Sitting On Top of the Bay
- Updated: September 5, 2008
At the beginning of the year, I thought this was going to be the best year the Rays ever had, but I didn’t think they’d be in 1st place come September. Their pitching staff has been outstanding, especially their starters Scott Kazmir (after missing the first month of the season), James Shields, Matt Garza, Edwin Jackson and Andy Sonnanstine. Aside from a few trips on the DL, Troy Percival’s comeback has anchored their bullpen from the end on down the line and Dan Wheeler has filled in while Percival’s been on the DL just fine. Then add the play of rookie 3B Evan Longoria and an overall improvement on the defensive side of the ball and you have yourself a much improved team. One small disappointment would be the lack of steals from Carl Crawford, but it hasn’t seemed to affect them in the win/loss department. They will make the playoffs as a wild card due to their inexperience down the stretch run compared to that of the Red Sox. That plus they play the Sox another 6 more times and unless they go 3-3 or better, the Sox will probably overtake them. Either way, Joe Maddon is the 2008 Manager of the Year! There’s no way he can loose. For a fans perspective on the Rays, maybe we can coax someone from Rays Index to comment below.
Their pitching isn’t as strong as in 2004 or 2007, but Jon Lester is much improved and Daisuke Matsuzaka has 16 wins with an ERA under 3.00. The big question mark is can Josh Beckett come back from his elbow woes to be the dominant pitcher he was going into October last year. And aside from Papelbon and Masterson, their bullpen has been streaky most of the time. Who would have believed that at this time in the season, 2B Dustin Pedroia and DH David Ortiz would have the same amount of HRs or that 1B/3B Kevin Youkilis would be leading the team in HRs (if you don’t count Bay’s HRs from the NL) or that Manny would be gone and Crisp still on the team? Ellsbury, the human sparkplug (yes, I’m still calling him that) isn’t hitting anywhere near where the team thought he would and has fallen (at times) out of the leadoff spot, but is still a threat on the bases that can make the opposing pitcher mad. And rookie SS/3B Jed Lowrie has been more than adequately filling in for the injured SS Julio Lugo ad might have played Lugo out of a job. Like I said above, with 6 games remaining against the Rays and being only 3.5 behind them prior to tonight’s (Friday night) game, I believe that they will overtake first place by the time they leave Tampa Bay. For a fans perspective on the Red Sox, maybe we can coax someone from Sox Addict to comment below.
Plagued with injuries to Matsui, Wang, Damon, Kennedy, Hughes, et al, the Yankees are not in contention in this division or the AL Wild Card race. If George Steinbrenner was younger and in good health, manager Joe Giradri’s job might have been in danger being beaten out of the playoffs by the Tampa Bay. On the bright side, the acquisition of RF Xavier Nady has been better than advertized, RP Damaso Marte has been as effective as advertized and the revitalization of SP Mike Mussina has been a pleasant surprise. Look out for a lot of moves in the off season with a few contracts coming off the books at the end of this year. CC Sabathia and/or A.J. Burnett (if he opts out) could be in pinstripes in 2009 and beyond! For a fans perspective on the Yankees, maybe we can coax someone from River Ave. Blues to comment below.
No surprises here! Well none except for the absence of DH Frank Thomas and SS (now D’Backs 2B) David Eckstein. The big question that remains is whether (or more probably when) SP A.J. Burnett will opt out of his contract ala A-Rod. The Glaus for Rolen gamble backfired and makes you wonder just how secure J.P. Riccardi’s job will remain with another disappointing season behind him. On the flip side, Ace of the Blue Jay’s staff, Roy Halladay remains a freak of nature compared to his peers as he leads the league by far in complete games and Vernon Wells has looked good when healthy. For a fans perspective on the Blue Jays, maybe we can coax someone from BlueBird Banter to comment below.
The Orioles are right where everyone thought they would be and they even had a great start to their season. The bright spots on this team are 2B Brian Roberts is still in town, CF Adam Jones looks to be gradually filling into his potential, SP Jeremy Guthrie has become the team’s Ace and RF Nick Markakis has continued to be the All Star caliber player the O’s have expected him to be. For a fans perspective on the Orioles, maybe we can coax someone from Camden Chat to comment below.