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.
THE GOOD: Signs. The signs are there. The first 4 innings last night were the best 4 innings we have ever seen from Jeff Niemann. He looked great…Top O’ The Order To Ya. BJ Upton, Carl Crawford and Evan Longoria combined for 9 hits in 15 at bats with 2 walks, 5 runs scored and 4 RBI. Every position player had a hit except for Dioner Navarro…Plate Presence. Only 5 strikeouts and 8 walks is a good sign for a team that came in about 3-to-1 in the other direction (strikeouts to walks)…Shades of Bullpen Past. 3 relievers combined to throw 3.2 shutout innings, allowing 1 hit and 1 walk, striking out 4.
THE BAD: Falling Apart. Jeff Niemann has to give the Rays more than 5.1 innings last night. He was perfect through 4 and was staked to a big lead. Niemann can’t be walking batters on 4 pitches. And there is no reason for him to get so emotional with that lead. Settle down. Pitch to contact. Let the gold gloves take over. And for gosh sakes, give the bullpen a breather…Aggressive Indeed. We love aggressive baserunning, but last night the Rays had 3 players thrown out on the basepaths. Carl Crawford was out trying to tag up from first base. Carlos Pena was picked off first on the old fake-to-third play. And Ben Zobrist was caught trying to steal third.
THE TELLING: Can somebody please get the number for the sports psychologist that Matt Garza went to see last season? We think Jeff Niemann is going to need it…And for those that ask why we call Jeff Niemann, “The Giraffe.” Here is why.
SUNBURST PLAYER OF THE GAME: Carl Crawford. We were tempted to go with The Giraffe, but man, it was scary how quickly he fell apart mentally. It is a little too easy to get inside his head. He may not show it the way Matt Garza used to, but it looks just as bad, maybe worse. So instead we go with CC who was the spark plug last night with 4 hits and 3 runs. It seemed like every time we looked up Crawford was wheeling around third base and heading home.
DEVIL DOGS WEBTOPIA…
- Carlos Pena called a players-only meeting prior to last night’s game, for an opportunity for review their “mission statement.” [St. Pete Times]
- Joe Maddon is not second-guessing the positioning of his outfielders…Of course he isn’t, but we guarantee every time a normally catchable ball lands on the outfield grass and runners score as a result, inflating a pitcher’s ERA, those pitchers are second-guessing the positioning. [Tampa Tribune]
“Of course you’re going to get questioned on different things based on the fact that we’re doing something a little bit different in a sense,” said Rays manager Joe Maddon, “but I think the results have actually been very good to this point.”
- Joe Maddon once again addressed the issue of his expiring contract saying he has no concerns and wants to manage the Rays for many years. [Bradenton Herald]
- Joe Maddon’s message to his players prior to this roadtrip: “Try easier.” [Tampa Tribune]
- Last week we found a video that suggested Vince Naimoli was writing a book to be called “Let the Truth be Known.” Marc Topkin contacted the publisher who was surprisingly mum on the subject…If there is a book, why wouldn’t the publisher want to publicize it? And if there isn’t a book why wouldn’t the publisher just say so? Strange. [The Heater]
- James Shields admits the long 2008 season may have affected him, causing his recent “dead arm,” but says “it’s starting to come around.” [St. Pete Times]
- According to Forbes magazine the Tampa Bay Rays are worth $320 million which is about one-fifth the value of the New York Yankees ($1.5 billion). The Rays are ranked 26th in baseball, up three spots. The value is up 10.3% from 2008 when the Rays were worth $290 million. In 2007, the Rays were worth $267 million. In 2006 the Rays were worth $209 million and $176 million in 2005. In four years the Rays’ value has increased 81.8%…Then again, 81.8% of not much is still not very much. [Forbes]
- Three starts and somebody has already started the Cy Young chatter for Edwin Jackson…As David Chalk points out, Jackson started out pretty good for the Rays last year also. [Bugs and Cranks]
- Jason Hammel has been added to the Rockies rotation…It looks like his first start will come Monday against the Padres. [Rays Report]