by: Colby Cole
The Devil Rays have a great young starting rotation anchored by righty James Shields and lefty Scott Kazmir. JP Howell and Andy Sonnastine joined the rotation after a sucession of roster moves earlier in the month and have each made 2 starts with a victory and no loss.
The problem for the Devil Rays has been their bullpen. They have the worst bullpen in the majors, aside from closer Al Reyes has converted 15 saves and has an ERA of 1.95. Recently Gary Glover has taken on the 8th inning set-up role and has done fine. Still, the rest of the bullpen has struggled mightily with Shawn Camp, Chad Orvella, Tim Corcoran, and Casey Fossum combining to give up 6 9th-inning runs to the Toronto Blue Jays last Tuesday.
Jay Witasick arrives from Oakland, to give the Rays an extra set-up guy. On Tuesday, the right handed reliever agreed to a one year contract. The Devil Rays are only responsible for paying him $230,492, because Witasick is still under contract with the A’s who will pay off the rest of Witasick’s 1.5 million dollar deal. Ruddy Lugo was sent down to AAA Durham to make room.
Witasick was released from the Oakland A’s last Thursday after compiling a 1-0 record and 3.60 ERA in 16 games. He is 34 years old, and is currently in his 12th season as a pro. He was a starter with the Kansas City Royals in 1999, and 2000 but after being traded to the San Diego Padres he was converted into a reliever in 2001. He has worked primarily as a set-up guy since then and has 48 holds since 2001 while playing for the Padres, New York Yankees, San Francisco Giants, Colorado Rockies, and Oakland A’s. He first broke into the majors with the A’s in 1996.
For now, Witasick will be looked to be the 7th-inning set up guy. If he can perform well, he will take a lot of pressure off some of the younger members of the Devil Rays bullpen like Shawn Camp. If Gary Glover proves to not be able to handle the 8th-inning job, it is likely that Witasick would take over that spot but either way he will help bridge the gap to closer Al Reyes.
If Witasick helps shore up the bullpen, which is the teams main hole than who knows what can happen for the Devil Rays. Even with their pen troubles, they are only 2 games behind the Yankees and with a promising starting rotation and a strong young offensive there appears to be nowhere to go but up.
By: Colby Cole
On Sunday night in Atlanta, Georgia in the baseball contest between the Chicago Cubs and Atlanta Braves chaos ensued. Ted Lilly viciously hit the defenseless Edgar Renteria with a fastball, and poor little Edgar was in severe pain. The innocent Edgar felt upset about being hit and threatened to run to the mound to have a friendly little discussion with the evil, vicious Ted Lilly but umpire Jim Wolf saved poor little Edgar from getting into a confrontation with the big tough Ted Lilly and then he dished out the punishment that Ted deserved he tossed Ted from the game because afterall he knew that Lilly was firing at Edgar.
Due to Jim Wolf’s great handling of the situation, he keeped it from turning into chaos. All that happened was that both teams, including their bullpens ran into the field, the Cubs catcher was having to break up a potential fight, and the game got delayed 5 minutes. Aside from that nothing bad happened because Jim Wolf knew how to run this baseball game, and is in fact one of the best umpires I have ever seen and not just that.
Jim Wolf is also the most intelligent umpire of all time due to the fact that he can read pitchers minds. Want proof? Well on Saturday night the leadoff hitter of the game Alfonso Soriano was hit by the first pitch of the game after hitting 3 home runs the night before. Wolf knew that wasn’t intentional though, all the innocent Tim Hudson was trying to do was pitch the big, bad Soriano inside. Poor Tim Hudson would never want to hit Alfonso Soriano after he hit 3 home runs the day before.
Big bad Ted Lilly though, now he had vengence on his mind. Afterall, Renteria had 4 RBIs the night before, and even though he didn’t have any home runs Lilly was not going to allow poor Edgar to get away with his 4 RBIs. Jim Wolf knew this would happen, in fact he told Cubs manager Lou Pinella that he was waiting for it. It is a good thing that Wolf can read pitchers minds because poor defenseless Edgar Renteria would never be able to defend himself.
Right when the pitch hit the Braves petty, defenseless shortstop Jim Wolf was picked up by ESPN’s mics saying “That’s it, your done” in the biggest bully of baseball history, Ted Lilly’s direction. I am glad that we have umpires in major league baseball that can stop bullys like Ted Lilly from committing havoc on poor defenseless shortstops. It’s common knowledge that baseball players can not defend themselves, and umpires like Wolf must show the courage and act like elementary school and settle the situation themselves.
Poor little Edgar could not get over the vicious act committed by the demonical Ted Lilly though, and decided that while he was stealing second base he would pop up at the end of the slide and smack Cubs rookie secondbaseman Mike Fontenot in the nose. Second base umpire Jim Joyce apparently saw nothing at all wrong with this..but wait I thought players couldn’t defend themselves. I thought the Edgar was a poor defenseless little kid and that all along Ted Lilly was this vicious guy out to get Renteria for his 4 RBIs the night before.
I mean what’s next, are you going to try to tell me that Tim Hudson was trying to hit Alfonso Soriano intentionally with the first pitch on Saturday night after Soriano’s 3 home run night? No way, why would Hudson do such a thing, he just lost control of a pitch and besides Soriano was a complete jerk when he yelled at Hudson after flying out in the second inning. Come on, Soriano, you know Hudson just lost control of that pitch inside.
Now to be serious, I think it was complete **** that Ted Lilly was thrown out by Jim Wolf last night. I hope to be an umpire some day myself, and earlier this year I went to a baseball clinic hosted by one of the local umpire associations who I later umped some youth games for and hope to do some high school games next year if I can fit it in. One of the first things I was told, was to never expect something to happen or be ready to settle something. If something happened,I was told to let the coaches try to settleit first. The worst thing to do I was told is to get involved in players problems, and if anything ever got too crazy I would either get the league director or the school administrator depending on what level game I was going.
As I illustrated during my little satire above, Wolf told Pinella that he KNEW that Lilly was going to hit Renteria and in fact was WAITING for it to happen. What kind of **** is that? The day before Tim Hudson threw at a guy that hit 3 home runs the day before and nobody was thrown out and no warnings were issued. If Wolf somehow expected this to happen, he could have at least warned both teams ahead of time. According to ESPN sideline reporter Peter Gammons though, no warning was ever issued before the game.
So not only did he throw a guy out with no evidence other that I guess his mind-reading abilities which I never knew he had, but he never warned the teams ahead of time which causes me to think he doesn’t really have mind reading abilities afterall.
I am so sick of umpires getting involved with **** in professional baseball. I was told not to get involved in LITTLE LEAGUE, yet these guys are trying to get involved with professionals who are paid and are adults and can handle this **** themselves. Edgar Renteria slammed into Mike Fontenot at second base. Now back in the 1940s before umpires decided they had to be elementary school principals this was a common occurance. A player would get hit, would settle the score much like Renteria did and that would be it.
Now you’ve got umpires who try to control it by issuing warnings, and keeping teams from being able to appropriately defend themselves. In the 40s if your player got hit,you could retaliate. Now you are prevented from doing that, and when they are prevented from defending themselves that is when these huge onfield fights occur from all the tension and anger building up in these players because the umpires have basically keeped them from defending themselves.
What Wolf did was much worse than issuing warnings though, he threw out a pitcher WITHOUT issuing any kind of warning at all. I would have to say that this is the first time that I’ve ever seen this happen in a game, a pitcher get thrown out with any kind of warning at all. Warnings are bad enough,but thrown out because an umpire thinks he can read minds? That is ******* ******** and I think if Wolf thinks he is such a psychic he should make that his ******* career and get out of umpiring. In fact I think MLB should kindly assist with that, Selig can write a letter of refferal and Wolf can start his own practice because he showed last night how great he was at that.
The Devil Rays Rocco Baldelli has been in a horrible slump, that has seen his average shrink close to the 200 mark. Manager Joe Maddon has continued using Baldelli in the leadoff spot, despite Rocco’s terrible slump. The one time Baldelli hit the ball hard yesterday, his hard line drive was turned into a double play. Maddon has said that he really has no other alternative , as a leadoff hitter and that for now Rocco would remain at the top of the order.
Last Sunday I made my first visit, this season, to Tropicana Field. The Rays were playing the Blue Jays, Scott Kazmir facing Roy Halliday. The Trop seems warmer and more fan friendly this year. There is still free parking, free programs and free scorecards. The Ted Williams hitters museum is a must see. The employees are much more friendly then in the first few years. I try to get to a few games each year, this year I hope to see a few more. The Trop seems to be a joke around MLB, and you hear very few favorable comments. I have trouble understanding, why, that image remains today.
The season is now two weeks old. The Rays have performed about the way I had hoped. Going into tonight’s game their record stands at 4 wins and 6 losses. The Rays have played an exciting brand of baseball. The hitting and starting pitching has been pretty consistent. Al Reyes has so far done the job as the closer, with 3 saves. The middle inning relievers have for the most part not done their job. It appears that Rudy Lugo need to be sent to the minors and one of the young pitchers brought up and given a chance. Carl Crawford and Rocco Baldelli haven’t started hitting yet. Once they get going, the Rays should be a force on offense. Last night the Rays received 8 strong innings from Scott Kazmir and Al Reyes came in to get his third save. It would be a confidence boost for the team to stay close to the 500 mark through the first couple of months.