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: JJ And Briggy Baseball. Is there any reason why both John Jaso and Reid Brignac shouldn’t be in the lineup every time a righty is on the mound? In the past, Joe Maddon has been loyal to his starters to a fault. And maybe Jaso and Briggy are just in a groove. But they both look like big leaguers, and JoeMa needs to see how far he can ride this wave (the Rays are 7-0 when Jaso starts and 9-0 when Brignac starts). And there is almost no chance now that Dioner Navarro will be back with the Rays in 2011. And you can make an argument that Jason Bartlett shouldn’t be either. Moving those two players would save the Rays $7-9 million next year…Joaquin Benoit. Benoit made his debut with the Rays and looked impressive, consistently hitting 94-95 on the gun. When JP Howell returns, the Rays’ one weakness will once again be a big strength…Truffle Shuffle. We will never cease to enjoy watching Pat Burrell “run” full speed around the bases.
THE BAD: Unbalanced Schedule. How is it that Major League Baseball approved a schedule in which the A’s travel to the Trop for one 2-game series, and yet the Rays have to travel to Oakland for a 3-game series and a 4-game series? (thanks Amanda)…John Jaso’s Hitting Routine. We don’t mean to rain on the Jaso parade. But if there is a reason to temper the excitement about Jaso it is his fidgety hitting routine. Unless you are a great hitter, that much movement usually leads to a swing with holes in it. Hopefully Jaso’s excellent command of the strikezone will overcome those holes…Sean Rodriguez. With the emergence of Briggy Baseball, might Rodriguez be better served playing everyday in Durham? That would open up a spot for Hank Blalock as a lefty bat off the bench and occasional DH.
THE TELLING: Dioner Navarro returned from his suspension and the attendance jumped nearly 20% from the night before to 12,766. Clearly we have underestimated Navi’s popularity…John Jaso got the start despite the availability of Dioner Navarro. Until Kelly Shoppach returns, we expect Navi to get all the starts versus lefties and Jaso to get about two-thirds of the starts versus righties…The Rays have now won 14 of 16 after starting season 3-3…If the Rays complete the sweep of the Royals, they will match the Mariners 20-5 start in 2001. That team went on to win 116 games (thanks Thad)…The Rays are already 12 games over .500. If they play .500 baseball the rest of the way, they would still win 87 games. Once they reach 26 games over .500, they can play .500 baseball the rest of the season and still reach 94 wins which would be an almost guaranteed playoff spot.
WHERE THEY STAND: The Rays are 17-5, 2.5 games ahead of the Yankees and 4.5 games ahead of the Tigers in the Wild Card race. After 22 games in 2008, the Rays were 11-11.
DEVIL DOGS WEBTOPIA…
- Joe Maddon visited a Hot Topic look for some new hoodies. [The Dugout]
- Rays Renegade has the rundown on James Shields, T-shirt designer. [Rays Renegade]
- “John Jaso…he should buy Navi chili con queso.” [Her Rays!]
- Dave Scheiber writes about John Jaso’s emergence. [SunSports]
- Gary Shelton writes about Evan Longoria’s leadership. [St. Pete Times]
- Dock of the Rays offers some marketing suggestions to the Rays. [Dock of the Rays]
- Rise of the Rays explain their selections for the Rays Trade Pool. [Rise of the Rays]
- Does anybody remember when Joe Maddon “threw a temper tantrum, and whined about how sad it is, and that he felt he did nothing wrong, and he was really upset” about not being to wear a hoodie? We don’t. But hey, why should somebody let a little something like “facts” get in the way of a good story. [The Daily Sports Vent]
- Rays Rev has their latest podcast up. [Rays Rev]
DOWN ON THE FARM…
- Check out “The Rundown” from Rays Prospects for boxscores and more detailed recaps. [Rays Prospects]
- DURHAM: Heath Phillips pitched 8 innings, giving up 4 runs (3 earned) on 8 hits and no walks. He struck out 3…The Bulls were held to 1 hit, a leadoff single by Fernando Perez. Durham would not get another baserunner against the knuckleballer RA Dickey.
- MONTGOMERY: Matt Fields was 2-4 with a double, an RBI and 2 strikeouts.
- CHARLOTTE: Chris Andujar pitched 5.1 shutout innings. He gave up 2 hits and 3 walks…Tim Beckham was 0-3 with a walk…Henry WrigleyB was 3-4 and Matt Sweeney was 1-4 with a double…Michael Sheriden hit his first home run of the year.
- BOWLING GREEN: Alex Colome struck out 9 and walked just 1 in 8 innings. He allowed 2 runs (1 earned) including a solo home run…The Hot Rods managed just 3 hits.