays have usually produced some solid pitching prospects in the past such as David Price, Matt Moore, Jeremy Hellickson, and Chris Archer.


However, there have been some concern over the dip in its farm system of late. In mid-January, ESPN’s Keith Law rated the Rays’ farm system as the 19th-best out the 30 Major League Baseball organizations. This was prior to the De Leon trade, so it is possible the Rays have moved a couple of spots up.


In particular, 2016 was a rough year for some of the Rays top arms. The top pitching prospect Brent Honeywell dealt with injuries while other top arms such as Taylor Guerrieri and Jacob Faria took steps back in their development. In De Leon, the Rays get a player who is almost major-league ready and possibly by as soon as Opening Day in 2017.


After going 68-94 in 2016, Tampa Bay may be looking to collectively bring another set of promising prospects to fruition with an eye toward having a successful run a few seasons down the road.

Tampa Bay Rays Acquire New Pitcher From Minor League

Major League Baseball team, the Tampa Bay Rays, have made a surprising trade. The Florida side have traded Logan Forsythe, a consistent performing second baseman to the Los Angeles Dodgers. Who did the Rays get in return? The Tampa Bay Rays have gotten a pitcher named Jose De Leon who has performed well in the minor leagues.


The deal is viewed with skepticism by many. It could turn out to be a great deal, should Jose De Leon develop into a top pitcher, which many believe he can. Or, it can turn out to be a complete flop, should Jose De Leon disappoint. Jose, who is 24 years old, says that he was shocked to receive the news that he was going to to the Tampa Bay Rays and may begin to start next season. De Leon also said that he is very happy to join the Florida side as it will be much closer to his home in Puerto Rico. He lives in Puerto Rico and the trip from Florida to Puerto Rico is much closer than it is from California.


Jose De Leon has dropped 30 pounds recently and has improved his pitching mechanics. Injuries have plagued him recently however, with him being sidelined for a month twice in a short span of time. The pitcher says that he is now feeling stronger and healthier than ever. His arm feels fine he says and he has been in very good form. Since returning from injury, he has gone 7-1 with a total of 102 strikeouts in only 81 1/3 innings. If that is a sign of his performance to come in the MLB, then Tampa has surely stuck gold on this deal.


While signed for the Dodgers, Jose De Leon played in its Triple A affiliate team in Oklahoma City. It is speculated that he may first play for the Durham Bulls of the Triple A league before he gets called up to play for the Tampa Bay Rays. Ned Colletti, who was the former general managers of the Dodgers, says that he views De Leon as a Major League Baseball pitcher starter for sure. He is not sure he says, whether he could be top of the rotation though. De Leon, meanwhile is extremely motivated to prove to people that he can succeed at the highest stage and prove his detractors wrong.



Colby Rasmus Completes Agreement with Tampa Bay Rays

Baseball’s off season continues, and this week we learned some news affecting the Tampa Bay Rays. With a few months to go before spring training, the team has begun changing its line-up, and more changes are likely on the way. Free agent Colby Rasmus has signed on with the Rays.


USA Today reports that the 30-year-old Rasmus, who spent the last two seasons with the Houston Astros, has reached an agreement with the Tampa Bay Rays. Rasmus will provide depth in the outfield, which was sorely needed last year.


Other players in the Rays line-up might be wondering what other changes will occur in the next few months. The team needs to make room for Rasmus on its line-up, so someone will have to go. The Rasmus deal could be the first of many changes, but that remains to be seen. Some off-season reshuffling of the line-up was expected, and now it has begun.


No one expects Rasmus to emerge as a team leader in Tampa Bay. Adding him to the line-up, however, is an intelligent decision by management, and the addition shows a willingness to address weaknesses in the team’s roster. He could easily emerge as a solid outfielder, and that is clearly the outcome that the team’s management expects.


The terms of the deal have not yet been disclosed, so it is unclear hos much Rasmus will cost the Rays. As an eight-year veteran with a decent record, Rasmus is likely relieved to have the deal inked. Now he can focus on preparing for the upcoming season and learning the ins and outs of Tampa Bay’s system. Here’s hoping that he is just what the Rays need in order to give fans a fantastic season.


Tampa Bay Rays Trade Drew Smyly to Seattle

The wheels continue to turn in the front office of the Tampa Bay Rays. The Rays are determined to rebound from what was a very disappointing 2016 season that saw the team finish in last place. The recent signing of Colby Rasmus will certainly help the production of the team in the outfield. However, the Rays did not stop there. General manager Erik Neander is well aware that there are many holes to fill on this team and not much time to fill them before spring training begins. This is why Neander decided to pull the trigger on a trade that sent dependable left-handed starter Drew Smyly to the Seattle Mariners. In return, the Rays will receive outfielder Mallex Smith. There were also two prospects included in the deal. Ryan Yarbrough and Carlos Vargas are both very highly touted and should receive a long look in spring training with a real opportunity to make the team.


There is no question that the 2016 season was a huge disappointment for Smyly. The good news is that he was able to pitch a career high 175 innings. The bad news is that his ERA was a career worst 4.88. Smyly could never get into a consistent rhythm during the entire season. He had the bad habit of giving up key hits in critical situations that often cause him to fall behind. Command and pitch selection were frequently cited by members of the media as reasons for Smyly’s struggles. Smyly was healthy and no injuries compromised his performance during 2016. Neander believes that the trade is good for both teams. Smyly will get a fresh start on a team that is expected to contend. The Rays will get a speedy outfielder who fills a need and is expected to contribute greatly during 2017.

The Tampa Bay Rays are grinding to improve upon their offense

The Tampa Bay Rays struggled through a challenging season yet have many options available to improve upon their ball club. The 66 wins in 2016 were the fewest for the franchise since the 2006 and 2007 seasons. Immediate needs include upgrading the team’s offensive production which averaged only 4.15 runs per game or 24th of 30 teams. The stock pile of starting pitchers accrued may assist in gaining a bat or two in order to get the Rays back in line with league average.


Tampa Bay has started the offseason by adding catcher Wilson Ramos, formerly of the Washington Nationals, to a two year deal worth 12.5 million dollars. Ramos completed his best season in 2016 producing 22 home runs, 80 runs batted in, and batting .307. He earned a Silver Slugger award and participated in his first All-Star game. Ramos will improve upon the Ray’s offense as long as his health permits. He ended the 2016 regular season with a week left by tearing his ACL and meniscus. The Rays are hopeful that Ramos will be ready to take on the everyday catching duties by May 2017 Insurance was added for the start of the year when the Rays signed Michael McKenry to a minor league contract worth $900 thousand. McKenry, Luke Maile, and Curt Casali will serve as the Rays catchers until Ramos is ready for action.


There have been many relievers moving on to different teams as of late including Wade Davis, Aroldis Chapman, and Mark Melancon. Many teams are looking at Ray’s closer Alex Colome who turned in a career year performance. The 27 year old Colome secured 37 saves with a 1.91 earned run average, 11.3 strikeouts per nine innings, and logging 56 innings of work. The Rays are hopeful that they can secure a deal with the Washington Nationals who lost Mark Melancon to the San Francisco Giants. The Seattle Mariners and Cincinnati Reds are seeking starting pitching and all signs point to the Rays being willing to rid of any of their five starters at the right price. An interested team would have to give up quite a bit to obtain Chris Archer or Jake Odorizzi since their present contracts are team friendly for the next four years. Yet the Rays seem willing to deal Drew Smyly, Alex Cobb, and Erasmo Ramirez in order to continue to upgrade the offense.



Chris Archer Continues His Bright Future with the WBC Challenge

This last Friday, Tampa Bay Rays pitcher, Chris Archer, made the fan-based grapevine (via the Internet) with rumors of him representing the USA in the World Baseball Classic. In relation, the World Baseball Classic is an eleven-year-old league with 16 teams. So far, Japan has dominated the league with two titles. Conversely, the Dominican Republic competes for their first and Archer is looking like the prime candidate for another win within the WBC.


Chris Archer and the MLB


Chris Archer is listed as a baseball pitcher with adequate measures – 6′ 3″ at 200 lb. According to sources, his two-seam fastball can reach 93 – 99 mph, while his secondary ace-in-the-hole, slider, goes up to 87 – 92 mph.

Initially, Chris Archer was first drafted by the Cleveland Indians in the fifth round of the 2006 Major League Baseball Draft. Later in his career, Archer was traded in the John Gaub and Jeff Stevens account for the Chicago Cubs; Mark DeRosa was released. Finally after a star performance, defeating the Cuban Nation Baseball team, Archer remained impressive to add to any professional baseball team’s roster. As a result, the Chicago Cubs finally traded Archer to the Tampa Bay Rays, along with a few other valuable players of the league.


Chris Archer and His Bright Future

Archer continues to excel at his game. Before, during his strong 2015 season, thousands of baseball fans and writers hoped for Archer to win the Cy Young Award. However, Archer’s career energy paused because of the opening of 2016 where the numbers posted with a 4.66 ERA during the fist part of the season. Fortunately, he was able to chop down to 3.25 ERA. Ultimately, this prospective award nominee finished the complete 2016 season with a 4.02 ERA and 233 strikeouts (tied for second in the AL).


Chris Archer was born in Raleigh, NC on September 26, 1988

Win-loss record: 41 – 51

Earned Run Average: 3.51

Strikeouts: 795

WHIP: 1.20


 The World Baseball Classic

In relation, the World Baseball Classic is an eleven-year-old league with 16 teams. So far, Japan has dominated the league with two titles. Conversely, the Dominican Republic competes for their first and Archer is looking like the prime candidate for another win within the WBC.




Wilson Defensive Award Went To Rays Kevin Kiermaier

This year the Wilson Defensive Award was won by Kevin Kiermaier, the celebrated centerfielder for the Tampa Bay Rays. Kiermaier was presented the Gold Glove award in New York City. On top of his fame based on his centerfield power plays, Wilson awarded him by choosing him as their lead defensive centerfielder. This was his second Gold Glove, but not quite the Platinum Glove he had hoped for. That award went to Cleveland’s Francisco Lindor for the SS and Chicago’s Anthony Rizzo for the NL.


The award came from Wilson to Kiermaier, based on both the traditional statistics and metrics on his defense, with the addition of advanced computing data. The number crunching was performed by the Inside Edge talent scouts. Every year Wilson gives awards out for each player position and defensive players. The overall defensive award went to Mookie Betts from Boston. The Defensive Team of the Year award went to the Giants. Kiermaier started his Major League Baseball (MLB) career in 2013.


Kiermaier has had a really sensational year, which has only built up his reputation for solid ball defense over the last three years. There is talk in MLB management circles that his young talent is going to become a valuable property for the team and overall for the team. In fact, he has already become a shining star in the pantheon of great ballplayers that have made Tampa Bay the great team it has become. It is quite a good thing that these awards nowadays are based more solidly on very well-kept and tracked statistics. It will be interesting to see where he finds his stride and matures in becoming a real team player that is also a lead figure. Some of his plays have been compared to some of the great ballplayers of the past, as if he was a new incarnation of Mantel or Mays. One thing is for sure: everyone in baseball is now aware of just how great a player Kevin Kiermaier is. Read more in this Tampa Bay blog article.