Monday, June 1, 2009

The Rocket Scientists’ Random Post-Vacation Thoughts

Before I left the country for all of last week, I left with a listing of headlines I would like to see. Some of these came true, most did not. After being disconnected from the internet and TV for 8 days, I have now caught up on a lot of what happened over the last week, and here are my random thoughts.

-I highly recommend the vacation I took to all of you. I went sailing with my family for a week in the British Virgin Islands. It was an unbelievable experience and one of the best vacations I have ever taken. (Author’s note: Thanks again mom and dad!)

-The Rays Republic is everywhere. I was wearing my Rays’ cap while hiking The Baths in Virgin Gorda. I was asked by a couple to take a picture of them. Why did they ask me? The guy was also wearing a Rays’ hat. That pumped me up. I love seeing Rays’ fans everywhere! (Author’s note: If the person who asked me to take this picture is reading this, please comment so we can get in touch and compare trips. I hope yours was as good as mine).

-Blowing a 10 run lead is inexcusable. I don’t want to hear about momentum shifts or the other team hitting well, just save it. There is no reason for the bullpen to not be able to get 3 outs without giving up 6 runs. That is a travesty and I am very happy I did not watch that game. Games like this may come back to haunt the Rays later this season.

-I feel really bad for Jason Bartlett. This injury might cost him a well-deserved trip to the all-star game. I hope people come to their senses and realize he absolutely deserves a trip to St. Louis, even if he misses 3 weeks. There are so many reasons for this, but his MLB leading .373 batting average is a major reason. The Rays NEED this guy back as soon as humanly possible.

-I feel so worse for Aki. Aki has given his heart and soul to this team. He has played his heart out for a losing team, then learned a new position and played stellar defense. I can’t think of a less deserving player to tear his knee. I wish him the best in his recovery. In the event the Rays do not pick up his option next season, I want to thank him for giving 100% to the Rays all the time.

-Carl Crawford finally got caught stealing after getting picked off at 1st. Although it’s not a good thing, I love that he still went for 2nd and ended up running into an out. It was an aggressive out and not a base-running mistake. Keep it up CC.

-If Evan Longoria can really get on a prolonged hot streak, the sky is the limit for him this season. I just looked at the stats this week and saw he now has 55 RBI’s on the season, 6 more than the next highest in the majors.

-I think I am going to be the only person in LA cheering for the Magic.

-I asked for a 3 game hitting streak from BJ Upton. Well, he currently has a 5 game hitting streak. That’s a good start. However, in those 5 games, he has 6 strikeouts and 2 walks. I would be much happier if those numbers were closer to even. Still, his average is finally over the Mendoza Line (.200), hopefully now he can keep inching it forward to .250 and beyond.

-Speaking of players who have been slumping, I found Navarro’s stats from this past week, but haven’t really heard much about his play. Does he still play with his head not in the game?

-How long is Andy Sonnanstine’s leash? If he has another bad game, it may be time for him to head to the pen and give Wade Davis a chance. He can’t be any worse.

-Scott Kazmir is throwing off a mound already. That’s probably a good thing, as I’d love for the kid to come back stronger than ever. However, the thing he really needs to find (other than the strike zone) is his confidence. I actually would like him to face some inferior competition so he gets the swagger back that he had in 2007.

-Troy Percival, please just do us all a favor and retire.

-I am loving everything I have read about JP Howell’s week. He can go a long way to solidifying the bullpen. I also noticed that Grant Balfour pitched 2.2 innings of solid ball Saturday, but his pitches were still down around 94. Where is that 98mph heat that we saw last year?

-I would love to go out for a beer with Dale Thayer.

-Randy Choate is doing his job nicely, filling in for injured Brian Shouse. In fact, he is going to make Joe Maddon make a tough decision as to who he keeps when Shouse is healthy.

-How did Gabe Kaplan make the team over Matt Joyce? If Ben Zobrist isn’t going to be an everyday right fielder, I am excited for the day that Matt Joyce has that job. I also think it is way too early to judge the Joyce for Jackson trade, even though Jackson just pitched (another) gem. Give it time, this trade should even out.

-What will happen first? Pigs fly or Rays win in Cleveland?

-Who is Joe Dillon? Where did he come from?

-Jeff Niemman is getting better every start. Although his last start was cut short due to a rain delay, I see he struck out 4 in 3 innings and only walked one. Niemman’s season started off rough, but I am gaining more and more confidence in him as the season progresses. More importantly, he looks like he is gaining confidence in himself as well.

-Anyone else smile when the pitching matchups for this series came out and Zack Grienke was not on the list of Royals’ scheduled pitchers?

-It is time for Reid Brignac to step his game up.

-11 out of 17 outs in David Price’s last performance were strikeouts? Damn.

-The Rays are currently 5.5 games out of first in the AL East. If they can put together a few weeks of solid, inspired baseball, that deficit can be easily overcome. The key word is if. This team needs 100% effort from all 25 players on the roster, not just 5-10. It also needs a manager who goes for the win every game and who isn’t looking ahead to September. In my opinion, the Rays have not had a combination of those over a consistent basis this season the way they did in 2008. Where is the passion and desire? The Rays have all the tools they need. I think now is as good of a time as any to put it all together. That’s just my thought though, it’s not rocket science.

-The Rocket Scientist

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