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We at Razzball realize that exporting our views across the country has damaging consequences on the blogosphere. To help make amends, we are reaching out to leading team blogs and featuring their locally blogged answers to pressing 2010 fantasy baseball questions regarding their team. We feel this approach will be fresher, more sustainable, and require less energy consumption (for us anyway). The 2010 Rays Fantasy Baseball Preview comes courtesy of Cork ‘The Professor’ Gaines @ Rays Index.

1) Last year, the Rays offense was a stat projector’s nightmare.  BJ Upton (.241/11HRs) and Burrell fell well below projections while Jason Bartlett and Ben Zobrist came out of nowhere to put together some top-notch middle infield seasons.  In 2010, whom do you think will be the biggest hitting surprise and disappointments on the Rays?

Well, I don’t know how much of a surprise it will be, but I fully expect Pat Burrell and BJ Upton to rebound significantly from their ’09 seasons. Will Burrell hit 30+ home runs like he did in ’07-’08? Probably not. But supposedly he is healthier, and I have to believe that the embarrassment of ’09 and the lure of a new contract will drive him to be better. Like Burrell, Upton was never 100% in ’09. His shoulder has been an issue in each of the past seven seasons. If he can stay healthy and rediscover his ability to use the entire field, this could be his break-out season.

As for disappointments, I worry about Carl Crawford. There is going to be a lot written about his pending free agency and a lot of questions will be asked. Every time the Rays play on the road he is going to face the same questions. And it will be a circus whenever the Rays play the Yankees. And it will all erupt as we get closer to the trading deadline. Will he be able to keep that from affecting him mentally? That is a lot to ask for.

2) The Rays remain one of the more productive SB teams.  Give the SB over/under on the following:  Crawford – 45, BJ Upton – 40, Jason Bartlett – 20, Ben Zobrist – 15, Evan Longoria – 10, Carlos Pena – 1.

Crawford should be an easy over. If you look at his stolen base rates, he always struggles later in the season. The turf at the Trop takes its toll on his legs. This off-season he installed a new workout program to keep his legs fresh throughout the season.

I’m going to go under on Upton because there is a good chance he will spend the majority of the season batting in the 7-hole, with some decent bats in front of him. He just might not have the opportunities.

Bartlett: Over (Easy. He will leading off most days.)

Zobrist: Under (Should be close, but he is getting older, and was never that fast)

Longoria: Under (9 last year, but in only 9 attempts)

Pena: Over (Even Dioner Navarro had 5 last year. Everybody runs under JoeMa)

3) The Rays have been flush in #3-#5 starting pitchers over the past couple of years (including the traded Edwin Jackson and Jason Hammel) – some with upside, some without.  For 2010 purposes only, do you any of the following quartet have a good shot at a sub-4.00 ERA and/or 150+Ks – Jeff Niemann, David Price, Andy Sonnanstine, and Wade Davis.

At their best, Jeff Niemann and Andy Sonnanstine will give you a 4.00 ERA and 150 Ks. Sonny is more likely going to be in Durham as the emergency starter, so he is a ‘no.” Niemann should be close to those numbers, but he seems to need extra rest a lot. Both Price and Davis will be free to throw 200 innings this year. Both will give you something closer to 170-180 Ks. I think Davis will be around a 4.00 ERA. The big question in my mind is Price. I think he can be anywhere from 3.50 to 4.50. And I wouldn’t be surprised at either end.

4) Which of the following prospects is the best option for ‘keeper’ leagues:  Desmond Jennings, Wade Davis, Reid Brignac, or Sean Rodriguez?  Will any of them see extended playing in 2010?

In a keeper league I would want them in this order: Jennings, Davis, Rodriguez, Brignac.

I don’t think Davis will be anything better than a #3 starter, but he should be dependable in that role. He is the type of pitcher that you can stick in the lineup and you will have a good idea what he is going to give you each year. And he is durable enough that he should stay healthy. Jennings on the other hand, has a chance to be something very special. And if he can stay healthy, he will be.

Brignac is no longer much of a prospect with the bat. It will be decent, but never very good. Rodriguez on the other hand should hit for decent power at the big league level and he will see time at 2B, SS, 3B and in the OF.

Davis should give the Rays 32 + starts this season. Rodriguez will likely get 80+ starts this season and could be an everyday player in 2011. Brignac could platoon at second base but may never be an everyday player with the Rays. And as good as Jennings is, he is still relatively inexperienced. And the Rays value experience in their prospects. I would not be surprised if Jennings doesn’t make his debut until 2011.

5) Now that the Twins have moved out of the Metrodome, there’s no doubt that the Rays play in the ugliest field in baseball (feel free to argue though).  The Rays don’t even have the nicest stadium named after an orange juice brand (Minute Maid > Tropicana).  If the Rays were able to get a new stadium from the city, which of the following nods to the Rays illustrious past would make the best attraction:

a) Chuck Lamar’s Left Field Pawn Shop – Bring us your old and washed-up stuff and we’ll pay you too much for it!  Bring in unused useless items and we’ll swap them up for future gems.
b) Sweet Lou’s Tropical Bar & Lounge – Tired of going to bars and beating yourself up for not taking the hottest chick home?  Come to Sweet Lou’s where you can take a break and be congratulated for taking the 2nd ugliest girl in the place home.
c) Wade Boggs’ Chicken & Beer Shack – Chicken only available before games.  Beer only available after games.  During games, you can play arcade games preset to almost be at high score.  Throw in a token amount of time and celebrate your milestone!
d) Dewon Brazelton’s Pitching Area – See how fast you can throw!  Speed only credited if the ball is thrown outside the provided strike zone.
e) Rocco Baldelli’s Trattoria – Open periodically when the chef isn’t sick, injured, or tired.

Ha! Yes, the Rays need a new stadium, that is more because The Trop is located in a terrible spot. And yes it is ugly, but watching a game there is very underrated. The seats are comfortable. The sightlines are great. When the crowds are large (rare, I know) it is reminiscent of the Metrodome in the 80s and 90s (very loud, with a great homefield advantage).

And for the life of me, I have never understood why domes are taboo in baseball. We are talking about a sport that comes to a screeching halt in rain. And yet there are at least 6 teams in the NFL that play in domes and that is somehow OK.

Would I prefer to attend a game outside on a nice 80degree day with no humidity? Of course. But that ain’t St. Pete.

(Note:  Cork diplomatically didn’t choose one of the above so please feel free to choose one in the comments below.  We’ll make sure to forward the winner to Tampa Bay management.)

53 Responses

  1. GopherDay says:
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    D has my vote….I couldn’t hit the strike zone if I tried…but then again, if I don’t try I might just accidentally hit it…

  2. Griff says:
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    Definitely choice C. When the Rays are on road trips, the place will serve only Miller Lite by the case.

  3. Tarasco'sSecretStash says:
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    According to Heyman Ian Desmond’s starting at SS for the Nats. Atta boy Rizzo, way to come to your senses…

  4. Awesomus Maximus

    Awesomus Maximus says:
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    @Tarasco’sSecretStash: That’s what Heyman “hears”. Not saying it won’t be the case, but I don’t believe it’s official just yet.

  5. Tony says:
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    i’ve been to “the trop” its not a bad field, a little weird tho, the lighting is kinda funky, i did drink a ton while i was there, so maybe i was just buzzed? lol

  6. GopherDay says:
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    @Tarasco’sSecretStash: Great! I have him slotted in my MI….things don’t look too pretty in the FA pool to replace him.

  7. Jarrad says:
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    Alright, so I took SAGNOF to the extreme and only wound up drafting 1 closer (partly by design, mostly by accident). We still have four more rounds to go in the draft, and I’m planning on taking all MRs w/ those picks. I have the opportunity to trade Pence for Valverde or Dunn for Broxton, though. Should I make a move or stand pat? Find my roster and cats below. 10-team keeper league…

    BA, 2B, 3B, BB, HR, R, RBI, SB-CS
    ERA, WHIP, K, QS, W-L, S-BS, HD, INN

    C: Soto
    1B: AGonz
    2B: Cano
    3B: Panda (K)
    SS: A. Escobar
    MI: Desmond
    CI: Votto (K)
    LF: Dunn, El Caballo
    CF: Ellsbury (K), Rasmus
    RF: Pence, Kubel
    U: G. Beckham, N. Johnson

    SP: Halladay (K), Wainwright (K), Burnett, Floyd, Garza, Harden
    RP: Marmol, Motte (+ 4 more RPs to be drafted)

    Bench: C. Jackson, C. Gomez
    ‘Pen: Chapman, Danks, E. Santana

    Would the INN cat make it unnecessary to trade for SV, since my MRs could conceivably pitch for more than one inning?

  8. Grey

    Grey says:
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    @Jarrad: Don’t trade for closers, especially not at this point in the season.

  9. mc serch says:
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    @Rudy Gamble: Desmond 2 2 LOL!

  10. brad says:
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    @Rudy Gamble: agree with mc serch. got a chuckle out of me.

  11. Millsy says:
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    @Grey: I am trying to get McCann in a deal where I send Suzuki(Kurt)/Rios/Wandy for McCann/Markakis/Wade Davis. Thoughts?

  12. Cheese

    Cheese says:
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    As per MLBblogs:

    Reds manager Dusty Baker hasn’t ruled out mixing and matching his outfielders this season.
    “We’ll see,” said Baker. “Certain guys are more conducive to hit than other guys. Certain days I might need a better defensive team out there [depending] on who’s pitching for us. There are a lot of different factors when you make the lineup out every day. You put guys in a position where they’re most likely to succeed. They might not like it sometimes.” This increases the odds of both Chris Dickerson and Drew Stubbs making the Opening Day roster. Baker said that he would even consider using Dickerson in right field on days Jay Bruce doesn’t get a good match-up, most likely against left-handers, who Bruce has only hit to a 597 OPS during his brief career.

    Does this worry you are at all about Bruce’s value?

  13. royce! says:
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    @Millsy: My thought is that you win.

    And I vote for C. I might just open one of those in San Diego.

  14. Cheese

    Cheese says:
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    @Grey: How many of those players in your earlier post (sleepers to target) is reasonable to have on your team, assuming you drafted them in a reasonable round?

  15. Grey

    Grey says:
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    @Cheese: Maybe 3 or 4. Depends on the rest of the team.

  16. Cheese

    Cheese says:
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    @Grey: Re: Sleepers to target…

    Looking at their ADPs, and assuming you drafted each guy 1 round early, which 3 or 4 guys are worth owning?

  17. Grey

    Grey says:
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    @Cheese: Depends on the team.

  18. quimmy says:
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    @everyone:

    I got JUP and BJUPTON on the same team in one of my leagues and was thinking about changing my team name to something funny and witty to celebrate the bringing together of the upton brothers. any thoughts?

  19. El Famous Burrito says:
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    @quimmy: Uptopia?

  20. El Famous Burrito says:
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    @quimmy: B.J. and The Bro?

  21. Tom Reale says:
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    @quimmy: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly…depending on your remaining players…

  22. Awesomus Maximus

    Awesomus Maximus says:
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    @quimmy: Uptown

  23. atomeka says:
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    Drop Blanton or Correia for Tillman or Kennedy? If so, which?

  24. Tom Reale says:
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    @Rudy Gamble: Desmond #22…nice!

  25. Grey

    Grey says:
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    @atomeka: Blanton for Kennedy

  26. atomeka says:
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    Thanks Grey

  27. quimmy says:
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    @everyone: thx for the suggestions, i like Uptopia

  28. JoeC says:
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    @Grey: Wha? Why no love for Blanton? The guy has been pretty consistent in his career and really stepped it up last year, striking out 163. I think he’s really learning how to pitch.

    Why would you drop him for the unproven Kennedy, who has pitched about 60 major league innings and walked 37 batters? Meanwhile, Blanton walked 59 in 195 innings in 2009.

    Blanton is not fantastic, but he’s solid and seemingly getting better. I think he’d be a fine #4 starter and a better option than Kennedy at this point.

  29. Steve says:
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    @Grey: Re: Coleman. Yeah – though questions might be legitimately asked (by my wife for instance) why I am seemingly unable to recall things that are of somewhat more significance to our day-to-day existence…

  30. mc serch says:
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    @quimmy: UPT2NoGood or, for your license plate, UPT2NG

  31. quimmy says:
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    @mc search: ha!

  32. Steve says:
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    @Grey: You must get sick of questions like this, but is Buchholz ranked a slot ahead of Erv in the top 60 starters just because of Erv’s horrible 2009?

    (I just (deliberately) took B’holz at 177 via autopick in my ‘secret’ slow draft).

    You’ve projected Erv to be (slightly) better in all departments.

  33. AL KOHOLIC says:
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    @Grey: aviles hitting the ball real well,thinking he ends up the starter,290-15 hr,s maybe?

  34. Dave says:
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    My best baseball experience was at the Trop, however it did consist of me drinking since noon for a 7 o’clock game (roughly 20-30 beers in a 10 hour period or so). I ended up chanting “F*ck the Red Sox” on/near a radio station set up, in one of the concourse bars, and got the whole crowd to join me. It was the day or day after following the All Star Break in 2008. I saw Ben Zobrist hit a game winning homer, and immediately fell in love. On the way home I was starving, but managed to locate a dollar dog that I somehow stashed away in my pocket, which is one of the greatest moments in my life.

  35. Cheese

    Cheese says:
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    @Grey: A couple questions…

    1. A-gonz at 16 overall, or Pena at 81 overall?

    2. In an 8×8 where pitcher categories are W, ERA, WHIP, K, SV, HLD, QS, and K/BB, what pitchers would you take at 16 overall if any?

    Thanks

  36. Grey

    Grey says:
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    @Dave: Nice hot dog story.

    @Cheese: A-Gon, Lincecum

  37. Cheese

    Cheese says:
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    @Grey: Okay, with that, a few more…

    1. A-gon at 16 or Swisher at 208 to man 1B

    2. Rank em in an 8×8 H2H… A gon, Lincecum, Kinsler, Holliday, J Upton, Tulo, Sizemore, Wright

  38. Paulie Allnuts

    Paulie Allnuts says:
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    @AL KOHOLIC: Along with Luddwick and Maggs Ordonez, in Aviles you have resurrected one of my biggest nightmares from last year’s RCL. I didn’t even know he was alive. Good to see you around, AL. Did you get my old baseball story e-mail?

    @Rudy Gamble: Maybe we should have a campaign, Rudy for a uniform change for Desmond. Or maybe you can adjust your projections…My best compliment is: I wish I thought of that! LOL!

  39. Grey

    Grey says:
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    @Cheese: You keep pushing me to say take Lincecum, so draft him. He’ll be good in that league setup. Go for it.

  40. Cheese

    Cheese says:
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    @Grey: Actually that’s not the case at all lol… I was just curious as to where you value him among those other names… I could ask the ask the same question without Lincecums name in there. I was honestly wondering how you rank those guys in my format in case I was faced with the opportunity to draft them all…

  41. Eddy says:
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    @Cheese:
    I’m pretty sure his top 20 and/or top 100 will help you out there. In addition, I always find myself going to the pairings post about 1st rounder and who compliments them. That post should help you out considering you’re wondering the best 2nd round pick.

  42. Grey

    Grey says:
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    @Cheese: Gotcha… Yeah, Lincecum’s very valuable in that league setup. If he’s at 16, you should take him. I don’t think he will be though.

  43. Eddy says:
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    Anyone else digging Slowey’s 3-0/0.56 ERA/15 K spring so far? I sure am.

  44. Grey

    Grey says:
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    @Eddy: I’ve been loving Slowey since January.

  45. man, should’ve saved the Desmond #22 joke until the regular season. it’s like yogi said…you don’t want to use up all your hits in the preseason…

    @Paulie Allnuts: i did adjust the projections a couple days ago. i haven’t adjusted for 150 or so more ABs for desmond. i think his best case for this year is a little bit below asdrubal (mainly b/c i think asdrubal gets more ABs).

    and, yes, i realized being a little bit below asdrubal does not sound like a fun place to be….

  46. Adam says:
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    What kind of season do you see Nick Johnson having? I didn’t see him in your top 300 and I’ve gotta believe he’s better than guys like Kelly Shoppach at the bottom of that…

  47. quimmy says:
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    @everyone:

    FROM MY FRIEND JARRAD:

    2 Uptons 1 Cup

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