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#pounditWednesday, September 23, 2020

Articles tagged: Tampa Bay Rays

Angels’ Cozart critical of Rays for starting Sergio Romo

Zack Cozart

Los Angeles Angels third baseman Zack Cozart was critical of the Tampa Bay Rays for utilizing an interesting strategy against them.

The Rays started relief pitcher Sergio Romo in both Saturday and Sunday’s games. On Saturday, Romo struck out the first three batters he faced. The Rays then had starter Ryan Yarbrough begin his outing in the second. He pitched well for 6.1 innings, and the Rays won 5-3.

On Sunday, Romo began the game against the Angels. He went 1.1 innings, walking two and striking out three. The Rays used two more relievers after Romo and ended the game with Anthony Banda, who often starts/makes longer appearances. This time the Angels won the game 5-2.

Cozart walked and struck out in his two at-bats against Romo. Afterwards, he called the Rays’ strategy “weird” and said it was bad for the game.

“It was weird…it’s bad for baseball, in my opinion…It’s spring training. That’s the best way to explain it,” Cozart said, via The Athletic’s Fabian Ardaya.

The Rays used the strategy because Romo is particularly effective against right-handed hitters. The Angels’ best batters are right-handed — Mike Trout, Justin Upton, Andrelton Simmons — so the strategy works well against them. You could try to counter the move by putting left-handed batters at the top of the lineup, but the Angels don’t have many options. Their only lefty batters are Kole Calhoun, Luis Valbuena, and Shohei Ohtani when he’s in the lineup. Calhoun is only hitting .161 this season, so putting him at the top just to counter Romo might actually backfire.

The strategy might not be orthodox, but there’s nothing in the rules against it. Maybe it’s a sign to the Angels to add a left-handed bat.

Rays to experiment with four-man rotation

Tampa Bay Rays logo

The Tampa Bay Rays are planning to experiment with an unconventional four-man starting pitching rotation during the upcoming season.

While a five-man rotation is the norm across Major League Baseball, Tampa Bay will be going a different route. Rays manager Kevin Cash said his plan is to use four starters. When the need arises for a fifth, the team will go with a combination of guys who normally pitch out of the bullpen.

“Our plan, we’re not going to five,” Cash said, via the Tampa Bay Times. “We’re going to try to stay at four. We’re going to have some bullpen days in there. We’re going to try and do that for a long period of time. We’re going to learn a lot in the first six weeks.”

Cash indicated that Chris Archer, Blake Snell, Nathan Eovaldi and Jake Faria will be the starters out of spring training.

Whether the Rays stick with a four-starter approach for the entirety of the season will be worth watching. There will surely be a feeling out process early in the season, as Cash noted. How the innings shake out on the occasions a fifth starter is needed should be followed as well.

Across the country, Mike Scioscia and the Angels will take their shot at a six-man rotation to accommodate their new star Shohei Ohtani. In Tampa, there will be a vastly different approach.

Report: Rays expected to keep Kiermaier, Archer despite fire sale

Chris Archer

The Tampa Bay Rays are expected to keep Kevin Kiermaier and Chris Archer despite recently removing familiar names from their roster.

Over the weekend, the Rays made moves that cleared a couple of the team’s higher-paid players from the roster. On Saturday, outfielder Corey Dickerson was designated for assignment following a trade for CJ Cron. The same night, starting pitcher Jake Odorizzi was traded to the Twins. Another domino fell on Tuesday with Steven Souza Jr. being traded to the Diamondbacks as part of a three-team deal.

Given the recent flurry of transactions, it would be understandable to wonder who will be on their way out of Tampa Bay next, with big players like Kiermaier and Archer being top targets. According to Marc Topkin of The Tampa Bay Times, both players are expected to remain with the Rays.

The Yankees and Red Sox have clearly separated themselves as the class of the American League East. That leaves the Rays apparently opting to rebuild and collect assets. Souza sympathizes with fans and encouraged them to be patient and have faith in the front office during what will likely be a difficult period.

The Rays finished last season third place in the AL East at 80-82. Given the recent transactions, it would be tough to forecast the Rays finishing in a similar position in 2018. That will be tough for Kiermaier to swallow, as he’s already grumbled about the team’s recent moves.

Dick Vitale not happy with Rays over cost-cutting offseason

Dick Vitale

ESPN analyst Dick Vitale is not happy with the Rays over their latest cost-cutting moves.

Vitale is a longtime season ticket holder of the Tampa Bay MLB franchise. He is a passionate fan and was not happy when the team traded Evan Longoria earlier this offseason. But when the team traded Jake Odorizzi and designated Corey Dickerson for assignment over the weekend, that was enough to push Vitale over the edge.

He was critical of the team in some tweets and complained about the product they will be offering to ticket holders.

It’s hard not to agree with Vitale and all other complaining fans. The Rays’ latest moves are clear signs of their intention for the upcoming season, which is to not compete. It’s hard to be excited about your team’s season when you see this sort of thing happen.

Kevin Kiermaier slams Rays’ roster moves

Kevin Kiermaier

The Tampa Bay Rays’ recent moves have not gone down well with a key member of the team.

Outfielder Kevin Kiermaier made no secret of his displeasure on Monday, admitting that he didn’t get what the Rays were doing after trading pitcher Jake Odorizzi and designating outfielder Corey Dickerson for assignment.

“I am 100 percent frustrated and very upset with the moves. No beating around the bush,” Kiermaier said, via Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. “It’s one of those things that makes you scratch your head, you don’t know the reasoning why. And then you see the team’s explanation and still it’s just like, okay, well, so be it.”

Kiermaier is something of a team leader, and he admitted that he and his fellow players have no choice but to put their heads down and get to work.

“With that being said it’s my responsibility, and now the team’s responsibility, to move on,” Kiermaier said. “It’s over with. It’s done. Got to move on from it. We can not sit here and dwell on it. We can sit here and feel sorry for ourselves. Chatter amongst each other. But it’s over with, it happened. We still have a really good team in here, got a lot of good guys. I believe in these guys.

“We lost two great players. It’s terrible. At the same time, life goes on. We still have to do what we have to do to go out there and get as many wins as possible.”

Odorizzi was a quality starter, but designating Dickerson for assignment after he was an All-Star last year was particularly surprising as the Rays looked to cut payroll. Kiermaier’s comments aren’t all that different from those made by a former Rays player who watched these events from afar.

Evan Longoria feels ‘sorry’ for Rays fans after latest moves

The Tampa Bay Rays are cutting costs again, and for the first time, Evan Longoria is watching from afar and feeling sympathetic.

Longoria, who was traded to the San Francisco Giants earlier on the offseason, said he felt “sorry” for Rays fans after they traded pitcher Jake Odorizzi and designated outfielder Corey Dickerson for assignment, likely with the intent to trade him.

Dickerson was due roughly $6 million in 2018 after hitting .282 with 27 home runs and making the All-Star team last season.

This isn’t the first time Longoria has been critical of the Rays for making moves like this. It must be disheartening to see a team dropping their payroll below $70 million when MLB’s revenues are at an all-time high. Given Longoria’s rich history and attachment to the franchise, you can understand why he’d be sad about it, too.

Rays reportedly trade Evan Longoria to Giants

The Tampa Bay Rays have finally decided to part ways with franchise cornerstone Evan Longoria.

According to Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times, the Rays agreed to a deal on Wednesday to send Longoria to the San Francisco Giants.

Top Giants shortstop prospect Christian Arroyo is among those included in the trade.

Longoria has been with the Rays since 2008, despite the team often selling off its best assets and refusing to sign players to lucrative contracts. The third baseman is owed $86 million through 2022 (including a $5 million buyout), and has a $13 million team option for 2023. One reason the Rays may have decided to trade him now is because he would have achieved 10/5 status early in the 2018 season if he remained in Tampa. Once a player achieves that, he has the right to veto any trade.

Longoria hit .261 with 20 home runs and 86 RBI last season. He’s a career .270 hitter and three-time Gold Glove winner.

Rays call out Yankees on Twitter for being ‘petty’

Tampa Bay Rays logo

The Tampa Bay Rays called out the New York Yankees on Twitter Thursday for being “petty.”

Gary Sanchez got the Yankees’ scoring started against the Baltimore Orioles with an RBI double in the first. He followed that up with a solo home run in the sixth. After his homer, the Yankees boasted about the dinger with a tweet. Of course, you’ll notice the way the Yankees boasted was with a quote downplaying Sanchez’s ability.

The quote actually was something Rays first baseman Logan Morrison said in protest of Sanchez being selected for the Home Run Derby over him this summer.

The Rays’ Twitter account saw the tweet and responded by calling the Yankees “petty.”

In fairness, the Yankees saw a good opportunity and took their shot. And then the Rays shamed them for it.

Yankees-Rays series being moved to Citi Field due to hurricane

The Tampa Bay Rays were supposed to host the New York Yankees for a three-game series at Tropicana Field starting Monday, but Mother Nature had other plans. Because of Hurricane Irma, the Rays will have to play as the “home” team in The Big Apple.

According to multiple reports, Major League Baseball has decided to move the series to Citi Field, which is the home of the Mets. Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports was told the league chose New York rather than a more neutral site because this way only one team will need to secure lodging.

Two major hurricanes — Irma and Harvey — have forced various sports teams to tweak their schedules and locations and even cancel games in some situations. Harvey dumped 50 inches of rain on some areas near Houston, killing at least 70 people and leaving thousands of others without homes. Irma is expected to make landfall in Florida sometime later this weekend into early next week, and the impact could be just as devastating.

5 MLB teams that could fade in the second half

Mike Trout Albert Pujols

A number of MLB teams have gotten off to surprisingly good starts in the first half of the season. Several clubs that were not expected to contend find themselves involved in the playoff race, but it’s not entirely clear how many of them have the necessary staying power to remain in those races.

Here are five teams who may find their playoff hopes fading as the second half of the Major League Baseball seasons gets underway:

5) Los Angeles Angels

The Angels being on the fringes of the playoff race — just three games out of the AL wild card as of Sunday — comes as a surprise, and it’s even more of one when you consider that Mike Trout spent a significant portion of the season out injured. Yet here they are — an unremarkable 45-48, but that’s enough to at least have them in the very early playoff picture.

To be blunt, the Angels have been punching above their weight, and even Trout’s impending return won’t make up for the reality that will likely hit them soon enough. The pitching, in particular, simply isn’t good enough. While there are several solid arms at the back of the bullpen, none of the team’s five most-used starting pitchers have an ERA under 4.00, and several, including Matt Shoemaker, are on the disabled list.

Couple that with the team’s lack of hitting — Trout is the only regular hitting over .300, and only two others are above .250 — and it’s something of a miracle that they’re even in the hunt. Expect them to fall away from the pack as the second half really starts to get underway.

4) Tampa Bay Rays

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