Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Jake's Reaction To Comments made by Rays Owner, Stu Sternberg, on future of Rays Franchise

I know I promised the "losers" part of the draft review, however what's on my mind right now is how Rays bloggers and fans have been reacting towards comments made by Rays majority owner Stu Sternberg yesterday.

In short, Stu announced that the current stadium(Tropicana Field) and its current location(Downtown St. Petersburg, FL) aren't viable towards the improvement and success of the franchise. He basically stated that he's looking into more centralized populated areas still in the surrounding area(though preferably closer to the Tampa area) because he feels both he, business-wise, and fans deserve a better venue.

News came out today that if they can't find a location and if Tampa/St. Pete can't work together finding a new home for the Rays, he'd either sell the team or move it. With that said, I applaud Stu for getting the ball rolling. He did it the right way, when trying to put his own plan together with his initial stadium idea. Residents poo-pooed that idea, but he never gave up the idea. Now, he had to use the next tactic, which is a somewhat threatening tone. If a town/city wants to sit on their hands and act as if nothing is a problem, you gotta push them sometimes.

He's correct, #s don't lie, when saying that the current location isn't viable. Barely half the population of the greater downtown st. Pete area is within a 30 minute drive. While places like Tampa and other possible sites have a more centralized population.

I'm an outsider, I'm from IL, but I'd like to visit FL and go to a Rays game where I didn't have to drive 30+ minutes to drive to a stadium where there's only 1 way to get in and out. Next thing, after finding a new location, is creating and mass-transit system. We're in the 2000s, Tampa and St. Pete, use technology for once.

However, if they can't find a new location, I hope Stu keeps ownership of the team and relocates it...Art Moddell-style.
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Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Winners and Losers of the 2010 Rule 4 Amateur Draft- Part 1: Winners

Last week was one of my favorite times of the year when it comes to baseball. The MLB Amateur Draft(aka "The Rule 4 Draft") is how teams build their farm systems and how GMs/Scouting Directors are evaluated by fans. If you draft the "Best Player Available", no matter the chances of actually signing all the players, you'll be praised for having a great draft. If you draft with money in mind, fans will point out overdrafts and may start calling for the heads of management. However, with only 1 week elapsed, opinions on the picks alone can be made. How good of a draft a team had, however, cannot be truly judged until August 16th's signing deadline for all college non-seniors.

If you had to ask me who had this year's 5 best drafts, I'd have to give it to Boston, Tampa Bay, St. Louis, Pittsburgh and Seattle. Pittsburgh and Seattle's drafts were surprising to most only because of what they did with their picks. Both teams have known to be very cautious with picks, so this year they seemed to throw caution to the wind and draft high-end talent while teams decide to shy away on those players due to salary demands.

The St. Louis Cardinals draft was benefited by draft-day slides. These slides were caused by higher pick teams picking players that they hadn't believed to be available or by a players' bonus demands. Most mock drafts had Zach Cox(Arkansas) going in the Top 10, so getting him at #25 was a steal for St. Louis. Arizona State's Seth Blair and Prepster Tyrell Jenkins also fell far enough to fall to the Cardinals in the Sandwich round. However, the biggest "wow" pick by the Cardinals was selecting HS "stud" Austin Wilson in the 12th round rather in the Top 15 picks that most believed that he'd be picked in. Many teams soured on Wilson as the draft neared when it was believed Wilson was asking for 2-3 MIL and was a hard sign away from his commitment to Stanford. However, after his pick, Wilson said that all the rumors regarding him were more fiction than fact.

If one asked me who made most of their picks and picking seemingly-signable talent, that would go to the Tampa Bay Rays. In the Rays' history of drafting, this was the 1st year that they had multiple 1st round picks. Like the Cardinals, they benefited hugely to slides. Their 1st pick, Prepster Josh Sale, was perceived to be gone in the 1st 8 picks. Getting him with the 17th pick was a shocker to most, but the 1st of many "steals" for them. With the 31st pick, a compensatory unprotected pick for failing to sign last year's 1st round pick(LeVon Washington), many believed the Rays would've gone safe with a college player that would be more apt to agree to a draft-day deal. So when the Rays picked another prepster in Justin O'Connor, who many thought could've gone as early as 7th to the Mets or even 15th to the Cubs, it shocked some prognosticators. Even more shocking, to most, was that the Rays and O'Connor had an agreement in principle to a deal already in place. So, with the 1st picks being prepsters, it shocked many Rays fans when Rays decided to draft another prepster from Washington state in outfielder Drew Vettleson. While not as powerful as Sale projects to be, Vettleson has a strong arm and enough power and contact skills to project as a future major leaguer. The Rays went safer with their initial 2nd round pick, but returned to the Washington draft pool with picks of Ryan Brett(who was believed to be the 3rd best WA talent, behind the aforementioned Sale and Vettleson) and highly projectable Ian Kendall. Rays, later on, managed to benefit from another draft-day slide when they got Jesse Hahn(whose draft stock fell due to a draft-day forearm problem).

The Boston Red Sox can thank the draft day gods and great scouting for what I believe was the best draft overall. They selected the best players available, no matter what the believed price to sign them is. With their 1st 3 picks, Boston drafted 3 of the best college players in this year's draft in Ball State's Kolbrin Vitek, Middle Tennessee State's Bryce Brentz and LSU's "ace" Anthony Ranaudo. Vitek and Brentz are mashers that may be major league-ready in 1-2 yrs, however where they play and if their bats resemble what they looked like in college are the questions that surround them. In Ranaudo, Boston is gambling that his arm is back to where it was in the beginning of the season when most considered him one of the best pitchers in all of college baseball before it faded due to some ailments that caused astounding drops in velocity and control. Boston continued their great picks when selecting Brandon Workman(Texas' ace/co-ace), prepster w/ huge upside in Sean Coyle and Gerin Cecchini who fell pray to injury and an almost lock-tight commitment to LSU that caused a fall from the 1st round. The only problem with this draft, if there is even a "problem", is whether or not Boston will go vastly over-slot recommendations with all these top-end talents to sign them. Luckily for them, they drafted enough to make up for not signing others.
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