Dave’s Free Play, Thursday 7/24/14

  • July 24, 2014

The offers are going to come. But now there has to be some real doubt as to whether the Tampa Bay Rays will be listening as contending teams around the majors make their pitches to get a deal done for star southpaw David Price.

After slogging along in last place throughout the first half of the 2014 season, it was inevitable the Rays would deal Price to the highest bidder. From the Rays standpoint, this made perfect sense. The farm system has dried up considerably and the determination just about everywhere was that the team was toast this season, and it was time to rebuild.

That was then, and this is now. The Rays are the hottest team in baseball, and they’re very much back in the playoff chase. Tampa Bay closed to within seven games of the Orioles in the AL East following last night’s win at St. Louis. They’re even closer in the wild card race, now trailing the Mariners by only 4.5 games.

The Rays are now on their way back home for a lengthy stay, and barring a sudden loss of form, they’re again serious contenders. I think the Price trade talks are pretty much dead in the water at this point. That’s not to say Tampa Bay won’t get offers for their ace. But there’s really no need for the Rays to deal Price now, as he’s not a free agent till after next season.

At the same time, I think it’s doubtful the Rays will want to pay what Price will be due next season, and I’ll be surprised if he’s wearing a Tampa Bay uniform next spring. But with the Rays rolling toward what could be another season with October action, I now believe he won’t be traded till the off-season. The Rays might well be tempted with a great package now, but with some possibly lean years ahead of them, it makes more sense to go for the marbles this season and wait till the winter to explore other options.

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1-2 on Wednesday, with the Rays coming through, but a side and total loss at Wrigley as the Padres took full advantage of major wildness on the part of the Cub pitchers. Losing night, but the month to date remains rock solid, and I intend to finish July with a flourish.

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Alex Cobb and two relievers overpowered the Cardinals last night, making the free play call on the Rays a good one. I’ll bank on one of the game’s most reliable pitchers to come through this evening.

07/24  05:10 PM   MLB   (965) CLEVELAND INDIANS  at   (966) KANSAS CITY ROYALS

Take: (965) CLEVELAND INDIANS -114

What should be a good pitching duel is on tap tonight as the Indians and Royals open a weekend set in Kansas City. It’s Corey Kluber vs. Danny Duffy in a dynamite duel with lots on the line for each team. Both the Indians and Royals are still within hailing distance of the AL Central front-running Tigers. But the reality is that these two clubs are more realistically contending for the last wild card spot. Cleveland has stepped it up lately, and the Indians are now only two games back of Seattle. The Royals haven’t been sharp recently, but they’re still just 2.5 games off the pace.

That current form is big tonight, though. Even though the Indians are not as potent against lefties, this is still a hot entry right now. As for the Royals, they got a much needed won on Wednesday against the White Sox, and maybe returning home will get them heated up.

But there’s no question that the Royals major weakness is getting them in hot water right now. This is simply a poor offensive team, with an alarming lack of power remaining an issue all season long. The Royals usually have to put hits together in small ball fashion to score, and accomplishing that against Kluber has been a problem for them.

KC did manage to beat Kluber once this season, but they’ve also been completely overmatched by the star righty twice. That doesn’t bode well for the home team here, as the Royals are not hitting at all well right now. Aside from a seven-run outburst against some mediocre White Sox hurlers on Tuesday, the post-All Star Kansas City bats have done very little.

The Indians lost yesterday and in fact dropped two out of three at Minnesota. But even with that series loss, I still feel there’s positive momentum with the Tribe. They might not have it easy tonight against the southpaw serves of Danny Duffy, who should own a better record than his current 5-10.

But therein lies the problem for Duffy. He hasn’t been the recipient of much offense and he keeps getting matched up tough, which is again the case this evening. Kluber has been the model of consistency and as long as his command remains top notch, it’s hard to see the Royals helping Duffy out with much tonight.

The Indians are rightfully small favorites here, so this isn’t a particular bargain. But I really don’t see this as having to pay a premium to enlist the service of Kluber tonight. As good as he’s been for me this season, I’ll have no problem supporting the Cleveland ace once again. I’ll side with the Indians to garner the road win tonight.