The GBT – The Good, The Bad and The Telling sandwich, where The Bad is nice and lean and the The Telling is ripe.
THE GOOD: Mike Ekstrom. Ekstrom made one final case for the final bullpen spot by working 3 scoreless innings allowing just 1 hit and striking out 2…Evan Longoria. Dirtbag is peaking at the right time, hitting his 5th home run.
THE BAD: Pat Burrell. The Bat started in the outfield for the 11th (!) time this spring. Burrell says that last year he had trouble acclimating to the role of DH and all the down time. Isn’t that exactly what spring training should be for? Or have the Rays been showcasing Burrell to NL teams? Or maybe Joe Maddon thinks playing the outfield will help Burrell feel more comfortable at the plate and jumpstart his offense? We are just scared that this is more than “let’s give Burrell a few spring starts to appease him.
THE TELLING: With only 2 exhibition games remaining before the regular season starts, Joe Maddon had Ben Zobrist batting third, followed by Evan Longoria in the cleanup spot, Carlos Pena fifth and BJ Upton sixth. Look for this to be the opening day batting order…Matt Joyce was officially placed on the DL…The Rays finished with the best record in the Grapefruit League. In the last 13 years, the winner of the Grapefruit League finished the regular season with a median of 92 wins and an average of 88 wins.
DEVIL DOGS WEBTOPIA…
- Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette says the Rays may be discussing a trade with the Pirates for pitcher Virgil Vasquez. [Twitter]
- Elliot Johnson has been removed from the 40-man roster and placed on waivers. No surprise here as he was out of minor league options. [The Heater]
- Joe Maddon on Pat Burrell as an outfielder: “…he is mechanically a good outfielder. He just lacks overall foot speed. But he does a lot of other things well as an outfielder. So he has opened my eyes a bit with that.” [Tampa Tribune]
- Now the mayors of Tampa, St. Pete and Clearwater are getting together to film a commercial to beg people to go to Rays games. [Tampa Tribune]
- Five MLB.com “pundits” and not one picks the Rays to make the playoffs. But Peter Gammons does pick BJ Upton to win the AL MVP award and Sean Rodriguez to win Rookie of the Year (see comments). [MLB]
- Desmond Jennings will miss the start of the season. Jennings says he is “just not trying to rush it,” but that he is “feeling good.” [Biscuit Crumbs]
- The Rays top Jon Heyman’s list of teams that “could surprise” this season. Could surprise? Most people consider the Rays one of the top 4 or 5 teams in baseball. What exactly would be surprising? [SI.com]
- The Rays are the top ranked organization in Baseball America’s list of talent rankings. [Rays Prospects]
- Fangraphs also takes a look at the talent in the Rays organization. [Fangraphs]
- RZ of DRaysBay compares Joaquin Benoit and Mike Ekstrom. [DRays Bay]
- A Rays preview from Tom Korun featuring many Fennelyisms (one sentence paragraphs) (thanks Thad). [ABC Action News]
- Hitting the Cutoff Man previews the Rays. [Hitting the Cutoff Man]
- Will Kline will pitch in extended spring training to start the season. Kline, a 2nd round pick in 2007 hasn’t pitched the past 2 seasons. [Biscuit Crumbs]