In an interview with Fox Sports, Cy Young Award winner David Price discussed the possibility of being with a new team in the next few years and how much he will miss his current team, the Tampa Bay Rays. O, he also talked about how he wouldn’t play for certain teams due to their strict rules. “It’s a joke to me, that I had less rules in college than I would on some major league teams. That’s not my style, man. I couldn’t do it on some of these teams I hear about. I couldn’t do it. I’m a grown man” says Price. When told that he would have to shave his beard if the Yankees traded for him, Price stated “I wouldn’t stay there very long then. I wouldn’t sign a long-term deal there. Those rules, that’s old-school baseball. I was born in ’85. That’s not for me. That’s not something I want to be a part of.” Price went on to praise Rays coach Joe Maddon’s care-free environment in the club house, where players can play any type of music in the locker room and wear any type of hair (or beard) style.
Yankees fans (and probably the Yankee Organization) did not like what Price said about the strict rules over at New York. On Thursday February 21, Price began doing damage control with the Yankees by calling them the best organization in sports, saying anything could happen by 2016, “My hair might fall out by then.” But Price stuck to his principles, saying that he “never aspired to be a New York Yankee” while growing up. Price says though money is a factor, he wants to be comfortable where he plays, “The last thing I want to think is that I’m signing a long-term deal — regardless of the money — and not having the feeling I have here.” Though money is always important in signing a contract, Price makes an excellent point on feeling comfortable spending years with one team. Former Ray Carl Crawford signed an expensive contract with the Boston Red Sox and ended up hating his time there, admitting he regretted his decision to play there several times. Luckily for Crawford, the Los Angeles Dodgers could afford to cover Crawford’s contract. If Price becomes the most expensive pitcher in baseball history, that means he can’t count on another team to bail him out but will have to remain with the team. The chance that a team would not like Price is slim though since he brings laughter to the Tampa Bay area.
According to Price, the Rays’ club house is a special place in all of major league baseball. It isn’t just recently traded pitcher James Shields that will miss the Rays, “It’s everybody that’s been traded or hit free agency from here and left and got their millions of dollars. They all miss it. We do things differently over here. We have freedom. We’re treated like grown men. Other places, it’s a penitentiary.” The Rays fans know that while the players love playing in Tampa, it is common to see players leave due to money issues. Center-fielder B.J. Upton signed with the Atlantic Braves this past off-season since the Rays could not afford him, and Price knows he probably will not be a Ray forever. Price’s contract with a new team could be worst almost $200 million, a price that the Rays cannot compete with. Though Price is a Ray for the next two years, there is a possibility that he will be traded before then; some even speculate that as soon as the All-Star break 2013. Price refuses to think about it and to spend the rest of his time here having fun while playing baseball. As with Upton, Crawford, and several other former Rays, the fans will continue to speculate how long Price will remain a Ray.
The Tampa Bay Rays signed former Cleveland Indians right-hander Roberto Hernandez. The 32 year-old Hernandez received $3.25
million plus $1.825 million in incentives. Hernandez had spent all seven years in the Majors with the Indians. Though he finished fourth in the American League CY Young race in 2007 and was an All-Star in 2010, his career has been spinning downward ever since. About a year ago Hernandez was arrested by the Dominican Republic police on false identity charges. Hernandez was going by Fausto Carmona; he also claimed to be three years younger than his actual ages. The woman who created a fake birth certificate for Hernandez to obtain a visa to play in the United States was never paid by Hernandez’s father. The chargers were dropped after he completed a work program but he was still suspended by Major League Baseball for three weeks. In August 2012, he sprained his ankle and missed the rest of the year. In his three starts in 2012, he went 0-3 with an ERA of 7.53. The Rays are known as being a place for pitchers to restart their careers (relief pitcher Rafael Soriano went on to pitch for the Yankees while relief pitcher Fernando Rodney made history for having the lowest ERA) so it is possible for Hernandez to get his career back on track.
The question now is where Hernandez will be pitching – as a starter or a relief pitcher. He has not pitched as a relief pitcher since 2006. Executive vice president Andrew Friedman says he will be used as a starter during spring training and at the end, they will decide though there is a good chance that Hernandez will be starting pitcher #5. At the moment the Rays have seven pitchers going for the 5-man starting rotation, besides Hernandez there is David Price, Jeremy Hellickson, Jeff Niemann, Matt Moore, Alex Cobb, and Chris Archer. Price, Hellickson, Niemann, and Moore should be in the rotation, meaning it’s between Cobb, Archer, and Hernandez. Since Cobb and Archer are still young, veteran Hernandez will probably be pitcher #5. Rays also need Niemann to be healthy since his injuries made him miss majority of the 2012 season. Hernandez has experience and has pitched 200-plus innings twice; something the Rays need since James Shields is now gone. Hernandez’s current record is 53-69 with a 4.64 ERA – though one must remember he was with the Cleveland Indians, a team that has failed to have a winning record for a while.
For the first time since James Shields entered Major League Baseball he will not be wearing a Tampa Bay Devil Rays uniform or a
Tampa Bay Rays uniform because he was traded to the Kansas City Royals on December 9, 2012. The trade is not very surprising since the Rays cannot afford to keep Shields, who was due $10 million in 2013. Meanwhile the Royals are hoping that Shields will be the ace they have been lacking since Zack Greinke was traded. Shields will always be remembered as one of the Rays’ best pitchers in its short history.
Shields was drafted in the 16th round of the 2000 amateur baseball draft by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. After spending several years in the minors, he debuted in the majors against the Baltimore Orioles on May 31, 2006. Though Shields only lasted five innings and gave up five run, Shields would quickly become the Rays’ ace pitcher. A month after his first start, Shields became the first Rays pitcher to start his career with four straight wins. In 2007, Shields became a number two pitcher, second only to Scott Kazmir. He finished the year with an ERA of 3.85 and over 200 innings pitched, a trend he would continue for the next five years. In 2008, Shields was the only Rays pitcher to win a World Series game. The year 2011 was Shields’ most impressive year; he pitched 249 innings, 11 complete games, 4 shutouts, had an ERA of 2.82, and a record of 16-12. Big Game Shields was now known as Complete Game Shields. In 2011, Shields was selected to the All-Star game and finished third in the American League Cy Young voting. In 2012, Shields felt the pressure of being traded and did not perform at his best until after the trading deadline. The last game Shields pitched was on October 2, 2012 against the Baltimore Orioles. Though the Rays lost the game 1-0, Shields pitched a complete game and had 15 strikeouts.
Besides great pitching, Rays also know that Shields has a big personality. Rays’ fans will always remember Shields fighting Boston Red Sox centerfielder Coco Crisp. In 2008, Crisp was caught stealing by Rays’ shortstop Jason Bartlett. Several innings later, Crisp intentionally slid hard into second baseman Akinori Iwamura. The next day, Shields purposely threw a pitch at Crisp, causing Crisp to charge the mound. Shields swung back at Crisp; though he missed Crisp’s face, he was suspended for six games. Shields stated that the reason he purposely threw a ball at Crisp was to defend his teammate. Shield showed that he is a dependable player that can be counted on. Shields also became a role model to the younger Rays’ pitchers, including David Price. The two of them would soon become inseparable; it became a common sight seeing Shields throw peanut shells at Price during a television interview. When Shields would be interviewed, Price would stroll over and start answering questions. Shields was also active in the Tampa Bay community. At the beginning of the baseball season, he would purchase a suite at Tropicana Field and let different groups of foster kids watch baseball throughout the year. Shields also worked with his wife to help pair parents with foster children; he is responsible for creating families. Not only will Shields’ loyalty and humor be missed in the Rays’ dugout, but his contributions to countless families will always be remembered.
James Shields leaves behind seven memorable years with the Rays, ranging from fights with rival teams to throwing peanut shells at his pitching coach. He also leaves behind a legacy since he is the all-time leader in wins, shutouts, complete games, strikeouts, and innings pitched. His pranks with Price during baseball games will be missed by Rays’ fans as well as his contributions to the Tampa Bay community. Shields will be a great addition the Royals since he is a great player both on and off the field.
After losing 5-4 to the Minnesota Twins in Friday’s game, the Tampa Bay Rays were once again looking to James Shields to have a strong outing. The first threat of the game came from the Rays in the 2nd inning when B.J. Upton hit a single followed by Jose Molina getting hit by a pitch but nothing came out of it. In the 4th, the Twins had their first threat after Joe Mauer singled and stole second (as Rays’ broadcaster Brian Anderson said, Molina was being lazy with that throw). Mauer would have at least made it to 3rd base but Upton robbed Justin Morneau out of a hit with an amazing catch (glad he’s back). In the 5th, Molina doubled then made it to 3rd base after Sean Rodriquez sacrificed to third baseman but for some reason Manager Joe Maddon had Desmond Jennings bunt. I was surprised by this call due to the fact that Molina is a slow runner and Jennings has been having pretty good at-bats lately. The call ended up not working after the bunt landed in Morneau’s glove, thus ending the inning.
The game started getting interesting in the top of the 6th inning when Shields allowed a single, walk, and he hit a pitcher to load the bases. Luckily, Ryan Doumit lined out to Evan Longoria, who by the way made an impressive catch. When the Rays were up, Ben Zobrist struck out but Carlos Pena walked, Longoria singled, and Luke Scott hit a sac-fly. The Twins intentionally walked Matt Joyce to load the bases with Upton coming to the plate. Upton singled to center, scoring Pena and Longoria. In the same play, Denard Span made an error, slowing Joyce to score and Upton to reach 3rd base. The Rays now led 3-0. The next time the Rays were up, Alex Burnett was pitching for the Twins. Zobrist and Jennings both reach base safely after Jamey Carroll commited an error. Pena was then hit by a pitch, allowing Longoria to come to the plate with bases loaded and one out. Longoria reaches the 1st base due to an error by Danny Valencia; the Rays now led 4-0.
Now Shields has not had any trouble since the 6th inning with the Twins, but it was surprising to see him enter the 9th inning after having 111 pitches. After giving up a single and double, Fernando Rodney was called in to get the outs. Though the Twins ended up scoring 1 run, the Rays still won 4-1.
Players of the Game:
- James Shields: Shields once again had an outstanding performance. Shields went deep, thus allowing the bullpen to rest (in case they are needed in tomorrow’s game). Shields has worked 8+ innings in 18 of his last 37 starts, which is the most in MLB in that span.
- B.J. Upton: Upton is back in his 2nd game with the Rays this season and he showed why the fans have been missing him. He made a great catch in the 4th inning, possibly preventing a threat by the Twins. Upton’s biggest moment came when he singled in the 6th inning, scoring 2 RBIs (though 3 runners scored, the last one was due to an error). Upton had 2 singles, 1 walk, and 2 RBIs today. Before the game, he visited All Children’s Hospital to visit a boy name Dom. Though he did not hit a homerun in the game, Upton “came up with a pretty big hit” possibly winning the game for the Rays. I’m sure Dom is really proud of Upton today.
What I Liked:
- Everything: The starting pitcher was great, the relief pitcher was outstanding, the defense was amazing, the hitting was wonderful, and the crowd was large (over 31,000 braved the thunderstorm to support the Rays).
What I Didn’t Like:
- Catching: Jose Molina allowed a passed ball in the 2nd inning, allowing Josh Willingham to reach 3rd base (luckily no one scored). Also, Molina had an awful throw when he attempted to catch a runner stealing second. As Anderson said, he believed Molina was “being lazy.” I’ve seen catch Molina catch Carl Crawford stealing twice in one game so I know he is defensive. Hoping to see improvement as the year goes on.
Pitcher James Shields and the rest of the Tampa Bay Rays were viewed as Tiger bait as they walked onto the field in Detroit. After all, they were about to go against one of the best pitchers in the game. Tigers’ pitcher Justin Verlander had just won both the Cy Young and the MVP awards of the 2011 season and for the first eight innings of the game, he showed why he deserved to win those honors. Verlander was plowing through the lineup and was taking a perfect game into the fourth inning, until Jose Lobaton drew a walk. The perfect game was over, but will the Rays get a hit? The last thing Rays fans want to see is reruns of the Rays giving up another no-hitter to the opposing team on Sports Center that night. Luckily, Ben Zobrist singled in the fifth, breaking up the no-hitter. Everywhere, Rays fans exhaled in relief. Even if the Rays lost, at least they got a hit.
When the eighth inning was over, Tigers were leading 2-0 over the Rays. Tigers took the lead early in the first when Miguel Cabrera singled, Scoring Alan Jackson. The Tigers scored again in the fifth on a balk after Evan Longoria and James Shields had a miscommunication problem (Shields was going to do a pick-off attempt, but Longoria was not covering third base). Verlander took the mound in the ninth inning, picturing throwing a complete game since he had only thrown 81 times. Jeff Keppinger, hitting for Sean Rodriquez, singled to center. Desmond Jennings followed his example and hit the ball, sending Keppinger to third. Carlos Pena walked and Keppinger scored on a wild pitch (probably the fastest wild pitch I have ever seen). Evan Longoria, the man who loves these types of situations, was up. Verlander through a 100 mph ball and Longoria hit it, sending Jennings home; the game was now 2-2. Verlander was taken out of the game and replaced by Daniel Schlereth since Matt Joyce was up next. Instead, Elliot Johnson was sent out and he drew the walk; the bases were now loaded with only one out. Jose Valverde, who did not blow one save opportunity all last season, pitched to Ben Zobrist. Zobrist singled, scoring Pena and Longoria. Rays now led the game 4-2.
In the bottom of the ninth, the Tigers had the middle of the line-up coming up, including power hitters Cabrera and Prince Fielder. Fernando Rodney, a former tiger, managed to get the next three batters out, saving the win for Shields.
Player of the Game: James Shields. Shields is coming off a rough start on opening day, but today Shields only allowed two runs, one that was earned from a balk caused by Longoria misreading a sign. Shields kept his cool throughout the game, pitching like an ace.
What I Like:
- Rays: The Rays did not give up and fought through the whole game, showing once again that baseball is played in all nine innings, not just the first eight innings. The Rays played excellent defense throughout the game, especially the ones involved in the double plays. In the ninth, the batters hit the ball or drew walks off the best pitcher in the game; one who was throwing in the high 90s at this point. The whole team did an amazing job.
- Fernando Rodney: Rodney once again entered the game and got the first three batters out. Some teams don’t even have one closer, and the Rays have two (Kyle Farnsworth is on the DL at the moment).
What I Didn’t Like:
- I heard that Lobaton was catching for Shields today because Shields had a disagreement with Jose Molina last week. Hoping they get over it soon.
- Baltimore Orioles lost after taking the New York Yankees into extra innings for the second night in a row. Poor things 😦
Tampa Bay Baseball started at 3:10 today inside Tropicana Field in front of a sellout crowd; the best part was the fact that majority of the fans were actually Tampa Bay Rays’ fans. Little did we all know that the video clip about Game 162 shown before the game started would foreshadow Game 1 of the 2012 baseball season.
In the bottom of the first, CC Sabathia looked rattled, something rarely seen. He walked Desmond Jennings, allowed Ben Zobrist and Evan Longoria to single, and after getting Jeff Keppinger to ground out, Sabathia was told to walk Sean Rodriguez. That’s right, he walked Rodriguez to take on power hitter Carlos Pena; this move by Yankees’ Coach Joe Girardi would prove to be a mistake after Pena hits a Grand Slam. Welcome Back, Carlos Pena!!!
The next few innings the Rays gave up the lead due to James Shields’ poor outing and poor defense; Evan Longoria even committed an error. The fact that Joe West, an umpire known for making bad calls against the Rays, was behind home plate didn’t help. The television replays showed that several strikes were called balls, thus favoring the Yankees (because the team with the biggest payroll in baseball needs help to win?). The whole crew seemed to be against the Rays since the umpire covering second called Jennings out when he was indeed safe. But somehow the Rays managed to keep their cool and did not let the Yankees score after the third inning.
The Rays finally had a threat brewing in the bottom of the eighth after having a man at first-and-third with no outs, but the bottom of the line-up failed to get a man in. Due to B.J. Upton and Sam Fuld being injured, Coach Joe Maddon had Stephen Vogt pitch hitting for Elliot Johnson… Matt Joyce went 0-4 in the ninth spot today.
In the bottom of the ninth, the Rays showed the Yankees once more that baseball is played in nine innings. Jennings singled and Zobrist followed him with a triple; the game was now tied 6-6. Longoria and Luke Scott were walked, brining up Rodriquez. The Yankees at this point had five infielders – the game felt as if it was the American League Championship Series. Rodriguez struck out to bring up Pena. Pena singled, Zorbist scored, and the Rays’ celebrated their first win of the season. As the man in front of me said at the end of the game, “That was an amazing game #163.” There are seventeen games left between the Rays and Yankees, seventeen guaranteed exciting games of baseball.
Player of the Game: Carlos Pena. Pena went 3-for-5, hit a grand slam, singled in the opposite direction, and overcame a lefty pitching. He showed why all the Rays’ fans gave him a standing ovation when his name was announced.
What I Liked:
- Bull Pen: The Bull Pen did not let one runner score after Sheilds left after pitching five innings. J.P. Howell looked amazing, a great sign after his horrible year last year. Wade Davis was only so-so, but not worries. Burke Badenhop almost had a batter out, but Longoria made an error. Jake McGee and Joel Peralta survived after walking a few pitchers, but Fernando Rodney looked great out there. There was no threat in the ninth inning and he kept his composure after Ump West ripped him off; he better get used to it.
- Top of the Line-Up was Hitting: Longoria reached base every at-bat, Jennings and Keppinger each had 2 hits, and Zobrist hit the ball when he needed to hit the ball. The top of the line-up showed that they are able to get on base, they just need the bottom of the line-up to get them in.
- Carlos Pena not batting .196.
- Rays’ Fans chanting “Yankees Suck” in the stadium because it showed that 1) there are more Rays fans in Tampa and that 2) my opinion of the Yankees sucking is shared among fellow Rays’ Fans.
What I Didn’t Like:
- James Shields’ Outing. Shields is coming off his best year and is once again the Rays’ number one pitcher, so maybe he felt pressured to be the best pitcher. There were some words exchanged in the Rays’ dugout today between Shields and catcher Jose Molina. (Remember Matt Garza and Dioner Navvaro?) Hopefully Shields and Molina work on their communication and Sheilds goes back to being the best pitcher on the team.
- Evan Longoria looking sleepy and making defense mistakes, Pena going for the out at home and not the guaranteed out at first (guy was safe at home), Zobrist and Jennings almost colliding with each other in center field; the small mistakes that need to be addressed quickly since spring training is now over.
- GTMI: Two years ago, Rays’ outfielder Carl Crawford said “Get The
MotherfuckerMan In.” Sadly, the Rays still don’t know how to do that. They had several scoring chances but failed to get a man from third twice today. Every year its the same problem. Grr.
- Joe West and his crew. Did Major League Baseball purposely pick the one umpire who hates the Rays with a passion to start the first game of the season against the Yankees? Is MLB worried that their poor Yankees/Red Sox might not make it to the play-offs because of the Rays, so the Rays must be taken cared of as soon as possible? Why is Joe West so mean to the underdogs? The world may never know…
As Spring Training begins, the one trait of the Rays that
diminishes fans’ worries is pitching. Though Mr. No-Hitter Matt Garza was traded to the Chicago Cubs this past off-season, five
pitchers remain: Wade Davis, Jeremy
Hellickson, Jeff Niemann, David Price, and James Shield. The biggest
question remains as what order the pitchers will be pitching. This is what I
David Price: 2010
Stats: 19-6, 2.72 ERA. Price was selected 1st overall in the 2007
Major League Baseball Draft and ever since then, he has become a fan favorite
in pitching. 99.9% of Rays fans remember him recording the final out of the Red
Sox in game 7 of the 2008 American League Championship Game, which led to the
Rays making their first appearance in the World Series. After a shaky 2009 year
as a starting pitcher, Price bounced back in 2010 and was even a Cy Young candidate
(should have won). Price is also a left handed pitcher, one of the best in the
league (behind C. C. Sabathia). Price has shown that he can pitch under
pressure and deserves to be the opening day pitcher after a beautiful 2010
James Shields: 2010
Stats: 13-15, 5.18 ERA. Shields is currently the oldest starting Rays
pitcher and he is not even 30 yet. Shields has been the opening day pitcher
since 2008, but after his miserable
year last year, the torch will PROBABLY be
passed to Price. Shields allowed a MLB
most 34 homeruns last year; not surprising after the Toronto Incident. If several Rays fans have repressed their
memories on what happened on August 7, 2010, I will remind you because unfortunately
I was not able to repress it. That day Shields gave up 6 homeruns to the
Toronto Blue Jays. The reason why he is #2 pitcher is because 1) veteran
pitcher 2) 1 bad year cannot over shadow his other years and 3) Maddon remains loyal
to his players. Hopefully, Shields can demonstrate this Spring Training how he
has turned his life around, though on Sunday (Feb 27) Shields allowed a solo
homerun with 2 outs*flashbacks of 2010 year* I’m rooting for you Shields!
Jeff Niemann: 2010
Stats: 12-10, 4.07 ERA. Niemann stepped on the screen in the year 2009.
After Price’s rookie year was far from what Rays fans thought was going to
happen, Niemann proved that he too is an rookie amazing pitcher. Niemann ended 2009 with an outstanding record (13-6)
and was in discussion for the 2009 AL
Rookie of the Year. (In fact, I even tried bidding for his jersey, until realizing
I’m a poor college student and have no money.) Last year, Niemann started out
with a strong 2010 year before going on the DL half way through the season.
Ever since then, he ended the year losing nearly every game, though looked
promising in the last 2 games. Niemann
is bound to be back to normal, which is why he will be pitching #3 this year.
Wade Davis: 2010 Stats:
12-10 ERA 4.07. Davis barely made the starting roster last year and had a
few shaky starts that had Rays fans calling for his head (o because it so easy pitching
in a professional sport! Haters). Davis proved the doubters wrong, especially
after returning from the DL midseason. After Niemann was having trouble, Davis
was the opposite and showed his best pitching. Davis finished 2010 with 4th
place in AL Rookie of the Year voting and was Top Rookie amongst
Rays, determined by the Tampa Bay chapter of the Baseball’s Writer’s Association.
Davis has a shot at getting to be #3 if he outshines Niemann (or even
Shields) in the next month.
Hellickson: 2010 Stats: 4-0, 3.47 ERA.
At 23, Hellickson is less than 2 years my senior, yet already is making a name
for himself. He was, in 2010, USA Today
Minor League Player of the Year, Triple-A
National Championship MVP, and Baseball
American Minor League All-Star. On August 2, 2010, Hellickson made his
major league debut against the Minnesota Twins. He was amazing and held the Twins
to only 2 runs over 7 innings (I witnessed his first game and kept the game ticket).
Hellickson is currently recovering from a sore hamstring, but he has a lot of
potential; Baseball America has him ranked as #6 Prospect. Now, I
just need to get him to autograph my game ticket.
Even though Matt
Garza will be deeply missed, the 5 starting pitchers left on team show that
the Rays still have a chance to win the A.L. East. Rays are counting on Shields
to make a comeback and Hellickson to live up to his potential. A baseball team
is only as strong as its pitching, which makes defeating the Yankees this year a
possibility. The Yankees’ rotation only contains 2 reliable pitchers (C.C.
Sabathia & Phil Hughes). The other 3 (A.J. Burnett, Ivan Nova, and Freddy
Garcia) will help determine if the Yankees can make it in October. The Rays’ Pitchers will make sure the Rays
will be there.
Sources: (Because plagiarism is bad)