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: Jason Bartlett. Bartlett will try to prove that his new-found ability to keep the ball in the air and drive the ball was not a fluke in 2009. Yesterday was a good sign with 2 home runs…Dale Thayer. If Joaquin Benoit isn’t ready for opening day, Thayer is one of three that could get the final spot. Yesterday he pitched 2 scoreless innings, striking out 3 and walking none.

THE BAD: Unbalanced Scheduling. The Rays will play the Red Sox or the Yankees NINE times this spring. The Red Sox and Yankees will face each other ZERO times. How does that happen?

THE TELLING: The final bench spot will likely come down to Reid Brignac or Hank BlalockSean Rodriguez made his first start of the spring at third base.

DEVIL DOGS WEBTOPIA

  • Wade Davis was named the 5th starter and Andy Sonnanstine was moved to the bullpen. Sonny called it a “tough one to swallow,” while Big Dub said he is “ready to rock.” [St. Pete Times]
  • 11 players were cut yesterday including Justin Ruggiano. Dan Johnson, who is out of options, was also cut, so he is headed to the waiver-wire. Of the remaining cuts, several were relief pitchers that seemed to be in contention for the final bullpen spot. This means that Joaquin Benoit is almost certainly on the opening day roster. [Rays Report]
  • Elliot Johnson may always be remembered for “The Collision,” but for one fleeting moment on Tuesday, Johnson gave some fans in Clearwater something to cheer about. [The Fightins]
  • We answered some fantasy-related questions about the Rays for the guys at Razzball. [Razzball]
  • Roger Mooney has 5 questions for Wade Davis. [Tampa Tribune]
  • MLB has eliminated the off-day between games 4 and 5 of the LCS in an effort to shorten the off-season a tad. [SI.com]
  • In the strongest words to date on realignment, Bud Selig said he was in favor: “I do believe in some realignment because I do believe it can work, just as I believed in the Wild Card, Interleague Play, revenue sharing. It’s something that I want to keep thinking about. When I’m on long airplane rides and travels, which are a lot lately, I’ll fiddle around with divisions and things. But one thing about it, you can come up with a hundred different [scenarios]. So we’ll just see how it works out.” [MLB]
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12 Comments

  1. Charles says:

    I think management should issue Dale Thayer an ultimatum - no 'stache, no roster spot.

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  2. Erik Lurz says:

    This talk about realignment bothers me. Sure it would be easier for the Rays if they were in another division or the National League, but then what does that mean for the fate of the AL East? Does being in the AL East mean you're resigned to finish third at best? If the Orioles get strong enough to contend in the next couple of years will they want to move them, too? Remember Hank Steinbrenner said in May 2008 about the Rays, "I'm happy for them, but I wish they were in the National League." If realignment occurs they'll be making his wish come true.

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    • Yeah, it seems silly to me to. Reminds of the contraction talk 5 years ago. Of course people were targeting the Rays they were the shitty team then. But would they contract the Rays now? No chance, even with the poor attendance.

      I really think there is something to the idea of breaking up Boston and the Yankees. Isn't THAT the problem? You could still let them play each other 500 times each year or whatever it takes to keep their fans happy. But put them in different divisions and that solves everybody's problems.

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      • Joel says:

        Yeah, I don't get why everyone just wants to move the Rays - it means you either bring in another small-market team to suffer behind the Big Two, or you bring in another juggernaut to make the Jays and Orioles completely hopeless.

        Half the people I read/hear talking about Rays realignment forget one important thing about the AL East - the Yankees and Red Sox are a boon to attendance. You think we have attendance troubles now? Imagine if we were in the AL Central without any other changes - I don't think we're looking for MORE dates with the Royals.

        If you break up the Yankees and Red Sox, you at least spread that attendance factor out over two divisions. I like the idea of switching with the AL Central rather than the NL East, just because the NL East already has two strong road draws in the Mets and Phillies (I'm making an assumption here - I guess I don't KNOW that they're road draws).

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        • Beth says:

          Joel, you make a good point about attendance. From a strictly attendance (rather than fairness) point of view, would being a contending team in the Central attract enough additional fans to offset the loss of a dozen (I don't know the exact number) sell-outs against the Red Sox and Yankees?

          I know how annoyed Rays fans on this blog and elsewhere get when the Trop is filled with red caps during a Red Sox series, but all I see are idiots willing to pay double the cost of a "nonprime" game whose beer consumption is paying for Soriano's 2010 contract.

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          • Joel says:

            You've got the right idea, Beth. It helps take the edge off hearing all those boorish fans, knowing they're subsidizing the Rays' ability to make their team lose.

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          • Pipp says:

            Some quick math:
            In the 18 home games against BOS & NYY in 2009, the Rays drew an average of about 28,468 fans. In the remaining 63 home games, they drew an average of 21,627 fans. That's a difference of about 6,800 fans per game.

            If the Rays were playing in the AL Central, they would play 10 fewer home games against BOS & NYY. That would be a hit of about 68,000 fans over the year.

            Would being a perennial contender in the AL Central draw more than 70k fans over the year? It's tough to say.

            *Note: these numbers do not account for the attendance bump for weekend games. The Rays played 4 weekend games against BOS and NYY, for which the attendance wasn't appreciably higher than typical weekend dates.

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  3. Deadeye says:

    I am always pulling for him but Thayer's "impressive" display was against non-mlb players. i would not get too excited over it.

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  4. Amanda says:

    Friedman's going to be on the Jim Rome show at 12:30. (Woo ... jungle karma!)

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  5. Gus says:

    Re: the schedule. I too noticed that the Rays' strength of schedule has to be tops in MLB with all those games v. NYY, Boston and Twins. But it is the nature of their geography -- close to everybody, but next to nothing. Plus, Boston and NYY don't need each other to fill their stadiums. It definitely helps the Rays to have those marquee teams.

    But one of the outcomes of the flight to Arizona is fewer teams to play in the Grapefruit League. Only 14 others. You can only play the Phillies and Pirates so many times until you run back into the AL East.

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