Monday, March 15, 2010

Thoughts about Spring Training, so far

Photo by Brandi Ottinger

Spring training is in full swing and the Rays are really creating a buzz with their hot spring, so far.  As we inch closer to Opening Day versus the Baltimore Orioles at the Trop, I thought I'd share a few thoughts I have from Spring Training.

Platoon at 2nd? 

The Sean Rodriguez, Reid Brignac, and Matt Joyce battle for a roster spot has turned out just as good as advertised. Right now, Joyce seems to have lost some ground because of an injury. Now, I'm wondering if Joe Maddon isn't considering some sort of platoon at 2nd. I'm not a big fan of middle infield platoons. I think consistency from one game to another helps in the middle.

Weber's thought: Maddon's playing with fire.

Collecting 1st baseman.

Is it me, or are the Rays collecting 1st baseman this spring. First, they sign Hank Blalock and then they pick-up Cuban defector, Leslie Anderson. I'm not really sure what's going on, but it seems the front office is in the business of worrying about that position. We already know that Carlos Pena could become a salary casualty as early as mid-season.  Willy Aybar, Pena's back-up, isn't exactly a 1st base juggernaut. I wonder if the Rays are making early preparations for life without Pena, whether they're in the race or not.

Weber's thought: Enjoy Pena's last games in a Rays uniform.

Redemption 2010

This is the year of redemption for at least 2 Rays' starters: Pat Burrell and BJ Upton. Neither are fan favorites. In fact, I get the distinct feeling that many people wearing Rays' blue would rather see both someplace else. Unfortunately, both of these guys are important for the line-up and, in Bossman Jr's case, important for the outfield.  Bossman's defense is worth his salary by itself. Anything he hits from the bottom of the order is just bonus. As for Pat the Bat,  I'm expecting big things from him this year. He has to prove he still belongs in baseball. I think he does.

Weber's thought: PtB comes out like a monster and fans still hate him.  Bossman Jr find a niche at the bottom of the batting order.

Hellboy, Price, or Davis

I think one of these guys is getting ready to emerge... big time.  David Price would seem to be in the driver's seat for biggest break-out season, but I can imagine Jeremy Hellickson is only one call-up to the majors from being the next big time Rays pitcher. I know he's young and I know that the grass is always greener in Spring Training and Durham. But, watching that guy strike out Derek Jeter and Mark Teixiera without even blinking showed me a lot.  As for Wade Davis, I'd still like to see a little more from this guy. But if he can keep his workman-like approach going and translate it into this year. He could be the next big thing.

Weber's thought: For the Rays to have the most success this year, they need David Price to live up to his potential and become the anchor of the rotation.

Tampa Bay becoming blue

For the first time in history, I'm really feeling the Rays buzz around the Bay Area. People are dusting off their Rays gear and sporting it proudly when out and about. In fact, in my non-scientific count, Rays gear is outnumbering the World Series champion New York Yankees gear.  And that's saying a lot in this community. It's good to see the pride out there.

Weber's thought: With the Buccaneers shopping in the cheap aisles with no end in sight, the Bay Area is craving a winner. And say what you will about fans around here, the sure know how to fill a bandwagon quick. I love it!

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