Category: Tampa Bay

Rays Post Solid Win Against Marlins

Wins came very infrequently for the Tampa Bay Rays during their miserable 2016 season. However, 2017 is off to a much better start for the club. Manager Kevin Cash is very pleased with the way his team has performed through the first month of the season. He admits that the team has yet to fully gel because of some injuries. However, he feels that the team’s performance so far this year is more representative of their overall talent than last year. The team put together a solid performance to notch a 4-2 win over the Miami Marlins in the first game of their series at Marlins Park.

 

Kevin Kiermaier is a player who is best known for being a defensive wizard in center field. He has taken home Gold Gloves because of it. However, his skill on the bases is what shined through in this particular game. He was able to slide into second base and prevent the Marlins from turning a double play in the process. This occurred in the seventh inning. The result was the Rays scoring a run that put them ahead. It is just another example of Kiermaier’s hustle that has made him a favorite of his manager and loved by his teammates.

 

Marcell Ozuna had belted a home run in the fourth inning that had tied the score. The game was very significant for the Rays because it marked the return of starting pitcher Jake Odorizzi. He had been on the disabled list because of a strained left hamstring. Overall, it was a successful start for Jake. He wound up pitching five innings and giving up a pair of runs. Wei-Yin Chen also gave up a pair of runs in six innings of work on the Marlins side of the ledger.

 

Brad Miller had a very successful night on the base paths. He was able to steal a pair of bases. These were the first two steals of the season for him. He stole second and third in the eighth inning. It turns out this was the perfect time for those steals to occur. Miller was able to score when Daniel Robertson drove him home with a single. The run gave the Rays some insurance in their eventual 4-2 victory.

 

Why Are Millenials Flocking To Tampa, Florida?

The city of Tampa, Florida is home to a significant and growing millennial generation population. So why exactly is Tampa such a magnet for millennials? To start off, here are some numbers that may help explain this trend. Realtor.com rated Tampa, Florida, as the most popular city that people move to in 2016. That is not bad right?

 

Additionally, Tampa is rated as one of the best cities for startups according to a report released by Fortune Magazine. This can be a major explanation on why there are so many millennials in Tampa and why so many continue to flock there. Millennials and startups are often synonymous with each other. A good place to start a startup will inevitably draw large amounts of millenials who are looking for a place to get their business launched. Millenials also tend to draw other millenials in with them when they settle down, so the hotbed of startup activity is attracting and growing the millenial population significantly.

 

We are not finished there yet. Another reason why Tampa is hot with millenials is because it is one of the most pet friendly places to live as well. This is according to RewardExpert. Millenials are obsessed with their pets and spend lots of time, not to mention money on them. Being pet friendly and having lots of pet friendly amenities is going to be a major draw for Tampa to millenials and helps to further explain the draw of Tampa to this crowd.

 

Money Magazine also named Tampa as the best city in the Southeast to live in, beating out famous cities such as Miami, Florida, Atlanta, Georgia and Charlotte, North Carolina. If your city is listed as being the best to live in, it will attract everybody and not just millenials. Millenials also say they come to Tampa because of low traffic compared to cities with traffic jams such as Atlanta or Miami. Crime is also very low in Tampa when compared to other major cities such as Dallas and Atlanta. Low crime and minimal traffic are a big plus to millenials who are looking to settle in or start out their life.

 

Of course, Tampa draws milllenials with its abundant beaches, plentiful sunshine and warm weather. Add lots of nightclubs, bars, restaurants and places to go out and you will quickly see that Tampa is a millenial’s dream city to live in.

 

Colby Rasmus Will Play First Game for Rays

The Tampa Bay Rays have never been big players in the free agent market. Being a small market team has required them to sign average free agents to cheap contracts. They continued that tradition last off-season when they signed veteran outfielder Colby Rasmus to a one-year contract for a very affordable $5 million. Rasmus can also earn incentives totaling $2 million if he reaches all of them. Unfortunately, Rasmus has not been a part of the team for the first month of the 2017 season. He had successful hip surgery during the off-season that he was still recovering from in April. Rasmus will now make his Rays debut.

 

Shane Peterson was designated for assignment in order to make room for Rasmus on the roster of the Rays. Manager Kevin Cash was very pleased with Peterson’s performance during April. Cash said that it would be great if Peterson would play in the minor leagues for the Rays. However, he wants another team to pick up Peterson so he has another chance to play in the Major Leagues.

 

Rasmus said that it took him longer to recover than he thought it would. There were no complications with the surgery. His body just needed longer to heal than the doctors anticipated. The Rays have done a very good job of scoring runs without Rasmus in the lineup. This has been a surprise because the Rays did not have a good offense last year. Rasmus hit 25 home runs in 2015 for the Houston Astros. That was the most home runs he had ever hit in a single season. He will he a solid power threat for the Rays if he is able to stay healthy.

 

Health has been a major concern for Rasmus throughout his entire career. He has only played more than 150 games once in his career. Manager Kevin Cash said they will be easing Rasmus into the lineup and giving him a light workload. Cash hopes that this will allow Rasmus to get acclimated to the grind of playing baseball every day. Rasmus will be given a couple of days off each week until Cash feels that Rasmus is strong enough to play in the outfield every day. Cash said that Rasmus will also be seeing some time at designated hitter during the next few weeks.

 

Tampa Bay Gets Juices Flowing With O.J. Howard

It looks like the Buccaneers found some great refreshment with their 19th draft pick when they selected Alabama tight end O.J. Howard.

 

The 6’6″, 251-lb. Howard is described by nfl.com as an “exceptionally gifted athlete” nfl.com. Howard can put a lot of pressure on a defense. He has speed and acceleration and can create separation. He can catch balls that are badly thrown or contested and can line up anywhere on the field. He’s a huge target and also proficient at blocking. Whew!

 

Because he’s a total package, Howard was expected to be the rare tight end who went in the first 10 picks. The Bucs were a little surprised that he lasted until number 19 and were considering a trade up to get him. But they decided to see how it went, and their patience paid off. GM Jason Licht said, “We’re beyond excited about him.” He added that, “it was a little bit of a pipe dream…I have a feeling a lot of teams were probably after him.”

 

In fact, the Bucs got pretty nervous between the 11th and 18th picks, expecting Howard to get plucked from their grasp any time. There was a collective sigh of relief after the Titans made the 18th pick. Licht explained how the Buccaneers determine which players to focus on. “We don’t set our boards based on the mocks,” he said. “Before the draft we have a lot of meetings where we say, ‘Which players have to be there you’re not even going to consider trading back? Which players would you consider moving up for?’…He was obviously one guy that we weren’t going to trade back for” www.buccaneers.com.

 

Howard was a big playmaker at Alabama, especially in 2015, where he caught 38 passes for 602 yards. In the 2016 national championship game, he was named Offensive MVP, with 208 receiving yards and two touchdowns on five catches. Even so, Bucs coach Dirk Koetter thinks he was underused by the Tide.

 

But not now, since, along with Mike Evans, DeSean Jackson and Cameron Brate, the Bucs have some O.J. to pour on the yardage.

 

Buccaneers Look to Get Playmakers in Draft

Tampa Bay finish the 2017 Draft with a bevy of big strong selections, hoping that they have the keys to get back to the playoffs. The team sought out game changers that will take them to the top of the NFC South.

 

When Cameron Brate went down with a back injury against the Saints, the Bucs’ playoff hopes limped off the field with him. While Brate was productive last year as a pass catcher, his size will limit his ability to become an elite tight end in the NFL. Though tight end was not seen as a position of need for the Bucs, O. J. Howard was too good to pass up when he was still on the board at the 19th selection of the First Round. At 6-6, running a 4.5 40, Howard will be key in both Tampa Bay’s run and pass games, especially when teamed with Brate in a double tight-end set.

 

On the second day of the draft, the Bucs picked Justin Evans of Texas with the 50th pick. Evans may have gone earlier in the draft in another year. However, 2017 turned out to offer a deep class of defensive backs allowing Evans to still be around in the Second Round. Tampa Bay continued to improve the middle of the defense by trading the 125th and the 205th pick to get Kendall Beckwith of LSU in the Third Round. Beckwith, while talented, is seen as future addition to the rotation as he is presently recovering from a torn ACL he suffered late last season.

 

In between the two defensive picks on the second day, Tampa Bay took Chris Goodwin from Penn State with the 84th pick. Goodwin was a standout wide receiver who fueled the Nittany Lions resurgence last year and is known being able to go and get the ball. His addition to the receiving corps gives Bucs’ quarterback, Winston, added choices and gives Tampa Bay insurance at the wide out.

 

Tampa Bay used their pick in the Fifth Round to take a running back, Jeremy McNichols from Boise State. McNichols was college football’s most prolific touchdown scorer over the last two season and gives the Bucs another receiver coming out of the backfield. Rounding out the draft, Tampa Bay took Stevie Tu’kolovatu from USC, a 6-1, 310 pound tank who was named the Rose Bowl’s defensive player of the game.

 

 

Ray’s Odorizzi Set to Return to the Starting Rotation on May 1st

The Tampa Bay Rays will welcome Jake Odorizzi back to the rotation on May 1st. Odorizzi left his last start on April 15th in Boston, with tightness in his right hamstring. It was a disappointing turn of events for Odorizzi and the Rays as he had just come off an impressive two-hit six-inning performance against the Toronto Blue Jays.

 

 

Since the injury occurred to his lower body, the Ray’s training staff has been able to keep Odorizzi’s arm fresh during the two-week period he has been shelved with the hammy issue. One aspect of his last full start was the 9 ground ball outs that Odorizzi recorded against the Jay’s power-laden lineup. It was a profound improvement over the first start of the season against the Yankees.

 

 

Odorizzi was not only taken out of the park twice in that April 4th opener, but 17 times he his pitches were taken out of the infield. While Odorizzi has posted moderately encouraging strikeout numbers during his career – 524 K’s in a total of 575 innings at the Major League level – he has seen relative success when he can keep the ball down in the strike zone. In each of the first two full starts, he also managed to finish 6 full innings using just over 100 pitches each time.

 

 

Odorizzi’s most successful stints in his career have all come when he pitches efficiently. Without an imposing lineup of hitters to put up a lot of runs, it’s going to be crucial for Tampa Bay to pitch efficiently. When any of the Ray’s top 5 starters miss a beat, that will put a burden on a suspect bullpen. They will not only have to make spot starts in the event of injury, but also work more innings when the starters cannot efficiently navigate their way into the late innings.

 

Erasmo Ramirez filled in admirably in two spot starts, taking Odorizzi’s turn in the rotation, but Ramirez is usually only good for 50 to 60 pitches, so without Odorizzi the middle relievers in the Ray’s bullpen have to carry an extra load. On Monday, the Rays will optimistically hope for the type of strong performance from Odorizzi, which was the reason why they traded him away from the Kansas City Royals in 2012. If the Ray’s pitching staff doesn’t overachieve in 2017, it could make for a long season at The Trop.

 

Bucs Beef Up Offense in 2017 Draft:

Jameis Winston certainly performed better in his sophomore season, connecting for 28 touchdown passes, 12 of them to Mike Evans. That helped Tampa Bay to a 9-7 record, its first season above .500 since 2010. However, they still missed out on the playoffs, as they have every year since 2007.

 

Despite the success of Winston and Evans, the Buccaneers offense overall was lackluster. Their 354 points scored was the fewest in the NFC South Division. Only five other teams in the entire conference put up fewer points in 2016.

 

But Tampa Bay coaches and staff believe this year’s draft helped them bring in the players needed to give their offense a much needed boost. It all starts with the team’s first selection (19th pick overall) in O.J. Howard. While Alabama came up short in the national title game against Clemson, Howard did all he could for the Tide cause with 106 receiving yards and a touchdown. Considered the top tight end in this year’s draft, he is not only an excellent receiver, but a top notch blocker.

 

Another target Tampa Bay got for Winston is Penn State receiver Chris Goodwin in the Third Round (84th overall). Some might wonder how other teams passed over him as he garnered over 2,400 receiving yards in three seasons with the Nittany Lions along with 18 touchdowns, 11 of them last season. Bucs coaches like Goodwin’s maturity and the way he can adjust on the fly. He also shined in every bowl game he played in for Penn State, with more than 130 yards in the 2014 Pinstriple Bowl, the 2015 TaxSlayer Bowl, and last season’s Rose Bowl, where he recorded 187 receiving yards and two touchdowns against USC.

 

With their Fifth Round pick, the Bucs got a running back, they hope, can compliment Doug Martin. Jeremy McNichols of Boise State scored 43 rushing touchdowns over the past two seasons. Along with a great ground game, McNichols also has great hands, reeling in ten touchdown catches and recording 934 receiving yards in two seasons for Boise State.

 

Should all these picks pan out, coupled with quality returners in the backfield, the Bucs could have one of the top offenses in the league.

 

 

 

Bucs Address Some Team Needs in Draft’s First Three Rounds

If the Tampa Bay Bucs want to springboard into the playoffs are a 9-7 campaign in 2016, the franchise needed to address some major needs.

 

So far, through two days and the first three rounds, the Bucs have used four picks to fill in some areas, but other positional need spots are still open and the Bucs don’t have many chances in the way of filling them.

 

With Jameis Winston throwing for over 4,000 yards and 28 touchdowns, the team is seems to have its quarterback. However, it could be on the other side of the ball where the most pressing need. Some say that safety could be the biggest need for Tampa Bay.

 

Tampa Bay was fortunate on the first day when Alabama tight end O.J. Howard fell into their laps with 19th overall selection in the first round. Howard was considered by many as a top-10 pick, so the Bucs got very good value and filled a need. Howard is said to be the most complete tight end who can block as well as catch passes, then show off his 4.51 speed.

 

On the second day, Tampa Bay picked Texas A&M safety Justin Evans in the second round with the 50th overall pick. Evans is better in run support, though he can drop back into coverage well enough. Given the incredible depth at defensive back, the Bucs were wise to make sure they at least got one safety to help shore up the secondary.

 

In the third round, Tampa Bay had two picks and went with one on either side of the ball. Penn State receiver Chris Godwin was the 84th selection and brings in 4.42 speed as well as the ability to make plays (11 touchdown catches in 2016). However, then Tampa Bay sent a 4th-rounder and a 6th-rounder to the Jets to move up to No. 107 and the last pick of the day. The choice was LSU linebacker Kendell Beckwith who is recovering from an ACL injury. When healthy, Beckwith is versatile enough to help out both at inside and outside linebacker.

 

However, the trade meant that Tampa enters the final day with only two more picks: a fifth-rounder (No. 162) and a seventh-rounder (No. 237). There are still needs at running back, cornerback, and guard.

 

Rays Outfielders Off to Strong 2017 starts

Offense may be slowly returning to the Bay.

 

A year ago, the Tampa Bay Rays batted .243 and averaged only 4.15 runs per game. The sad part was that the Rays averaged 3.98 runs in 2015 and 3.78 runs in 2014. The last time that the Rays scored 700 runs in a season was in 2013 – when they scored exactly 700. That 2013 total also is the most the Rays have scored in a season since they piled up 802 runs in 2010.

 

Truth is, in recent years, the Rays have almost exclusively relied on pitching and defense. When the team ERA went down to 4.20 in 2016, the Rays went through 68-94 campaign even as the team produced slightly more on offense.

 

Yet, Tampa Bay is off to a 12-12 start this season and are averaging 4.54 runs per game. That would average to slightly over 735 runs scored in a season. The Rays are doing this despite slow starts from midfielder Brad Miller (30 HRs in 2016, but .217-1-10 in 2017) and third baseman Evan Longoria (.226-4-13).

 

The reason why Tampa Bay is doing well offensively have a lot to do with their outfield. Left fielder Corey Dickerson and right fielder Steven Souza or off to strong starts and center fielder Kevin Kiermaier started well before an illness caused him to go into a slump.

 

A year after struggling to adjust from leaving Coors Field in Colorado, left fielder Corey Dickerson is batting .329 with six homers and 10 RBIs. Dickerson came to Tampa a year ago in order to help the Rays produce better at the plate, but struggled to a .245 campaign though he did hit 24 homers. Seeds of him righting himself came late in 2016 when he batted .307 in the month of September.

 

Meanwhile, Souza entered the season as a career .234 hitter. He batted .247 with 17 homers in 2016. Souza is off to a hot start in hitting .326 with four homers and a team-high 17 RBIs.

 

Kiermaier was hitting a respectable .294 as of April 21 before an 0-for-18 slump dropped him down to .231. He suffered through a virus last week which may have partially explained his slump.

 

All three of the starting outfielders are 27 or 28. Combined with 27-year-old shortstop Tim Beckham, the former overall No. 1 who is finally starting to produce, the Rays may have found their new offensive core provided their improved hitting form can hold to a degree for the remainder of the season.

 

 

Four Tampa Bay Buccaneer Players Receive Injuries After Last Week’s Game Against the Cardinals

Last Sunday’s NFL football game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers ad Arizona Cardinals left Buccaneer players Doug Martin, Robert Ayers, Cecil Shorts III and Donovan Smith with injuries. During the first half of last week’s game, Martin injured his right hamstring which will leave him sidelined over a three-week period. Other players received bodily injuries, including Ayers and Stocker ankle injuries and Smith injury to his hip. The players maybe injured but the Buccaneers Coach Dirk Koetter is confident in the team and believes they have what it takes to win this Sunday’s game against the Los Angeles Rams. Yahoo Sports reported Charles Sims and Jacquizz Rodgers are expected to replace Martin for the next three weeks or until he fully recovers.

 

 

Rodgers showcased his skills during the game against the Cardinals by breaking a 24-yard run and finishing with 29 yards on two efforts, the best for the Buccaneers. Sims also proved his abilities by rushing 529 yards and gaining another 561 yards on 51 receptions that gave the team a huge push. The Buccaneers worked hard the whole week to face the Rams on Sunday. Coach Koetter admitted he has some concerns involving offense now that Martin is sidelined for a few weeks.

 

 

Doug Martin received recognition as the NFL’s second leading rusher when he ran for 1,402 yards and scored six touchdowns. He recently signed a five-year contract in the amount of $35 million during off-season. While Martin heals from his hamstring injuries, it is obvious the Buccaneers may encounter some challenges during this Sunday’s game against the Rams.

 

 

Rodgers and Sims had to prove themselves during practice, but who will officially replace Martin is unknown. Coach Koetter is careful about disclosing information about the upcoming game against the Rams. The Buccaneers and Rams share the same record with one win and one lost each.

 

 

The Buccaneers and Coach Dirk Koetter are self-assured the team players are prepared to overcome challenges when playing against the Rams. The injuries of the leading rusher, defensive end, receiver and left tackle players will not leave the Bucs helpless. Other team players have their backs and plan to defeat the Rams this Sunday’s game.