Red Sox Rays Baseball

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: The Future. With the Rays now officially roadkill, look for JoeMa to start working the youngins into the lineup a bit more often. In addition to Wade Davis and Reid Brignac, we should see Sean Rodriguez and Matt Joyce soon.

THE BAD: The Pain. That’s it. It’s just painful.

THE TELLING: Anything But Perfect. Anybody still think we were overreacting when back in July we wrote after Mark Buehrle’s perfect game, “This incarnation of the Tampa Bay Rays just isn’t very good….One game that proved this team is going nowhere. One game that proved this team is done. One game that proved this team is roadkill.”

SUNBURST PLAYER OF THE GAME: Evan Longoria

DEVIL DOGS WEBTOPIA

  • Joe Maddon says losing 2 of 3 to the Red Sox is “not devastating.” In other news, JoeMa says the Titanic still has a shot to reach New York. [St. Pete Times]
  • Joe Maddon called a pre-game meeting. The topic? What the team will wear on their upcoming roadtrip. Ahhhh, priorities. [Tampa Tribune]
  • BJ Upton sprained his ankle during a collision with Carl Crawford. He is expected to miss a couple of game. [St. Pete Times]
  • Reid Brignac was recalled from Durham so that Jason Bartlett won’t have to start both games of the Monday double-header.
  • Steve Duemig interviewed Joe Maddon, Jim Hickey, Andrew Friedman and Stuart Sternberg yesterday. Click through for the audio links. [WDAE]
  • Jayson Stark of ESPN says the Rays had to move Scott Kazmir at the first decent offer because there was no guarantee that there would be any offers in the off-season, considering there were none in July (of course, Kazmir is a different pitcher now than he was in July, but back to Stark…). He adds that the Rays would like to use the money towards an extension for either Carl Crawford and/or Carlos Pena, but they might not be able to afford either. [ESPN]
  • The Top 177 Devil Rays Ever, #40-37. Drumroll please… [Bugs and Cranks]
  • Her Rays is still addicted to the Rays. She also notices an certain Hall-of-Famer in Fernando Perez’ new ‘stache. [Her Rays]

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36 Comments

  1. Brixology says:

    I think this team is pretty good. Just not good enough to come out of the AL East and get a playoff spot. As someone pointed out yesterday, we’d be tied for first in the Central. Just not good enough this year. As a Tampa sports fan, there come times where it is healthy to step back and appreciate the fact that we have been involved in a playoff race into September. Plus, the optimist in me wonders if the team plays better with the pressure off. Lord knows that’s Joe’s theory.

    • Don says:

      I get a little tired of fans NOT wanting to be in the AL east….
      “we would be tied for first in AL central” so what???
      How wants to play Clev, Minn, KC all the time???
      Playing Boston & Yankees makes our season interesting and exciting…
      besides if you can’t beat these teams what are you going to do in playoffs…
      So I guess answer is get better each year (not worse) and compete in the “best” division in baseball!

      • Carey says:

        Understand your point, but would it not be better (and more fair) if we played a balanced schedule? I personally think they should do away with Interleague (or scale it back dramatically) and go back to two divisions with a balanced schedule. Division winners go along with next best two teams (regardless of division).

    • MJ says:

      and if my aunt had a dick she’d be my uncle.

      • Brixology says:

        Um, what?
        For the record, I like being in the AL East. I think it makes for good rivalries and helps with attendance. What I said was that this team wasn’t good enough to make the playoffs in the AL East this year.

        • MJ says:

          Understood. I’ve just heard countless people talk about how if we were in X division or Y league we would be in the playoffs or division leaders. It’s kind of a moot point, and its not really even a logical one since it would change so many different things. Either way, we just have to deal w/ the handicaps of being in the AL and a league w no salary cap. It is what it is.

          • Beth says:

            I had mentioned the “if we were in the AL central” line of argument ONLY to counter those who consider this year, thus far, to be a complete disaster. I certainly don’t wish we played in a weak division, nor do I think the strength of the division is an excuse never to be in contention,

  2. Myrna says:

    We have great owners and trust that they will continue to deliver a team that will continue to be contenders. We simply lost too many series and crucial games. I was there when they were losing to everyone and to make it to the World Series last year was so special and exciting. We wanted all of that again this year. Unfortunately, I lost faith when they lost four games to Texas, in Texas and then that perfect game…oh no!

    Lots of expectations for us and our players. I am still very proud to be a Rays fan and will continue to support them no matter what. Looks to me like they’ll now be the “spoilers” in the league.

  3. Beth says:

    I agree with all that’s been said. Most teams, even those with mega-payrolls, don’t make the play-offs every year. Good franchises have winning records and contending teams year in and year out, and that’s what we have to hope for. This year, the elements just never came together — if the starting pitching was good, the bullpen collapsed; if the bullpen was reliable, the hitters went into slumps. Nor did we have that crazy kind of good fortune — last night I kept waiting for Dan Johnson to dash out of a cab and hit a home run off of Papelbon.

    I agree that the sweep in Texas — I’d say even more than the perfect game — was the key moment of the season.

    • Gus says:

      Beth: You went to the game; you can let loose on the bully now.

      My only point here is: 2009 was the year management had targeted as its moment to contend (how many 2008 stories did you read saying this was a year early). This franchise will likely NOT be a contender year in, year out because the owner’s pockets aren’t that deep, the fanbase is still a work in progress and they have to contend with Boston and NYY. (Stu’s admission the other night that he is just hoping to play meaningful games in September 5 of 10 years is kind of depressing — especially since he’s apparently counting this September as meaningful and he just traded a starter away). So the window is closing on this version of the team if Stu is committed to a payroll that is the bottom 5 of baseball and under $70M. I would have liked to see more urgency from spring training, some attempt to deal with the bullpen in a less haphazard function, some attempt to improve the club mid-season beyond the great Russ Springer and Crash Davis (Zaun). Got none of that; it is the Yankees year. Just have to hope the Yankees win it and get stuck with a championship hangover next year.

      Wait till next year.

      • Beth says:

        Well, indeed, as one of the excuses for poor pitching this season was tired arms after last year’s post-season, perhaps the curse we can wish on our division rivals is “may you go to the World Series and play 7 games!!”

        But I’m less discouraged about the long term picture. I think our goal here is to become the Minnesota Twins of the last decade — fielding strong teams, making the playoffs with some regularity, but still needing to let Tori Hunter go to the Angels when he got too expensive — rather than the Kansas City Royals of the last decade. I think we can do that.

        • Gus says:

          To make the playoffs from the AL East, we may need to set the bar a little higher than the Twinkies.

          But that may be our plight, barring a messy and drawn out Steinbrenner estate battle or a nor’easter destoying the cash machine that is Fenway Park. Sigh.

  4. Burgi says:

    Way too harsh! This team is good! They project to finish just short of 90 wins … remember the Rays from ’98 to ’07? The fans should be lucky to see such a team play, while – yes, also mine – hopes were higher this year!

  5. Don says:

    Also….time to bring up their so called “talent” in the minors ….as sort of a “try out” for next year….the Rays have many prospects …..they all can’t make this team next year…NOW is the time to get information to decide who stays and who could be trade bait…
    Lets see the “kids”….put players like Gross, Kapler,Navarro, and even BJ on shelf for Sept.
    We already know they stink!

  6. To clarify… I don’t think this is a bad team. Rather I would say that have been disappointing. They have given away far too many games and there have been very few instances of improbable wins.

    Would this team make the playoffs in another division? Maybe. But I would still feel the same about this team. I would just feel that they were not playing well enough to do anything in the playoffs.

    They are good. But they are not very good.

  7. Rytor says:

    I AM GOOD. YOU KNOW WHAT? YOU’RE A LOUSY KINDERGARTEN TEACHER. I’VE SEEN THOSE FINGER PAINTINGS YOU BRING HOME AND THEY SUCK!

    :)

  8. Tone says:

    It has been nice to see someone use candor and passion thoughout this let down season. I think we(as fans) should be upset because this was our chance. The owners are going to further change this team so next year could be worse than this one. Hope is good. But sometimes it can be delusional too. They(Stu and Joe) screwed the pooch. There were very obvious and easy ways to improve this team all season, but they were stubbornly dismissed. Joe is half a good manager and half a retarded one. Last year players stepped up to make him look better than he was.

    • Gus says:

      I like the concept, Tone:

      Good Joe:

      1.Neiman’s development
      2. Great use of Zobrist/overcoming injuries to Aki and Bartlett
      3. Agressive use of team speed
      4. Keeping tight team loose
      5. Discovering Pena in 2007 as something to build around and sticking with him (his best accomplishment as manager)

      Retard Joe (a partial list)
      1. Upton leading off for 4 months (no leadoff experience and injured; brilliant)
      2. Percival closer for 1 month (after quitting the team in 2008)
      3. Aybar in the field when he can’t play D
      4. Burrell never sitting down when he couldn’t hit a barn
      5. Bullpen chaos theory
      6. Bullpen mismanagement (it has been so bad, it deserves two entries)
      7. Tom Foley, the world’s worst 3b coach (11 years running)
      8. Not moving the order at all for 3.5 months, and then suddenly discovering the benefits of shuffling the order (it really works!)
      9. Playing OFs way too shallow and never adjusting when teams are launching balls
      10. Treating April like it was extended spring training.

      I like Maddon and he is super bright. I just hope he doesn’t let his ego and 2008 retard his development as a manager. You can use numbers and have patience to a point; at that point, common baseball sense must previal. His “retard” list is a good place for him to start growing for 2009.

  9. Tone says:

    Yeah, he just over thinks when he should focus on winning games. He likes working from some grand plan and tends to lose sight of common sense. But anyway it is all meaningless at this point, hopefully the sting of heartbreak leaves me soon.

  10. Justin H says:

    personally i believe this team has just as much or more talent than any team in the league. i mean what if upton was playing like he had in the playoffs and burrell was pat the bat from back in Philly. The rotation completely let this team down too, Shields, Garza, Kazmir, Price, and Niemann. Only Niemann has really pitched well for an extended period of time. That rotation is WAY better talent wise than what they did this season. Too many people didn’t produce at least an average season and losing aki even with Zobrist emerging really hurt this team. The thing that did it last season was defense and pitching but that’s exactly what makes them an average team this season because they did excel at it this year like they did last season. The team hit better this year, but as everyone knows it’s pitching and defense that wins championships.

    • Beth says:

      How do we know that the rotation is way better than this, though? Which of these starting pitchers can point to several years of consistently better pitching? Maybe Shields….we know Garza has had great games, we know Price is considered a strong prospect….but maybe this season is just who they are? I hope not, but we don’t know for sure.

  11. Mark says:

    Disappointing is a good word for this. David Price. B.J. Upton. Kazmir when he was on the squad. Even Shields hasn’t lived up to what he’s capable of bringing.

  12. Don says:

    Lets review GOOD JOE!
    1) Neimen’s Developement: He had nothing to do with it…In fact he couldn’t decide whether it was him or Hammel to “make” the team
    2) Use of Zo: If Aki would of stayed healthy, Zobrist would still be a utility player…Maddon couldn’t see he was one of their best players at START of season!
    3)”Agressive base running”….more like “stupid”…He admitted sometimes he didn’t know what the base runner was doing..Wasn’t his idea to steal!
    4) “Loose” team..I don’t remember anyone uptight last year… but this year they all look lost or frustrated…thus attitude getting worse!
    5) Pena…might give you that one…because he sounds just like Mr. Optimistic Maddon….ie… father and son !

    • Gus says:

      I don’t really disagree with your points at all. Just trying to give Maddon some credit.

      If you think about it, how different does this season turn out if they keep Hammel and jettison Sonnanstine (who looked a lot better on paper than when you actually watch him). That has to be 4-5 games right there. Woulda, coulda, shoulda, I know. But that may be one that hurts for a long time.

      And if it is true that they met before their last-chance game of the year to discuss their stupid outfits, then I think that is no longer “keeping them loose” and is kind of embarassing and unprofessional.

      You wonder how much longer Merlot Joe’s message works for this bunch. Need someone to get the “win now” message across with some more urgency.

  13. Dirtbag Fan says:

    Ahhh… yes!
    Let’s blame the manager.
    Fans rarely seem less intelligent then when they pin a team’s lack of on-the-field production to an off-the-field manager.

    If Upton, Burrell, Price, Navi live up to a smidge of their potential this team is on their way to the post-season regardless of who is or is not standing at the railing in the dug-out.

    Come on guys, don’t let your heart cloud your judgement of reality.

    • Don says:

      Dirtbag… we know you are a Maddon groupie…but if can you dispute any of the points ( Me or Gus) that have been written above….lets hear it?
      Were not talking about the “questionable ability” players he has used ….
      were talking about HIS performance as a Manager…
      Help us.. we may be blaming the manager without evidence..I wouldn’t want to do that…if I can be shown where were missing the boat ..I’ll be happier with our 3rd place finish!

      • Michael says:

        Don, you’re the retard.

        I’m not saying Maddon is the best manager ever, but he’s also getting way too much blame for poor on-the-field performances if you ask me.

        1) You say Maddon is retarded for using Upton in the leadoff spot for the first four months of the year without making a switch. If you look back, Upton was terrible in April and May, but then he made Maddon look like a genius for sticking with him when he raked in June and won AL Player of the Month honors. Wow, sticking with one of his premier players through some struggles really paid off. Unfortunately he reverted back to useless just as quickly and sucked again in July, so now Maddon’s dumb. If you only judge lineup moves by how they work out afterwards, you’re a retard.

        2) Bullpen usage. The results have been awesome at times, near-puke-inducing at others. However, you’re trying to have it both ways too often. If he removes a starter and the reliever beefs it, Maddon’s an idiot for pulling the starter. If he leaves a starter in and he gives up a couple of hits, obviously Maddon should have taken him out sooner. How does he win? Blaming the manager every time a major league pitcher fails to get outs is retarded.

        3) Tom Foley. I honestly haven’t had a problem with a single call he’s made all year while he had me screaming at the TV several times last year. I don’t see how this is a reason to hate on Maddon.

        4) Jason Hammel? Really? He’s performed better than most would have suspected this year, I guess, but I definitely do not miss him based on how he performed here the last year or two. If it was so obvious he could be an effective starting pitcher when starting pitching is such a scarce resource, how is it none of the other ML GMs offered anything more than a suspect AA arm knowing that the Rays HAD to trade him?

        5) I don’t live and die by the scoresheet like a lot of the statnerds, but you’re really putting way too much emphasis on the 1 – 9 of the lineup for success or failure. The batting order didn’t make the team score among the top 5 teams in the league for May and June just like it didn’t make them score below average for April and August. The batting order doesn’t cause hitters to strike out 10+ times per game at an alarming rate against bad/rookie pitchers. If you think differently you’re fooling yourself. They definitely dropped too many games to beatable teams, especially in April, but is Joe Maddon really the main culprit?

        The unfortunate fact for this season is that the Rays absolutely needed better contributions from a lot of guys in order to be successful — Upton, Burrell, Navarro, Kazmir, Shields, Garza, Balfour, Nelson — and they did not get them.

        There are certainly a few aspects of Maddon’s job this year that I’ve had problems with, but I’ll leave you and Gus with one question. I really want you to think long and hard about this before you answer too. You obviously think Maddon’s an awful manager, has cost the team numerous wins this year, and want him gone. So, honestly, who do you really think the Rays could/would hire once they fire Maddon who would do a superior job given the same personnel/payroll constraints? Larry Rothschild? Hal McRae? Manny Acosta? Buck Showalter? Shell out another $5MM per year for Lou Piniella or Tony LaRussa? Seriously, aside from hiring you personally (even though you’d refuse to drive to the Trop because you’d rather watch the game on your couch with a 6-pack of Natty Light), who do you think would do a better job managing this team?

        • Don says:

          Listen I don’t have time for this point/counter point BS…you didn’t direct one positive point for his handling of Nieman, Zo, base running or attitude because you can’t….
          Lets leave it this way…IF you feel Maddon did a good job this year with the TALENT he had AVAILABLE to him… good for you…it must be fun living…. and not know what is going on….no headaches..I guess…
          Also I got no Idea who should Mgt the Rays…but if…. I did many things would have been done different (mostly as stated in posts since April)
          and the Rays wouldn’t be in the situation they are in today…for better or worse…my guess it would be for the BETTER…BOOK IT!

          • Gus says:

            Enjoyed the 9th inning last night. Howell is worn out; most appearances for a reliever in 2009-09. Then tying run, 2 outs, no pinch runner for Pena (Perez) and Foley holds him. Nince management Joe!

  14. Rayhawk says:

    ummmm lets see, 6 back on sept. 6th, Cubs choke? Mets are good?

    I haven’t written them off yet, Ill feel better or worse on Monday nite.. It’s baseball folks,

    NOTE THE YUCCANEERS.

  15. Tone says:

    I don’t think excepting reality is jumping ship. Not the Rays season in 2009 and now we are stuck watching it turn into Yanks Red Sox playoffs (can only hope that anyone else but them make it). Sigh, the White Sox will not be able to help us, Yanks will most likely crush us(I will still hope for wins). Sadness…

  16. bobrittner says:

    “Anybody still think we were overreacting when back in July we wrote after Mark Buehrle’s perfect game, “This incarnation of the Tampa Bay Rays just isn’t very good….One game that proved this team is going nowhere. One game that proved this team is done. One game that proved this team is roadkill.”

    Yes, I think you were overreacting. Not because as it is turning out this team will not get to the post-season. That seems inevitable. But because there is no particular relationship between losing to a perfect game and being a “not very good” team. There have been 18 perfect games in major league history, two before 1900. In most cases, the victim was not very good, although in many of those cases the pitcher was rather ordinary too.

    But there are 3 cases where the loss did not mean the loser was not very good, and strangely all three cases were the Dodgers. The first of course is the Larsen World Series game which Brooklyn lost in 7 games. But clearly they were an excellent team.

    The other two occurred in 1988 and 1991. In the latter case, the pitcher was Dennis Martinez, a very good pitcher, but not better than Buehrle. That Dodger team won 93 games and missed the division title by one game.

    The other pitcher was Tom Browning. That year the Dodgers won 94 games and the World Series!

    There are many ways to compare pitchers, so one may argue whether either was as good or better than Buehrle. But if ERA+ has any validity at all, Martinez’s was 106 for his career, Browning’s was 97 and Buehrle’s is 122. By other measures, Buehrle is at least comparable and probably better.

    The analysis of the Rays may have been correct (although I would still dispute that also), but the reasoning was invalid.

    • Don says:

      I don’t think the “perfect” game was the first sign that this team wasn’t very good….I thought early indications started April/May….loss after loss
      and the reaction from Maddon, Mgt and players “Well its only one game(loss)”….in the mean time nothing was being done to try to correct or improve things!
      Maddon and the Rays in 2010 need to treat EVERY game as important
      and as chances become evident they must be made THEN…..
      not wait till Aug/Sept to START making changes…pretty simple!

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