Chicago White Sox v Tampa Bay RaysTime to bring back the GBT – The Good, The Bad and The Telling sandwich, where The Bad is nice and lean and the The Telling is ripe.

click above image for boxscore

THE GOOD: Jeff Niemann is close. Not sure we will tolerate too many more Edwin-esque one-bad-inning nights, but at this stage it shows promise. Outside of the 2-run home run to Jermaine Dye, Niemann was good, if not great. And he impressed us by striking out Dye the next time around…Carlos Pena. Is he hot? We actually aren’t sure. 4 home runs in 5 games is pretty darned good. And a 9-game hitting streak is nice. But in 8 of those games, he had only 1 hit. On the plus-side, since his 4-strikeout opening day, he has 6 Ks in 9 games and 5 walks…Gabe Kapler. We have been a little hard on one-half of the Gabe-of-the-Day, so it is only fair that we recognize his defensive performance last night. A nice running grab, taking away a double and then later, threw out Jermaine Dye trying to stretch a single into a double…Grant Balfour back? His velocity is still only 92-93, but that is a little better than where it’s been and after walking the first batter he faced to load the bases, he kept the Rays in the game by striking out Jim Thome and Jermaine Dye…Jason Bartlett. Barty had 2 more hits and now has 14 in 10 games and 2 walks.

THE BAD: Dioner Navarro. In the 4th with guys on 2nd and 3rd and only 1 out, Navi popped out. Gotta find a way to get the run home in that spot with the defense playing back…Kevin Kennedy. Maybe he is an acquired taste and maybe some of you guys like him, but we are not there yet. And last night with two close calls going agains the Rays, we actually thought Kennedy was a little too homerific on the umps. On the play at first, if you have to slow the replay down to a frame-by-frame, that is not a bad call. It is a missed call. The umpire doesn’t get the benefit of the freeze-frame. And we actually think the umps got the Dye hit-by-pitch right.

THE TELLING: In Evan Longoria’s absense, Willy Aybar started at third and Ben Zobrist started at second base to give Aki Iwamura the night off…The Rays have now dropped 5 of 7 and in the 5 losses have scored a total of 11 runs…Joe Maddon was ejected after the umpires changed their ruling on a Jermaine Dye hit-by-pitch. We think Maddon was upset more for the lack of consistency from the crew than the actual call.

SUNBURST PLAYER OF THE GAME: Carlos Pena

DEVIL DOGS WEBTOPIA

  • The Rays Baseball Foundation will hand out grants to 29 local not-for-profit organizations today. [St. Pete Times]
  • With his 10th career ejection (5 against the Angels) Joe Maddon has passed Lou Piniella on the Rays all-time list, which is pretty impressive considering the Rays were managed by not just Piniella, but also Hal McRae. Seemed like that guy would get ejected twice every night and then go back to the clubhouse and get ejected again. [The Heater]
  • Joe Henderson says there is not a lot the Rays can do right now except hope the bullpen gets better. [Tampa Tribune]
  • No idea why a team that is 2-5 in last 7 is still on top of Tim Brown’s power rankings. [Yahoo! Sports]
  • Rays Revolutionary writes an open letter to Joe Maddon about Troy Percival. [Rays Revolutionary]
  • Her Rays offers a bribe for the Rays bullpen. [Her Rays]
  • Rays the Stakes wonders why Andy Sonnanstine was pulled after only 78 pitches in his last start. [Rays the Stakes]
  • The Rays Party sums of the Rays offense from the first two weeks…They don’t use the word “sucks” anywhere. [The Rays Party]
  • A look at submarine-style pitchers, including the Rays own Chad Bradford. [hurty elbow]

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15 Comments

  1. Chris says:

    Another thing that was bad that happened last night was the fact that Upton walked in the ninth. He needs to stop taking close pitches or hittable pitches when his team needs runs. A walk is great early in the game, but if he is the best hitter on the team, he needs to drive those runs in. Everyone will look at the stats and see him on base several times last night, but the stats don’t tell the story.

    • I’m not sure Bossman’s swing is quite where it needs to be yet. I have no problem with him taking that walk last night. Down by 2 in the 9th inning, I think Upton did what he needed to do and get on base. A Crawford double gives the Rays a lead in that scenario.

      I was more concerned about Crawford and Gross’s at-bats. I thought CC should’ve taken a strike instead of swinging at the 1st pitch. As for Gross, he needs to do everything in his power to get Pena to the plate. That includes laying off a 3-1 pitch.

    • Scot says:

      A walk is more valuable than a swing. 75% of all swings lead to failure. Why swing at pitches that are not to one’s advantage. Keep walking BJ.

      Weber is correct. Why the hell was CC swinging with the bases loaded and with a walk to the previous batter? Maddon wants CC to have more patience and has said so. I hope CC get’s hot and so that he is overvalued by other GM’s so that the Rays can off load him. His value above replacement is pretty weak these days. It comes nearly all in the form of defense.

      As for Gross – he did work the count and he did get his pitch. It appeared the bat broke. No batter is expected to succeed against any MLB pitcher, but at least the batter should make choices that increases his odds. Gross did – Crawford did not.

      IMO, pitching has been fine for the past couple games. They kept the Yankees (a good hitting team) to 4 runs and the WS to 3. It has been limited offense that has made the difference. It is still early, but if there should be concern about this team, it is offense.

      • Chris says:

        Sometimes you have to look at the game being played and not the stats that are evolving. The game is not played on paper. So if 75% of the time a swing ends up in failure, then it is a ggod idea to have Crawford or Gross take those swings. Please! If you are ready to ship Crawford out, then why do you want him up in that situation, even much worse Gross.

        Also, if Crawford doubles with Upton on 1st then the Rays win, but if Upton homers then Crawford need not bat.

        Stop playing the game using stats and realize that your best player sometimes has to do something more with the bat than walk.

        • Scot (who is glad to see the Rays & A's) says:

          I think you misunderstood. I do not want Crawford up in that position. He swings at everything.

          And it is not about stats – it is about probabilities. BJ walks without swining – then he can steal. That is as good as a double. If BJ hit a homerun 25% of the time he swung, then I would agree – make him swing even at pitches outside the strike zone. But this is not the case.

  2. Nick says:

    I don’t get to watch each game since I live in Tallahassee and have Comcast, but I like Kennedy. I’ve also been listening to his radio show with Dibble for a couple of years though, so maybe I am just used to him, but I think that he brings an interesting perspective as a catcher and a former manager. He’s also made me get upset with Navarro after noting how poorly Navarro frames pitches (i.e. he doesn’t, he slaps at the ball when it comes over the plate) which affects how the umps call the game for the pitcher. Magrane is a tough guy to replace, but I think Kennedy will be fine.

    Also, I agree about Upton. I feel a lot better with him at the plate in the bottom of the 9th with 2 on and 2 out than with Gross having the bases loaded with 2 outs. He needs to swing the bat.

  3. Dirtbag Fan says:

    Prof:
    Here’s something interesting that I realized while writing over at Rays the Stakes this morning:
    Over the last 7 games the Rays are 2-5 (we already knew that), but the interestig thing is the run differential. In the 2 wins they had a combined 26 runs while in the 5 loses they’ve only managed a total of 11 runs… and I’ve been blaming the bullpen.

    ps-
    you were way off on the over/under for Toronto hanging with the big boys.

  4. Jessica says:

    I still haven’t come around to Kennedy either. Last night he called Carl Crawford BJ three times. My friend was laughing at me because I kept calmly correcting him. I was surprised that no one in the booth corrected him until after third time.

  5. I personally like Kennedy. I don’t mind the homerism at all… in fact, I like it. He’s got some good insight from a manager’s perspective that Magrane didn’t have. My only complaint, so far, is that when Maddon took out Sonnanstine the other day, he didn’t come up with any theories for the viewer. I thought pulling Sonny after 78 pitches and 5 innings was a bit strange.

    • I’m sure some of it is just Kennedy needs time to learn the team (no excuse for getting CC and BJ confused) and some of it may be a sense that he needs to prove himself early on. Magrane annoyed me at times and he was a goofball, but he was our goofball. I’m sure we will grow to like Kennedy also.

      I do like that the color commentator is now a former catcher. Magrane at times seemed to only want to talk about pitching. A catcher knows catching, hitting and pitching, the three most technical aspects of the game.

  6. Chris says:

    I can’t stand KK, and I don’t think I’ll ever come around on that. However, to be fair, he’s not the only guy in the booth last night who confused Rays players. Staats introduced Cormier as Balfour in the seventh.

    Kennedy doesn’t offer anything other than the run-of-the-mill baseball lifer would. He offers too many, “that’s how the game is played” cliches for my taste. The Rays under Maddon, Silverman and Friedman are managed in quite “uncliched” manner.

    Magrane never seemed to inject too much of his own opinion into what was going on. He also,without fully endorsing it, embraced that the ’08 Rays were doing things differently than most baseball purists were used to.

    Whenever Kennedy describes how he did things, it sometimes feels as if he’s not buying into the Rays method.

    • Dirtbag Fan says:

      I loved Magrane, but he was apt to go on and on about pitching mechanics (as was expected considring he was a pitcher), so its not like Kennedy is really doing anything unordinary.

      I’m not sure of Kennedy either way, but lets not act like Magrane didn’t do a little of the same stuff.

  7. I actually think Kennedy is offering a different opinion of what Maddon is doing. I think as fans watching on TV it’s important for the broadcast team to point out when a manager is taking an unorthodox approach. I also think it’s important to point out when an unorthodox approach is *not* working.

  8. Joe D. says:

    Like I’ve said on here before, I have XM Radio, and Kennedy is one of the hosts on there. He’s a total homer when it comes to who ever is signing his pay check. In the past it’s been the Dodgers, and every other word out of his mouth was how awesome Loney, Kemp and Russel Martin are, and would group them all in to the same group of Kids in the Dodgers organization.

    Now that he’s with the Rays, is all he talks about on XM is how awesome the Rays are. He had some pretty big props for the Trop the other day when it was raining, He was talking about how nice it was the night before then he woke up and it was raining all day, but at least he know there was baseball that the Trop.

    My point being he’s a total homer, but I like the guy, he knows his stuff, I think you’ll come around to him.

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