Rays Notes: Rookie Hazing, Cy Young, B.J. Upton, Dave Martinez

The Rays have had themselves a fun week, having won 7 games in a row, and the fun has continued off the field. The Rays did they rookie hazing and David Price had the video via Twitter.

OK then. The event was organized by James Shields and all the Rookie were wearing a “Jane Fonda 80′s Look,” and the Rays’ rookies rendition of Call Me Maybe has the potential to be a classic. There was a cameraman there so hopefully there’s better-quality video available. Participants included  Matt Moore, Chris ArcherJake McGeeDesmond JenningsAlex CobbStephen Vogt, Jose Lobaton, and Rich Thompson, according to Marc Topkin. Not only rookies but also the players with less than a full year of service time, and I’ll spare them whatever dignity they still have by not pointing out who’s who in the video.

Vegas released their odds for the MLB awards and two Rays were listed as betting options for Cy Young. David Price was the Cy Young favorite with 10-11 odds while Fernando Rodney was fourth at 5-1 odds. Vegas’ odds are designed to make people money so obviously they have no direct bearing on how the voting actually goes, but good luck to Price and Rodney in the Cy Young race.

B.J. Upton‘s time with the Rays are unfortunately coming to a close, and B.J. Upton, Andrew Friedman, and Joe Maddon were in reflection mode as they talked to Topkin, who had some good lines in his article as well. Here are the highlights.

“I try not to, but as the (end of the) season closes in, it’s tough not to think about it,” Upton said. “It could be a little weird.”

Upton, agent Larry Reynolds and Rays executive vice president Andrew Friedman all throw out the proper caveats: That they’ll talk, that no decisions have been made, that who knows what will happen. (It also should be pointed out that they had several discussions in the past without ever agreeing on a multi-year deal.)

“B.J. has meant a tremendous amount to this organization,” Friedman said, “and has been an integral part of the success we’ve enjoyed on the field.”

“I’ve talked often about how there’s no fear in his game, no fear at all,” manager Joe Maddon said. “I also believe he has matured annually. He has become a better baseball player every year, to the point that where he’s at right now, he is the best he’s been.

“I know what I’m about,” Upton said. “Guys I played with over the years, they know what I’m about. You kind of mature every year, and that’s what I’ve done. I don’t regret anything that’s happened, good or bad. It’s kind of made me who I am now.”

Rays fans (and baseball writers/bloggers everywhere) rip apart Upton consistently, but at the same time we have kind of taken for granted his 20 homers and 35+ stolen bases every season. Upton never became the superstar the Rays knew he could be when they selected him second overall in the 2004 MLB Draft, but he has been a key contributor to the Rays’ effort the past 6 years, and we’ll never forget the tear he went on in the 2008 playoffs. Hopefully Upton’s time with the Rays ends on a high note as he continues playing well down the stretch and does everything within his power to take the Rays to the playoffs and beyond.

Rays bench coach Dave Martinez was a finalist for the Houston Astros’ manager  job, but the Astros decided to go in another direction, naming Washington Nationals third base coach Bo Porter their manager. The strange thing is that Porter will continue to work for the Nationals through the end of their playoff run, so he won’t be able to start working for the Astros until at least mid-October. In any event, I hope the Nationals don’t think that hiring Porter will help them go from a last place team to division champions in three years- although the Rays did it in one year from 2007 to 2008. The Rays are glad to keep Davey as he’s a great guy, a very knowledgable baseball guy, and we can’t underestimate the impact he has on the Rays behind the scenes. It would have nice if he got the job, but it may be best for the Rays in the long run that he did not.

In other news, the Rays could possibly have use for a 6th starter now that Alex Cobb has been shut down for the rest of the season following his Wednesday start, and Jeff Niemann has some chance of filling that role. According to Roger Mooney of the Tampa Tribune (via Twitter), Niemann pitched off a flat surface and is making progress towards a return. Whether the Rays would push Niemann into a playoff race were every game counts right after his return remains to be seen, but the Rays would love to have the roster flexibility. Good luck to Niemann in his rehab.

The Wall Street Journal did a study of the most biased announcers in baseball, and the Rays’ TV broadcasting duo of Dewayne Staats and Brian Anderson did well, finishing with the 11th-fewest biased comments in the games that the Journal observed. BA played for the Rays at one point and also worked for them as a pitching instructor, and you see his passion for the Rays come out every once in a while, but both he and Dewayne are very professional and present interesting and informative analysis. Personally, I think that it’s always fun listening to Dewayne and Brian as they know their stuff (although they needed Sam Fuld‘s help to get into the sabermetrics) and they’re fans just enough that you can really associate with what they’re saying.

Topics: Dave Martinez, David Price, Fernando Rodney, Jeff Niemann, Tampa Bay Rays

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