Dear Rays’ Players and Coaches,
Congratulations, you have swept the Nationals, won 5 in a row, and now are only 3 games behind the hated Yankees, 5 behind the Red Sox. Now here is your goal for this week: KEEP IT UP. You are starting to play great baseball. You are getting help from players who struggled through the beginning stages of this season. You got your right handed power bat off the DL and your starting shortstop will be rejoining the team tomorrow. The time to create something really special, the time to get hot, the time to make 09>08 is RIGHT NOW. You are going to be playing a Colorado Rockies team that has won 11 in a row. Winning this series on the road would be a statement to the entire league. Gaining more ground on these teams during interleague play will send them a message. Now is the time to show that 2008 was not a fluke and that you are for real in 2009. There can be no more playing uninspired ball and no more excuses. In the words of the late US Hockey coach Herb Brooks, “This is YOUR time.”
To keep up the hot streak, here is what I believe each of you needs to do over the next week against the Rockies and Mets.
Joe Maddon – Coach to win every game. You can’t unnecessarily rest any players as you have another day off next Monday. Stay aggressive.
Jim Hickey – Ask for 6-7 innings from each of your starters.
Bobby Ramos – Whatever you’ve been doing for the last few days, keep doing it. The bullpen has not allowed a run over the 5 game winning streak. Keep up anything close to that and this team will continue to win a lot.
Tom Foley – Keep sending runners home and making outfielders make perfect throws.
George Hendrick – Make CC and BJ Upton steal every they are on 1st and 2nd base is empty. Yes, I said every time.
Steve Henderson – Whatever you’ve been doing with the Gabes, keep doing it, and add Dionner Navarro to that workout regiment.
Winston Abreu – Have a solid first outing. You haven’t pitched in the majors in 2 years, but you were destroying AAA. A solid first outing will give you the confidence you need to move forward.
Grant Balfour – Pound the strike-zone, and if possible, add some juice to that fastball.
Randy Choate – Continue to fool lefties and please stop walking batters.
Lance Cormier – Be ready to shut down a rally when a pitcher can’t make it those 6-7 innings.
J.P. Howell – You may be the new closer, so stay loose and ready for the 9th. The team needs you to be solid.
Joe Nelson – Since giving up 4 runs against the Indians on May 27th, you haven’t allowed a base-runner in 6.2 innings. I know that’s impossible to continue forever, but anything close to that will really prove your worth.
Dan Wheeler- I only have a mild heart attack when you enter the game. Stop making me even think there is a chance you may blow a lead when your number is called.
Matt Garza – A gem. I know you have solid starts in you against the NL (see: the Marlins gem last year). You are due for another.
Jeff Niemman – Your last 3 starts have gone 3 innings, 9 innings, and 3.2 innings. I won’t ask for the 9 again, but how about 6?
David Price – Stop walking batters. Don’t be afraid to pound the strike zone. Your stuff is electric. Trust it.
James Shields – A solid game on the road. You only pitch once on the road trip, and you will have 5 days rest, so step it up and pitch like the number 1 starter.
Andy Sonnanstine – Thank Joe Maddon (or the schedule maker) that you aren’t pitching in Colorado. Now please, can you keep the ball in the park?
Michel Hernandez – You continue to be a solid backup for Navarro, but it would be nice if you threw out another base stealer.
Dionner Navarro – Stop bunting with 2 outs.
Willy Aybar – Starting in the 5th inning, go into the batting cages and get loose. In the NL parks, I guarantee you will be pinch hitting a few times over the next 6 games.
Jason Bartlett – Remind the fans how much we missed you while you were on the DL, and show everyone why you deserve to be an all-star.
Joe Dillon – See: Willy Aybar.
Evan Longoria – You only have 3 RBI’s since your pulled hamstring. That number needs to increase. Your mission, if you shall choose to accept it, is to become the AL leader in RBI’s again. Jason Bay has you by 3 right now.
Carlos Pena – 3 games in the mile high altitude means it is time for you to tee off.
Carl Crawford – Run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run run.
Gabe Gross – If you can throw out another runner or 2 to go with your random clutch hits, it will go a long way towards adding numbers in the win column.
Gabe Kapler – (In the voice of Stewie Griffin) “Good news! I don’t have to kill you now!” Seriously though, you’ve hit 3 homeruns in your last 3 games? I like it. Now keep getting on base and prove to me it’s not a stroke of luck, and then I won’t hate you as much.
Ben Zobrist – Whatever you have been doing, don’t stop.
Pat Burrell – Hit a homerun. You have 3 games in Colorado and 3 games against your former hated rival in the Mets. Just one time, please hit the ball out of the park.
So there it is. If each of you does what I have said, this team will be on the back to October Baseball. This is my mission for you all, and I hope you can not only reach the goals set forth, but exceed them. Getting it done is not rocket science.
-The Rocket Scientist
PS: For those of you who were wondering, I did not cash in the WSOP event that I played. I got most of my chips in with top 2 pair against a guy with pocket aces. The bottom card on the flop paired and I couldn’t recover. Sigh....