Line Drives: Rays-Red Sox, James Loney, Chris Davis

By David Egbert

This is the time of year that everybody is talking about baseball (well, except for the people swept up by that other sport called football). Here are some brief thoughts (line drives, if you will) on the chatter surrounding the Rays and all of baseball.

Where is the Red Sox Nation? A baseball buddy of mine always says “The nation is everywhere.” Apparently, it wasn’t at the Trop for the last Red Sox-Rays series. The average crowd for a game was 19,000 fans. Not bad for a weekday series but nowhere near where it used to be. Even in the Devil Rays days you could count on 30,000 for a Sox-Devil Rays game and most of them were cheering for the Bosox. They were so loud and obnoxious that I quit going to Red Sox games. With the Red Sox being hotter than a pistol, you would think they would be back in force. Strange!

Relief is on the way. It was really nice to see C.J. Riefenhauser get a spot on Baseball America’s minor league all star team. However, somewhat overlooked was Steve Geltz getting picked for the relief pitcher spot on Baseball America’s All Prospect Team. Steve came over in an under the radar deal with the Angels for Dane De La Rosa. He posted a 2.82 ERA with 80 strikeouts and only 24 walks in 67 innings this year at Durham. Mix in a 0.881 WHIP and most importantly, a mid90’s fastball, and we might have something going here. Add Kirby Yates to this group and maybe the Rays are finally developing some relief pitching in the minors.

B. J. Upton searches for the Mendoza line. They will wager on anything in Los Vegas so I’m thinking there is money going down on whether B. J. Upton will hit .200 for the year. Right now he his hitting a robust .191 and if that stat isn’t bad enough how about .572 OPS with just 14 doubles, 9 homers, and 26 RBI in 433 plate appearancesces.. I haven’t seen him play a lot but my guess is that his patented pitching wedge swing hasn’t changed. All this for $75 million guaranteed over 5 years.

Let’s lock up Loney. I know the Rays are mostly concerned about playing baseball in October but there’s going to be a season next year no matter what happens. James Loney should be a part of that season. Loney, another one of Andrew Freidman’s bargain basement pickups, has been the perfect Rays player. He hits for average, doesn’t strike out a lot, drives in runs, is a gem in the field and a good guy in the clubhouse. His 2013 stats are right in line with his 162 game average so he’s not a one season wonder. Yes, I know he isn’t a bopper but good home run hitters cost a lot of money and the Rays aren’t going to fork over that money. I think $20 million over three years does it. Andrew, write the check.

Finally, what is up with Chris Davis. This guy was a potential non-tender candidate three years ago and now he’s the second coming of Babe Ruth. He didn’t have fifty home runs and 130 RBI in his first two years combined. Maybe I’ve gotten a little too cynical over this whole performance drug thing but Mr. Davis’s off the charts year does beg some questions.

That’s what I’m thinking about. What about you?