I sent some questions off to Jason Collett from DRaysBay in anticipation of our series at beautiful (yeah right) Tropicana Field.
With Longoria missing so much of the season (back for this series, gee, thanks) who has been your MVP?
Ben Zobrist -- He has been the one guy who has remained healthy and has produced this season while playing his usual solid defense. It isn't a great Zobrist year, but he has clearly stood out from the class this year.
Any chance of you getting a new ball park in the near future? Would that fix attendance troubles or is baseball just something that folks around there don't want to pay to see?
There is action in that the Tampa side of the bay is becoming more aggressive in wanting to have discussions while skirting around the ridiculously restrictive use agreement that the former ownership signed when moving into the place. It is the theory of many around these parts that if there is not a new stadium in the next five years, there will not be a team in this area by then. The lack of attendance due to location combined with the extremely poor corporate support as The Trop lacks luxuries that companies dole out that type of money for. We at the site even put together our proposal.
Your closer, Fernando Rodney, has been out of this world great. What is he doing different than in the past, when he was pretty average?
R.J. Anderson, our former E-I-C, wrote a piece at Baseball Prospectus outlining what Rodney has done. Moving him over on the rubber was a big help but they also tightened up his delivery so he did not fly open as quickly as he did in the past.
Could we have a quick scouting report on the starting pitchers we'll see?
Shields --- which guy will show up? Until his last start, he was looking like the mess he was in 2010 where he got cutter happy and was letting hitters beat him on his worst pitches. In his last start against Seattle, he went back to the FB/CH/CV mix that helped him be very successful last season and stuck with it. Teams tend to get to Shields later in starts when he tends to scrap the fastball for a cutter which then shrinks the differential with his changeup and lessens the pitch's effectiveness.
Cobb is a groundball machine that throws a fastball, split-change, and a curveball that he struggles to locate. He gets himself into trouble when he struggles to locate his fastball but has no qualms throwing that split-change at any point in the count and will double-up on the pitch when needed.
Moore is turning yet another corner this season and is now throwing all of his pitches for strikes and mixing them up well in the count. When he struggles, he tends to do that early in the game rather than later.
With Matsui released, who's the DH now?
Longoria is going to DH most of the time. This injury thing can't get any worse, but it also isn't likely to get any better. Our friends at The Process Report broke this down last night.
Being just a couple of games out of the Wild Card, are Rays fans feeling confident they'll make the playoffs?
Coming off back to back shutouts at the hands of the Orioles, there is no confidence in this area right now. Frankly, it is a day to day thing. The Rays offense has been poor all season, especially at home. The pitching has been amazing of late, especially the bullpen which has done incredible work since the start of last month. It is tough to get a true gauge on this team because it has only had 8 games all season where the projected 9 have been on the field at the same time. Simply put, there's a larger sense of disappointment on what could have been before the loss of Longoria than confidence right now.
Anything else we should know about the Rays?
Rays are awful against all forms of left-handed pitching, so there is hope for Happ and Romero. When I say awful, I mean truly horrendous as in a .225/.313/.348 slash line and a .293 wOBA.