Sunday, June 17, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Rays Tales: Other things to play for

Obviously, the most important thing the Rays are playing for during this final week of the season is to win one of the wild-card spots, hoping that by next Sunday afternoon in Toronto they are celebrating their fourth postseason appearance in six seasons and making plans for an Oct. 2 game. But there are some other things, short- and long-term, to play for as well.


Rookie of the year

There's a good chance a Ray will win the AL rookie of the year award. The question is which one. OF Wil Myers would seem a more likely choice than RHP Chris Archer, primarily on the bias toward everyday players over starting pitchers.

And Myers has a good case, going into play Saturday at or near the top of AL rookies in batting, homers and RBIs, and he has been hot down the stretch as the Rays are battling for a playoff spot and has gotten plenty of national attention (votes are cast by two BBWAA members in each league city). However, he wasn't called up until June 18, and no position player has ever won the AL award playing in fewer than 100 games.

Archer also has a good case, for many of the same reasons, measuring up well against the other candidates and making a significant impact. Wins in his final two starts, scheduled for Monday and Saturday's penultimate game, could definitely catch the attention of some voters. (And/or create the possibility of the two Rays "splitting" some votes.)

The Rays actually have a third, though not as impressive, candidate, in LHP Alex Torres, who has a 1.49 ERA in 36 relief appearances and a .155 opponents' average. Candidates from other teams include Texas LHP Martin Perez (9-5, 3.54), Oakland RHP Dan Straily (10-7, 4.88), Detroit SS Jose Iglesias (.310-3-29), Seattle INF Nick Franklin (.222-12-44), Minnesota OF Oswaldo Arcia (.251-13-37) and Los Angeles OF J.B. Shuck (.293-2-39).

Making a case

Two Rays will be among top candidates for the AL rookie of the year award. Here is where they rank among other candidates in some key stat categories going into play Saturday:

OF Wil Myers

Avg.: .300 (3)

HRs: 13 (T1)

RBIs: 49 (1)

M-H games: 27 (3)

Runs: 41 (3)

Doubles: 18 (3)

OBP: .354 (2)

SLG: .483 (1)

E-B hits: 31 (3)

RHP Chris Archer

ERA: 3.02 (1)

Wins: 9 (T2)

Win Pct. .563 (3)

Ks: 90 (2)

Shutouts: 2 (1)

CGs: 2 (T1)

Opp. Avg. 219 (1)

Starts: 21 (2)

Innings: 122 (2)

Gold Glove

Manager Joe Maddon goes into every season wanting to think the Rays could win Gold Gloves at all nine positions. The Rays have several candidates, including 3B Evan Longoria, 2B Ben Zobrist and 1B James Loney (and reigning P Jeremy Hellickson), but their best shot this year is SS Yunel Escobar, whose .988 fielding percentage (seven errors, only three since mid May) leads the league, excluding Detroit's suspended Jhonny Peralta.

Maddon said Escobar "absolutely" deserves to win and has been campaigning almost daily for him through the media, though the award is given on a combination of voting by coaches and managers and a statistical formula.

"I know the other guys are good and there's some really good, strong considerations. People might talk about (Jose) Iglesias with Detroit right now, very flashy, no question, he's got a lot of that. And they might talk about (Baltimore's) J.J. Hardy, who I also believe is a nice, blue-collar shortstop, and I'm a big fan. But the quality of work Yunel has done this year, consistently, is unparalleled. It's really been that solid."

Job market


The Rays hold options on four players for next season. Two are easy and obvious calls to get picked up — 2B Ben Zobrist for $7 million (vs. a $2.5 million buyout) and SS Yunel Escobar for $5 million (with no buyout). It seems unlikely they would do so with RHP Juan Carlos Oviedo, who didn't get through his rehab from Tommy John surgery in time to pitch this season and would be due $2 million, plus another $2 million in incentives. Unclear is a decision on a $6.5 million option/$1.5 million buyout with OF David DeJesus, who was acquired in August from Washington.

Potential free agents

Nine current Rays are set to be free agents after the season, and there will be some the Rays will at least explore hanging on to, such as 1B James Loney, C Jose Molina (who definitely wants to return) and DH Delmon Young. Those decisions will be made relative to the Rays' needs, and what they feel the players are worth and what the market reflects they may get elsewhere. For example, they'd probably love to have Fernando Rodney back at the right price and would have no interest at the wrong price. Among the potentially free:

Pitchers Players

RHP Jesse Crain INF Kelly Johnson

RHP Roberto Hernandez 1B James Loney

RHP Fernando Rodney C Jose Molina

RHP Jamey Wright DH Luke Scott DH Delmon Young

Positionally speaking

Whom the Rays will bring back will dictate what spots they need to fill. They would look to be set at five positions (3B, SS, 2B, CF, RF) and in the rotation, though a possible trade of LHP David Price would certainly alter that. And Jose Lobaton would be part of the catching platoon, with Jose Molina or whomever else. So that leaves 1B, LF, DH and the bullpen as the primary areas to be addressed, along with the bench.


• 3B Evan Longoria is four home runs from tying Carlos Peña's franchise record of 163.

• The Rays have made 55 errors total; the MLB record low for a season is 65 (Seattle 2003); however the O's have made 48.

Yunel Escobar (currently .988) has a chance to break the team record for fielding percentage at shortstop (.980, Chris Gomez, 2002), and Ben Zobrist (.992) at second base (.990, Aki Iwamura, 2008).

• DH Delmon Young is two homers shy of 100 for his career.

• RHP Jamey Wright (18 seasons) and OF David DeJesus (11) are seeking their first career playoff appearances.

• RHP Joel Peralta has tied the team record for losses by a reliever (eight; Esteban Yan, 2002; Travis Harper, 2003).

• LHP Matt Moore is one wild pitch short of the team record (15, Victor Zambrano, 2003).

Rays rumblings

ESPN The Magazine ranked the Rays 17th among the 122 major-sport pro teams (tops in Florida), and fourth in MLB, in its Ultimate Standings, based on multiple categories including affordability, ownership, players and stadium experience. … ESPN also lauded the Rays for their promotions: "This year, no one did giveaways better than Tampa Bay." … It's one thing for today's Rays game to get bumped off flagship radio station 620-AM for the Bucs game, but Monday afternoon due to two Bucs talk shows? … The Rays will be the sideshow this week for Mariano Rivera's last three games at Yankee Stadium. … Calling the Rays' last-in-the-majors attendance issues "long past the point of absurd," Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal writes: "No one could blame the Rays if they ordered Mayflower moving vans and snuck out of town, Baltimore Colts-style." … The parody website picked up on it by "reporting" the Rays would next have an iPhone 5 giveaway night followed by "Big Screen TV and Tesla Roadster promotions."

Got a minute? with David Price

Best meal you can make?

Spaghetti. With Prego sauce.

Must-see TV?

Graceland, I like that show.

Band or singer you'd like to be on stage with?

Jay-Z AND Beyonce — with the AND in all caps.

Favorite movie?

The Preacher's Wife.

Celebrity crush?

I've always been a big fan of Zoe Saldana.

For starters: Rays at Yankees, looking to avoid a four-game sweep

For starters: Rays at Yankees, looking to avoid a four-game sweep

UPDATE, 11:37: Interesting decision by the Rays to move Adames to 2B today and reinstall Hechavarria at SS as he came off DL following Arroyo injury.Here is the Rays lineup:Duffy 3bBauers 1bRamos cCron dhAdames 2bHechavarria ssGomez rfRefsnyder lfFie...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Peering into the crystal baseball to see what Rays could look like in 2019

Peering into the crystal baseball to see what Rays could look like in 2019

The Rays are still talking, as they should, about playing for something this season. The reality is that almost every move they've made, going back to the end of last season, and in some cases further, has been about 2019 and beyond.Clearing out vete...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Rays lose again to Yankees, this time 4-1

Rays lose again to Yankees, this time 4-1

NEW YORK — Kevin Cash was not going to go all Lou Piniella on his Rays, raging and ripping and roaring over their latest mess, a 4-1 Saturday loss to the Yankees that didn't feel that close.Which is too bad because Piniella, the volcanic former...
Published: 06/16/18
Rays journal: Arroyo on DL, Hechavarria returns

Rays journal: Arroyo on DL, Hechavarria returns

NEW YORK — Just when it seemed like SS Adeiny Hechavarria might not play another game for the Rays, he will rejoin them on Sunday.The Rays announced after Saturday's 4-1 loss that INF Christian Arroyo was placed on the DL due to an oblique stra...
Published: 06/16/18
Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Rays-Yankees

Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Rays-Yankees

RHP Ryne Stanek did his job as the opener just fine in getting four outs on Saturday, but for the Rays' unorthodox pitching plan to work it takes a team effort. And LHP Ryan Yarbrough's inability to throw strikes quickly put them in a hole.The experi...
Published: 06/16/18
For starters: Rays at Yankees, trying to break through

For starters: Rays at Yankees, trying to break through

UPDATE, 11:49: Cash said he played Cron at 1B in an effort to get him more involved in the game, indicated he may do so again Sunday (with Bauers off vs. LH Sabathia) and should have done so more as Cron struggled. … Cash reiterated that CF Kev...
Published: 06/16/18
Rays owner Stuart Sternberg frustrated, but optimistic

Rays owner Stuart Sternberg frustrated, but optimistic

NEW YORK — So what does the boss — lowercase, of course, around here — think of this up-and-down, hot-and-cold Rays season so far? Appropriately, a variety of things.In a 30-minute chat with the Tampa Bay Times before Friday's 5-0 l...
Published: 06/15/18
Rays journal: Nathan Eovaldi pitches well against his ex-team but gets no help

Rays journal: Nathan Eovaldi pitches well against his ex-team but gets no help

NEW YORK — RHP Nathan Eovaldi made an impressive return to Yankee Stadium on Friday to face his high-powered former teammates.It's too bad he didn't get any help from his current mates, in what ended up a 5-0 Rays loss.Eovaldi was in command an...
Published: 06/15/18
Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Rays-Yankees

Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Rays-Yankees

Give RHP Nathan Eovaldi credit for not letting emotions get in the way in his return to Yankee Stadium. He said he planned to treat it as all business, despite memories and friendships and he did just that, working impressively into the eighth.The Ra...
Published: 06/15/18
For starters: Rays at Yankees, with Eovaldi back on a familiar mound

For starters: Rays at Yankees, with Eovaldi back on a familiar mound

Coming off Thursday's 4-3 loss, the Rays will face the Yankees again tonight, and they are starting a pitcher quite familiar with the Yankee Stadium mound, RHP Nathan Eovaldi.Having spent 2015 and 2016 with the Yankees until sustaining the elbow inju...
Published: 06/15/18