Tampa Bay Rays to Relocate to Turner Field in 2017

The Tampa Bay Rays finally have their new stadium, after years of low attendance and jokes at the Trop's expense, Rays' ownership have finally found an opportunity for a new stadium when the Atlanta Braves decided to move out of Turner Field.  Rays Principal Owner Stu Sternberg was elated to share the news, saying, "We have heard the cries of Rays fans everywhere and have struck a deal with the city of Atlanta to play in a world class facility built not long ago for the Olympics, the freaking Olympics, how great is that?!" He then promised that the name, the logo, and the community involvement in the city of Tampa would not change.

The Rays, who in 2013 saw just 1,510,300 people come through the turnstiles were in desperate need of something to engage fans. This Sternberg also addressed in his initial statement claiming, "We are taking Rays baseball to the fans!"

When asked how moving to a stadium 478 miles from their existing stadium would be moving "to the fans", Sternberg was quick to mention, "Oh, Tampa doesn't have baseball fans, Florida doesn't have baseball fans, look at Miami. We are moving to where people enjoy baseball, in the City of Atlanta. As I mentioned in my statement, we are just as dedicated to the City of Tampa as we've always been. For those who do want to attend a game, it's one road, I-75, how simple is that? In Chicago, you need to take about 50 streets and 3 trains just to see a game, what a pain!"

Fans in Tampa are excited by the news. One die hard Rays fan said, "I think it's great for the Rays to move to a facility as current and modern as Turner Field". When asked if this would change his going to see games, he simply said, "Absolutely not, I love the Rays, and that's why I'm glad I can still listen on the radio while at the beach, I've never actually attended a game, that sounds terrible."


Prospecting: R.J. Seidel

I'm pretty sure this is the guy...
It's been a little bit since my last post, but that'll happen.  Today I'm here to talk about an old prospect who
is really a young prospect but has been around a while but who has been off most people's radar for the last couple of seasons.  Got that? Good.

Said prospect is none other than Wisconsin Native and LAX'er Richard Seidel, better known as R.J.

Who Is R.J. Seidel?

From La Crosse, Wis., Seidel was drafted in the 16th round of the 2006 amateur draft (see what I'm saying, been around a while).  2013 marked his seventh professional season, all spent in the Milwaukee Brewers farm system.  He's been around long enough to have played A-ball with the West Virginia Power (fun fact: also on that team were Jonathan Lucroy, Logan Schafer, Caleb Gindl and Rob Wooten).

So what took so long?  Injury for one, before the 2009 season he tore his ACL when he slipped on ice.  He would only throw 57 innings that year and did not look sharp in the process - Seidel had an ERA of 6.79 combined between the Arizona League Brewers and the low-A Wisconsin Timber Rattlers.

The following season he opened the year in the starting rotation for the High-A Brevard County Manatees and struggled some before moving into the bullpen, which turned out to be a good move for him.  2010 saw him finish with a 3.70 ERA in 65.2 innings pitched. Solid, but not spectacular.

It took Seidel a couple shots at double-A to stick and he earned a promotion to Nashville early this season.  Once there, whether by necessity or demand he found his way back into the starting rotation.  And, aside from one bad month, he has had a pretty impressive season.

The Good

To start us off, let's take a look at his month by month splits.  In May Seidel had a 3.51 ERA, in June - 10.20, in July 3.48 and here in August he has yet to give up a run in either appearance.  If you take away that atrocious month of June you would consider this a breakout season.

The strikeout numbers aren't too bad either, he's struck out 94 batters between a brief stint at double-A and triple-A spanning 88.2 innings.  The strikeouts are a career high and the inning count is his highest since his 2008 season.  It's a limited return to the starting rotation but results are results.

The Bad

Durability might be an issue, this is a player that's only gone over the 100 inning mark once in his career.  He's been used sparingly in August so it's unlikely we'll see him go over that mark this year either.  His role is another question, Seidel has had success as a reliever at times and as a starter at times.  While his numbers with Nashville this year are promising, that one bad month was REALLY bad.

In June Seidel made five appearances, pitching in 15 innings.  In those 15 innings he managed to give up 17 runs and walk 12 batters.  His ERA was a less-than-stellar 10.20, yikes.  The consistency just wasn't there.  This was also the first season he saw extended action in the starting rotation since 2010.

The Outlook

This is a tough one to get a read on, which usually isn't a good sign.  Seidel seems to be a player that will be able to contribute at the major league level but in an as yet determined role.  In the immediate future, assuming he remains with Milwaukee, he should be given a chance in the starting rotation with Nashville.

When you consider the lack of near majors ready pitching prospects and the struggles of Taylor Jungmann and Drew Gagnon with double-A Hunstville this year, any pitcher whose shown some flashes of success at a higher level should be given a chance to realize that.  Whether the organization decides to do that or not is anyone's guess.

In the event that the organization wants him in a relief role in 2013 I would expect to see him receive an invite to major league spring training with a chance to earn a spot in the bullpen (slim chance, but if you don't make it and you pitch well in the minors your name will likely be the first called - example Donovan Hand).

The story has the potential to be a good one, he's a Wisconsin kid who has worked his way up the minor league ladder.  Overcome bad luck, overcome some bad seasons and now has the potential to be a perfect example of Doug Melvin's patience paying off.  I'm rooting for him.


Prospecting: Nick Delmonico

Is this really the best picture I could find?
Ryan Braun got suspended, and you can read about that here and here, especially if you enjoy some rumors and wild speculation.  Not so wild, but they are definitely a different approach.  That being said, I'm not here to talk about Ryan Braun.  I'm here to talk about a surprisingly good trade that Doug Melvin and company pulled off for a reliever that nobody wanted to sign in the offseason.

The trade that was made? Closer Francisco Rodriguez for Nick Delmonico, a third baseman in the Baltimore Orioles system.  So a player that most of major league baseball had no interest in, who had to start his year in the minor leagues, netted Milwaukee the Orioles No. 5 overall prospect (or No. 4 depending on which list you read).  Sounds like a pretty sweet deal to me, so let's find out about the new guy.

Who is Nick Delmonico?

I guess for starters, he's not really a third baseman.  Well he is, but he isn't.  Delmonico has seen time at first, second and third but as far as the Milwaukee Brewers are concerned - he's a third baseman.  Delmonico was drafted in the 6th round of the 2011 draft.  He's 6'2" with a left-handed bat and a right-handed throw.  The 21-year-old spent last season in A-ball and spent the first half of this season with the Orioles High-A affiliate.  Early reports are he's headed to Brevard County, Milwaukee's High-A squad.

In 2012 - his first professional season - Delmonico hit .249 with a .351 OBP and 11 home runs in 95 games.  He also drove in 54 runs and was 8-for-9 in stolen base attempts.  Solid numbers as a 20-year-old in your first run as a professional ballplayer.

Delmonico followed that up with an improved sophomore season, he already has 13 home runs in 61 games this year.  The average and on-base numbers are about the same, .243 and .350, but the potential is certainly there.

The Good

First - power from the left side.  With 24 homers and 34 doubles in 156 professional games Delmonico has the chance to be a legitimate contributor to a big league line-up.  He's also a third base prospect, something Milwaukee has been lacking in their farm system since trading away Brett Lawrie.  At the big league level, the Brewers have been hard pressed to find a left-handed complement to their right side heavy lineup.

Delmonico has good plate presence to go with the aforementioned power, which his .350 on-base percentage demonstrates.  So far, he's played 156 professional games - call it a full season- and he has 24 homers, 84 RBIs and a .351 OBP.  If your third baseman does that on a year-to-year basis you would not be complaining.

The Bad

That batting average isn't a very pretty number.  Delmonico is a .246 hitter in his pro career, not exactly all-star material.  He is young enough that you can hope for improvement but that would be the biggest hole in his offensive game.  His strikeouts are a bit high (59 in 61 games in 2013) but it's not something I would be overly concerned with - yet.

The defensive game has some shortcomings as well.  In 2012, when he saw time at first and second, Delmonico committed 22 errors,  This year, mostly at third, he's committed 14.  Hopefully he can settle down when he is playing consistently at the same position.  I mean, if Rickie Weeks can become an above average (albeit very slightly above average) then anyone can, right?

The Outlook

Regardless of whether or not Delmonico pans out as a major leaguer this was a good trade.  K-Rod was not in the plans for the organization's future and they signed him off the scrap heap.  To turn him around for a player who is a top five prospect in your farm system before even playing a game is a definite win.

As for the player's outlook, there is a lot of promise here.  Left-handed power bats are hard to come by and that's what Delmonico has the potential to be.  Are there holes in his game? Definitely.  He's also only played a season and a half of professional baseball.  If he continues to develop he could have a very bright future for the Milwaukee Brewers franchise.

Expect to see Delmonico in Double-A Huntsville next season, at his current rate of development we could see him make his major league debut sometime in 2015.


A More Plausible Ryan Braun Scenario

I wrote my conspiracy theory yesterday, and like I said, it wasn't actually what I personally believed. I figure he's guilty, but there was still more information I needed to really decide how I felt about it all. The "what" and the "when".  Today, ESPN's T.J.Quinn may have answered that riddle.

If these tweets are correct, and Braun didn't have a relationship with Bosch until the summer of 2011, then he clearly didn't need to take any PED's to be a superstar, he was already at that level. This can be further backed up by Braun being stringently tested for 5 years prior, all clean (unless testing process changed).  Why then, would one of the game's brightest stars, turn to cheating? The answer, if you look back, is perhaps the "Andy Pettite excuse". In mid-2011, Ryan Braun was suffering from a lingering calf strain. The Brewers were in the hunt and Braun likely felt pressure to get on the field and perform like a healthy Ryan Braun can. He couldn't get on the field, he couldn't perform to his own standards, and he likely was frustrated. In creeps the dark side, and a desperate decision, PED's.  Braun is able to get back on the field, help the Brewers win their first NL Central Crown. All is well, until it turns out he failed a drug test.

Likely, Braun's team of lawyers found a very big loophole in the testing process, and the decision was made to fight. We know this part of the story. He wins arbitration. However, the story was leaked, and Braun's name had been sullied. Damage control needs to be done.

It's very possible, Ryan Braun, knowing he had dodged a bullet, vowed to never again cheat the game. He knew it was wrong, he knew he was lucky, but it was behind him (so he thought), and he could go on an all out offensive to help regain some of his image, which had been tarnished. He could lie, lie, lie....as only himself and Tony Bosch likely knew the whole truth, and he probably trusted Tony more than he should have. Ryan went on the attack, ignorantly thinking that since the issue was now behind him, and that he'll never again take a PED, that it will never come back to haunt him. We humans are a silly creature.

Of course, this is where we know what happens again.

Once again, this is all speculation, and maybe I make him look like too good of a person but:

- Braun upset at himself and feeling pressure to perform while injured, took an illegal substance.
- Braun escaped "sentencing" on a technicality.
- Braun, being a very arrogant individual, goes on the offensive thinking the past is behind him.
- The past catches up, he has to continue the lie in order to save face, but it bites him in the ass.

Braun has more apologies to make, and deserves a punishment. He deserves a lot of the ire he has drawn, but I think I'll have a hard time holding a long grudge against him. I don't blame the rest of the fans across the league to hate him, I'd do the same. But, being a Brewer fan, and a long supporter of Braun, I can see the human nature in what he did.  He fucked up; we all have. He escaped punishment from his mistake; we all have. He lied about it to save face; we all have. His lies caught up to him; happened to us all.

Clearly, me lying about my car being dead to escape a parking ticket, is on a scale far less than Braun's. While I like to think I have hoards of fans looking up to me, I don't. So, yes, he needed to have far better judgement than he used, but he's also a lot more arrogant than I am, and likely felt much more invincible. The point is this, if you think you got away with something, you tend to not suddenly fess up for no reason.

So, what now?

In 2014, Braun needs to be humble, he needs to be the clubhouse leader he's never been, and he needs to perform at the same caliber that we expect of Ryan Braun. While Cooperstown is an unlikely stop for him, if he acts correctly, I think he can still be accepted in the Milwaukee community.  He has a lot of work to do though.

(Once again, this is only my opinion)

Update: Let me make it clear. Even in this scenario, what Ryan Braun did was 100% wrong.  I was just trying to guess what his thought process may have been. He should have never gotten so aggressive in his Feb 12 presser, if he knew in fact he was lying. He should have just said "I was found Not Guilty, I applaud the testing system put in place for working, and now I want to focus on baseball....thank you".  I'm suggesting his arrogance, and the pressure he puts on himself to back up said arrogance, caused him to make a very seriously wrong decision, and he himself is to blame.


The Braun Conspiracy

Let me start by saying, that the following conspiracy is nothing that I personally believe. Where there's smoke, there's fire. However, the following isn't exactly the world's biggest stretch of the imagination. Here ends the disclaimer.

What if the whole world wanted you to tell the truth, but the truth isn't exactly what it appears? If you tell the masses what they want to hear, you'd in fact, be lying. If you told the real truth, you'd be deemed a liar, and forever thrown into the role of pariah

Sounds a bit like a movie plot, where the protagonist is dealt with this decision while the antagonist is pulling strings on his puppets. Inside the world in which this movie is set, the villain appears to be the good guy, the hero appears to be the villain. However, as a viewers, you know what is real and what is propaganda. What if you didn't know the truth, what if you weren't privy to the inside information? You'd probably join the masses against the protagonist.

What if, in my example above, Ryan Braun was the good guy in the movie, Bud Selig, the bad? Let me explain:

After Braun beat the suspension for a failed drug test from 2011, MLB has seemingly had a vendetta against him. Throwing a giant hissy fit over the results, firing an independent arbitrator who voted against them, publicly smearing Braun, and likely vowing for revenge. As we know, Braun then, in February of 2012, struck back hard at the process of which he said he was a victim. He laid a convincing argument on why he was innocent, if it was a lie, he deserves an Academy Award. What if, what Braun said, was the truth, and he didn't cheat, he was being unfairly accused of cheating?

In comes Biogenesis. First reports in the Miami Herald, mention A-Rod and others, but no Braun. It comes out later on Yahoo! that Braun was on the list. Miami Herald later says it didn't list him, as the evidence wasn't strong enough.  MLB takes over, does their own investigation, where it's been rumored they paid for people's confessions. Scribbled notes and forced confessions is all we as the public had to go on. Then, wham, Braun accepts a penalty (doesn't confess to PEDs), he appears to have been guilty all along.....the sports world casts him in the pit of evil.

So, here's the thing. Clearly, the MLB is going to get their way. They have the money, the resources, and judging by their ability to fire independent arbitrators, the means to suspend any and all players using whatever evidence they want. This isn't the court of law, it's the Feudal System. There's the King (Selig), the Dukes and Lords (Owners), the knights (players), and the peasants (the fans). The king will get his way, the Lords will agree, and all of the peasants will believe what the all mighty king says. A knight is forever outcast, for making the king look foolish.

Yes, no matter the evidence, Ryan Braun was going to be suspended, and from the rumors, even a possible lifetime ban was in play. The way Braun's contract is shaped, if the suspension goes into next year, he has a lot to lose. Plus he'd be hurting the 2014 Brewers. Something the fans won't enjoy as they already think he's a cheater, for he has been convicted.

So, either fight, probably lose, screw over your finances and your team, or make a bargain which essentially means you're accepting guilt over something you didn't do, but you won't be punished as severely.  Also, upon accepting the punishment, Braun just gave credibility to the entire Biogenesis investigation, and others will soon drop like flies. King Selig looks like a hero.

There's no doubt, MLB had a witch hunt going for Braun. Like @MillerParkNorth tweeted "Witch hunts almost always find a witch.", but like we all know, a lot of innocent "witches" have been burned at the stake.

Was Ryan Braun Bud Selig's great sacrifice, which will ensure Selig honorable praise when he enters Cooperstown, or is the simplest answer (Braun cheated and lied) the most likely?


Prospecting: Tyrone Taylor

This "writing" thing, almost seems foreign to me.  But I still live and my computer still works and there is tons of useless (useful?) opinions on the world of Wisconsin sports floating around aimlessly in my head.  I'd sit here and tell you that I'm back and I'm going to be a consistent contributor to the sports blogosphere, but let's ease back in to this shall we?  For example, a closer look at one of my new favorite Milwaukee Brewers hitting prospects - one Tyrone Taylor.

Who is Tyrone Taylor?

Drafted in the second round of the 2012 draft (92nd overall) Taylor was the fourth player taken by Milwaukee a year ago.  Athletic is the word that you will hear in regards to this outfield prospect the most often.  To go along with baseball he was also a running back in high school, rushing for over 1500 yards and double-digit touchdowns.

He came onto the scene with a splash last season, hitting .389 in eight games with the rookie Arizona Brewers, which earned him a promotion to Helena for short season ball.  Taylor hit .385 with a pair of home runs in ten games before an injury ended his first professional season.  Still, the front office had seen enough to assign him to Wisconsin (Low-A) for the 2012 season.

Taylor got off to a slow start this year but has been absolutely on fire in the month of June.  In April he hit .247, in May .236, but in June he is scorching the ball to the tune of a .482 average.  Not bad.  He has four home runs - good enough for third on the team - and is leading the T-Rats with 19 doubles.

The Good

The numbers across the board are good for Taylor.  His 24 extra-base hits are tops on the team, his athleticism has shown through on his 14 stolen bases in 18 attempts and he hasn't looked over-matched at the plate (he's struck out only 27 times in 239 at-bats).  Throw in a .297 batting average, .355 on-base percentage and there is a lot to like about him.

Did I mention he is only 19 years old?  All of this from a 19-year-old, that is pretty impressive by itself.

The Bad

A little more consistency would be nice, a rough April-May has been washed out by an outstanding first two-plus weeks of June but imagine how outrageous his numbers would look had he been performing at a high level for the whole season.  That being said, he is only 19 and what you really want to see from month to month is improvement.  And we are seeing that.

Honestly I don't have much else, if consistency is the biggest problem a 19-year-old hitting prospect has, things are looking good.

The Outlook

Taylor is going to be a fun one to watch develop.  His 19 doubles and four home runs indicate he could have developing power, he has good speed and plate presence and he can steal bases.  He is a true five-tool prospect, which is as exciting as it is terrifying.  Five-tool major league ball players are extremely rare, just look how long it took for Carlos Gomez to develop.  

If he continues to hit like he has in June, Taylor could see a promotion to Brevard County.  More likely, especially considering his age, he will play out the 2013 season with Wisconsin and play his 2014 campaign with the High-A Manatees.  So if you are reading this, you should really head up to the Fox Valley and watch this kid play - he could be a good one.


Support Your Local Brewers

I don't just mean your local craft brewers, of which you should also support them. No, I mean your Milwaukee Brewers baseball club. It would seem after disastrous six win May, that they've managed to spoil any chance of the postseason. But fret not fellow fans, there are still reasons on why you should continue to support the team.

There is a Lot of Talent on the Team - Talent? These bums can't seem to win with any consistency. True, they've struggled putting it all together, but let's take a look at this lineup again. You have two electric breakout stars right now in Jean Segura and Carlos Gomez. Jean Segura obviously is off to a hot start, and as of now, deserves a trip to the All-Star game (VOTE!), but why would I mention Gomez has being breakout? Well, because he's 28 years old. He shouldn't have been called to the Majors as quickly as he was, and he is now starting to make the most of his talent. Between these two players and Ryan Braun, this team has a solid core of which to build around. Then of course there's Lucroy, a fan favorite for good reason. Yes, this offense is able to put up double digits on any given game. This isn't your team of the 90's, there's talent that is worth going out to the ballpark to watch.

A Glimpse at the Future - We know about Jean Segura now, and we know he's under Brewers control for many more years, even without an extension.  However, the club is starting to give their talented young prospects chances this year. Rickie's struggles have forced the hand of the Brewers to call up Scooter Gennett, a player who's hit successfully on every level. Another young bat, who we might see a lot more of soon if Braun goes on the DL or is suspended is Logan Schafer. This young man already has my attention with his walk-up music selection, "Return of the Mack".

Then there's the pitching. Wily Peralta and Hiram Burgos are still learning the ropes in the rotation, but are still good reasons to go out to the park. Other young pitchers like Fiers and Thornburg, have had a few bumps in the road, but could still turn things around. This year seems like it might be a good year to watch these young arms, to see progress as we move towards 2014.

This isn't the "watch the future Brewers" of the 00's where we desperately hoped players like Ben Hendrickson would bring us championships, no, this is to see who will fill in the holes of an already solid core. Remember, it was these young arms that helped propel the 2012 Brewers to a relevant 2nd half of the season. Which brings us to:

The Season Isn't Over - Like I just mentioned, the Brewers, after a seemingly lost 2012 early on, managed to come roaring back and get themselves in the playoff picture until the last few games of the year. September was still meaningful. Who's to say that doesn't happen again this year? It's sort of a Roenicke thing, maybe his years with Scioscia have rubbed off. Remember the Yost days, where it was start hot, finish poor? Listen, I'm not delusional, I'm just saying, hopping off and on the bandwagon must get exhausting.

It's a Great Summer Activity - We bitch all winter long about the cold, and the lack of baseball.  So now you're not going to go have a good time just because the team didn't start off too great? That's some dollar store brand of stadium sauce right there...WEAK! Go to the park, tailgate, party, enjoy baseball while it lasts. If you can't make it to a game, listen to Uecker call a game from your deck while grilling with a beer in hand. Summer is fleeting in Wisconsin. To me, baseball = summer and summer = fun.



Like a Phoenix Rising From the Ashes...

Wisconsin Sport Tap has returned. Okay, so a Phoenix doesn't really fit the bill. Let me rephrase this:

Like the lazy Rip Van Winkel, awaking from his slumber, Wisconsin Sports Tap is back!

There, that seems more appropriate. But, I've gotten the writing bug again, and I'll try to convince Mark to do the same. A few topics I want to get started on:

- Biogenesis
- Continuing to support your Milwaukee Brewers during a possibly lost season
- Brett Favre
- Various other nonsense.

Let me trim my beard, and I'll get started right away!

Cheers, Prost, Kanpai, Salute, Salud, Skål