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Rays tales: A look at the Rays and the wild card



Technical difficulties at the office, but here's a version of today's Rays tales from the paper:


By MARC TOPKIN   |   Times Staff Writer
The Rays hit the road this week to start what could be a defining stretch of their season, in terms of trades, as they’ll be gone through the July 31 deadline for nonwaiver deals; and traction, as they face three teams they’re in direct competition with for AL wild-card spots — the O’s, Angels and A’s — then return home for the O’s and Blue Jays.   •   Here’s a look at what should be a wild race for the two wild-card spots, assuming the Yankees and Rangers as division winners, and acknowledging that the Tigers could end up back in the wild-card race if the White Sox or Indians win the Central.

The field

Status: Since a 7-15 start they’ve been among the league’s best, energized by the emergence of amazing 20-year-old CF Mike Trout, who could be the AL’s top rookie and MVP. Mark Trumbo, left, is another factor, and that Albert Pujols guy has done all right after a slow start. Could use help in rotation and bullpen.
Schedule: 36 of 67 at home; 52 vs. contenders; 11 with Rangers.
Run differential: +43
Chances: 36.8%

Status: As little as they’ve hit, as badly as they’ve played, as inconsistent as most of their pitchers have been, they still have a decent chance. The key is getting 3B Evan Longoria back sooner than later and/or adding a bat (and not selling off) at the deadline.
Schedule: 32 of 67 at home; 57 vs. contenders, including last 38; 12 with Rangers and Yankees, all in a 19-game late-Aug./Sept. stretch.
Run differential: +3
Chances: 18.2%

White Sox
Status: There’s a lot different on the South Side, with the change in managers, the emergence of LHP Chris Sale and the resurgence of Adam Dunn, Alex Rios and Jake Peavy. 3B Kevin Youkilis was a good pickup, but the Sox still need pitching help. GM Kevin Williams will try pretty much anything.
Schedule: 35 of 68 at home; only 41 vs. contenders; 6 with Rangers and Yankees.
Run differential: +41
Chances: 11.4%

Red Sox
Status: The return of OFs Jacoby Ellsbury, left, and Carl Crawford and 2B Dustin Pedroia should have made the Sox whole, but then DH David Ortiz got hurt. There’s enough offense to make a strong run and resources to acquire the pitching they need to get there. Could be very aggressive at deadline.
Schedule: 38 of 67 at home; 56 vs. contenders, including last 24; 15 with Rangers and Yankees; finish at New York.
Run differential: +51
Chances: 30.0%

Status: They hung around a lot longer than most thought, but the lack of starting pitching depth has finally caught up with them. Their offense is flawed, their defense worse than the Rays, and their schedule is tough. Was fun, though.
Schedule: 35 of 68 at home; 55 vs. contenders; 13 with Rangers and Yankees. Finish at Rays.
Run differential: -45
Chances: 7.5%

Status: They’ve hung in the race despite an offense that’s average at best and a rotation that’s less than that. But they have a dominating bullpen, a somewhat favorable schedule and a front office that has shown a willingness to deal.
Schedule: 34 of 68 at home; 43 vs. contenders; 9 with Rangers and Yankees; have 9 of last 15 vs. Twins and Royals.
Run differential: -46
Chances: 5.6%.

Status: Rode a hot six weeks to get into the race and have that “something special” vibe, but hard to see them sticking around with an offense even worse than the Rays, and a tough finishing schedule. Do have some interesting pieces to trade.
Schedule: 32 of 68 at home; 56 vs. contenders; 11 with Rangers and Yankees, 10 in last 13 games, 7 on road.
Run differential: +16
Chances: 28.4%

Blue Jays
Status: Got some badly needed pitching in 10-player trade with Astros, but not the quality needed to make a difference, especially with slugger Jose Bautista injured. They do, however, have the prospects and resources to be aggressive at deadline.
Schedule: 36 of 68 at home; 59 vs. contenders; 16 with Rangers and Yankees.
Run differential: +21
CHANCES: 12.4%

Note: Chances from, based on computer simulations of season. Contenders include these eight teams plus division-leading Yankees, Tigers and Rangers.

Rays rumblings
ESPN’s Keith Law pegs the Rays as one of four teams with “falling” farm systems, noting it has “been hurt by promotions and some high draft picks developing slower than expected or not at all.” … Though hitting only .229 overall at Triple-A Durham, SS Reid Brignac has impressed the Rays with his work enough to be back into discussions for a promotion. … Seeing how much access the Marlins gave Showtime for The Franchise show, it’s safe to say the chances of the Rays ever being involved are zero. … The Ben and Julianna Zobrist CD/autograph signing event is set for Aug. 4 at the Trop, noon-2. … Sports Illustrated suggests an interesting trade: RHP Chris Archer and LHP Alex Torres to the Padres for OF Carlos Quentin.

Got a minute?
B.J. Upton
Something that scares you?
Spiders — small, big, it doesn’t matter. I don’t like ’em.
Karaoke song, if you had to?
It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere.
Favorite TV show?
Going to have to say Californication.
Late-night snack?
Celebrity crush?
Eva Mendes.

[Last modified: Tuesday, August 21, 2012 12:39am]


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