Tag:Tampa Bay Rays
Posted on: March 19, 2010 10:41 am

Insurance Policy

Last year the Tampa Bay Rays were looking for certain things in the off season that they assumed they had when they picked up Pat Burrell's 26 HR per season average and 90 RBI's. They knew his batting average would be low, but would accept the offensive production. Unfortunately, as local fans know all too well, Pat Burrell did not live up to his expectations last year. For various reasons his numbers dropped and due to injuries he had his fewest at bats since his rookie season. So what can a cash strapped team like the Rays do? They have to hold on and put their faith back in a driven Pat Burrell and they have to keep in mind they can't afford another season of low production. Basically, the Rays need insurance. Say hello to Hank Blalock.

    Hank Blalock was easily the Rays biggest free agent acquisition. He is still relatively young and he has put up Pat Burrell-esque numbers. Blalock's career .269 batting average is better than Burrell's .254. Blalock has hit for 25 homers or more 4 times in his 9 year career. His RBI aren't as high as Burrell's but Blalock has cracked 110 RBI in a season. In the same amount of games last year both players had similar numbers. Low batting averages, high strikeout rates, 60-70 RBI range. Where they differed were the home runs. Burrell had 14, nearly half as many as the 30 the season prior. Blalock had 25, more on par with his better career years. He had his prior two seasons shortened by injuries as he played a combined 123 games batting .290 22 HR's and 71 RBI. In a lineup this potent, those home runs can add on a lot more RBI.

 Should Hank Blalock crack the roster on Opening Day, there is a great chance he could be counted on to fill roles shared through the years by Eric Hinske, Gabe Gross, Gabe Kaplar and at other times, Ben Zobrist. Similar to how Zobrist found his way into the starting lineup, Blalock is capable of handling platoons throughout the corners of the infield. On days when Carlos Pena or Evan Longoria would need to catch a break, he could fill in and still replace some of the power in the lineup. Another example, although extreme is today's projected lineup of Blalock at first, Pena at DH, and Burrell at right. The more realistic lineup would involve either Blalock or Burrell at DH.
    It's important that at least one of these two fulfill their expectations and ideal that BOTH would perform up to par. The addition of Blalock could once again make Matt Silverman and Andrew Friedman look like genius' if it were to pay off.
Posted on: January 25, 2010 9:13 pm

Not a Solution.

I read an article today hinting at the possibilty that the Rays will be relocating out of the Tampa Bay area. Apparently, someone is making a push for an Orlando, Florida baseball team. Apparently, Tampa and Miami , as well as the many Spring Training MLB teams, are not enough of an attraction for baseball enthusiasts. Despite the poor attendance of the  two time World Series Marlins and the World Series runner up Rays, Orlando feels that Florida has a strong local following for consistent baseball. The problem that no one seems to understand, is that there is no market in Florida for any "hometown" team. There IS NO hometown team! Florida is a great baseball market for out of state teams. Florida is considered the retirement state and often the climate brings down many young northerners. I myself have gone from Florida to California and back, and I have had three friends move to the very city I live in. Neither are Tampa Bay ANYTHING fans. Don't get me wrong, they like Tampa Bay and they root for them when "their team is not playing" but they are not going to be scooping up season tickets anytime soon. If the team is winning they may go to a few more games, but if things are a little tight they will cut back. If the team isn't playing so well, why show up to watch a stinker? They aren't 'their' team anyway, right? It took the Buccaneers nearly 25 years to get the loyal fan support and with the last playoff win coming in 2002, Bucs fans aren't exactly rushing to the gates. The Tampa Bay Rays organization came in with a great business plan and it (thus far) has worked their way on the field. Unfortunately, they didn't anticipate a terrible economy paired with a long drive, a tin can of a "ballpark", and transplant fans. It seems no one takes the time to consider that Florida is unlike ANY OTHER state in the sports market. Pittsburgh baseball fans don't show up because they haven't had a wining product in decades. Detroit football fans don't show up because their team has never even sniffed a Super Bowl appearance. The JACKSONVILLE Jaguars' fans are souring over a franchise that hasn't seen a Pro Bowl in thier existence. It's Florida. Come for the beaches, come for the weather, come for the low taxes. The Ray's are probably going to move at some point or another. It sounds like a general comment, but successful states, like Dallas, Washington, New York, and California have always had a good fan base. Of course, all these teams have multiple championships in various sports. Is it possible both go hand in hand? Yes, of course, but which comes first? I think consistent and prolonged success brings the fans and ultimately, keeps the fans interested. One Super Bowl, One World Series APPEARANCE, one Stanley Cup. Those are the Big Three American Team Sports. Our teams have been in existence for less than 40 years. It will take another 10 years and/or multiple championships for the Buccaneers to gain a diehard fan base. It will take longer for hocket and baseball fans. It is what it is and in reality, it's possible that sports slowly trickle out of Florida and into states with their own identity.
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