Three Rays I Fear and Three I Don’t

Three Tampa Bay players who will be causing me to lose sleep over the next week, and three who probably will not.

Joe Maddon: The Worst
(Kelly O’Connor/

The long wait is nearly over. After clinching the American League East on September 20, and the American League’s best record on September 28, it took until October 2 to finally learn the Red Sox Divisional Round opponent for the 2013 playoffs.  Once again, a familiar foe resurfaces.

After winning 4-0 in Cleveland last night, Tampa Bay will be traveling to Fenway to take on the top-seeded Red Sox beginning tomorrow afternoon. To get here the Rays won games in three different cities (Toronto, Arlington, and Cleveland) in the span of four days. While the Rays may be currently streaking, the Red Sox certainly have had the upper hand over Tampa Bay to this point in 2013, winning 12 of 19 games during the season series.

My utter disdain for the Rays franchise is well-documented, and I would have much rather faced the Indians in the ALDS. As great as this season has been only a select few things could actually ruin it at this point. Losing a postseason series to the Rays is one of those things. I’m one of the people that actually hates the Rays more than the Yankees at this point. I mean both franchises are cocky, but at least the Yankees have actually won something. Just go away, Tampa Bay. No one likes you. (No seriously, just check out the crowds at your own “home” games.)

So, as Tampa Bay makes Massachusetts its fourth stop of the week, what players make me worry, and what players don’t? I’m glad that you asked.

Three Rays Players That I Don’t Fear:

Fernando Rodney — A closer with a 1.335 WHIP? Yes, please. Koji’s 0.565 WHIP laughs at your face, your hat, and your arrows, Ferny. Any time Rodney comes in to close out a game you feel like you still have a chance. He’s erratic (4.9 BB/9) and only Jim Johnson blew more saves this year.

James Loney — We all knew that he wasn’t really the .315/.366/.466 hitter that he portrayed himself to be in the first half of this year. His .276/.322/.378 triple slash line after the break confirmed that. He is one of the best fielding first basemen in the league, but at the plate he is nothing more than mediocre.

Ben Zobrist — Don’t get me wrong, Zobrist is a solid all-around player, but not one that I fear. I don’t fear .275 batters with 12 HR, even if they have a high walk rate (10.3%). He is 9-for-58 (.188) in his career versus Jon Lester, and 4-for-36 (.111) against Clay Buchholz. Do I respect him? Sure. Do I fear him? Not at all.

Three Rays Players That I Fear: (To keep the list shorter, I’m excluding rapists, anti-Semites, filthy liars, and homophobes. These are players that I fear purely in a baseball sense. You stay classy, Devil Rays!)

1) Evan Longoria — I fear Longoria in a playoff series in a “he keeps me awake at night like there is anything I can actually do about it” kind of way. The guy is absolutely terrifying. The only player I would fear more in a series right now is (a healthy) Miguel Cabrera. Against the Sox this year he was .269/.329/.538 with five home runs, and reached base 29 times in 19 games. In the excruciating 2008 ALCS he hit four home runs against the Red Sox. At some point in this series he is going to come to the plate with the game on the line and homer-prone Junichi Tazawa on the mound. That thought alone makes me start to rock back and forth like a nervous Leo Mazzone.

David Price — Price’s season stats may not look as intimidating as they have in years past, but those are misleading because of his pre-DL struggles. This guy has been on fire since the break with a 2.87 ERA and 2.72 FIP. Against Boston in five starts he pitches 32 2/3 innings, with a 2.48 ERA, holding the Sox to an anemic .167 batting average.

Matt Moore — Moore faced the Sox twice, won both games, posted a 1.80 ERA, and a .102 batting average against. On paper this “effectively wild” (4.5 BB/9, 8.6 K/9) type of pitcher should not flourish against the notoriously patience Red Sox lineup, but Moore certainly did this year, with 12 strike outs to only three walks.

Red Sox, you have given us far more than any of us could have reasonably asked for or expected this season, but for the love of all that is good, please beat this poorly supported, Chewbacca mask wearing, marginally funded, mariachi band loving, unreasonably arrogant, trash-talk tweeting, silly-string spraying franchise.

Categories: Ben Zobrist Boston Red Sox Clay Buchholz David Price Delmon Young Evan Longoria Fausto Carmona Fernando Rodney James Loney Jim Johnson Jon Lester Junichi Tazawa Matt Moore Roberto Hernandez Tampa Bay Rays Yunel Escobar

I'm a native Mainer and life-long Red Sox fan living among way too many Yankees fans in New York. I spent most of my childhood convinced that Spike Owen was going to be awesome, sooner or later. The last time I punched a wall was October 16, 2003. My bucket list included personally thanking a Red Sox player for 2004, something I was finally able to check off when I met Trot Nixon. Follow @JK7_

15 Responses to “Three Rays I Fear and Three I Don’t” Subscribe

  1. Tim P October 3, 2013 at 11:53 AM #

    The Indians finished the regular season in Minnesota, not the Rays who were in Ontario playing the Blue Jays.

  2. BostonJ October 3, 2013 at 12:22 PM #

    I couldn’t agree with you more Jack. You nailed this on so many levels. I’m so tired of this team. They beat us in ’08 but this team we have now in Boston doesn’t fear them. Sox in 4

  3. TJay October 3, 2013 at 12:30 PM #

    Of course- “Goliath II” always has disdain for “David”. As well as a little bit of fear.
    “Goliath I ” was reduced to “scrappy” team that missed the playoffs.
    Sox have had a great year which will mean nothing if they do not advance past this short series with a Division Rival. I give the Sox the edge, they have a balanced team with few weaknesses.
    That being said, this series could be a dogfight. The Ray’s have usually gotten the better of the Sox (2008-2012) until this year.

  4. JK7_ October 3, 2013 at 1:26 PM #

    Tim P Good call man — thanks. Chalk that up to a late night, and just writing that without checking. It’s been updated.

  5. JK7_ October 3, 2013 at 1:27 PM #

    BostonJ I think you’re right. I think the fans fear the Rays a lot more at this point than the players do. They can pitch, but so can we. We have more than 2 guys in our lineup that can hit, which is what will hopefully separate the two teams over the next week.

  6. JK7_ October 3, 2013 at 1:29 PM #

    @TJay Yeah, it was nice to finally get the edge on them this season, because it’s felt like a while since we had the upper hand. I think that’s what scares the fans because the next 3-5 games could change that all too quickly.

  7. BostonJ October 3, 2013 at 1:40 PM #

    JK7_  Absolutely. Moore and Price at Fenway is a little worrisome but we can hit top to bottom. The fans will be frenzied and foaming so I feel we can strive

  8. JK7_ October 3, 2013 at 1:45 PM #

    BostonJ I wish that Game 1 was starting right now. Waiting another 25 hours is going to be pure torture.

  9. BostonJ October 3, 2013 at 1:51 PM #

    JK7_  Torture is right! Which leads to my next concern. Does the layoff affect the Sox?

  10. JK7_ October 3, 2013 at 2:10 PM #

    BostonJ Hard to say, but we had a lot of guys who were banged up and really needed the rest, so hopefully not. If we win the narrative will be that the rest served the team well, if we don’t it will be because the rest made the team rusty. Either way it will be way overblown.

  11. Gerry October 4, 2013 at 3:10 AM #

    The Drays can’t be all bad if they like Mariachis and wine. Guess it depends on the kind of wine. Regardless, this year’s Sox are not prone to the fail of the Rays past few years, as demonstrated by their record, achieved with limited help from injured Buch, Papi, Drew, WMB, Ross, (Hanrahan, Bailey,). etc. The Sox are firing on all cylinders with added weapons from Berry, XB and a fully rested and healthy Ells, Buch, Nap, Vic, Salty, Papi. This is a heck of a team which the Drays should logically fear throughout.

  12. Gerry October 4, 2013 at 3:23 AM #

    The Rays are cocky and condescending, though there is little reason for this other than the fruits of developing very high draft picks from years of losing. Our neighborhood enjoys a very condescending rooster, true cock of yhe walk, who visits my chickens daily, a beautiful Welsummer macho male, crowing and strutting outside the fence like he owns the place. Yet, if we dodn’t toss him chicken feed he wouldn’t last too long. He is less than he thinks, like the Drays. Conversely, the ragtag Red Sox are more, collectively and with greater humility, than anyone thought. How long can a low payroll team which is no longer losing continue to trade away their high draft picks to maintain a prospect flow. Will Price and Moore be the last of that luxury?

  13. Sophomore October 5, 2013 at 7:13 AM #

    After game 1, you can cross Matt Moore off the list.

  14. JK7_ October 5, 2013 at 11:18 AM #

    Sophomore Absolutely. He got derailed by the defensive mistakes but he wasn’t anywhere near what he was in his complete game shutout against the Sox early in the season. 
    Here’s hoping by the end of the day we can cross Price off of that list too! 
    (And of course Zobrist homered after I labeled him solid, but not at all fear inducing.)

  15. JK7_ October 5, 2013 at 8:47 PM #

    Sophomore Crossing Price off now too!