Angels Rays BaseballTime 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: CC’s Throw. We have long been hard on Carl Crawford’s arm, but this season it seem much stronger and more accurate, and last night he threw a runner out at home to end the first. Not only did that stop a run from scoring, but a play like that in the first inning after a 3-game losing streak can be a huge morale booster for a team…Upton’s Steal. We have also been very hard on BJ Upton’s baserunning. But after he got on base with 2 outs in the 2nd, he had to get to second base to get into scoring position, and he did on a steal. He was then driven home on a single. Textbook…Pena’s Blast. Carlos Pena has been slumping recently, but the last couple of nights have shown positive signs as he is using the entire field, none more so than the opposite field home run in the 3rd…Lance Cormier. the bullpen would be in tatters this season if it weren’t for Cormier’s ability to consistently work 2+ innings and hold games in check.

THE BAD: Jeff Niemann. The Giraffe has gotta give the team more than 3.2 innings…A Tale of Two At Bats. In the second inning with no outs and a runner on third, Dioner Navarro got the job done by hitting a ground ball to the right side to bring the runner home. Now with 1 out and another runner on third, Reid Brignac on a 3-2 count, took a home run swing and only hit air. Brignac is a rookie. He will learn. But last night it cost the Rays a run.

THE TELLING: Last Friday’s rainout has finally been rescheduled as a day-night double-header on Labor Day in New York. Why did it take so long? Probably because the Rays weren’t thrilled at the idea of playing the first game of an important 4-game series on the road at 1:00.

SUNBURST PLAYER OF THE GAME: Willy Aybar.

DEVIL DOGS WEBTOPIA

  • The Serious Tip, wonders where Carl Crawford’s triples have gone. They break down each of his doubles to see if there is a trend. [The Serious Tip]
  • Jonathan Mayo has the rundown of the Rays day 2 selections in the MLB draft. [MLB]
  • Bill Eichenberger of Sporting News has a Q&A with BJ Upton. Maybe we are just defensive because of how the Rays have played so far, but a lot of the questions seem rather condescending in which Upton has to justify the Rays success from a year ago and whether 2008 was a fluke. [Sporting News]
  • On the other hand David Chalk of Bugs and Cranks shows that 2009 is the fluke, not 2008. [Bugs and Cranks]
  • Carl Crawford speaks about his first GIDP of the season. [MLB]

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10 Comments

  1. Amanda says:

    The note waiting for me on my roto team for my starting shortstop:

    INF Ben Zobrist hit his 12th home run Tuesday, matching his career high from last season. He has a .676 slugging percentage that would rank second in the majors to Philadelphia’s Raul Ibanez (.677) if he had an additional 10 plate appearances to qualify for the leader board. (Yahoo! Sports)

    But no … he needs to be on the bench in case we need a pinch hitter. BULLSPIT. PLAY YOUR BEST 9 MEN!!!!!!

    • bobrittner says:

      First, there is no certainty he will be on the bench, so there is not reason to get so loud.

      Second, the Rays do play their best men as the data clearly demonstrates. I don’t know why you continue to harp on that issue when it is not an issue with the Rays.

      Third, please bear with me as I reminisce about a player I remember from a while back. He was a 25 year old minor league indifferent defensive infielder with a good hitting line but little power (23 HRs over 5 seasons). He was called up that year and got 198 plate appearances during which he seemed to demonstrate conclusively that he was a terrible major league hitter. He ended the year with an OPS+ of 48! Based on a line of .224/.260/.311. He managed to hit 6 doubles, 2 triples and 2 home runs, not very impressive.

      Nonetheless, the following season he got another 105 PAs, and he did even worse. This time his OPS+ was 4. You read that right. Four! His line was .155/.184/.206 with 2 doubles, 0 triples and 1 home run. He also got just 3 BBs against 21 Ks in those 105 PAs.

      Why so few walks when he had shown good plate discipline in the minors? Because it was not just the numbers that were terrible. He looked terrible at the plate. Fastballs, even ordinary ones, overpowered him. No pitcher was afraid of him because his bat was a wet noodle.

      Now 27, he remained on the team and began the year pretty much the same. On July 22 he had 77 PAs (because it was suicidal to give him more) and was hitting .211/.273/.437. The .437 is interesting however because he had managed 4 home runs and 2 doubles.

      Then something happened. He began to hit for power. He was still a lousy infielder, but he was swinging well and hitting fastballs. And he continued that into the next year when it appeared he had become a legitimate star.

      By now, you probably have figured out that I have been a bit ingenuous as the player I am describing is Zobrist. So ask the question. If he had not gotten those PAs because you want only the best players on the field every day, how would we know that he had improved? I can just imagine what fans would say every time he was in the lineup instead of some other “better” player. I don’t have to imagine; I remember, and it was exactly the kind of meaningless generalization like “put the best 9 out there”.

      If a player is on the team, he has arrived in the majors and that means he has the talent to contribute. It is the manager’s obligation to put him into situations where he can, not to focus only on the stars. When the player is young and unproven (Joyce?), he needs time to demonstrate his level. When they are veterans with a track record (Kapler?), they need the manager’s confidence that they will return to form. When they are role players with specific but limited talents (Gross?) they need opportunities to make the most of those talents. That is the concept of a team.

      • Is it just me or does 2009 Reid Brignac look a lot like 2007 Ben Zobrist?

        For some reason, I can’t shake the feeling that Zobrist’s going to come down to earth at some point. I could be wrong, but it’s just a feeling I have. That’s why I try not to get to excited about his future, just his present. Anyways, I’m firmly aboard the Joe Dillionaire bandwagon. I hope they don’t give him the walking papers when Pat the Bat returns.

        • Dirtbag Fan says:

          I’m sure Dillon won’t continue to play so far above himself, but I agree. I’d much, much, much rather see Kapler go (despite the fact that Mr. Rittner inexplicably feels that he actually deserves to play).

          • bobrittner says:

            To clarify, I do not think he deserves to play. He has been terrible so far, but I think fans need to be more open to the possibility that he can contribute rather than being so certain he is useless. I don’t like categorical statements, especially when they are premature as when a number of posters had Joyce as their regular right fielder after 2 games.

            There is enough in Kapler’s resume to give the benefit of the doubt to the Rays’ decision makers if they keep him. And the alternatives, i.e a platoon right handed outfielder with solid defensive skills at all 3 positions, are not clearly better. Neither Aybar nor Dillon fit that mold, and I think the Rays want Zobrist to be more available around the diamond than becoming the every day right fielder. That leaves Ruggiano who is not clearly an upgrade over Kapler.

  2. Dirtbag Fan says:

    CC’s outfield assist was nice, but lets not get carried away, it was Bobby Abreu, and he hadn’t even touched third by the time Carl fielded the ball.

    • Abreu does have 15 steals this season, so let’s not make it sound like he is Greg Luzinski out there. And a year ago, that throw would have been on top of the screen behind home plate.

  3. Dirtbag Fan says:

    RR:
    Gross is a fine defensive outfielder and a fiesty hitter, so the argument about who is the best RF-er on teh 40 man roster is mute because as of right now Gross is far and away the best option in RF (even v. lefties). Gross as your starter with Joyce as your backup is the best (and only right-minded) option for RF.

    Dillon can be vital as a backup second baseman whereas Kapler can’t really be said to be vital anywhere.

    • bobrittner says:

      But whereas Gross and Joyce cannot hit lefties his history demonstrates that Kapler can, and that might be vital. And additionally it is a waste to have Joyce sitting so much when the Rays want him to become a regular down the road, which means he has to play every day. That is, he should be in Durham now because, as you say, Gross is a very good option against righties.

      With both Zobrist and Aybar on the team, there are 2 options at 2B so Dillon is less vital than you suggest. On the other hand, I think he is out of options, so the Rays may want to hang onto him. (I am not sure about the options.) I suppose the Rays could keep Zobrist, Aybar and Dillon and replace Gross in RF with Zobrist vs. lefties which makes Kapler less useful but it is only one of a few reasonable alternatives.

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