I’m just going to let it all out. Things are not going the way the Rays want them to right now, and l’m going to highlight the issues at the forefront in my mind.
Why can’t the Rays play defense? I thought this team was the best defensive team in baseball. What has happened? Sure, so many guys are out, but aren’t this utilitymen in the majors for their defense? How can Sean Rodriguez made sparkling plays and then fail the routine ones? But whatever, I’ll deal with Sean, he’s been great overall. But what about Will Rhymes? The dude can’t turn a double play. Throw the ball to first base and throw it accurately. Isn’t that what you’re in the big leagues for? Twice on Monday Rhymes failed on throws to first base to complete double plays, and it cost the Rays 2 big runs. And the Rodriguez play- why didn’t Rhymes even try? He just watched it go. Maybe it’s unlikely that he catches the ball- the throw was certainly not where Rodriguez wanted it to go. Maybe Rhymes would barely touch the ball and slow it’s path to right field, allowing the runners to advance to 2nd and 3rd. But what if he knocks it down? Maybe only 1 run scores. Maybe the inning changes. He just watched it go.
The Rays would have to consider waiving Rhymes are at least designating him for assignment to send him back to Durham if every infielder on the team wasn’t hurt. His defense is sub-par. He can hit a little for average but his plate discipline is lacking and his power is negligible. Out of five tools, maybe he has one. He’s versatile- sure, but when second base is supposed to be his natural position and he can’t play that capably, what’s the point? Rhymes is a Mark DeRosa-esque defender. Do you know why DeRosa has lasted so long in the big leagues? His bat. He’s never been great anywhere defensively but playing all those positions has allowed teams to get him in the lineup no matter where their needs lie. Rhymes’ bat is good enough at second base, but for a defense oriented team, his glove kills them. Don’t underestimate the value that Rhymes has subtracted defensively from this team.
James Shields is not an ace. Awesome guy, solid pitcher, but definitely not an ace. The best pitchers can pitch well even when they don’t have their best command or their best stuff. When Shields’ changeup or his command are off, he pitches like an innings-eating 4th starter if not worse. He’s durable but he’s not dominant. He throws complete games because he just can throw strikes all day. When his changeup is on, he can get K’s but he’s a guy who just keeps hitters off-balance. He allows home runs and he never seems to get strikeouts against big hitters. Shields can be great, but way too often you watch him and you realize just how ordinary he can be.
I’ve had enough of Jeff Niemann. He has a streak where no one can hit him and then gets rocked in his next five starts. He’s so streaky. He carries your team then he’s the bane of your existence. Either way, he then goes on the DL.
It tells you something about the Rays bench that they didn’t pinch-hit for Jose Molina in the 9th. Stephen Vogt is an extremely nice guy but why can’t he hit at the big league level? Vogt for equality!
Longo needs to stay healthy. This team can’t go anywhere without him. Is he injury-prone? He better not be (although maybe that would help us re-sign him…).
Carlos Pena needs to stop bunting with two strikes and start hitting. He’s an up-and-down type of player, but he looks down right now. I hope I’ll be laughing in a week when he wins a couple games for the Rays with homers.
Still waiting for 2010 David Price to come back. The stuff is there, but the command has not always been and he’s still short of being the true ace he could be.
And to finish with the unremitting question, will Matt Joyce ever hit lefties?
Losing makes minor things sting more. Here’s hoping that we can laugh about these questions when the Rays get back on a roll.