Rays Yankees BaseballThe 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 TELLING: The Rays are now 7.5 games back in the Wild Card, tied with the Mariners for 3rd place…The Rays now how 3 rookies in their starting rotation.

DEVIL DOGS WEBTOPIA

  • Carlos Pena was hit by a pitch, breaking two fingers and is out for the year. Marc Topkin provides some quotes. [St. Pete Times]
  • Chris Richard has been promoted to replace Carlos Pena, making his first appearance in the big leagues since April, 2003 when he played 19 games with the Rockies. Marc Lancaster has some quotes from Richard. [Rays Report]
  • Tony Fabrizio wonders if JP Howell is being overused. [Tampa Tribune]
  • Marc Lancaster writes that the Rays will not make any significant changes to the bullpen in the final weeks. [Tampa Tribune]
  • Marc Topkin argues that the Scott Kazmir trade may help the Rays keep the rest of the roster intact for the 2010 season. [St. Pete Times]
  • Joe Posnanski argues that baseball should offer gold gloves for each of the outfield positions and that Carl Crawford would be the runaway choice in left field for the AL. [SI.com]
  • Driveline Mechanics breaks down Wade Davis’ mechanics. [Driveline Mechanics]
  • And here is a breakdown of Wade Davis’ “stuff.” [The Hardball Times]
  • Check the end of this post for a list of Joe Maddon’s “blunders” this season. [Joe Maddon Sucks]
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30 Comments

  1. Chris says:

    How great is Driveline Mechanics? Excellent site.

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  2. I honestly can't believe how quickly this team has fallen. Yesterday, looked just like Yankees/D-Rays games of old. An over matched team just biding their time until the end of the season. It's sad.

    As for Topkin's predictions on next year's roster, I still think the Rays are going to have to move Pena or Crawford. I'm leaning toward Crawford just because they have outfielders that can easily step in and his value would be much higher. They would have a little more trouble filling the 1b roll unless they can teach Pat the Bat to play first in the off season.

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    • Agreed. If attendance had been better or if they would have gotten same Sept attendance bump as last year, Kazmir and Aki might have been enough. But right now? I think one more big contract needs to go. The Rays just can't afford to have ~45% ($30m of $65m) of their payroll tied up in 3 players (CC, Pena, Burrell)

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  3. Beth says:

    First, let me say that this has been one of the more depressing long weekends of my baseball fan life. It's just sad. Losing Pena now that he's finally getting a few hits just seems to be the final kick in the face. Losses are all hard, but the late-inning, blown save losses somehow evoke a special kind of pain.

    But I can't jump on the "Joe Maddon is a jerk" bandwagon! The "joemaddonsucks" list of blunders consists almost entirely of games lost because Maddon stuck with the starter too long, and then .....games lost because Maddon pulled the starter and went to the bullpen, which then blew the game. So....is the problem sticking with the starters or not sticking with the starters?

    Clearly, if we had a better bullpen this would not be as big an issue. Perhaps the shock of this season is that the Rays managed to survive so much of the season with such a rag-tag bullpen. Maybe Maddon's a genius for having the Rays succeed for several months with no real closer or much bullpen talent at all!

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    • It's been a while since the bullpen was bad that I actually expect them to implode.

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    • Sam A says:

      I refuse to visit a site called "joemaddonsucks" but I do have some objections to the way he handles his 'pen.

      There have been a number of games when Maddon has played musical chairs with the relievers, using five or six (or more) to get through 2-3 innings. A good example of this was Sunday when he used five pitchers in the 9th despite the fact that there was a double-header the next day. I think some of the guys are wearing down from overuse.

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  4. Don says:

    I refuse to visit any site called "joemaddonisagoodmanager"....
    Forget the bullpen sucks right now....
    If anyone can go back over a season that as been one mistake after another in "managing" the talent he had available to him....and say he did a good job...you don't need to be reading baseball sites...
    I will argue the talent the Rays have...but not the way it is being handled!
    Three more years??? I don't see the light at the end of the tunnel....and if upper management feels the same way...watch out fans the REAL dumping is on the way!!
    Also where are all the hot shot prospects the Rays are suppose to have..
    a player from 2003??? are we out of 24 yo's ???

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  5. I'm not one to nitpick Joe Maddon too often, but since when is Cormier the best option to start 8th inning of a 1-1 game at Replica Yankee Stadium? Not exactly the role envisioned for Cormier when Rays signed him.

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    • Beth says:

      True, but who instead? Bradford and Bennett are completely worthless. Howell, in theory, is your 9th inning guy. Maybe Wheeler is a better choice? Problem is that at this particular moment, there's not one Rays reliever I would trust withe the game on the line. They've all alternated being terrible, except on the days when they are all terrible together.

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      • how about Sonnanstine? No? Izzy? Percy? It's too bad Zimmer just had surgery.

        Anyway, I guess I'm the sort that absent of an obviously superior option, I am going to stick with what I know. Maddon seems to be guessing right now. But maybe that is the best option. Who knows.

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    • Sam A says:

      Wheeler was the best option. Maybe Joe was saving him for the 9th? He should have let Cormier finish off Detroit on Sonday and then Howell or Balfour (if you can still trust them) would have been an option yesterday. This goes back to my frustration with Maddon's bullpen use.

      And I don't ever want to see Bradford again. The ERA looks nice, but every time he comes in with runners on they score.

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      • stunna says:

        I think Bradford's WHIP is almost as high as his ERA if that tells you anything. I'd love to find out how many inherited runners have scored on him. I'm willing to bet his ratio is one of the worst among all relievers in the bigs.

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        • Beth says:

          You are right, and this is why I think the practice of charging runs to the departing pitcher is not a good one in all circumstances, and makes any reliever's ERA suspect. Seems to me if you come on with a guy on first and he scores, that should be on the guy who let him score, not the one who put him on first -- or there should be a way to share the allocation of the runs. Anyway, that's probably too statistically complicated to do, so in the meantime I'll just use barometers other than ERA to judge relievers.

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        • 9 of 19 inherited runners have scored off of Bradford. 47.4% is bad. That is about what Shawn Camp did in '07. League avg in the AL is 34.8% which is pretty consistent from year to year.

          What is interesting about Bradford is that he actually has a decent FIP (.204). It is his BABIP which is astronomical (.532). Obviously a small sample size, but when batters make contact, they are hitting it very well. So that explains the high WHIP.

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  6. Don says:

    Funny .....after I got done posting...I read an article about what Ozzie Guillen said about the White Sox performance this year...
    "It's my fault when something goes wrong on the field" plus "If this thing doesn't work, I blame myself"......

    Ask yourself does that sound more like the "man in charge" or
    "We hit a few bumps in the road" or "I liked our efforts"....
    Wonder if players really buy that shit.... like most fans who don't know better??

    I know if I was a player which manager I would have more respect for!

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  7. Gus says:

    I think Sam A. is on to something in that in managing every game like a post-season game, Maddon wore out the bullpen. People forget, but the 2006 and 2007 bullpens were amongst the worst in league history (I think 2007 was THE worst). For a team that has had 4 decent starters going pretty deep most of the year, we have lots of bullpen appearances. It has been mismanaged again this year (last year was frustrating also, but Balfour and Howell covered up lots of sins out there). So in 3 of Maddon's 4 years, he has had a pretty miserable bullpen. That needs to be fixed.

    All that said, when it comes to the bullpen, the other half of the evaulation has to be what does he have out there? Pretty much all older pitchers, none of whom throw real hard except Balfout. Why we couldn't at least try one of the minor league pitchers and see what he had (Abreu is old, but he had no chance). I'd much rather see young guys with some life in their arms than Russ (Stu's Stud) Springer trying to craft his way out of an inning. The old bullpen theory can officially be trashed by management. And in so doing, they can save some of their precious dollars.

    I also think you are seeing what I wrote the Friday Kazmir was traded: the team gave up as soon as Kazmir was good and Sonny was promoted. If management gives up on you, what do you have left. These guys are planning golf trips and their outfits. Grinding on baseball seems to the furthest thing on their minds.

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    • stunna says:

      Agreed. I also don't understand why Balfour hasn't developed another pitch yet. I don't know if that's on him or the coaches, but in theory it would be a good idea.

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    • Beth says:

      Yes, I agree with just about all of this except....I don't think the starters have actually been all that solid, and that's part of why the relievers are worn out. Mopping up for Kazmir and Sonny, for some of Price's early clunkers, meant the Rays had logged a lot of bullpen hours just by the end of May. Very few complete games; and starters thowing their 100th pitch in the 6th inning. No one, other than Neimann, has strung together more than a handful of quality starts.

      So we have a mediocre bullpen called upon to bail out stumbling starters and, voila, we have meltdown.

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      • Sam A says:

        I read somewhere that the Rays bullpen has actually thrown fewer innings than the league average. While I agree that some of the starters have not been very good at going deep into games, Maddon has made things worse by making too many pitching changes.

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        • Beth says:

          If you look at DRaysBay you'll see this discussed: http://www.draysbay.com/2009/9/7/1020044/quantifying-2009-bullpen-management

          Apparently the Rays bullpen is below the league average in innings pitched, but above the league average in appearances. This reinforces your claim/complaint that Maddon is using too many different guys...even if they are not pitching a lot of innings they are still warming up and coming in.

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        • Gus says:

          Rays are below average on bullpen innings thrown (congrats starters!) but well above the league average with 425 appearances (league average is 373). So if you feel like every time a reliever gets an out or two, Joe yanks him to "match-up" with a lefty/righty thing, you are not imaging this. (Hence my comment that he managed the bullpen like it was post-season).

          To do that to an old bullpen is insane. Maddon needs to learn some self-control and get some younger arms down there. Somebody shut down JP Howell (most appearances in MLB in 2008-09) before he totally breaks down.

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    • I think the obvious answer is that they still haven't replaced Troy Percival. Percy provided the Rays with plenty of solid innings last year. The roles were defined w/ Wheeler/Balfour/Howell followed by Percy. Take Percy out of the equation and you're trying to fill 4 roles with 3 guys. Once you make Howell your closer, you're stuck deciding between Shouse and Choate as your left-handed specialist. Not much of a choice. The Rays were much better off with the Miller/Howell combo.

      If you go back to the playoffs last year, the Rays used the Wheeler/Balfour/Howell combo to finish games off. Wheeler actually had 2 blown saves in the ALCS, before Maddon used Price the closer role for the final game.

      I'd really like to see the Rays address the closer role this off-season like they did in the 2007/2008 off-season. Find a guy who can make the 9th inning a non-factor for Maddon. Let him just worry about the 6/7/8.

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      • Gus says:

        I think we can officially decide that trying to recycle a closer cannot be the only option. Throw 5 young arms down there, try to find somebody miscast or out of favor in their current team and see what you can build. Relying on Percy to open this season was inexpllicable. Izzy was a calulated to gamble, but to have Izzy and Percy seems like doubling down on the same bet. Most good closers are home grown. We have a system so flush with pitching prospects that we are giving them away for non-pitchers, yet this team has had serious bullpen issues in every year of "That's What we Do" Stu's ownership. It makes my head hurt.

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        • Brixology says:

          Jacob McGee, perhaps?

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        • Beth says:

          The Rays have actually gotten pretty lucky with recycled closers, getting every drop of pitching they could out of Reyes (remember "el Assasino?") and Percival.

          But, I agree, Gus, that hardly makes this a good strategy -- it's sort of like buying lottery tickets as your retirement planning.

          I assume that good closers are usually created somewhere between AA and the majors, right? I mean, does anyone go through little league as "the closer?" So I completely agree that the Rays should spend the off-season deciding which of their prospects should be given a shot to win this role. Otherwise you end up overpaying for aging arms.

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          • Hey, Friedman says we have plenty of "pitching depth." Why not use some of that in the closer role? Niemann's name was being thrown around this spring. Why not pick up a 5th starter and make Niemann the man?

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