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: Offense? The Rays are only 7th in the AL in hitting (.259), 5th in OBP (.342) and 6th in slugging (.431), but they lead the AL in runs scored (113). Why the disparity? The Rays are hitting when it matters most. in 216 plate appearances with runners in scoring position, the Rays are hitting .318 (1st in the AL), have a .413 OBP (1st in the AL) and have a league-best OPS of .964, which is 150 points higher than the next best team (Boston)…Starting Pitching. The Rays starting pitchers have the second best ERA in the AL (2.81) and they lead the AL with 6.4 innings per start.

THE BAD: Relief Pitching. One reason the Rays starters work so deep into games is to hide a weak bullpen. So far this season, the Rays relievers are 9th in the AL with a 4.13 ERA even though they have the 3rd best batting average against (.227)…Basestealing. The mathematical cutoff for success stealing is 75%. Less than that and the team might be losing runs (although it can be argued that the affect of stolen bases goes beyond the success rate). The Rays are tied with the White Sox for the AL lead with 21 stolen bases, but they have also been thrown a league leading 10 times leading to the 4th worst success rate in the AL (68%).

THE TELLING: The Rays now begin a stretch of 7 straight series (20 games) against non-AL East opponents.

DEVIL DOGS WEBTOPIA

  • Andrew Friedman made an appearance on “The Dan Patrick Show.” The only telling statement is when Friedman refers to a sold out Trop as “like a 10th man,” which may or may not have been a Freudian slap to the face of Pat Burrell. Here is the link to the audio if you are so inclined. [Audio]
  • Steve Slowinski attempts to quantify the difference between John Jaso and Dioner Navarro and whether the Rays should stick with Jaso once Kelly Shoppach returns. [DRays Bay]
  • Aneury Rodriguez was named the IL pitcher of the week, one week after Jeremy Hellickson won the same award. [Rays Prospects]
  • Joe Henderson takes a matter-of-fact look at the Rays attendance woes. [Tampa Tribune]
  • John Romano writes about the path Leslie Anderson took from Cuba to the Rays and how he is adjusting with his new club. [St. Pete Times]
  • Rays Prospects informs us that Wade Townsend has signed with an independent team. [Twitter]
  • An Astros short-season team will be giving away Ben Zobrist bobbleheads. There will only be 1,200 of them so you can expect them to not be cheap on eBay. [Rays Rev]
  • Virgil Vasquez actually has two broken wrists, suffered in a car accident. [St. Pete Times]
  • Angela Jacobs has some quotes from John Jaso on his early success with the Rays. [10Connects.com]
  • Rays now sit atop ESPN.com’s power rankings. [ESPN]

DOWN ON THE FARM

  • Check out “The Rundown” from Rays Prospects for boxscores and more detailed recaps. [Rays Prospects]
  • DURHAM: Heath Rollins made his first start in place of the injured Virgil Vasquez. He allowed 4 runs in 4 innings…Fernando Perez was 1-5 with 3 strikeouts…Dan Johnson hit his league leading 8th home run…Hank Blalock started at third base and collected 2 more hits. He is now hitting .396 with a .455 OBP. Of his 19 hits, only 2 are for extra-bases.
  • MONTGOMERY: Darin Downs pitched 5.2 shutout innings but was pulled after being hit in the leg by a comebacker…Nevin Ashley was 0-4.
  • CHARLOTTE: Nick Barnese gave up 3 runs in 6 innings on 3 hits and a walk. He struck out 5…Isaias Velasquez went 4-5 with 3 stolen bases. He is now second in the FSL with 8 steals…Tim Beckham went 0-3 with 2 walks. He is just 4-39 (.103) to start the year…Matt Sweeney was 2-4.
  • BOWLING GREEN: (no game scheduled)
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10 Comments

  1. Charles says:

    Too early to call Tim Beckham a bust?

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    • Cork Gaines says:

      I dont know. But I do think it is interesting that nobody seems to care. Even outside the Rays organization and fanbase, nobody seems to have noticed. Compare that to Matt Bush, another top pick. And in the case of Bush, most recognized that he was only drafted #1 because he was cheap and a hometown kid. And even though it could be argued that Beckham was also drafted higher than he should have, people pounded on the Padres and Bush and nobody says anything about Beckham.

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      • Charles says:

        It is odd. Maybe it's that the overall success of the Rays system makes a bust or two a little easier to swallow, even if it is a #1 overall bust. I also think that Bush was more important to the Padres than Beckham is to the Rays. It'll be awesome if he lives up to his potential, but if not, Brignac & Rodriguez are probably OK as the future of the middle infield and there's no shortage of outfielders in the wings if Beckham ends up moving out of the infield (which I think is likely).

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  2. The Leslie Anderson piece was very good. I would recommend that to any Rays fan who wants an inside look at a guy who could play a pivotal role down the stretch run. I think Anderson is the player the Rays "add" while the Yankees & Red Sox are shopping near the trade deadline.

    As for the catcher position, the Rays have had trouble for a couple of years keeping catchers healthy. I think it's too early to tell what the Rays are going to once all the catchers are healthy. I still think it's too early to tell on Jaso. MLB Pitchers haven't seen much of him. I'll get more excited if he's still hitting like this well into May and keeping consistent defensively. Think of it this way: While we're discussing dumping Navi, the Red Sox are dying behind the plate with a guy who can hit but can't catch and a guy that catch but can't hit.

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  3. Beth says:

    I think we are early enough in the year that statistics have modest explanatory/predictive power -- e.g. still a very small "n." So on the base stealing -- four of those 10 caught stealings were in Sunday's game -- they still count, but they may just tell us that the Rays should quit running on Molina, rather than point to larger problems with the running game. Similarly, the bullpen ERA reflects a few REALLY bad outings and more OK to good outings. Too early to tell whether the bullpen is truly ineffective (but glad that the starting pitching has been good enough that we haven't had to find out).

    On a completely different note: I've been looking at the Congressional hearings on Goldman Sachs from a Rays eye view. Why I have faith in the Rays ownership: these were the guys smart enough to make a fortune with Goldman Sachs and then GET OUT BEFORE IT ALL WENT SOUR! Let's hope they continue to apply their prescience to baseball talent.

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    • Matt C says:

      Let's just hope the front office doesn't decide to jump ship on us if they sense a bad swing coming.

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  4. Joe D. says:

    I'm yet to see Beckham play, but I was at the draft when the Rays took Beckham, and I got to talk to two scouts one from the Braves and one from the Angels, that'd told me they had seen a lot of him and one compared him Barry Larkin, thought he would fill out, the other thought he'd remain more lean and athletic and be more like BJ Upton...

    I seem to remember that Beckham started out slow last year and came on pretty strong, seemed to have a lot of errors, but I remember Brignac went through a stretch like that too a couple of years ago, I also seem to remember hearing Bartlett had a bad stretch with errors in MIN.

    Prof, who do you think the Rays are more likely to call up first should they have to, Dan Johnson or Hank Blalock?

    I know that most people would shocked if it was Johnson, but he's been able to play every day has been hitting for good power, and career wise has a better K/BB ratio.

    I wondering if the Rays feel like that might need to promote Blalock, or else they might lose him, ala Adam Kennedy last year, where as Johnson doesn't have the provisions in his contract like Blalock.

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    • Cork Gaines says:

      Good question. The Rays do hate to ever give up value for nothing. But Johnson vs Blalock may depend on Blalock's defense. While watching warmups yesterday, Blalock's throws from third base looked very mechanical and uncomfortable. Of course I don't really remember how he looked before the surgery. If he can be a backup 3B, I think he gets the edge because he has proven he can produce consistently at the big league level. But if not, Johnson can play both corner infield positions ad both corner outfield positions.

      So if Johnson is clearly the better option right now they will be willing to let Blalock walk.

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  5. MJ says:

    It's all about the GTMI slogan this year.

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