Another Friday meant another game with Jonathan. (He’s available in the nights on Fridays.)
And with Jonathan at the game, that meant I had a photographer with me to use my fancy camera and possibly get action shots. For example, when we got in, I had run closer to the left field foul pole, but then I saw that a ball was headed back the other way:
And started running towards Jonathan with my eye on the ball:
And then finally caught the ball:
I don’t know who hit it, but it was a Twins player. And that would be the only ball I snagged during Twins BP. My next ball came at the dugout as the Rays were warming up. Jose Lobaton and Jose Molina were playing catch, so I knew I had an advantage, because I could yell Jose as loudly as I wanted to and whichever player ended up with the ball would hear me and most likely toss me the ball. Lobaton ended up with the ball, so here I am reaching up for the ball:
I gave this ball away to a kid that was right next to me, but I wasn’t going to stop there. Because it was at the dugout and no other Rays players had seen me get the ball, I moved down the line and got the attention of Matt Joyce. Here you can see me waving my arms and Joyce facing me with the ball in his hands:
And then here’s a picture as the ball was on its descent towards me. Can you find it?
I also gave this ball away, but to Jonathan, since I promised it to him for taking pictures instead of asking the players themselves.
I then figured that it was time to head back to the outfield seats. As the righties were taking their initial cuts, I headed out to the right-center seats to get a couple toss-ups from the players out there. Here’s the first one I got from David DeJesus:
And then I got Matt Moore to toss me a ball:
But his aim was a little low, so I ended up having to reach for the ball in the flower pots:
If you’re keeping track, that was my fifth ball of the day.
I then had some fun scaring people and running after baseballs in the standing room:
But I didn’t actually get any of the balls hit up there. However, my next baseball was in right field. Here I am catching the ball underhanded–in front of my body, so you can’t see it:
And then right afterwards with the ball in my glove:
The reason I’m looking over to my left in the picture is because I was looking for a kid I could give the ball away to. I found a kid, but Jonathan didn’t get the picture of that. Jonathan did, however, get this picture of the guy who tossed it, so I’m pretty sure it was Cesar Ramos, but it wouldn’t be the first time I’ve been wrong:
I then figure I had exhausted all toss-up opportunities in right field, so although left field was way more crowded, I headed over there since there were a bunch of righties coming up. And if you hadn’t seen before, I think it’s pretty apparent here that it was a orange camouflage hat giveaway:
Well I did in fact get a toss-up . This guy tossed me a ball, and I assumed it was Jamey Wright, but again I could very well be wrong:
He spotted me in my Rays gear and flipped me a ball over about seven rows of fans. That would be my last ball for batting practice; my seventh on the day for those of you keeping score at home.
My next ball came from the bullpen. It was myself, a woman, and a bunch of kids asking Bobby Cuellar for a ball. When he got to the wall, he pointed to someone just to my left, so I said, “Hey, I’ll catch it for them.” As a result, Cuellar tossed me a ball for whom I thought was one of the kids, but was oddly enough for the woman. I thought it was weird, but then I realized that she was the mother of one of the smaller children.
I then spent the rest of the time at the bullpen getting some dandy shots like these two:
And then at game time, we went out to the flag court and alternated between there:
and the left field seats:
But sadly no homers were to be found.
After the game, we headed to the umpire, and here I am calling out to Hunter Wendelstedt:
And then catching the ball:
And then looking to my side for a kid to give the ball away to:
And then I did find a kid to give it away to:
But his friend had also not gotten a ball, so I gave him the ball I had gotten from Wright.
I then quickly made my way to the end of the dugout, where I saw Scott Cursi and Stan Boroski walking in from the bullpen. And as I saw them, I knew right away my strategy. See I had learned the first day I had seen the Rays in Baltimore that Boroski really appreciates people who know his name. I almost guarantee that you will get a ball from him if you ask him by name and he doesn’t recognize you from getting a previous baseball.
It should come as no surprise to you, then, that I got my tenth and final ball from Boroski I simply asked him for a ball, and he pulled a ball out of his pocket and tossed it to me.
- 10 Balls at this game (4 pictured because I gave 6 away)
- 277 Balls in 58 Games= 4.78 Balls Per Game
- 10 Balls x 27,292 Fans= 272,920 Competition Factor
- 120 straight Games with at least 1 Ball
- 25 straight Games with at least 2 Balls
- 22 straight Games with at least 3 Balls
- 14 straight Games with at least 4 Balls
- 4 straight Games with at least 5-6 Balls
- 2 straight Games with at least 7 Balls
- 161 Balls in 32 Games at Target Field= 5.03 Balls Per Game
- 30 straight Games with at least 1 Ball at Target Field
- 10 straight Games with at least 2-4 Balls at Target Field
- 4 straight Games with at least 5-6 Balls at Target Field
- 2 straight Games with at least 7 Balls at Target Field
- Time Spent On Game 3:41-11:12= 7 Hours 31 Minutes
I think the Blue Jays’ 2011 season is best summed up by the culture lead by the one and only, Joey Bats:
Francisco Cordero, Ben Francisco, Jason Frasor, and Darren Oliver.
Frank Francisco, Shawn Camp, Nelson Figueroa, Chad Gaudin, Brad Mills, Jose Molina, Jon Rauch, Omar Vizquel, and Dewayne Wise.
Why?: First of all, let me say that this team definitely leads the league in “Francisco” related transactions. Maybe it’s just me, but they added both Fancisco Cordero and Ben Francisco. Then I think they made sure not to re-sign Frank Francisco just to add him to the list.
Really the grade from this came in that the average talent level of the players they added was far greater than that of the players lost, but there were just too many players lost to give the Blue Jays a grade that suggested they got better this offseason (for those who don’t know, a “C” means the team added just as much talent as they lost in an offseason. Anything above means they improved in terms of talent, anything below means they got worse in terms of talent. The degree to which they were better or worse than a “C” dictates how much talent they gained or lost. Also, by talent, I mean to suggest how much better they made the team itself for the next season. So although a minor league may be talented beyond belief, if he isn’t expected to play in MLB that next season they didn’t add any talent as far as I am concerned. I do give brownie point in the grades for good moves in terms of the long term, but the grade is based on how well the team set itself up for the immediately subsequent season. So that would be 2012 for this offseason.)
I really don’t feel like getting into the specifics, but I feel as though this is really the same team, talent-wise, as last season, so I gave them a “C”.
Predicted Record Range: 80-85 wins I don’t know why, but I just think this team could get a few games better this season, even though they really added a net-value of nothing.
The Rays were the beneficiaries of (reportedly) the greatest day in baseball last year:
Carlos Peña, Burke Badenhop, Jeff Keppinger, Josh Lueke, Jose Molina, Fernando Rodney, and Luke Scott.
Casey Kotchman, John Jaso, Kelly Shoppach, and Andy Sonnanstine.
Why?: Really every thing they lost, they replaced, and they also added talent. They replaced Casey Kotchman with what I believe to be a better first baseman in Carlos Peña. They downgraded a little by replacing Shoppach with Molina, but also added a very good player in Luke Scott, who I see most likely to be the Casey Kotchman of this year for the Rays in that he will over-perform his contract.
Andy Sonnantine would have been a reliever for the Rays (because of the depth of their rotation), so they over-replaced him with Fernando Rodney, Burke Badenhop, and Josh Lueke. This was a huge bolster for a bullpen depleted from their form two years ago.
I haven’t even gotten to what may be their best move of the offseason. Okay, so it really wasn’t an addition, per say, but signing Matt Moore to a 6- year, $14 million (or something in that range. I’m sure of the money, but not the years), contract was probably a good move, potentially a spectacular. For those who don’t know, Matt Moore is ranked in the same echelon as Stephen Strasburg. This is $2+ million a year for an ace-type pitcher for six year. They then have a secondary part of the deal made up of club-options that make the deal a total of 8 years and $40 million (this I am sure of).
You may or may not remember that Evan Longoria signed a similar contract (6 years 17.5 Million on his seventh day in the league, or something ridiculous like that). Well, doesn’t that look like an incredible deal now? They can’t really lose that much. At worst, they are losing the $16 Million over the first part of the contract if he stinks, or injures himself. Even for the low-budget Rays, that isn’t a huge blow. The upside on this deal is enormous, though.
Predicted Record Range: 92-97 wins