Saturday, October 31, 2009

Crawford Honored as Best Left Fielder

Carl Crawford has been voted as 2009's best left fielder according to The Fielding Bible Awards.

I wholeheartedly agree, and am pleased to see Crawford getting the love he deserves after a stellar season. In my humble opinion a Gold Glove is soon to follow.

Official Press Release (courtesy of The Heater):

Tampa Bay Rays veteran Carl Crawford won the 2009 Fielding Bible Award for left field in an announcement made November 1, 2009, in The Bill James Handbook 2010. This is Crawford's third Fielding Bible Award.

Crawford, who received an almost-perfect score, was chosen by a panel of ten experts, including Peter Gammons, Bill James, Joe Posnanski, and John Dewan, author of the new Fielding Bible—Volume II. In granting the award to Crawford, Dewan wrote: “This was no contest. No player has ever won with a perfect record (10 first-place votes from 10 panelists), but Carl came as close as possible with nine first place votes and one second. That's 99 points. (The best previously was 98 points by Adam Everett at shortstop in 2006.) If Crawford doesn't win his first Gold Glove this year, I'm going to throw up.”

Officially announced annually on November 1 (before any other fielding awards), the Fielding Bible Awards try to name the single best fielder at each of the nine positions (including pitcher) in the major leagues. This distinction came into play this year as Jack Wilson, who split his time between Pittsburgh and Seattle, won the Fielding Bible Award at shortstop. "It is almost impossible for a player who is traded between leagues during the season to win a Gold Glove," Dewan pointed out. "I predict that Wilson will not win a Gold Glove this year, even though our 10 judges voted him the best-fielding shortstop in Major League Baseball."

This year, National League players were chosen at three positions, American League players at five, and Wilson at shortstop. 2009 marks the fourth year of the award. First-baseman Albert Pujols of the Cardinals is the only player to have won a Fielding Bible Award four years in a row. Aaron Hill won over Dustin Pedroia and Chase Utley at second base only after a tie-breaker was invoked. The complete voting results and further information are available in The Bill James Handbook 2010, published by ACTA Sports (

The 2009 Fielding Bible Award winners are:

First Base—Albert Pujols, St. Louis Cardinals (fourth-time winner)
Second Base—Aaron Hill, Toronto Blue Jays (second-time winner)
Third Base—Ryan Zimmerman, Washington Nationals (first-time winner)
Shortstop—Jack Wilson, Pittsburgh Pirates/Seattle Mariners (first-time winner)
Left Field—Carl Crawford, Tampa Bay Rays (third-time winner)
Center Field—Franklin Gutierrez, Seattle Mariners (second-time winner)
Right Field—Ichiro Suzuki, Seattle Mariners (second-time winner)
Catcher—Yadier Molina, St. Louis Cardinals (third-time winner)
Pitcher—Mark Buehrle, Chicago White Sox (first-time winner)

Friday, October 30, 2009

Free Jason Bartlett Autograph

**UPDATE (Oct 30)

Hey gang, get in while the gettin's good.
There's still time to win a Jason Bartlett Autographed card courtesy of Rays the Stakes and Sports Memorabilia.
Enter now.

**UPDATE (Sept 19)
The entries keep rolling in, so get in while you still can- and tell your friends... its free.

Rays the Stakes in conjunction with our good friends over at Sports Memorabilia are proud to announce some good news:

We are having a giveaway contest:

Win this Jason Bartlett Autographed Card (with C.O.A.)


Send an email to telling us who you think will win this season's AL MVP award.

Everyone who correctly guesses the MVP will be entered into a random drawing to see who wins the Jason Bartlett autographed card from Rays The Stakes and Sports Memorabllia. Be sure to include your full name in your response.

Good Luck.

*Click here for more detailed info in regard to the card you could win.

Quick Reminder

Just a quick post to remind everyone that even though the posts have slowed down here at Rays The Stakes, you can still get all the baseball coverage you can handle by stopping over to the Baseball Bloggers Alliance website where you can find material on every major league team, from the Angels to the Yankees (man, I wish there were a team that started with a "Z")...

click image to check out the site.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Rays keep Kapler

I'm a late comer to this party because, to be honest, I wasn't sure what to think about the re-signing of Kapler.

A day has passed and I'm still not in love with the move, but I guess there's a reason why they don't run all of their roster decisions past me (although sometimes I wish they would).

Here's the gory details of the Rays/Kapler press release:

The Tampa Bay Rays have re-signed right-handed-hitting outfielder Gabe Kapler to a one-year major league contract.

Kapler, 34, appeared in 99 games at all three outfield positions for the Rays in 2009. He hit .239 (49-for-205) with eight home runs, 32 RBI, 15 doubles and five stolen bases. Against left-handed pitching, he hit .276 (40-for-145) with all eight home runs, 14 doubles, a .379 on-base pct., and more walks (26) than strikeouts (23). Over the last two seasons (2008-09), he hit .304 (69-for-227) against lefthanders with a .577 slugging pct., 11th best in the majors over that span.

Kapler has played parts of 11 major league seasons with the Detroit Tigers (1998-99), Texas Rangers (2000-02), Colorado Rockies (2002-03), Boston Red Sox (2004-06), Milwaukee Brewers (2008) and Rays (2009). He initially signed with the Rays as a free agent on January 12, 2009. He retired briefly from playing in 2007 to manage the Class-A Greenville Drive in the Red Sox organization.

The Hebrew Hammer will get an approximate $500K raise over the $1 million dollar salary he drew last season.


Tuesday, October 27, 2009

BBA MVP Winners:

The votes are in, and the BBA (Baseball Bloggers Alliance) AL and NL Most Valuable Players of the 2009 MLB season have been announced.

You can check out how Rays The Stakes voted (with explanations) here.

Tampa Bay got a little love for a change, having had 5 players receive at least one vote, with 2 players (Zobrist and Longoria) finishing inside the top 10 in total votes. In total, 29 American League players received MVP votes, but the AL MVP was a unanimous decision among BBA voters.

Here is the official Press Release from the BBA:

Mauer, Pujols Named MVP By Baseball Bloggers Alliance

Catcher Joe Mauer of the Minnesota Twins and first baseman Albert Pujols of the St. Louis Cardinals were overwhelmingly named Most Valuable Player of their respective leagues by the Baseball Bloggers Alliance, who completed their voting of major awards with this honor.
Mauer, who posted a 1.031 OPS and slugged 28 home runs while leading the Twins to the American League Central title, was a unanimous selection, gaining a first place nod on each of the seventeen blogs that cast an AL ballot. His 221 points dwarfed his nearest competition, both New York Yankees. First baseman Mark Teixeira received 115 points while shortstop Derek Jeter was third with 101.
Shelly from Seamheads wrote, "Mr. Mauer is a monster with the bat, smooth with the leather, and has proved over the last couple of years to be the rock his team leans on for guidance and leadership." Kevin at DMB Historic World Series Replay pondered, "Imagine the numbers he might put up if he wasn't a catcher!"

Due to more ballots being cast, Pujols was able to put up a higher vote total than Mauer, even though his selection wasn't unanimous. The first baseman, who put up a 1.101 OPS while smoking 47 home runs, was named first on twenty of the 21 National League ballots submitted for 269 total points. Pitcher Tim Lincecum of the San Francisco Giants was the only other National League player to receive a first place selection.
Runners-up to Pujols in the National League race were Florida Marlins shortstop Hanley Ramirez (164 points) and Milwaukee Brewers first baseman Prince Fielder (145 points).
Jim from Bernie's Crew asked the rhetorical question, "Do I really need to explain why Albert Pujols is your 2009 Most Valuable Player in the National League?" Jim from North Side Notch agreed, saying, "This guy is super-human."

The complete voting results are as follows (first-place votes in parenthesis):

American League
Joe Mauer, Minnesota (18) 221
Mark Teixeira, New York 115
Derek Jeter, New York 101
Miguel Cabrera, Detroit 96
Ben Zobrist, Tampa Bay 74
Kendry Morales, Los Angeles of Anaheim 64
Kevin Youkilis, Boston 44
Evan Longoria, Tampa Bay 36
Zack Greinke, Kansas City 35
Ichiro Suzuki, Seattle 29
Aaron Hill, Toronto 25
Alex Rodriguez, New York 23
Jason Bay, Boston 22
Chone Figgins, Los Angeles of Anaheim 20
Adam Lind, Toronto 11
Franklin Gutierrez, Seattle 10
CC Sabathia, New York 10
Dustin Pedroia, Boston 9
Carl Crawford, Tampa Bay 7
Bobby Abreu, Los Angeles of Anaheim 6
Jacoby Ellsbury, Boston 5
Robinson Cano, New York 4
Jason Kubel, Minnesota 4
Justin Morneau, Minnesota 4
Jason Bartlett, Tampa Bay 3
Michael Cuddyer, Minnesota 3
Marlon Byrd, Texas 2
Asdrubal Cabrera, Cleveland 2
Carlos Pena, Tampa Bay 1

National League
Albert Pujols, St. Louis (20) 269
Hanley Ramirez, Florida 164
Prince Fielder, Milwaukee 145
Chase Utley, Philadelphia 110
Troy Tulowitzki, Colorado 76
Ryan Howard, Philadelphia 71
Tim Lincecum, San Francisco (1) 67
Adrian Gonzalez, San Diego 66
Ryan Zimmerman, Washington 50
Pablo Sandoval, San Francisco 42
Matt Kemp, Los Angeles 34
Ryan Braun, Milwaukee 32
Derrek Lee, Chicago 29
Andre Ethier, Los Angeles 22
Javier Vazquez, Atlanta 11
Mark Reynolds, Arizona 9
Matt Holliday, St. Louis 5
Adam Wainwright, St. Louis 5
Joey Votto, Cincinnati 4
Dan Haren, Arizona 3
Jayson Werth, Philadelphia 2
Chris Carpenter, St. Louis 1
Miguel Tejada, Houston 1

Saturday, October 24, 2009

AL MVP. And The Winner Is...

My duties as a member of the BBA include casting votes for all the major annual awards, and no award in all of sports is more major than the coveted title of MVP.

The BBA voting is set-up essentially like the "real" voting:
  • Votes are made for the top 10 candidates in a weighted vote (ie. first place votes get 10 pts, second place 9 pts, and so on).
  • MVP is awarded for a plethora of reasons- not always based solely on statistical standings. Other factors to be considered include, overall value to team, versatility, and sportsmanship.

Now, with a little help from my buddy Prof from over at Rays Index, here are Rays The Stakes' votes for the 2009 AL MVP (in reverse order):

10. Miguel Cabrera (1B, Detroit). Miggy put together another great season, posting 34 doubles and 34 homers to go with his 103 RBI, .324 BA, and .396 OBP

9. Zack Greinke (P, Kansas City). I don't generally consider pitchers eligible but Greinke was more valuable to his team than any other player in the league (don't believe me? His WAR (wins above replacement ) was 9.4)

8. Jason Bartlett (SS, Tampa Bay). As someone who covers the Rays I got to witness JB's magic on a nearly daily basis, and let me assure you these numbers aren't fluky: Jason had 29 doubles to go with his 30 stolen bases and his .320 BA, .389 OBP, and .879 OPS. Bartlett also played great defense from the SS position (it helps to have Longoria eating up space to your right, I'm sure), earning himself a .962 fielding percentage.

7. Kevin Youkilis (1B, Boston). Youk has shown versatility all season, playing on both corners of the infield as well as playing some outfield if necessary. Youkilis posted good numbers this season; 36 doubles, 27 HR, and 94 RBI. He also posted an OPS of .961.

6. Alex Rodriguez (3B, New York). A-Rod missed a portion of the season, and to be quite honest nearly missed this list, but The Prof from Rays Index convinced me that he belonged, reminding me that: "the Yankees were 13-15 before he made his debut on May 8th. They were a team in big trouble at that point. They went 90-44 after that, with A-Rod putting up very good numbers while playing on a hip that might still need surgery." Point well taken- A-Rod slides in at number 6.

5. Chone Figgins (3B, Los Angeles). Figgins garnered a lot of attention this season (convenient considering it's a contract year) and earned a place on the list with impressive numbers: 30 doubles, 42 steals, .298 BA, and .395 OBP. Figgins also managed to finish with a .968 fielding percentage from the hot-corner. His WAR was solid at 5.9, as well.

4. Derek Jeter (SS, New York). Jeter is the prototypical baseball player; a good clubhouse guy, plays the game the right way, is consistently one of the best players in the league, breaks decades old records every year, and does it all with a smile. What a shame that he plays for New York. Jeter finished the year with another impressive stat line: .334 BA, .406 OBP, .871 OPS, and even at the ripe old age of 35 he still managed to record 30 stolen bases (his most since 2006 (34)).

And the Big Three (drumroll please)...

3. Ben Zobrist (Everywhere, Tampa Bay). Zobrist has single-handedly redefined the term utility player. Zorilla is th edefinition of versitile as he can be a legitimate starter at 5 different positions, and played at least one game at not 4 or 5 but 7 different positions this season (that's all of them folks (except catcher/pitcher of course). Zobrist tallied 28 doubles to go with his 27 HR's and his 91 RBI. Zorilla put together a decent batting line; .260 BA, .346 OBP, and an OPS of .948. His 8.5 WAR was the highest of any position player in the majors (even Pujols).

2. Mark Teixeira (1B, New York). Tex finished the regular season with 43 doubles and tied for the league lead with 39 HR's (Carlos Pena), he also amassed a league-leading 122 RBI, all while maintaining a .292 BA, a .383 OBP, and an OPS of .948. Mark also led the league in total bases for the second time in his career (2005) with 344. Tex has been a major cog in the Yankees wheel and I'm nearly certain they wouldn't be on the cusp of World Series birth without him. And remember kids, I before E except in Teixeira.

And the winner is:

1. Joe Mauer (C, Minnesota). Mauer has amazed everyone with his performances both beside and behind home plate this season. Mauer led the league in batting average almost from the start of the season and finished with a league-leading .365 BA to go along with his league-leading OBP (.444), league-leading SLG (.587), and his league-leading OPS(1.031)... well, you get the hint. Mauer was a near lock for the MVP by August 1st, and he didn't disappoint. Congratulations Joe on a season well played!


*other players receiving consideration for the top 10 included: Gutierrez, Halladay, Crawford, Morneau, and Longoria.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Crawford or Pena

In a strictly hypothetical situation who would you choose?

The Rays have stated on various occasions that they're operating over budget and can not afford to maintain their current payroll. The Kazmir trade was a step in the right direction (sorry Angels, I warned ya), but the Rays still need to find ways to save cheddar.

While mulling over exactly how I thought I would save money if I were Andrew Friedman and the Rays' braintrust I stopped over at my second favorite Rays blog, Rays Index, to see what Prof's been up to, when ironically enough, he had his projected roster and payroll projections for next season posted. That really got me thinking.

Much has been made over CC's being due 10 million, and whether the Rays can afford to keep him at roughly 1/6th of their overall payroll, but the much less ballyhooed point is the fact that Pena is due 10.1 million, so some quick math; add the integers, carry the 1, check the remainder... and you'll find that CC and El Gato combine to eat-up about 1/3 of the team's overall payroll projections (you could add in Burrell, but I don't foresee any way to get rid of his payroll. Just for the record, he's eating up another 30% or so of the payroll at 9 million- which means roughly 63% of the team's payroll is headed to those 3... hmmmm, one of those 3 just isn't earning his paycheck, who could that be?).

All of that to ask this hypothetical question; so you're sitting in your high-back, leather chair at your executive desk at the Trop when the powers-that-be march in and tell you that you've got to part ways with either Crawford and his 10 million or Pena and his 10.1 million?
Crawford and his legacy or Pena and his resiliency?
CC's speed or Pena's power?

Who do you send packing?

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

New Hitting Coach

Today the Rays announced in a press release that the organization's sixth hitting coach will be former Cleveland hitting coach Derek Shelton.

Shelton becomes the youngest hitting coach in Rays' history at the tender age of 39, and is a former major league catcher (NYY).

Here are a few quotes from the press release:

"Derek has proven himself to be one of the better minds in baseball when it comes to hitting," Rays Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations Andrew Friedman said. "He brings a fresh voice that can help our talented core of hitters reach new heights. His attention to detail and ability to communicate will be great additions to our group."

"I believe he is the kind of coach who can create a hitting program that will benefit the organization both at the minor league and major league levels," said Rays Manager Joe Maddon. "In our conversations, I found that we share the same philosophy on a number of different areas. He was very clear and concise on his intentions and in the end it was an easy decision."

BBA CY Young Winners

The BBA has released it's results of their voting for A.L. and N.L. Cy Young Award winners. Unfortunately, I missed the deadline to get my votes in, but Greinke would've been my number one guy, with Halladay, and Verlander as second and third. Honorable mention would've gone to Feliz Hernandez.

Here's the BBA's official Press Release:

"The Baseball Bloggers Alliance (BBA), a group of 89 bloggers from across Major League Baseball, announced today that Kansas City Royals pitcher Zack Greinke and San Francisco hurler Tim Lincecum had won the Cy Young balloting among its members.

Greinke, who was unanimously selected across the nineteen blogs that voted for the American League winner, fashioned a dominating 2.16 ERA with 242 strikeouts while putting up 16 wins for a Royals squad that won only 65 games. Greinke's Cy Young case was built on non-traditional statistics, as he was only tied for seventh in the league in wins, but led in categories such as defense-independent ERA, component ERA, and WHIP along with the more traditional ERA.

"He's a magician with the baseball and when he's focused and puts his mind to it, there are games when he's untouchable," wrote Noel of The Tribe Daily. Jeff of Royally Speaking was blunt, saying "Zack Greinke was the best pitcher in baseball all season long."

In becoming the first player to garner a unanimous selection in BBA history, Greinke tabulated 90 total points. Felix Hernandez of the Seattle Mariners came in a distant second with 37 points.

The National League selection was a little more varied, though not at all more dramatic. Lincecum, who won the baseball writers' Cy Young in 2008, put up a league-leading 261 strikeouts in 225.1 innings and finished second to Chris Carpenter with a 2.48 ERA. As with Greinke, his case for the award was not fashioned on the traditional bedrock of wins either, as he only was credited with 15, four shy of the league leader.

"He has the filthiest stuff in either league and has turned himself into a rock star in San Francisco," stated Matt from Feeling Dodger Blue, who overcame the innate Dodger/Giant rivalry to cast his vote for Lincecum. "It seemed a daunting task to improve on what Lincecum did last season, but he did it," said Bill from Crashburn Alley.

Lincecum totaled seventeen first-place votes from the twenty ballots cast and finished with 88 points overall. Carpenter, the league leader in ERA and one of the pitchers ahead of Lincecum in the win category, finished second with three first place votes and 47 total points.

The complete voting results are as follows (first-place votes in parenthesis):

American League
Zack Greinke, Kansas City (19) 95
Felix Hernandez, Seattle 37
Roy Halladay, Toronto 22
Justin Verlander, Detroit 14
CC Sabathia, New York 2

National League
Tim Lincecum, San Francisco (17) 88
Chris Carpenter, St. Louis (3) 47
Adam Wainwright, St. Louis 23
Javier Vazquez, Atlanta 21
Dan Haren, Arizona 1

Friday, October 16, 2009

The Votes Are In...

So the BBA votes for AL Rookie of the Year are in and I couldn't disagree more with the votes of my BBA brethren.

I find it nearly impossible to bestow the award on a closer, much less a closer who only worked 26 games, but alas, that's why they vote instead of just asking me what they should do (although that might've helped during the presidential election too, but i digress).

Furthermore, despite having the least impressive stats of the bunch, a certain Texas SS garnered enough votes for third place, while the most statistically efficient pitcher missed the cut.

Oh yeah, and McCutchen won the NL vote... talk about a no-brainer.

At any rate, here's the BBA Press Release (the link to my votes with explanations follow):

Bailey, McCutchen Chosen As Rookie of the Year By Baseball Bloggers Alliance

The Baseball Bloggers Alliance announced today that Andrew Bailey of the Oakland Athletics and Andrew McCutchen of the Pittsburgh Pirates were selected in a vote of the membership as American League and National League Rookies of the Year.
Bailey, who stepped into Oakland's closer role and recorded 26 saves with a sparkling 1.84 ERA, garnered seven of the nineteen first-place votes from the participating BBA blogs and a total of 48 points overall. Rick Porcello, who pitched for the Detroit Tigers in the tie-breaking playoff game versus the Minnesota Twins to culminate a strong season, finished second with four first-place selections and 36 total points.
"Even if Bailey hadn't been bestowed with the closer role, those numbers out of the pen put him amongst the elite late inning pitchers," stated the bloggers at The Tao of Stieb. "Too bad he plays for Oakland and has a generic name--he should be as famous as Joba [Chamberlain]," noted Lisa at Subway Squawkers.
McCutchen started the year at AAA, but was called to the majors in June and made an immediate impact. His blend of power and speed were reflected in his twelve home runs and 22 steals in roughly a half season of work.
McCutchen received twelve of the twenty first place votes on his way to 65 points overall. Atlanta Braves pitcher Tommy Hanson was the runner-up with 50 points, including five first place nods.
"The sky is the limit for McCutchen and I think the Bucs have something special with him," opined Jim at the Pirate blog North Side Notch. Larry at Wezen-Ball concurred, saying "[H]e gave the Pittsburgh crowd something to root for all season, with strong defense and a great campaign as a leadoff hitter."

The complete voting results are as follows (first-place votes in parenthesis):
American League
Andrew Bailey, Oakland (9) 48
Rick Porcello, Detroit (4) 36
Elvis Andrus, Texas (3) 28

honorable mentions:
Jeff Niemann, Tampa Bay (2) 21
Matt Wieters, Baltimore (1) 13
Gordon Beckham, Chicago (1) 9
Brett Anderson, Oakland (1) 8
Noland Reimold, Baltimore 8

National League
Andrew McCutchen, Pittsburgh (12) 65
Tommy Hanson, Atlanta (5) 50
J.A. Happ, Philadelphia (1) 27

honorable mentions:
Chris Coghlan, Florida (2) 20
Randy Wells, Chicago 10
Garrett Jones, Pittsburgh 6
Casey McGehee, Milwaukee 2

Check out Rays The Stakes' take on AL R.O.Y.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

A.L. Rookie of the Year

It's time for us to fulfill our duty as a member of the BBA, and cast our ballot for American League Rookie of the Year.

How it works:

It's a weighted ballot, meaning that we'll rank our top three candidates with first place votes receiving 5 points, 3 for second, and 1 for third.

The results will be released to the press later this week or early next week.

Now without any further ado:

Honorable Mentions:

Elvis Andrus (SS, Texas)

Andrew Bailey (RP, Oakland)


3. Nolan Reimold (LF, Baltimore)

2. Rick Porcello (SP, Detroit)

1. Jeff Niemann (SP, Tampa Bay)

Okay, before you give up on me and chalk this up to "homerism", hear me out.

First, in the case of Andrus; of all the viable candidates listed above his stats were the most pedestrian. The sole reason he's getting so many looks for ROY is because he plays a premier position. He had a nice season, and may very well win the vote, but to me his numbers (which I'll compare to third place Nolan Riemold's below) don't show me enough.

3. Nolan Reimold (LF, Baltimore).
Reimold had the best statistical season of the rookie fielders, including Elvis Andrus. Reimold outperformed Andrus in every major offensive category:
























2. Rick Porcello (SP, Detroit).
Porcello had a stellar season for Detroit and looks as if he'll be a quality pitcher for some time. Why didn't he win? Well, keep reading and I'll show you.

1. Jeff Niemann (SP, Tampa Bay).
I almost went out of my way to not vote for Niemann just to make sure that I wasn't being a homer, but then I delved into the numbers and realized that anyone who looks at it from a statistical standpoint can't list any other rookie pitcher above Niemann. Here are Niemann's numbers against the other major ROY pitching candidate Rick Porcello:
























As you can see the numbers are very similar, with Niemann gaining the slightest edge in ERA, IP, K's, and opponents' average. He also had a better winning percentage ( 68% versus 61%).

So call me a homer if you'd like, but the numbers don't lie.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


The Baseball Bloggers Alliance named their inaugural Managers of the Year today, selecting Mike Scioscia of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and Jim Tracy of the Colorado Rockies as the best managers in their respective leagues.

Scioscia, who lead the Angels to the American League West division title and into the American League Championship Series despite the tragic loss of Nick Adenhart early in the season, garnered eight first-place votes and 58 total points from twenty ballots cast by bloggers from across baseball.
“Scioscia found a way to keep this team together at every single defining point of the season,” said Joe at Motor City Bengals. Ian at The Blue Jay Hunter agreed, stating, “Scioscia is the cream of the crop when it comes to managers in the American League. ”

Scioscia and the Angels fashioned a 97-65 record in 2009, winning the AL West by 10 games over the Texas Rangers. Ron Gardenhire, who led the Minnesota Twins to a comeback over the Detroit Tigers to take the AL Central crown, received 46 points and six first-place votes. The skipper of the Rangers, Ron Washington, placed third with 30 points and two-first place votes.
Tracy, in comparison, was not even a manager at the beginning of the season, taking over for Clint Hurdle when the Rockies struggled out of the gate. The change in leadership sparked an almost immediate turnaround in team fortunes, as they charged back to respectability and beyond, locking up the National League Wild Card and were not eliminated from the NL West divisional title until the last weekend of the season. The Rockies were bounced from the playoffs by the Philadelphia Phillies in four games.

Tracy was the overwhelming selection of the nineteen bloggers who cast National League ballots. He received fifteen first-place votes and 84 points overall. St. Louis manager Tony LaRussa was a distant second, with 27 total points and one first-place selection.
“Jim Tracy not only had his players buy into his system, but he also helped them buy into themselves as a ballclub,” said Jim at Bernie's Crew. “I have no idea how he managed to create that spark, nor was I happy about it happening, but it’s hard to argue with the facts”, added Brian at Raise the Jolly Roger.

The complete voting results are as follows (first-place votes in parenthesis):

American League
Mike Scioscia, Los Angeles (8) 58
Ron Gardenhire, Minnesota (6) 46
Ron Washington, Texas (2) 30
Don Wakamatsu, Seattle (4) 29
Joe Girardi, New York 8
Terry Francona, Boston 4
Jim Leyland, Detroit 4

National League
Jim Tracy, Colorado (15) 84
Tony LaRussa, St. Louis (1) 27
Bruce Bochy, San Francisco (1) 20
Freddi Gonzalez, Florida (1) 20
Joe Torre, Los Angeles 9
Charlie Manuel, Philadelphia (1) 7
Bud Black, San Diego 3
Bobby Cox, Atlanta 1

The Baseball Bloggers Alliance was formed in the fall of 2009 to encourage cooperation and collaboration between baseball bloggers of all major league teams as well as those that follow baseball more generally. As of this writing, the organization consists of 82 blogs spanning 28 of the 30 major league squads as well as general baseball writing.
The BBA is organized under a similar structure as the Baseball Writers of America, where blogs that follow the same team are combined into “chapters” and only two votes from the chapter on an award are counted. Those blogs that are not dedicated to a specific team are allowed to vote on either the American League or National League award, but not both.

Ballots are posted on the respective blogs and tabulated on a 5-3-1 point scale for first, second and third.

Here is the link to Rays The Stakes' vote post. AL MOY.

Do you agree? Disagree? Let us know.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Worst Case Scenario

Last night after the Phillies came back to eliminate the Rockies a terrorizing thought crossed my mind:

What if the Fall Classic turns-out to be the Yankees v. the Phillies?

How could I enjoy a World Series where I couldn't possible want either team to win?

I'm not one of those guys who can watch a game (in any sport) without hitching my wagon to one side or the other, and I certainly could never cheer for the Evil Empire or the Phrauds in Philly.

So, in the interest of wanting to enjoy the Series and for trying to bring bragging rights back to the AL where they belong- I'm officially throwing my hat into the corner of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim near Disney.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

If it can't be us... least it won't be THEM either. Congrats to the Angels on their sweep of the Red Sox.

- Dustin

Friday, October 9, 2009

AL Manager of the Year

One of the duties/privileges of being a member of the BBA is that you get to cast votes for the major awards at the end of the season (and people actually count them... crazy, I know).

The first award of the year is AL Manager of the Year.

Honorable Mentions:

Joe Girardi
Jim Leyland
Terry Francona

We've ranked the top 3 in the following (reverse) order:

3. Ron Washington

Washington had to deal with injuries and scandals (both related in some way to Josh Hamilton (former Devil Ray)), and had a mediocre team playing very well and competing for a playoff spot as late as mid-September.

2. Mike Scioscia

Scioscia is a wizard. I've heard the whole AL West is a breeze argument, but year in and year out Mike has his guys ready to roll into the post-season. A great manager surrounded by great talent.

and the winner is (drumroll please):

1. Ron Gardenhire

Gardenhire has put together a great line-up, and was able to win games when it mattered as his Twins chased down, and ultimately beat the Detroit Tigers to win the AL Central. A manager who can help his team win down the stretch when every pitching change/match-up matters is what qualifies him for manager of the year in my books.

*side note in regard to our very own Joe Maddon: In my rankings he fell somewhere around the 10 to 12 range... his bullpen decisions, and occasionally ridiculous rest-days for starters really cost him and ultimately the Rays.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Repost: Win a Jason Bartlett Autographed Card

**UPDATE (Oct 6)

Hey gang, get in while the gettin's good.
There's still time to win. Enter now.

**UPDATE (Sept 19)
The entries keep rolling in, so get in while you still can- and tell your friends... its free.

Rays the Stakes in conjunction with our good friends over at Sports Memorabilia are proud to announce some good news:

We are having a giveaway contest:

Win this Jason Bartlett Autographed Card (with C.O.A.)


Send an email to telling us who you think will win this season's AL MVP award.

Everyone who correctly guesses the MVP will be entered into a random drawing to see who wins the Jason Bartlett autographed card from Rays The Stakes and Sports Memorabllia. Be sure to include your full name in your response.

Good Luck.

*Click here for more detailed info in regard to the card you could win.

Monday, October 5, 2009

That's a Wrap!

With the 2009 regular season in the books, let's go ahead and forget about yesterday's 13-2 loss to the Yankees and instead remember some of the nice things that happened this season. And hey, at 84-78 this is the Rays' second best record ever. Plus, think of all the history they got to participate in: Mark Buehrle threw that perfect game, Jeter tied Lou Gehrig's career record for hits as a Yankee, and A-Rod moved into the number two spot for most RBI's in a single inning, thanks in part to Andy "Five Runs" Sonnanstine. I know I shouldn't be mad, but I just can't help it.

Hopefully I can make some kind of thoughtful contribution sometime soon, but I just can't right now. Here are some happy things to help ease the sting of the season's end

1) Three Rays finished in the top 25 for home runs (Peña, Longoria, and Zorilla) and triples (Crawford, Bartlett, and Zobrist again).

2) The Trop was almost 80% full for the Rays' final game (though not necessarily with Rays fans).

3) If you click here, you'll hear a pretty interesting interview with Fernando Perez and Gabe Kapler, and if you click here, you'll get one with Maddon. I highly recommend clicking on both (though not at the same time, as that'd probably get confusing).

- Dustin

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Crawford Could be Playing His Final Games as a Ray

Carl Crawford has been the face of the Tampa Bay Rays for 8 seasons.

Carl Crawford was the cheese that stood alone for a long, long time.

Now, Carl Crawford may be in his last series as a Tampa Bay Ray.

Although the sudden and unexpected Kazmir trade was a definite indication that the Rays are trying to find ways to keep their key guys (namely, Crawford and possibly Aki, and I'm sure they'd like to extend Pena while he's still affordable too), it by no means assures us that Crawford won't be moved.

After last season everyone and their cousin wanted the Rays to move Crawford while he still had value, but a stellar 2009 campaign has snapped everybody back to the other side of the line, and the screams that "the Rays better keep Crawford... or else" can be heard from Tallahassee to Sarasota.

Crawford had what most would call a career year this season; .306 BA, .365 OBP, .453 SLG, .818 OPS, and 60 steals which, in my humble my opinion, has done all but force the organization's hand, but I still don't think that keeping CC is a given at all. In fact, I would say there is still a 40% chance that Crawford is wearing a different uni next season (heaven help us if that uni has colored hosiery or pinstripes!)

The Rays are operating over-budget and need to find creative ways to maintain an entire roster of major-league caliber players. They can't dump large percentages of their payroll into 1 or 2 players, regardless of how great they are, were, or may be. It's simple math.

Moving Kazmir was a start (and a smart move), but there's still a good portion of money-moving that has to be worked-out.

I rarely cross-over from one sport to the next, but as a lifelong Steeler fan I've seen exactly how a "small-market" team makes the most out of a little on a nearly annual basis. They (the Steelers) never, ever, under any circumstances take a flyer on ridiculously over-priced free agents (which the Rays have emulated well), they promote from within and hoard talented depth (much like the Rays have done) and perhaps the most important; they are always willing to let a player go if his potential payroll takes too much of a chunk out of the overall salary (i.e. Alan Faneca). The Steelers live and die by the belief that it's always better to let them go 1 year too early than 1 year too late.
Sadly, I think that if the Rays approach the CC situation with that same mindset they may have to cut ties with the best player in franchise history (for now at least (Longoria's just getting started)).

Crawford is due $10 million next season and Rays ownership has already said they can only operate at around $65-70 million next season. Simple math tells us that CC's salary would take a significant piece of the pie, which would mean that keeping Crawford would potentially mean saying goodbye to some other integral parts of the puzzle.

Another playoff run would've helped generate more revenue and perhaps convinced ownership to loosen the purse-strings a bit next season, but alas, we've already woken from that fever dream.

I would love to see Crawford stay a Ray, and CC himself has stated that he'd like to stay with Tampa if at all possible, but I wouldn't be surprised or angry, or bitter to see him go. Baseball, after all, is a business, so the bottom line counts; and beyond that, the future success of the franchise may be at stake. No one wants to see a Rays team that was ripped to shreds just to accommodate CC's salary. I'd bet real American money that CC wouldn't want that either.

The powers-that-be (Sternberg, Friedman, etc.) have to weigh the value of Crawford and the possible ire of the Tampa faithful against the long-term potential of a host of young players or less expensive alternatives.

For the past four years current ownership has hit home runs on just about every move they've made, so whatever decision they make in regard to Crawford will be fine by me.
I'll consider it the right move. They've earned that respect.

Strictly as a fan, I'll be watching these last few games with one eye constantly focused on Carl Crawford, because there's a fair chance that they're the last he'll play as a Ray.


CHEESE & WHINE: Upton for the Cycle

Rays: 13
Yankees: 4

  • BJ Upton. Bossman was at the top of his offensive game last night; becoming the first Rays' player ever to hit for the cycle, and it took only 5 innings to do it. Upton finished the night with ridiculous numbers; 5 for 5 with 6 RBI and 3 runs scored. What better way to wash away the stains of a cruddy year then to finish the season by working your way into the franchise history books. The beauty of being the first to do something is that no one can take that away or break that record- it's there to stay, and for the rest of his family's existence BJ's family will always be able to boast that their grandpa/daddy/uncle/brother/son was the first Rays player ever to hit for the cycle.
  • David Price. Even without the copious amounts of run-support Price would've won this one, pitching a phenomenal game to wrap up his rookie season. King David lasted 7 innings, allowing just 1 run on 2 hits while striking-out 5 and walking 2. Oh, and I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if that pitch toward Teixeira's head in the first wasn't courtesy of Carlos Pena's broken finger. Price finishes the year with a record of 10-7 and an ERA of 4.42, not too bad. I guarantee it'll be better next year.
  • Ben Zobrist. Here's a shocker, Zobrist had a nice offensive game... again. Hard to believe, I know. Last night Benny-Boo finished up 3 for 5 with 2 RBI.


  • Dale Thayer. I know he came-in in a fairly meaningless position, but come on man. Thayer lasted 1 inning, giving-up 2 runs on 2 hits.
  • Willy Aybar. 0 for 5 with a K, and get this; 8 men left on base, 8!


  • Despite scoring 13 , only 2 of the Rays' runs came by way of the homer ( the 2-run homer by Upton in the 4th).

CAVIAR (game ball):

  • BJ Upton. Obviously, hitting the team's first ever cycle earns you the Rays The Stakes caviar game ball every time.

Friday, October 2, 2009

CHEESE & WHINE: Losing Effort

Rays: 2
O's: 3

  • Ben Zobrist. Benny-Boo seems to be the only player still running on all cylinders. Last night Zobrist lead-off the Rays scoring with a solo-homer in the 4th, and started a 9th inning rally with a double, but one man a team does not make.


  • Matt Garza. Although last night's performance was acceptable by any means, (6 IP, 6 hits, 3 runs, 4 K's, and 2 BB's) Garza's season can be viewed as nothing but a little disappointing. Coming into the 2009 campaign I (and many others) viewed Garza as the Rays' best pure pitcher, but 7 months later Garza finishes-up his sophomore season with the Rays with a record of 8-12. Garza had a nice ERA of 3.95, but a lack of consistency cost he and the team some W's and cost the bullpen some valuable innings. In his defense, his team didn't always do him a lot of favors through run support, but a good pitcher finds ways to win regardless. Hopefully next season we'll see a 15 win season.
  • Evan Longoria. I find it nearly impossible to believe that he's in a natural slump right now, which means he's just not mentally there anymore. I know he's just a kid, but the heart of a true champion or leader never goes away- even when his team (and by team I mean bullpen, primarily) was wildly disappointing down the home-stretch. Longo was 0 for 4 again and is now 2 for 15 over the last 4 games.


  • Garza surpassed the 200 innings pitched mark last night for the first time in his career, and finished the season having pitched 203 innings.

CAVIAR (game ball):

  • Ben Zobrist. This may end-up just being called the "Ben Zobrist Player of The Game Award" next year instead of "Caviar".

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Random Poll

With the season quickly winding-down there's not a lot left for we Rays' fans to look forward to, but in the nature of good fun I've decide to do a random poll to see which player you think will reach their particular "milestone" first during the next 4 games.


*Wade Davis' shoe in the dugout during the 7th inning of last night's game (courtesy of Matt Garza).
Rays: 5
O's: 3
  • James Shields. Big Game looked sharp last night; lasting 8 innings, allowing 3 runs on 8 hits, striking-out 8 and walking.... 0. That's more like it. Save that for next season would ya. Shields finishes the '09 campaign with a disappointing record of 11-12 and an ERA 4.14
  • Ben Zobrist. Zorilla did his best Zorilla impression and finished the night 2 for 4 with 3 RBI ( a 3-run homer in the 3rd).
  • Akinori Iwamura. Aki was 2 for 3 with a walk. It's good to see Aki back to mid-season form.


  • Evan Longoria. Dirtbag went 0 for 3 last night and is 1 for 11 over the past 3 games. Mailed it in, have ya?


  • Four straight wins, and wins in 9 of the last 12 just serves to make the crappy stretches that much more painful.

CAVIAR (game ball):

  • James Shields. Shieldsy was that close to his first complete game of the season. Eight K's and 0 walks is more indicative of the Shields we've known in the past.