The GBT – The Good, The Bad and The Telling sandwich, where The Bad is nice and lean and the The Telling is ripe.

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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.
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19 Comments

  1. Amanda says:

    Buster Olney had some interesting stuff on the Rays this morning on the Mike & Mike Show. (I can't get any over-the-air sports radio stations at home, so I turn this on in the morning on ESPN2. Anywho ...) He said the entire Rays lineup has the green light on the base path on the first time through the rotation. He said one opposing pitcher (gah! I can't remember which one) says he hates facing the Rays because he gets so worried about who's on base that he can't concentrate on his pitching.

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    • That's interesting. I was having a twitter debate with someone the other day about whether the Rays have green lights on the base paths. But, I find it hard to believe that the bottom 3rd of the order has a green light.

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  2. leningan says:

    the good: Benoit, belly-to-belly - JB and CC triple in tandem, Brignac - great Ab's and flashing the glove... what's not to like?
    The bad: having to leave the game early, i know it sounds bad but after seeing Benoit mow them down there wasn't a reason to stick around (maybe for Johnny Drama's Victory!)

    the telling: Cork what is bartlett's arbitration number looking like? Any recent comprables?

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    • Cork Gaines says:

      I haven't looked too deeply for good arb comps yet, but off the top of my head there was Felipe Lopez 2 years ago with Nats. He was entering his final arbitration season and got 1-year, $4.9m. Consider that Lopez was on a 2-year decline while Bartlett seems to be on an upswing, add in about 2% salary inflation per year and Bartlett's '10 salary of $4m, and I would put Bartlett somewhere between $5.25 and $6m depending on how well he plays this year.

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      • leningan says:

        that seems fair... do they take into account the fact he was probably underpaid years prior, or is that just an understood with the way MLB contracts work? Also, if he keeps his pace could we see that number go upwards of $8 mil.?

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        • Cork Gaines says:

          Found another good comp, Jack Wilson. He avoided arb a year ago and got $5.25m in what would have been his final arb season. Like Lopez he was in decline. So I think that is the low end for Bartlett, but probably closer to $6m. Even if he has a great year, I'd be surprised if he got much more than $6.5m. Maybe it goes up to $7.0m but usually these arb numbers are pretty tight.

          And it is hard to tell exactly what the arbitrator considers but certainly the player will argue that he has been underpaid for X years. That is probably partially how Lopez and Wilson got their deals bc they were both not very good the year befor their arb deals.

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  3. Tone says:

    I'm sorry but this team really needs Bartlett, Briggy is really good but does he have a track record of hitting with RISP like Barty? How many times has Jason done that with 2 outs that then leads to an explosive inning over the last 2 years? He is essential as far as I'm concerned. Pena and Bartlett need to stay for 3 more years, the infield is very key in my mind to the whole winning thing. Pena and Longo SHOULD be going back to back for at least 2 more seasons. Bartlett leading off is poetry. BJ looks really good too, Crawford, in my mind is the only player I could see them still winning without. Why not keep Reid at 2nd always? Jaso should start even vs leftys, Navi looks even worse now.

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    • leningan says:

      Agreed, on most of the above... I'm just wondering, if giving CC $12-$15 mil is too much, what is the front offices cut off point for Barty? Especially when the argument against keeping CC is the available alternatives (that are looking less like sure things), and Bartletts replacement is staring them in the face... I want everyone to stay, but barring a drastic change in plans I don't see that happening. Ideally, we lock Bartlett up at a discount for 2 to 3 more years (a la Zobrist) but with his recent play he is quickly pricing himself (hisself?) out of Tampa Bay.

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    • Cork Gaines says:

      It's a tough question. If you just way talent, Bartlett is probably the better player in 2011. But if you ways costs and benefits, you are definitely getting more bang for the buck with Brignac.

      The Rays problem is what if they are a (made up numbers ahead) 92-win team with Brignac at SS and a 94-win team with Bartlett. Well, 94-wins is probably a playoff team. 92 probably isn't. If that is the case then paying an extra $5m to keep Bartlett around is probably worth it. But Bartlett is not the difference between playoffs and no playoffs, then he is not.

      And then consider next year's payroll. If the Rays weren't planning on chopping $20m off the books, then yes, by all means, pay the extra $5m for a little more production. But the Rays may not be in that position next winter to overspend for just a little production that might put them over the top.

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      • leningan says:

        i like the playoff vs. non-playoff logic... how does that work for CC and his potential replacements? I see a much bigger dropoff between CC vs. Desmond/ruggs/nando, as opposed to Barty vs. Briggy. how much bigger? I don't know. And then we again come back to the price associated with each... the circle continues...

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        • Cork Gaines says:

          Yep, that's the problem. The drop off from CC is definitely bigger, but so is the cost. The difference between Bartlett and Briggy might be $5M but the difference between CC and Jennings might be $14M. Also consider that Bartlett would just be a one-year deal while Crawford will want 5 or 6. So while CC *may* be worth the extra money in 2011 and 2012, will he still be worth the extra dough in 2014 and 2015. Not many speedburners maintain value into their mid-30s.

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  4. Joe D. says:

    I do think a young guy like Sean Rodriguez is better served playing every day in Durham, I'd rather see a veteran like Blalock pinch hitting/platooning. We have enough middle, infield depth with Aybar, Zobrist, and Brignac.

    Briggy clearly shown that he's on the hot streak and probably more prepared for the Major League level right now over Rodzilla.

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  5. Alex says:

    So how long do we get to watch Zobrist not do anything in the three hole until Maddon pulls him? Its the BJ Upton situation all over again. Zobrist has become a huge hole in an already deadly lineup Longo and Pena need to move up and Zobrist needs to move back to the 5 hole. He looks like he has no idea how to hit again

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  6. Don says:

    I wonder how many OTHER teams...media or fans talk about getting rid of their BEST players and rationalize that the drop off won't be that big!
    Take this to the bank...Bartlett and Crawford are two of four main pieces to this team..without them the team is NOT the same...Pay them, screw the rest (Longo, Zo plus key pitchers signed)!!!!!!!!!!!

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