Tag Archives: Evan Longoria

Hard Hittin’ Mark Whiten Player of the Week


Why is it the HHMWMPOTW always has to be on my opponents team in my one weekly fantasy league?

The Long Beach Dirtbag went batshit crazy in the batter’s box last week, hitting five home runs and driving in seven runs. His slugging percentage was 1.000 on the nose and he went 11 for 28 for a .393 batting average. You had to figure at some point he would grab this meaningless hardware and add his names to the greats who have taken home the weekly trophy.

He’s got seven home runs in August, many of came against me last week and did their job in dismantling my fantasy team. He’s OPS’ing at a 1.022 clip for the month.

Times are good for Longoria and the Rays, who are now just 1.5 games out of the AL East lead behind the Red Sox. Don’t lose track of them – they’re going to be spoken for when things shake out and the World Series is being played for in about a month.

2013 Tampa Bay Rays Team Preview

It’s really hard to not like the Rays if you are just a fan of baseball.  They do more with less than pretty much any team in the league.  They have the worst ball park in the majors, they play in front of sparse crowds most nights (19k on average – lowest in the league), and still manage to compete in usually the toughest division in baseball year   in and year out.  They haven’t finished lower than 3rd in the AL East since 2007.  Their highest paid player is David Price who signed for a one year arbitration deal of $10M.  There only long term contracts are Evan Longoria and Matt Moore who both are likely under market value.  They aren’t afraid to trade away great players or even just simply let them go in FA (see Carl Crawford and BJ Upton).  They have managed to keep the farm system stocked for years.  They are what every smaller market team wishes their team could be like. (given financial constraints)  This past offseason they parted with two major contributors in James Shields and BJ Upton, both of whom were in line for market priced pay days the Rays couldn’t afford.

What did they do to replace that production?

Major Off-Season Moves:

  • Acquired OF prospect Wil Myers from Royals
  • Signed 2B Kelly Johnson
  • Acquired SS Yunel Escobar
  • Acquired 1B James Loney

This looks about like what the Rays would do.  Traded for one blue chip prospect in Wil Myers.  He’ll likely be a superstar for the Rays while they control him and he’ll either sign him to a team friendly extension or trade him for more prospects.  The rest of the signings look like mildly liked veterans that the Rays could get for discounted prices and hope to hit on a few of them.  Kelly Johnson is a solid player and will allow Ben Zobrist to play full time in the OF.  Yunel Escobar didn’t endear himself in Toronto after an unfortunate makeup incident.  He’s talented, but comes with some baggage.  I’m not so sure the talent will come to fruition in Tampa.  James Loney will play first, but will likely platoon a decent amount while Ryan Roberts slides over to fill in.

Let’s get tot he rest of that lineup. Continue reading 2013 Tampa Bay Rays Team Preview

The Baseball Show: Throwing Another Log on the MLB Hot Stove

On this week’s edition of The Baseball Show, co-hosts Mike Rosenbaum and M.J. Lloyd along with myself discuss the following:

-Denard Span being traded to the Nationals for Alex Meyer
-Mike profiles Alex Meyer as a prospect
-B.J. Upton to Atlanta
-Possible destinations for Josh Hamilton, Michael Bourn, Zach Greinke and more players
-Reactions to the Evan Longoria contract extension
-Thoughts on the 2013 Hall of Fame nominees

This was a very quick edition of the podcast but a very fun show with lots of discussion. We hope you enjoy!

If Tampa doesn’t become a baseball town now, it never will

They really did it. They battled back from the depths of Hell in a matter of nine innings, a 7-0 deficit with their ace shelled to come back and win 8-7 in 12 innings on Evan Longoria’s line shot that crept just over the left field fence.

Last night was baseball Heaven and it all ended in Tampa. I cannot believe the odds they overcame to get where they now are. I can’t believe how it unfolded. They were one out from lights out, bar closed when Dan Johnson stepped to the plate and drilled one into the right field stands.

The folks in Boston have to be reeling today–using sick days type of reeling–a place you never want to be as a sports fan. They didn’t think there was any way that Boston’s season ended last night.

The timeline of last night just added to things. As Jonathan Papelbon blew the Red Sox save and 9th inning lead with two outs, the Red Sox scurried off the field and Terry Francona scrambled quickly into the clubhouse. The Red Sox didn’t even have time to turn on their monitors and pull for the Yankees to save them (imagine the thought for a second of that). Television sets turned over to Evan Longoria at the plate in Tampa, and he provided the Rays with the biggest moment in their franchise history–and arguably one of the biggest moments in modern day baseball history.

It was the only time that a clinching home run was ever hit to send a team to the postseason in the team’s final regular season game. Last night alone should be enough reason for Major League Baseball to leave the playoff field as it is, and I believe they will.

The focus of this post has to shift away from last night momentarily and back to Tampa as a baseball city. They didn’t even sell out last night’s historic event. Many of them left before they could see this epic 7-run avalanche in the 8th and 9th innings and of course the historic line shot home run.

It’s time for Tampa to realize the gem they have and start appreciating what is in their back yard in the way of a good baseball organization. They have arguably the best young centerpiece and best manager in baseball.

I saw good prevail over evil last night. A lot of people would disagree with me, and that’s fine. But too often in sports the big market wins out. Not last night. The baseball gods had other ideas.

I’m convinced that this team can accomplish anything, having been through the depths they’ve been to and living to tell about it. I hope the town they play in can fully realize what took place and get their hands around the type of history that went down on their home field last night as they clinched the Wildcard spot.

Occurrences like we saw last night happen no more than once in a lifetime. It was why baseball is special and the moment belongs to Tampa and it’s fans forever. The only way to make it last and all the more meaningful is to get behind this team and become a legitimized baseball town.

Let’s give this daily column format thing a try

We’re on the next to last day of the regular season–unless something whacky happens and forces a one game playoff on Thursday evening. It would be cool, but I have a feeling everything gets sorted out between Atlanta/St. Louis and Boston/Tampa Bay.

  • Last night’s 5-2 win down in Tampa was a big one for the Rays. They’re now all squared up with the Boston Red Sox for the wild card spot with two games to go. I said at the beginning of the season that I didn’t see it as easily as just putting the Red Sox and Phillies in the World Series like all the ESPN and prognosticators did. I felt all along that one would make it, and one would not. At some points in this season, I felt it would be the Red Sox. Now it’s looking like the Phillies and the Red Sox will start winter early. This is what the season is all about. These two teams have battled for 161 games–and with two left the season will be decided. It is what keeps me checking baseball box scores on my phone even with Monday Night Football on. It’s where guys really earn their statistics. It’s where the drama of October really starts. It’s going to be a fun couple of days, and ultimately I feel that the Red Sox will somehow escape the fryer because so many outside of Boston would love to see the Rays do this thing.
  • Another point on the Rays: how many people thought their proverbial ‘window’ slammed shut for the most part after last season? That’s what makes this run so improbable. I thought they would need a year to reload the gun. When Evan Longoria got hurt I was even more certain of it. Longoria came back and earned a full season’s worth of stats in about 3/4 of a season’s games. He’s been good, don’t let the batting average fool you. Desmond Jennings arrived as a bonafide star. The Rays have some magic brewing down there in Tampa.
  • Another golden opportunity missed by the St. Louis Cardinals last night. And it might have been the death blow. Cliff Lee went out and got himself his 17th win of the year, 4-2 over the Braves in Atlanta. The Cardinals rallied to take a 4-4 game into the 10th inning against the Astros, only to lose the game in the bottom of the 10th inning on a single by Angel Sanchez (a .237 hitter) to lose 5-4 a 104 loss team. Who gave up the single? Former Astro Octavio Dotel. The Cardinals are out of gas. But I still think that Atlanta loses one of the next two and St. Louis wins both of their final to give us our one and only one game winner take all playoff on Thursday.
  • Ozzie Guillen traded to Marlins? In all my time watching baseball I had no idea that a manager could be dealt in a trade. I thought it was a joke or publicity stunt when I got an ESPN alert text on my phone. But it appears it’s very real. And how else would Guillen leave the White Sox than in controversy? Maybe it’s not much of a take but if he is headed to Miami, he’s moving into a brand new stadium and inheriting a good young roster with a star shortstop that needs rejuvenated. Also it’s no coincidence that yesterday Jack McKeon announced his retirement after this season. An interesting chain of events and the first move in the start of managerial musical chairs before the offseason even begins.

It’s going to be a whirlwind of a few days here for baseball fans. Keep it locked on your MLB At Bat app or however you follow the game for a few more evenings. The drama is what it’s all about this time of year and you’re going to to see some high drama. Anyone remember Neifi Perez’s homer that damned the Giants in 1998 at Coors Field? I do.

Evan Longoria walk off homers the Reds in the bottom of the 9th

[Box Score]

[Cincinnati.com] [Rays Index]

This game had a playoff style atmosphere from the beginning. In a night of huge pitching match-ups around Major League Baseball (Cliff Lee/Josh Beckett, Tommy Hanson/Michael Pineda, among others) this one probably did the finest job of living up to the billing.

Johnny Damon’s solo home run off Johnny Cueto was the only mark that the Rays could muster against the Reds ace for the first seven innings. The Reds battled against David Price who was more than on his ‘A’ game, and got a triple off the center field wall by Drew Stubbs and then tied the game a batter later on an Edgar Renteria RBI single.

Later in the inning, Renteria stole second base on an 0-2 pitch to Joey Votto. Votto then doubled a few deliveries later to put the Reds up 2-1 and knock Price from the game.

Johnny Damon hit a pitcher’s pitch from Bill Bray into the shallow left center area that fell just out of the reach of Chris Heisey’s glove to give the Rays a 3-2 lead in the bottom of the 8th inning.

The Rays then brought on their closer, Kyle Farnsworth in the top of the 9th inning. Farnsworth entered the game with a 1.99 ERA and 17 saves in 18 opportunities. That’s uncharacteristically good for Farnsworth, and as I told my friend that I was watching the game with ‘at some point the guy is going to play to the back of his baseball card, he’s due to blow a save’.

Jay Bruce led off the inning and worked the count full, and then connected on a mammoth blast to dead center field that tied the game at 3.

The excitement wouldn’t last long. Evan Longoria hit an inside fastball from Logan Ondrusek into the seats in left field in the bottom of the 9th inning to give the Rays the victory.

At some point, the Reds are going to have to stop doing this. They’re now 11-17 in one run ballgames. The summer is flying by, and these were victories that the Reds were collecting at this time last year. They now sit narrowly at one game over the .500 mark at the exact halfway point; and they trail the Milwaukee Brewers by 3.5 games in the NL Central. They’re now officially in 4th place with the Pirates taking over third.

Some might say that it’s only 3.5 games, and yes a big week from the Reds could have them knocking on the door of first place. But a poor week or even a poor two-week stretch could definitely put them out of things for good at this point. Every night is pivotal and the floundering Reds have everyone waiting on them to get hot and it just isn’t happening.

Spring Training Update: Hanging in the Rays Locker Room

Spring Training is under way. Since we’re not lucky enough to be down in the Florida sunshine, we’ve still got a plan to have you covered. David Franco from Next Level Ballplayer is down in Florida for the week providing us with all the sights and sounds of spring baseball that we need. Today’s adventures include, sitting with the player’s wives, getting a foul ball, hanging out in the Rays locker room, a quick chat with Longo and his mullet, and more. Tune in all week as Franco reports on ST exploits, and be sure to follow him on twitter or Facebook.

Franco’s Spring Training Update From FL: Day 2

What’s up Diamond Hogger Nation? Franco here, from NextLevelBallplayer.com, ready to break down day 2-
Woke up at a buddy’s place in Naples. I had talked to the Ray’s Ben Zobrist the day before and he said he’d leave me a ticket at will call. After a solid drive that put me over 1,000 miles on this road trip so far, I pulled into the Port Charlotte Sports Park.

Overall Highlight of the day: Hanging out in the Rays locker room for over an hour with guys like Longoria, Upton, Jeff Niemann, Matt Joyce, Dirk Hayhurst and Zobrist.

Runner Up Highlight: Parking my ’98 Honda Passport in the Rays’ players parking lot next to multiple $100k cars.

Overall Lowlight of the day: Finding out that Zobrist likes pickle flavored sunflower seeds… I used to think he was cool.

Rays vs Pirates 1:05pm
Tickets: Free thanks to Mr. Zobrist
– I was so busy marveling at Manny’s dreads that it took me a little while to realize that I was sitting with all of the player’s wives.
-Manny looked great going 2-2 AND playing the outfield.
-Damon got his first base knock of the spring
-Pirates won but who cares

Hanging with the Wives
The Foul Ball
So I’m chatting with three of the player’s wives and having a good time watching the game when a foul ball gets hit towards us. (I am going to keep the wives’ identities private cause I don’t want to be “that guy” that wrote about them by name without them knowing. Just know that you’d recognize their husbands if I told you.) Anyways, wife #1 and #2 lean to get out of the way and wife #3 sees the ball but doesn’t move. #3 has the ball land a foot next to her, bounce off of her back (she was fine) and land about 2 feet from her.

Now the dilemma: I’m one row in front of her and 4 seats over with nobody between me and the ball that has come to rest kinda by her foot. I really want the ball, but I also wanna play it cool… The lady in the row over started to take a few steps towards it and instincts kicked in. As I was about to reach for it wife #3 picks up the ball. Awkward. I go to sit back down and she then proceeds to give me the ball as if I’m a little kid. Had to swallow my pride a bit on this one, but next time I play catch with a buddy, we’re using a big league pearl.

Dip can do what?!?!
This second story from the wives section blew my mind. There were a few bees flying near us that prompted this story.

Wife #1: “One time I was hanging out with a group of friends and I got stung by a bee. It hurt like crazy, but right away a guy took his dip out of his mouth and put it on the bee sting. It worked great and I was back to normal in no time.”
Franco: “Wow. This guy sounds like he’d be the one to suggest peeing on a mosquito bite.”
Wife #2: “GROSS! If any guy tried to but his nasty dip on me, I’d give him a swift karate chop to the neck.”

Moral of the story fellas- If you have a hammer in and your girl gets stung by a bee, make sure you know where she stands on having dip placed on her body (personally my wife would be in the karate chop group)… But if you are only concerned about results, evidently dip works wonders on bee stings.

In the 6th inning or so, just as the convo with the wives turned to Oprah and pedicures, I got the greatest text ever:
“Meet me outside the stadium by the batting cages.” Zoby saves the day.

Inside the Rays Locker Room
I had no idea Zoby was going to take me into the locker room. He had lined up a few unofficial interviews for me and there I was, just shooting the breeze with the Rays in their locker room.
Right when I walked in, Upton and Longoria were there joking around. They over heard Zoby saying to me that he had stayed up until 11:30 the night before.
Longoria: “Oh dang Ben. You stayed up until 11:30?!?! That is so crazy! You need to calm down. I’m afraid you’re going off the deep end.” Maybe you had to be there, but it was funny.

Other locker room happenings
-Matt Joyce was really cool. We talked for a solid 20 minutes and I will be rooting for him this season.
-Talked with Longo briefly, but was able to ask him a few questions, including the toughest pitcher he’s faced (Saving this for a later post).
-Having Dirk Hayhurst give me a copy of his book, The Bullpen Gospels. I had played against Dirk in college and he came over and we talked for a good half hour. He is an absolute character!
-On the way out of the complex (I was by myself) I walked by Joe Madden and told him to have a good night and he told me the same. I’m pretty sure he thought I was a minor league guy who’s name he couldn’t remember.

What a great day. After the locker room I went and grabbed some food with Zoby and then headed back to his house to chill with his wifey and 2 year old boy for the rest of the night. It was good catching up with him and relaxing… Tomorrow I’m headed to Fort Myers to check out the Twins and Red Sox round 2.

Extra Innings
Zobrist still had to shower, so I went and got my car and told him I’d come back and pick him up. I drove into the players parking lot by making a friend with the security guy and then parked my ’98 Honda passport. A few minutes later I realized that I had parked next to Tim Beckham, the Rays 2008 #1 overall pick. His Land Rover car doors opened up towards the sky when he got in… Mine just opened normal.