Hello fellow baseball fans. It being Valentine’s Day, love Spring Training is in the air. Though it is raining here (and not at all sunny in the sunshine state) the Tampa Bay Rays were able to get some work done. So here are the hot stories today from Port Charlotte.
- Wil Myers is Awesome: One of the top baseball prospects was traded to the Rays from the Kansas City Royals in exchange for pitchers James Shields and Wade Davis over the winter break. As everyone knows, the Rays can’t hit, so the fact that a hitter is in practice is great news. “It’s impressive,” said hitting coach Derek Shelton, “And I think the most impressive thing is the bat speed. And the way the ball comes off his bat.” At the moment, Myers is likely to start the season at Triple-A. Hopefully, he will be ready if the Rays decide to call him up around the All-Star Break. He is an outfielder so I predict he will be in left field.
- Reid Brignac Trade: Infielder Reid Brignac has been traded to the Colorado Rockies for cash and a player to be named later. Reid has been with the Rays since 2004 and while he was ranked 17th best MLB prospect in 2007, he never lived up to expectations. He had a good season with the Rays in 2009 (BA .278) and was supposed to be the new shortstop after Jason Bartlett was traded, but after two disappointing years, he was optioned to AAA Durham in 2011(BA .193) to make room for outfielder Desmond Jennings.
- Starting Pitcher Roster: At the moment, three of the five starting pitching positions are (set (Cy Young winner David Price, Jeremy Hellickson, and Matt Moore). The last two spots will be either Alex Cobb, Jeff Niemann, Roberto Hernandez, Chris Archer, and Jake Odorizzi. Cobb should be pitcher number four, so it looks like the fifth spot will probably be between injury-prone Niemann or Hernandez, a man who changed his name illegally when he came to the United States to play baseball…
- Bullpen: Bullpen was pretty impressive last year, but Burke Badenhop, Wade Davis, and J.P. Howell are no longer with the Rays. That leaves closer Fernando Rodney, Jake McGee, Joel Peralta, Kyle Farnsworth, and starting pitcher #6 to fill up the bullpen. The final spot in the bullpen is between Jamey Wright, Brandon Gomes, and Josh Lueke.
- Catchers: Every Christmas I ask for a catcher, and every year Santa fails to bring the Rays a decent one. Jose Molina is the main catcher this year (I wish he could bat) so the backup catcher is where the battle is at; it is between Jose Lobaton and Chris Gimenez.
- Line-Up: Though some players, like Evan Longoria, have permanent positions, others will be battling or sharing positions through out the season. Here is what I predict the roster is going to look like:
1st Base: James Loney
2nd Base: Kelly John/Ben Zobrist
Shortstop: Yunel Escobar
3rd Base: Evan Longoria
Left Field: Sam Fuld/Wil Myers
Center Field: Desmond Jennings
Right Field: Matt Joyce/Ben Zobrist
DH: Luke Scott
Utility Players: Ryan Roberts & Sean Rodriquez
- The first official game of Spring Training is at home (Charlotte Spots Park) against the Pittsburgh Pirates on February 23, 2013. The Pirates are my second favorite team (my parents are from Pittsburgh), though I will probably wait until the Rays arrive in Bradenton to play the Rays at McKechnie Field. McKechnie Field is turning 90-years old this year and just went through a $10 million renovation. To see the rest of the Rays’ schedule, click here.
- Here are players that are no longer Rays, I wish them the best of luck:
- B.J. Upton (Atlanta Braves)
- James Shields (Kansas City Royals)
- Wade Davis (Kansas City Royals)
- J.P. Howell (Los Angeles Dodgers)
- Burke Badenhop (Milwakee Brewers)
- Jeff Keppinger (Chicago White Sox)
- Elliot Johnson ( Kansas City Royals)
- Carlos Pena (Houston Astros)
- Will Rhymes (Washington Nationals)