THE GOOD: Eric Hinske hit his 4th home run and is red hot. That is a home run in back-to-back games and 3 in the past week, of which he has started 6 games. Since April 9, he is 9-24 (.375) with 3 home runs and 5 RBI…We would be remiss if we did not point out the great stop and throw made by Jason Bartlett for the 2nd out in the 3rd. With a runner on first and 1 out, Bartlett ranged to his right to grab a ground ball in the hole, spun 180 degrees and fired to Akinori Iwamura at second base for the force…The bullpen continues to shine. JP Howell picked up his first career save, of the 3-inning variety. He did not allow a run and gave up only 2 hits, no walks. The bullpen now has an ERA of 3.08, which is a little better than the 6.20 ERA posted in 2007…We don’t want to go crazy about Jason Hammel’s performance, 6 hits, 2 walks, 3 runs in 6 innings, but he has given the Rays exactly what any team needs from a 5th starter. He goes out and gives the Rays 6+ inning, and gives the team a chance to win.

THE BAD: Carlos Pena left the game in the 4th inning with “hamstring tightness”. He is listed as day-to-day…In the 4th inning, with the Rays up 3-1 and with Justin Morneau on second base after a lead off double, Delmon Young came to the plate. Why would anybody ever throw Young a first-pitch strike? There is ZERO reason. Hammel throws a pitch down, but in the zone and Young ropes it for an RBI single. Not smart…Will the baserunning brainfarts ever end? With 2 outs in the 6th, Carl Crawford was picked off first base.

THE TELLING:The Rays are now 1-2 in games started by Hammel, meaning that the Rays have lost at most 2 wins so far due to the injury of Scott Kazmir, but more likely only 1 win…Evan Longoria is not about to sell out on any pitches. With 2 strikes in the 5th inning, he nearly spun himself into the ground with a huge swing. He struck out…Jonny Gomes started for the 3rd straight game and the 2nd straight against a right handed pitcher, going 1-4 with a double and RBI…Mike DiFelice got his 3rd start in 5 games, and we have to wonder if he stays once Dioner Navarro comes off the DL and it is Shawn Riggans that is sent to Durham…The Yankees play in Baltimore this weekend and we have no idea who to root for? It depends on whether you are rooting for the Rays to finish 4th or if you think there is still a chance for the Rays to make a run for the playoffs…San Diego and Colorado did not score a single run for the first 14 innings last night. Considering the Rays offense, the offenses of the rest of the AL East and the still shaky nature of the Rays pitching staff, what is the over/under on most innings the Rays will go this year in a game with a scoreless tie? We say 6.

DEVIL RAYS WEBTOPIA

  • Another power ranking with the Rays in the top 10? Hell is a little colder today. [Bugs & Cranks]
  • Jayson Stark takes a look at some early season performances and tries to determine which are real and which are not. Edwin Jackson comes in a third category “Hung Jury”. [ESPN]

“…while he had more “for real” votes than “not for real,” he even makes his supporters nervous. One scout praised his improved take-a-little-off-to-get-strike-one approach, quipping: “He’s like a NASCAR driver working the gas pedal. When he goes into the corners, he slows up. When he gets into a straightaway, he lets it loose.” But another spoke for just about everyone when he said: “I’d lean more toward ‘for real’ than not. But even when he’s good, your instinct is not to believe it because you’ve seen too much of the other way.”

  • Juan Salas has finally arrived. It is like the Beatles landing in the U.S. for the first time. WooHoo! Salas was placed on the 30-day restricted list, in essence giving the Rays 30 days before they have to decide what to do with him. [MLB]
  • If you are curious, Marc Lancaster explains why the Rays just played back-to-back 2-game series. [Tampa Tribune]
  • In a move about as surprising as a Shawn Camp implosion, St. Petersburg’s Council of Neighborhood Associations voted against the Rays proposed waterfront stadium, 19-3…The council cited reasons such as “will block view of the bay”, “fear of crowds”, “fear of change”, “onorariness”, “worried other people will want to live in downtown St. Pete” and “a love of being pains in the ass”…OK, maybe they didn’t give those reasons, but those are the real reasons. [Bay News 9]
 
 

10 Comments

  1. Travis says:

    The Rays have set a 1PM press conference to announce a long term extension for Evan Longoria.

  2. DirtbagFan says:

    It’s nice to see DiFelice thriving as of late, and the veteran presence is great in the clubhouse as well as helping to keep a young pitching staff under control, but I have to admit I was rooting for (that gold-chain pimpin’) Riggans to stay up. Unfortunately, he swings the bat about as well as Bartlett so he won’t get a chance.
    He calls an enthusiastic game behind the plate, and stops a lot of pitches that Dioner doesn’t even think about smothering… I’m not sold on the fact that Navarro has developed as a hitter yet, and I don’t think he’s calling great games behind the plate either.
    All that being said, the catcher is probably the position I know the least about on a baseball field, so my opinion has to be given quite humbly.

  3. The Professor says:

    catcher is a tough position to judge…there are a million little details that are very important to often go unnoticed. having spent many many years behind the plate I can tell you that Navi does a lot of things really well and a lot of things not so well.

    one thing to keep in mind though is his age. catchers are notoriously slow developers (i am still waiting for my peak seasons). Part of that is there is SO MUCH to learn and SO MUCH to work on and practice for a catcher and only so many hours in a day. Catchers have to take batting practice, work pitchers, work on throws, blocking pitches, sit in on pitchers meetings, get their heads rubbed for luck. and the hitting is worse for Navi who is a switch-hitter. Having also been a switch-hitting catcher, in hindsight i would tell you that a catcher should never be a switch-hitter. it is just another thing to work on and it takes away from other aspects.

    Navi is still only 24. that is an age that most catchers are still in AA. for comparison, Riggans is 27 and still considered a prospect.

    and just another comparison Posada did not break into the bigs until he was 25.

  4. Blake says:

    So if the stadium doesn’t happen in St. Pete, what are the chances that the Rays just move over to Tampa??

  5. The Professor says:

    for that very reason i think the city of st. pete will make sure the stadium deal gets done. they want to be a major city and hate being in the shadow of tampa and a major league baseball team is their big chip right now. they dont want to lose it.

    i wouldnt put too much stake in the neighborhood council’s vote

  6. DirtbagFan says:

    Prof: Are you saying that Navi is outright better than Riggans talent-wise?
    If Riggans were to improve his hitting could he take the job?
    I don’t feel confident that he (Navi) can throw anyone out, and I still don’t buy that he’s learned how to hit…

  7. The Professor says:

    i think Navi just has much more natural ability. defensively i think his arm is stronger he just struggles a bit with his footwork. considering his plumpiness his is also surprisingly nimble and quick. he has a quick release if not always accurate. which is not to be taken lightly.

    there is interesting sentiment growing among baseball people that started in football. they say the most difficult thing to teach a quarterback is accuracy. some guys have it. some dont. now people are starting to think it is the same with a baseball. look at Upton at shortstop. accuracy just never was there and never got any better. that is a concern with Navi.

    to me Riggans is the same as Ruggiano. Both will put up good-to-very good numbers at AAA and they could be serviceable at the major league level but unfortunately no matter how hard they work they are just never going to be as talented or as gifted athletically as some others.

    now hitting is something different. Navi is a strange hitter. He has almost ZERO bat speed. i have never seen anybody like it. it is almost as if he consistently misses the sweet spot. He almost always hits line drives but he never hits the ball hard. even his occasional home run is usually a line drive that barely clears the fence.

    if he wasnt so slow and if he could generate even a little more bat speed, Navi could hit .330 every year. he is that good of a hitter. but the problem is he will never beat out infield singles. and not enough of his ground balls are hit hard enough to get through the infield.

    Riggans? i havent seen enough to get a good feel at how good his bat could be. he def has more pop than Navi but it looks like there are too many holes in the swing. it is not too late for Riggans, but I can’t see him hitting enough to take the job from Navi.

  8. DirtbagFan says:

    Thanks, good to know. So, is Navi here for the long haul in your opinion?

  9. The Professor says:

    i used to think a navi-jaso platoon sounded enticing, but Jaso is back at AA and struggling offensively and defensively apparently.

    as far as in the organization goes, Navi is the man for the next 3-4 years.

    BUT keep in mind, the Rays are set with all-star potential talent at 2 OF spots, 3 infield spots and have enough arms to go around for now. Bartlett is a maybe with Brignac in the wings.

    so if the Rays look to improve anything prior to ’09 it will be RF, bullpen (maybe) and C. there just arent a lot of needs anywhere else. BUT finding major league catchers is very difficult. to find one better than Navi and young, the Rays will have to part with a big pitching prospect or maybe Edwin Jackson. not impossible, but not easy either.

    so in other words, we should get used to having Navi around and hope he blossoms

  10. Anonymous says:

    Am I the only one who saw DeFelice skittering behind the plate to save what would have been about a dozen wild pitches? He sure earned a second look from what I could see. Sure, it’s his job to stop the ball but geez, at one point it looked like he wanted to flick Hammel on the forehead and ask for a break.

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