New York Yankees v Tampa Bay Rays

Time 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: Carlos Pena. El Gato is finding his groove. Yesterday he hit his 4th home run.

THE BAD: The bullpen. In 24 innings spanning 9 games, the relief corps have given up 15 runs (5.63  ERA) and 44 base runners (28 hits, 19 walks, 1 hit batter)…The baserunning. Two more runners thrown out on the basepaths yesterday. Gabe Kapler was thrown out at third on a 5-3-6 double play for the second out. We are all for agressive baserunning, but in that situation with the top of the order due up and only 1 out, Kapler can’t go unless he knows for certain he will make it. And Michel Hernandez was picked off first. We know Andy Pettitte has one of the all-time moves to first, but Hernandez isn’t a threat to run, which means he should still have his left foot on the bag…Defensive positioning. We don’t mind agressive defense either, but there is zero reason why flyballs should be getting over the heads of BJ Upton and Carl Crawford and actually landing on the field of play. That is too shallow, and it happened for the third time this series in the 8th inning that led to the tying run…Strikezone command. The Rays hitters are second in the AL with 78 strike outs and only 10th in walks with  30. Only the Royals have a worse strikeout-to-walk ratio in the AL.

THE TELLING: Andy Sonnanstine was pulled after 5 innings and only 78 pitches…Tonight’s game marks the 10th day out of 13 straight without an off-day. Thanks to the opening day rain out, this upcoming Monday will be the Rays’ first off-day of the season…Willy Aybar started at third base with Evan Longoria absent…All players wore #42 without nameplates in honor of Jackie RobinsonJason Bartlett was moved up to the sixth spot in the lineup.

SUNBURST PLAYER OF THE GAME: Carlos Pena. Now if we can just get Pat Burrell to warm up a little more, the Rays might not lose for 2 weeks. Of course, Pena, Burrell and Evan Longoria might also have to be used as relief pitchers, but we can work on that.

DEVIL DOGS WEBTOPIA

  • The Rays honored their two African-American coaches, George Hendrick and Steve Henderson, by having them throw out the first pitch prior to last night’s game. [MLB]
  • Todd Kalas spoke with the Philadelphia Inquirer about his last conversation with his father, Harry Kalas, and the opportunity to work with his dad during the World Series last fall. [Philadelphia Inquirer]
  • Carlos Pena was awarded his 2008 Gold Glove prior to the game. [MLB]
  • The guys over at Big League Stew debate whether or not teams should award rings for a league championship…We are amazed that the rings and the raising of two banners has been such a big topic of conversation. In one thread debating the raising of an AL East banner, several were arguing that is something that is only done in hockey and basketball (which is not true by the way). Why would it be ok to have divisional championship banners in basketball and hockey where divisions mean so little and yet not ok in baseball where winning the division is still a very big deal?  [Big League Stew]
  • In case you missed it in the “Down on the Farm” segment, Jason Isringhausen has finally accepted a minor league assignment to Montgomery and eventually to Durham. [St. Pete Times]
  • Below…Season 2 of “The Defenders of the Game” has commenced. We know you have been counting the hours.

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20 Comments

  1. bobrittner says:

    I think we have to break down the bullpen a bit more. The main culprits are Wheeler, Percival and Balfour. The other four relievers have not been bad. Howell has run into some bad luck with bleeders just getting through for hits. But he is not walking people and is striking them out. Shouse, who has yet to allow a lefty to get on base, and Cormier have been basically doing their job and Nelson has been very good.

    The problem obviously is that the pitchers doing poorly (or running into bad luck) are pitching the highest leverage innings.

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    • Dirtbag Fan says:

      Couldn't agree more. Percival and Balfour have been the worst, in my opinion, with Wheeler not far behind. I'm a big Howell fan, but I don't cut him as much slack as you do- he's looked entirely too hittable.

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    • Gus says:

      Bob's point is valid. It is Percy and Wheeler who look like they don't have anything in the tank, especially Percy. He CANNOT be the closer. He has done nothing but work some late innings in spring training in the last 10 months to have him enter close games. It is not fair to the other members of the team, the fans and the entire organization. The best players play. I've been in the space all spring saying it is THE issue for this team and it must be addressed. If Percy shows in other appearances that he is pitching better, than you can work him back. But like Shawn Camp in 2007, Maddon's continuing to run out a pitcher who has no chance to finish is just wrong.

      Balfour's velocity looks down and he's been wild, but not near as bad as the other two and needs to pitch some less pressured innings. Wheeler may just be a 6-7th inning guy at this point.

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  2. Dave says:

    I don't know what Gabe Kapler is thinking about, but it's not baseball. I generally hate singling out one player to blame for a loss, but I find myself in the unprobable situation of being able to do that twice in the same week with Kapler. I don't want to see him wearing a Rays uniform ever again and will spit at my TV when I'm forced to.

    (Yes, I know there are other things that didn't go right last night, but Kapler looks exceptionally bad. Anyone who wants to defend him can prove me wrong.)

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    • bobrittner says:

      There is no need to defend him or to prove you wrong. He has made mistakes early in the year. There is nothing in his baseball history to suggest he is not a smart ballplayer or that he is inattentive, so there is no reason to consider his gaffes anything more than a bad streak. The Rays are not so stupid as to release a potentially useful player because of some early season goofs unless they do think he has lost the desire to play. There hasn't been any suggestion that is the case; if anything, it has been over aggressiveness.

      Actually, his career SB record is 72 of 99 which is just around the point at which they are useful. Of course that is not a full measure of his base running ability, but it does suggest that he is not inept. Getting angry about this is as pointless as the overreaction to Upton's mental lapses last year or wanting to shed Gross because of his post-season failures.

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      • KillaTapes says:

        And not to mention if the ump had made the right call, people would be praising his aggressiveness there. He'll turn it around, it's still early

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        • But isn't that the same as the batter that takes a borderline called third strike. Most would agree that you have to protect the plate and not five the umpire a chance to make the call.

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          • bobrittner says:

            I think Kapler made a bad mistake, but don't think it is reason enough to consider him a bad player or to overreact to his early season struggles. That appears short-sighted to me. He has often been a useful player, and a bad spring and early season goofs do not trump the evidence of his entire career.

            That said, KillaTapes makes a good point. Of course, were he called safe it would still not make the play the right one, but it would definitely alter the mainstream thinking about it.

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      • Dave says:

        Hey, let's face it, having any emotion about a baseball team is pointless, right? But it doesn't change the fact Kapler looks bad right now. And comparing him to Upton doesn't make sense to me. Upton is in a different stratosphere and is a homegrown talent. Kapler is a hired gun that needs to be mentally there every play becuase his talent doesn't measure up. Maybe that's not fair, but it's life. And any time I see a double play on a ball that doesn't leave the infield with no force out on the bases I'm going to get mad at someone, and this time it's Kapler.

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  3. Michael says:

    Am I crazy or don't the Braves have flags up at Turner Field for every year they won the NL East? I think they have one color for each year they just won the division, another color for each NL pennant, and a different color for the one World Series championship.

    I do have to agree that giving the players rings for the AL pennant is a bit much. I don't remember the World Series loser ever getting a ring before. I prefer how they do it in the NHL where the team captain is presented the conference trophy after winning that series, and they'll get their picture taken next to it but traditionally skate away without even touching it because the Stanley Cup is all that matters.

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    • off the top of my head I know Braves, Mets and Mariners have banners for division titles. And I am sure I am missing a few. As for the rings. I was a little surprised when I first heard but didn't really think much of it. In the NFL I think the conference champs get rings or at least they used to. Maybe not any more?

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  4. Dirtbag Fan says:

    This is precisely the kind of game that pushed me into re-starting my blog... so many things to complain about, so little time!

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  5. John Danks (and lefties like him) are the reason Pat the Bat is on the team. He needs to step up big time today and get that "streaky" hitting we've been hearing about going. I'm expecting big things from the 1st 4 tonight.

    I'm also interested in Niemann's performance tonight. Is he going to be able to get through the 1st inning?

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  6. Scot says:

    I'm pleased to see Prof not simply support every decision by the Rays. However, in the case of defensive positioning, I believe he is incorrect. I'm betting a year's salary that one reason why the outfielders play further in is because they have looked at the distribution of plays in the outfield as a function of both position and time. I'm sure they concluded that the number of times that a ball is hit near the wall is so infrequent compared to the number of times that a ball is hit in front of an outfielder, it is worth giving up the occasional double to take away a multitude of singles. In my opinion, Crawford's record performance in defense last year (saving an estimated 14 runs above the average left fielder) can not be contributed to him running better, but rather defensive positioning. In addition, BJ Upton, while fast, does not always make the correct decision about where to run upon a fly ball, and yet his defensive performance was 6 runs above average.

    I embrace the Ray's willingness to go against tradition and to implement physical models of baseball. It is exactly these types of decisions that attracted me to the new Tampa Bay team.

    Now that said - I agree the baserunning has been atrocious - something that Diamond Mind baseball does not simulate well except in poor decisions about stolen bases.

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    • Dirtbag Fan says:

      They are obviously trying to play the odds, but they were also OBVIOUSLY out of position.
      You have to be able to find a happy medium between playing shallow and playing way too freakin' shallow.

      Someone with Crawford's speed should never be in so far that the ball is over his head because that means he was waaaaaay in, and unless you know for a fact that the batter can't send one over your head you shouldn't ever be that far in.

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    • 3 times in 3 games suggests they need to reevaluate the data or they are just really unlucky. If it is the latter let's hope it evens out.

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    • I agree with dirtbag fan on the happy medium. Just go back to Jeter's double yesterday over Bossman's head. I think in a tie game that late you have to play to prevent the double. If you can keep the runner on first, then you've got a double play *and* you have a better chance of getting him at the plate. I still say Maddon's getting a little cute. He's doing more of these "chart-based" defensive alignments then he did last year.

      I think next time I go to a game, I'm going to have to just take pictures of all the different defensive alignments.

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      • it does worry me that Maddon is actually UNDERthinking things a bit. I don't want to see it get to the point where he is no longer managing and instead becomes a Diamond Mind game in which every decision is based on the percentages and within a vacuum without consideration of the ramifications in other aspects of the game.

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  7. Jason says:

    Is that that crap cartoon they show at the games?If the big guy was Pena didnt sound that hispanic

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