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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

click above image for boxscore

THE GOOD: Reality. At least one of the players realizes that not all is well in the Raysiverse. James Shields called this losing streak “embarassing.”

THE BAD: Joe Maddon Occasionally Not Smart. Prior to September, Matt Garza had made one start with at least 118 pitches. He now has 3 straight starts in September with at least 118. With the Rays out of the race, one has to wonder why Garza took the mound in the 8th inning. And we don’t even care about the runs he gave up. For an organization that does so much to protect their pitchers, the best word we can think of is “dumb.”…Offense? The Rays have scored 23 runs in their current 11-game losing streak and 8 runs in their last 7…Playoffs? The Rays are now 72-71 and in very real danger of not even finishing above .500.

THE TELLING: The Rays are now 12.5 game back in the wild card in 4th place and their Tragic Number is now 8…Matt Garza has now set a career high in innings pitched (185) with 3 starts left. James Shields is 1.1 innings away from his 3rd straight 200 inning season…Andy Sonnanstine will get yet another start on Wednesday…Not that it is a great stat, but when looking through some numbers we thought it was funny that Scott Kazmir’s career win percentage with the Rays was .556. Victor Zambrano’s was .565.

SUNBURST PLAYER OF THE GAME: Due to confusion over the double-header and our own absent-mindedness, we are scratching yesterday’s Sunburst.

DEVIL DOGS WEBTOPIA

  • Pat Burrell tried to check his swing during a pinch-hitting appearance and was called out. Burrell snapped at the umpire and was ejected. But then something strange happened…Joe Maddon kinda threw Burrell under the bus: “From my perspective, I thought he did swing…” [Tampa Tribune]
  • Joe Maddon says the bullpen is not tired. At least, not tired physically. [Tampa Tribune]
  • Did we miss something? Did somebody accuse of BJ Upton of faking his ankle injury? Or did Bossman start a fire just so he could put it out? [St. Pete Times]
  • See if you can follow this logic: The Rays suck now, because they sucked in April. Got that? Yeah, neither do we. [St. Pete Times]
  • This will be the Pirates 18th straight year without a 16-game winner. That is the only streak longer than the Rays, because apparently 16 years is longer than “never.” For the record, the Rays have never even had a 15-game winner. [The Hardball Times]
  • Marc Lancaster writes about how far Jeff Niemann has come since his first start in April and his Rookie of the Year candidacy. [Tampa Tribune]
  • Ken Rosenthal sees how the Rays waited for Scott Kazmir’s value to peak before trading him and wonders if that means they will be less inclined to trade BJ Upton this off-season. He also feels they may be more likely to deal Carl Crawford. [MLB Trade Rumors]
  • Vince Naimoli helped improve the student commons area of a school where his daughter is a student. [Venture]
  • Proving once again that the only “Next Rays” is the Arizona Cardinal of the NFL, the Cardinals barely sold out their first home game since going to the Super Bowl. [Yahoo! Sports]
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16 Comments

  1. Gus, a casual fan says:

    Another bit about how smart the Rays were to sell Kazmir when his value was peaking? Good lord. Could it have been the other way -- the Rays totally panicked on a 25-year old lefthander? Given his 6 starts BEFORE he was traded and the 3 starts after he was traded, maybe these guys weren't so smart.

    If we were playing a playiff series this year with ex-Rays v. current Rays, Jackson, Kazmir and Hammel would certainly be favored in the pitching match-up over the Rays top 3 starters. Maybe the org needs to start looking internally at coaching and evaluation.

    It is sad that they've given up since the Kaz trade, but entirely predictable.

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    • Beth says:

      We can debate the merits of the Kazmir trade, but even if it were a mistake I don't think it either explains or excuses the really horrific play we've seen. From really everyone except the starting pitchers, who have been pretty darned good.

      I know Pena is out; that Crawford really hasn't been the same since his back injury, but what can possibly explain a hitting slump of this magnitude?

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    • Sam A says:

      I wouldn't say they 'totally panicked' on Kazmir. They simply couldn't afford his contract. I think it is fair to question the wisdom of a team that signs a player to a huge contract and then comes around 15 months later and says, "Hey, we can't afford to keep this guy," but that trade had to happen.

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      • Don says:

        Kazmir is 0 wins and 2 no decisions for Sept!
        Who can afford him? He is no factor, gone, forget.....

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      • Gus, a casual fan says:

        It wasn't the Kazmir contract they couldn't afford so much as the Burrell contract where they overreached. If your core philosophy is we are going to try develop young guys, sign our core to as long-term as we can, why are you making a muscle bound 33 year old DH from the NL your 3rd or 4th highest paid player. It was (and is) a total joke. Never in a million years would PB be the 3rd best player on the Rays; why would you destroy morale that way?

        At the time they signed it, Kazmir probably did deserve that contract (although his arm issues may have been a red flag). He didn't earn much of it, for sure. But he still may earn it. PB will never come close to earning his contract.

        They still have a ton of talent, but managment needs to show the current roster that if you perform, you'll get paid so long as we can pay you. Lots of talk about payroll flexibility, but I haven't seen CC extended yet, and my guess if the old okydokey is coming on that one too. I hope I'm wrong.

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        • Beth says:

          That's a great point - the Pat Burrell deal was very uncharacteristic for the Rays - not only did they sign a pricey free agent, but in so doing they filled neither of their glaring holes (closer and right field). I hope it's a reminder to stick to the game plan.

          At least they will be out from under the Bradford and Percival contracts after this year -- I think they pay the two of them combined more or less what they pay Burrell.

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        • Sam A says:

          Burrell also had an unimpressive track record as a DH (in admittedly limited opportunities) before the Rays signed him. I wasn't a fan of that signing by any means and I would agree that Burrell's contract has an impact on the team's ability to afford other players--in this case, Kazmir.
          Unfortunately, Burrell's poor showing has made it very unlikely the team will be able to unload him without absorbing his salary which is why Kaz had to go.

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      • I keep hearing over and over again that the Rays couldn't "afford" Kazmir anymore. That's pure BS. I don't know what changed between July and late August, but something did. My theory is that the Rays management realized the chances of them getting playoff money was declining, so they wanted to make a move to lessen the financial impact on their PROFITS. They could've kept Kazmir, they just wouldn't have made as much profit this year without the playoffs. The PTBNL that everyone loves was just icing on the financial cake.

        I've accepted that this team will be run with accounting first. Now, that I've accepted that it will make it easier for me to swallow those kinds of moves from here on out (like when CC disappears in the off-season). For some reason, the magic of 2008 rubbed off on me and made me think for a moment that maybe ownership actually wanted to win something. Accounting math is nice, but it doesn't take into account variables that are necessary to a team.

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        • Gus, a casual fan says:

          Mr. Weber, I agree with those sentiments and wish that others would reflect them. I think they are important to express because we know management and the newspaper writers read these blogs. I want them to shoot us straight. I think Stu's comments ("this is what we do, get used to it") should be read carefully by us all. When he talks about living within our means, his "means" includes a nice return on his $65M investment. If he is clearing more than 10% or so, than I think he is fairly charged with fleecing the franchise if he's dumping payroll to generate those profits. He doesn't like to answer those questions, but he should be called to account if he keeps crying poor every time he visits the team and whining about fan support.

          I raise the question once more: what reason has he given to you to buy season tickets if he says he only hopes to play meaningful Sept. games 5 of 10 years and then faced with menaingful games in Sept. 2009, he dumps payroll.

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        • Brixology says:

          I have heard, as recently as a year ago, that this group does not take dollar 1 out of this team. That any profit is re-invested. Now, there are paper profits from the increased value of the franchise, but, again, I believe that the policy is to not realize any profit. I would be interested for someone to ask Stu if that is still the case.

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          • Well, this is tricky. According to Stu, the team loses money, so there is no profit to pocket. So a cynic would say it is easy to say you won't when you can't. Other cynics will say any accountant with half a brain can make something look like it does not make a profit. Unless you actually look at the books, it is impossible to know. I'm no expert so I'll leave that for others to debate.

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          • Beth says:

            I don't think this elusive question of profit is unique to the Rays. Nearly all teams manage to "lose" money on paper -- hence the request for huge stadium subsidies -- but then the franchises sell for huge mark-ups. So either there's money to be made somewhere off the balance sheets....or lots of rich guys are spending millions for the privilege of owning a franchise that has, in hard financial terms, no value. I vote for the former.

            But as long as we do this the capitalist way, we are stuck with this set-up.

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          • Gus, a casual fan says:

            An educated guess:

            The basic math should be about this: MLB Player and Management Payroll: $70M, Minor League and Player Development Net Losses ($10M), lease costs and spring training complex costs ($3M), Misc. expenses that i can't think of but I know they have some ($5M). So Net costs are about $90M for 2009.

            Net revenues: NY Daily News had the central MLB payments for Pittsburgh at about $70M, the Rays would be slightly less at maybe $60M, ticket sales ($1.9M x. $20 average ticket = $38M), concession net profit at $4 per fan (which may be low) gets you another $7.6M, radio and tv rights are closely held secrets and could be bad because the Rays I think sell their own TV and radio time, but lets say they clear $5M from that. But that gets you to $115M or so in very rough dollars with about $90M in expenses (Kaz's sale cancels out the gain from Springer and Zaun). So that would be somewhere in the neighborhood of a 30% return on that scenario. I'd say they aren't rolling in it, but they are not so deep in the hole that they have to start dumping men overboard.

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  2. Sam A says:

    "Joe Maddon says the bullpen is not tired."

    Sure, Joe, whatever. I'm glad that he decided to give Howell the week off.

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  3. Don says:

    "Maddon (occasionally) not SMART"...we are getting closer to the truth...
    forget the occasionally....many fans are FINALLY coming around to the real reason of many of the Rays failings..
    Maddon sleeped walked thru last year on a fluke.... and as long as he is making day to day baseball decisions the Rays are at a disadvantage to other well coached teams....hard to over come!

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  4. Tone says:

    This losing streak really shines a spotlight on the leadership void. The front office lacks this leadership, Maddon lacks it. And now without Pena we can all see who really was leading this team during the good and bad. Without Carlos this team has lost it's soul. Maddon is insane. He goes against the grain just to go against it and then talks to us as if we are all morons. This year was such a waste, so much talent wasted. Now 2010 looks really scarey since we will lose CC, Aki, and maybe even more. They ruined the chemistry, that is how 2008 was so magical. Next year might be worse. I hate rich people and Joe Maddon.

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