Rays Reluctant Diary: 6/2/16

      Bad breaks, injuries and erratic pitching aside, this year’s version of the Rays “offense” may well be the worst designed and most poorly coached of all.  This, of course, is what happens anyway when a team has not had a hitting coach for some seven years.  It starts and ends with corporate executives who believe they can dictate to professional baseball people all of the wonderful things that they have learned about the venerable old game by playing on their XBoxes and Playstations.

      Kevin Cash almost got it right when he said, before the game last night, that his players needed to watch the way the Athletics play the game.  Actually it’s corporate Rays that need to watch how a professional baseball operation works.  They need to watch batters hit the ball where it is pitched, something the Rays do so sporadically that Dewayne Staats, Brian Anderson, Dave Wills, and Andy Fried all seem to have profound spiritual experiences on the rare occasions when a Rays player does it.  The same thing happens to them when a Rays player knocks in a run with a ground out, while someone in the corporate office is ticked off because he was eagerly awaiting a needless homerun.

      A good example of terminally inept coaching occurred just a few days ago.  The Rays managers and coaches seem to have a long history of not watching the game they are playing while they are on the field.  The Kansas City Coaches obviously decided that since Rays hitters had apparently returned to their old habit of pulling virtually all pitches, that they would “live” on the outside corners. Poor Souza, with literally 23 of 25 pitches in a row on the outside corner was never told to try to hit any of them to right field.  Instead, he fouled a few, trying to pull them and ended up arguing with the umpires after each of his five “called” strikeouts.  This was repeated with other Rays, batter after batter, game after game.

 Meanwhile, K.C.’s coaches knew that Rays pitchers would try to paint the outside corners as well and their players reacted accordingly by hitting some pretty good outside pitches by “going with the pitch.” Rays hitters appear to ride second class without the luxury of scouts and batting coaches.  In the past, their excellent pitching and defense could disguise the amateurish design of their so called offense. Unfortunately, at this time they have inferior starting pitching, a burnt out bullpen as well as a less than mediocre defense. The offensive coaching is an embarrassment, no one knows how to bunt, hit and run or even how to put the ball on the ground behind the runners.  The Rays have finally succeeded, apparently, in fulfilling the corporate dream: leading the league in homeruns, mostly solo shots, filling the seats for the time being until the team is so far behind the leaders that fans from opposing teams will again outnumber home team fans.

      Good Note:  I’m proud of Evan Longoria for stepping up a bit in the batter's box and shortening his stride, enabling him to keep his balance when he swings.  It’s helping him hit for more power and yes, to increasingly hit the outside pitch to the opposite field. There’s no telling how far Evan can go! The same goes for Morrison and Guyer and Pearce.  Also, it’s hard for anyone except Rays coaching to miss the fact that most of Longoria’s, Souza’s, Morrison’s and especially Curt Casali’s homeruns are not the product of vicious swings, but the result of stroking the ball with the fat part of the bat- it’s called “not overswinging,” the product of coaching, not corporate videos on XBox or Playstation!


Al Finkelstein