Orioles Rays BaseballThe Good, The Bad and The Telling sandwich, where The Bad is nice and lean and the The Telling is ripe.

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THE GOOD: BJ Upton. Three hits, including his first home run in 7 weeks. However, Joe Maddon tried to keep it in perspective, calling it “a nice little moment.“…Pat Burrell. Apparently his neck is fine. After missing 2 games, he hit his 11th home run and 7th since the all-star break…Carl Crawford. CC had his 5th 3-hit game in the last 16.

THE BAD: Again and Again. Once again the Rays had the bases loaded and less than 2 outs and once again they failed to score. This time it was with a 5-2 lead in the 7th and it almost came back to haunt them…California League Ballparks. It has been 3 years and Reid Brignac still thinks he is a power hitter. Last night, Brignac hit a ball and the look on his face suggested disappointment that it did not leave the park. The ball was caught 20 feet short of the center field fence.

THE TELLING: Ben Zobrist hit leadoff with Jason Bartlett having a scheduled day off. Interesting that Maddon did not go back to BJ Upton, even for just one game…The Rangers blew a late lead and the Red Sox won. Those two are now tied atop the standings with the Rays 3 back…CoolStandings.com now says the Rays have a 19.9% shot at the playoffs. Baseball Prospectus says it is a 28.7% shot, while their PECOTA version says 13.5%.

SUNBURST PLAYER OF THE GAME: B J Upton

DEVIL DOGS WEBTOPIA

  • Reid Brignac was optioned back to Durham following the game and Chad Bradford was activated from the DL. [The Heater]
  • Matt Silverman appeared on WDAE. Here is a link to the audio. We had a little trouble with it. Hopefully you will have better luck. [WDAE]
  • Marc Lancaster has the Joe Maddon before and after photos. Maddon dyed his hair black in preparation for the upcoming “Ring of Fire” trip to Toronto (this is the latest of several themed roadtrips this season for the Rays). He broke out the dye job a little early to “lighten things up a bit.” [Tampa Tribune]
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25 Comments

  1. Sam A says:

    Zobrist has really been struggling lately. His OPS has come crashing back to earth. Perhaps Maddon will keep him out of the cleanup spot unless/until he regains his early season form.

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  2. leningan says:

    I think he might just need a well deserved break... when's Aki coming back?

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    • Beth says:

      Yeah, but if he rests Zobrist look for a bunch hostile comments from fans who don't understand why Maddon ever gives anyone a day off.

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  3. TOBY says:

    How you could reference Brignac's flyout in a negative way is beyond me. The ball was smoked, but he got under it just a bit. Staats thought it was gone off the bat as well(or at least had a good shot). And not to nitpick, but the ball was caught a few feet from the track, not 20 ft from the fence. If you want to complain about Brignac, complain about the K with Upton on 3rd, not a well hit ball that he barely got under.

    Also, lets be honest about Upton. His single was hit poorly, and his triple was basically a well placed blooper. The HR could be a signal, though, as a hitter going oppo is usually a good sign.

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    • Beth says:

      I agree that the Prof was a bit snarky on Brignac's hit. I wasn't thinking homerun, but I thought it would fall for a double. I don't blame him for being disappointed when it was caught. As for BJ....sometimes having a few "cheap" hits fall in can help get a guy's confidence back. We'll see....

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    • bobrittner says:

      I saw on another thread someone also thought Brignac was swinging for the fences. I did not see the AB, so I cannot say, but his minor league stats this year do not suggest that is a problem. He has 27 doubles at Durham which suggests he is hitting line drives. And his BA has been decent while he has cut his strikeout frequency dramatically from last year's 26.4% to 15.7%.

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    • Whether he thought it was a home run or would drop for a double is not relevent. He still doesn't have the power to get it over the head of the outfielder on a consistent basis. The fact that Staats thought it had a chance and yet turned into a can of corn proves that the ball does not jump off his bat.

      The biggest knock on Brignac down at Durham is that he still has periods where he swings for the fences too much and how that is the only thing holding him back from being a good hitter. When he was up earlier this year I saw too many Reggie Jackson swings with 2 strikes, something he should NEVER do.

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      • TOBY says:

        That was a can of corn? Can of corn insinuates it was routine....Jones was on a dead sprint and barely got there.

        Again, the ball was hit very well...they problem was that he got under it just a bit. Brignac is a 10-15 HR guy IMO, and you being negative on a well hit ball doesnt make sense.

        Rip Brignac for his lack of contact with a man on 3rd, but not for a deep fly out.

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        • Yes, in terms of this game, the strikeout was much worse, but I think his tendancy to swing for the fences is more hurtful overall. Maybe he can hit 10-15 HR a year but I don't think he can do that AND hit .300 and get on base at a .380 clip. And I would rather see the latter.

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          • TOBY says:

            If I remember correctly, I think it was a 2-0 count in which Brignac flied out. He got a good pitch to hit, and hit it well, barely getting under it, and Jones made a nice play to save 2 runs.

            Having said that, clearly a 300/380 BA/OBP would be outstanding. I really dont think we can expect that from him. I'd be very happy with a guy that hit .275/.350 and plays great defense that shows gap power. By that I mean a guy the produces alot of doubles and 10 HR's per season.

            Maybe I nitpicked earlier, and I apologize if that is the case. I like when guys make GOOD contact regardless of the outcome of the play. And that's why I was surprised to see your reaction.

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          • bobrittner says:

            I am not sure Brignac is a .300/.380 hitter; he hasn't been in the high minors in any case. My guess is that his most hopeful projection is closer to .270/.340. He still does not walk that much, although as I noted, he has cut down his Ks quite a bit.

            I also don't think he is a big home run hitter, but he might become a big doubles hitter. If he can play shortstop (and I think he was recently named the best fielding shortstop in some category or league) then that would make him a very useful player.

            One unknown is how much his work ethic may affect his performance. He is known as the baseball equivalent of a gym rat, totally dedicated to improving his play. His tremendously improved fielding reputation over the past 2 years suggests that he is capable of surprising scouts. He also has made real strides in AAA offensively from last year. So it is possible that he can learn to walk more and continue to improve his contact rate.

            If so, then his home run power may also spike. He does hit the ball hard and might become something more than a 10-15 home run hitter. He did hit 17 home runs at Montgomery which is a pitcher's park in a pitcher's league.

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    • Dirtbag Fan says:

      take away all of CC's "poorly hit singles" and he's batting .275...
      a single by any other name...

      and if we want to play semantics, his triple was far from a blooper it was more like a high liner or a low fly.

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      • Dirtbag Fan says:

        the above comment is in regard to TOBY's critique of BJ...

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        • TOBY says:

          Dirtbag, I was referring to BJ's single and double because poorly hit balls are hardly indicative of someone starting to "see" the ball better, or swing the bat better. It is more lucky then anything. It isnt a good idea to count on infield hits and short fly balls down the foul line. I am a big BJ fan, and the HR was far more important in my mind because he showed power to the opposite field, which is usually a good sign.

          Secondly, the triple wasnt hit well...not even close. It traveled probably 225 feet and was on an arc. Call that what you will, but he didnt hit it well. I'm happy he had 3 hits, but the HR was the only thing I saw that showed promise moving forward.

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          • Dirtbag Fan says:

            good points i suppose- except...

            "on an arc" is much different than "blooper"

            and

            what double? he missed the cycle because he didn't get a double...

            and

            how far a ball travels is not always indicative of how well it was hit.

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  4. Don says:

    My guess is that the order to get Upton out of lead off spot came from higher up...
    when Maddon was taking heat over his insistance to keep him there!
    You won't see Upton back to lead off until he has many multi-hit games...and the way Bartlett is hitting .....maybe never!

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  5. Gus says:

    When we step back and look at this season, the decision to bat Upton at lead-off for the defending AL Champions who (1) was coming off serious shoulder surgery, (2) was not 100% in April and would not be 100% until the second half of the season (3) strikes out like Rob Deer and (4) most importantly, had never batted lead-off before in his entire life in any meaningful way will be perhaps the single most crazy managerial/management decision in Rays history. I understand Aki wasn't perfect up there, but Upton was/is a killer at the top of the order. Just look at the offense without him up there. It speaks for itself (I know, its a small sample, but still).

    If we had any kind of vigorous local press, maybe it would not be until Game 110 when that decision -- so patently boneheaded and hurtful -- would be reversed. And I agree with the earlier comment -- I think management was involved in this decision some way. But Maddon/management deserves a lot of criticism for this in the wake of the praise they have gotten (justifiably so).

    Upton can be a useful player if correctly used. I'm not sure playing him through his shoulder problems hasn't hurt him at the plate, perhaps permanently. But he looks like he is on the Delmon Young plan right now, and I don't expect him in St. Petersburg next season.

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    • Tom says:

      Huh?!? BJ put up a .386 OBP as a 22 yr old and a .383 OBP as a 23 yr old and has excellent speed. How is batting him lead off the craziest managerial in team history? He has obviously had a disappointing season but lets cut Maddon some slack here. He looked like he was going to turn things around in June. I also thought that he hit lead off in the minors.

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      • Gus says:

        In Durham he didn't lead off and more importantly, in his MLB service time, he almost never led off before 2009 (and I'm pretty sure he never led off on his youth teams for that matter). With a bum shoulder they asked him to lead off. More to the point, when it was obvious it wasn't working, they kept rolling him out there until they were 8 (?) games back and 4 months into the season. Not his fault -- management's fault.

        As for the clubhouse, Crawford for one never liked him when he came up (not sure if that is still the case). His best friend on the team (Edwin Jackson) was traded and his mentor (Floyd) was not re-signed. He's been consistently disciplined for not running stuff out until this season. And he is terrible offensively this season (and was pretty much awful last season). Again, I'm not blaming BJ. Barring some major medical mystery, he is what he is right now -- a no hit, great glove CF. Teams have won championships with lesser players in CF. But leading him off under the circumstances as the existed in April 2009 was a bad gamble that failed. It cost them some games. (Like sticking with Percy inexplicably cost them some games). It will likely keep them out of the playoffs. It could and should have been avoided.

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  6. Sublime says:

    Somehow it always comes back to BJ! Jesus H! We're not glad he got "a hit" without calling it a "cheap hit". Personally, as a Rays fan I'll take a hit anyway I can get it! How many "cheap" hits would we have taken when they've had all these bases loaded games and couldn't score a run! "They" (Im channeling Chris Thomas) can run him out of town like Delmon Young and Edwin Jackson, we'll see how that turns out.

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    • Gus says:

      I hope BJ hits better in the bottom of the lineup. Again, not his fault for saying yes to batting leadoff. Management's fault for asking him to do so. Batting leadoff requires a certain talent that he's never shown before and did not show while doing it. Now I fear he's been lost in the clubhouse ala Delmon (who is worse in Minnesota than he was in Tampa Bay). First round draft picks have the presumption of greatness attached to them and get multiple chances to fail before the baseball world finally agrees that they are a failure. Rays were right on Young; wrong on Jackson. We'll see on Upton, but it is my sense management finally gave up on him this summer. The whole thing has been mismanaged and kind of a bummer.

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      • Dirtbag Fan says:

        Absolute conjecture!
        Upton is very highly regarded in the clubhouse, as well as by management. He is and always will be a 4 or possibly 5 tool player, and the organization's vision of him has not changed in any way.

        To say the clubhouse has turned on him or that management has thrown up their arms "a la Delmon Young" is ridiculous...

        The kid is uber-talented and isn't going anywhere.
        period.
        point finale.

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        • Don says:

          I blame Maddon...all along he thought he was helping BJ..showing support ect..really he was puting undue pressure on him to perform when he wasn't ready....If he started at the bottom of order...... he could be a useful everyday performer by now!

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  7. Sublime says:

    After reading all these post about BJ you would have thought he struck out 4 times! People in the Tampa Bay area act as like, "If BJ was hitting .300 we'd be 30 games over .500 like the Yankees"...Let's try this..."MAYBE IF A STARTING PITCHER COULD GET OUT THE 5TH INNING, THIS WOULD BE A BETTER TEAM!"

    There are other people on this team that are not "pulling" their weight, but the spot light is ALWAYS on this kid! Enough already!

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  8. Sublime says:

    I don't think having him start the season off (After the road trip) was the best thing, but once again, I think there were other pressing issues...

    1. A starting rotation that was basically Burning Out the Bullpen! Does anyone remember Andy Sonnestine and his 7+ ERA. How many 4 innings or less starts did we see in the beginning of this year???
    2. Pat Burrell 100+ Game Invisible Act.
    3. The Gabe Of the Day experiment! Who the hell is in right field today segment??? How productive were they?

    I would be curious to know how many games have they won with Bartlett batting lead-off. Mind you, I think Bartlett should be batting lead-off, but this BJ talk is getting old.

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