Rays’ Longoria to miss at least three weeks with strained oblique

Tampa Bay Rays’ Evan Longoria (L) reacts in front of Baltimore Orioles catcher Matt Wieters as he strikes out swinging during the ninth inning of their MLB American League baseball game in St. Petersburg, Florida, April 1, 2011. REUTERS/Brian Blanco (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT BASEBALL)

It has not been a great start to 2011 for the Tampa Bay Rays, who were just swept by the Orioles in their first series of the season. Adding injury to insult, the club also had to place star Evan Longoria on the 15-day disabled list with a strained left oblique.

The early diagnosis on Longoria is that he’ll be out at least three weeks so best-case, he won’t be back before late April. Sean Rodriguez will replace him in the lineup, while Ben Zobrist will play second base and Matt Joyce will start in right. Felipe Lopez was also called up from Triple-A and will likely see some at bats over these next three weeks as well.

Rodriguez replaced Longoria at third base on Saturday before the start of the sixth inning. He was then evaluated on Sunday and it was determined that he would have to be placed on the DL. While he doesn’t believe that he’ll be out for the full three weeks, players are generally overoptimistic when it comes to injuries.

The Rays scored a total of just three runs at home against the Orioles, dropping 4-1, 3-1 and 5-1 decisions from Friday through Sunday. Longoria has started off the year 0-for-5 at the dish with one walk and one strikeout.

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Longoria and Price call low attendance at Rays’ game “embarrassing”

Tampa Bay Rays' Evan Longoria walks back to the dugout after striking out against the Boston Red Sox during the third inning of their MLB American League baseball game at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts September 6, 2010.  REUTERS/Adam Hunger (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASEBALL)

Following the Rays’ 4-0 loss to the Orioles on Monday night, third baseman Evan Longoria and David Price said it was embarrassing that Tampa could have clinched a playoff spot and only 12,446 fans (the fourth-smallest crowd of the season at Tropicana Field) would have seen it.

Longoria’s take, Via the St. Petersburg Times:

“We go out there and play hard for 162 games,” Longoria said, “and for the fans to show the kind of support they’re showing right now, you kind of wonder what else you have to do as a player.”

Price said:

“Had a chance to clinch a post season spot tonight with about 10,000 fans in the stands….embarrassing”

David Brown of Yahoo! Sports had the best take on this situation that I’ve read so far:

Jeez, what is it with Tampa Bay athletes who live in glass houses?

No matter their good intentions, no matter their honesty, no matter if they have reason to be upset — even if they were 1000 percent correct — what Longoria (pictured right) and Price did was a mistake.

It’s a cardinal rule: You don’t criticize your fan base. It’s stupid. It’s ignorant. It won’t get you what you want. It makes you look entitled, spoiled, narrow-minded and short-sighted.

The timing was poor, too, after losing 4-0 to the Baltimore Orioles. No matter how well you’re doing — and the Rays are having a great season — nobody wants to hear how bad the attendance was on a night when your team is shut out. It’s an obvious lack of perspective.

Longoria later said he was “just trying to rally the troops and get more people in here,” which I believe.
Price already backtracked, saying, “If I offended anyone I apologize” — which is the classic non-apology apology. He’s probably sorry, though, for one reason or another.

There are many reasons the Rays lag at 22nd overall in attendance. Start with: Bad stadium, bad location of stadium, bad economy. There’s more. It’s all irrelevant to Longoria and Price criticizing the fans.

It’s just bad policy, scolding people for not paying their own money to watch you.

Sorry for the long blockquote, but Brown made so many good points that I couldn’t cut it down. He hit a home run with his comments and I couldn’t agree more with everything he said.

Tampa fans should pack the stadium on a night where the Rays could clinch a playoff spot, but Brown is right when he says there’s nothing to be gained by criticizing your fanbase. It’s in poor taste and imagine how the people feel who did go to the game last night. They spent upwards of $100 to attend a game that the Rays didn’t even show up for and now they have to listen to two of the star players bitch about low attendance.


Five new playoff contenders for the 2010 MLB season

While some enthusiasts will argue otherwise, there’s usually not a lot of change from one year to the next in baseball. Most pundits expect the Yankees, Phillies, Red Sox, Angels, Cardinals, Twins, Dodgers and Rockies (all eight teams that made the playoffs in 2009) to be good again this year. MLB isn’t like the NFL where teams make unexpected playoff runs every year.

That said, that doesn’t mean there aren’t a couple of sleepers to watch out for in 2010. Below are five clubs that didn’t make the postseason last year that have the best odds (in my estimation) of making the playoffs this season.

1. Chicago White Sox
If you read the 2010 MLB season preview, you’re not surprised to see the White Sox at the top of this list. As long as Jake Peavy stays healthy, Chicago arguably has the best starting rotation one through five in the American League. (Boston fans may argue otherwise, but Boston fans can also shove off…just kidding…although not really.) But the key to the Chi Sox’s success this season lies in their offense. Yes, I’m banking on veterans Carlos Quentin, Alex Rios, Mark Teahen, Paul Konerko and Mark Kotsay to have productive years and yes, that may be asking a lot. But Gordon Beckham looks like a star in the making and the addition of Juan Pierre gives the Sox a solid leadoff hitter. I’m well aware that Chicago could finish third in a three-team race in the AL Central, but their pitching is going to keep them competitive all season and I’m willing to bet that their offense won’t be as bad as many believe.

2. Seattle Mariners
The Mariners have all the pieces in place to not only compete for the AL Wild Card, but also unseat the Angels in the AL West. Along with Felix Hernandez, the acquisition of Cliff Lee now gives Seattle the best 1-2 punch in the American League outside of Boston’s Josh Beckett and John Lackey. The problem is that the lineup lacks major punch. Chone Figgins and Ichiro give the M’s quality bats at the top of the order, but can this team score enough runs on a nightly basis? The club has been built on pitching and defense but if they want to make the postseason, the Mariners will have to prove that they can overcome a powerless lineup.

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2010 MLB Preview: AL East

In order to help get you ready for the MLB season, we’re doing division-by-division rankings with quick overviews on how each club could fair in 2010. Next to each team, you’ll also find a corresponding number written in parenthesis, which indicates where we believe that club falls in a league-wide power ranking. Be sure to check back throughout the next two weeks leading up to the season, as we will be updating our content daily. Enjoy.

All 2010 MLB Preview Content | AL East Preview | AL Central Preview | AL West Preview | NL East | NL Central | NL West

First up is the AL East.

1. New York Yankees (1)
If you think I would get cute in these rankings and suggest that some upstart team would derail the Yankees this season, then you sir, are sadly mistaken. I just don’t have the conjones to bet against them, especially after they added Curtis Granderson, Javier Vazquez and Nick Johnson to their already stacked roster. Sure they lost World Series MVP Hideki Matsui and Johnny Damon, the latter of which loved to work the count and provided the Yanks with some pop over the last couple of seasons. But thanks to Granderson, Johnson, Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Mark Texeira, Robinson Cano and Jorge Posada, the lineup is still stacked from top to bottom. Vazquez, CC Sabathia, AJ Burnett and Mariano Rivera will once again highlight a strong pitching staff and assuming they don’t suffer any major injuries, there’s nothing to suggest that the Bombers won’t make another championship run. That said, let’s not be oblivious to the potential problems that could arise for the Yanks this season. Age is a factor, as is the fact that Granderson can’t hit lefties and will be under the spotlight as the club’s biggest offseason acquisition. Plus, for as good as Vazquez was over the past couple of years, he was a disaster the last time he wore pinstripes (Boston fans remember this well.) Should the Yankees win another World Series? Yeah – especially considering they have the best-purchased roster in baseball. But just like last year, they still have to prove it between the lines and they’re not immune to hurdles getting in their way.

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2010 Fantasy Baseball Rankings: Third Basemen

All 2010 Fantasy Articles | 2010 Position Rankings

Savvy fantasy drafters realize that the pool for third basemen this year isn’t as shallow as catchers and shortstops, but it isn’t as deep as second basemen either (which may sound surprising to some owners).

What does that mean to you? Well, if you don’t grab one of the top seven or eight third basemen in your draft, then good luck trying to figure out which player after that will exceed expectations.

Drafting third basemen is pretty cut and dry. If you don’t land one of the top 3 (Alex Rodriguez, Evan Longoria or David Wright), then focus on drafting one of the next five 3B’s available or you better hope that Gordon Beckham or Ian Stewart are the ultimate sleepers this season. We don’t need to sell you on why you should take A-Rod, Longoria or Wright, so we’re going to concentrate on the next five rated players on our list, which we’ve highlighted for you below.

Ryan Zimmerman, Nationals
There’s a good chance that Zimmerman will plateau at around 30 home runs (which is nothing to scoff at), but it’s hard to argue with what he’ll bring to the table in terms of production across the board. He should hit around .300 (or maybe a little south of that number), with 100-plus runs and RBI, all while stealing 5-10 bases and hitting the aforementioned 25-30 home runs. That’s solid production for your third base position if you happen to miss out on one of the top three guys.

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