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: Pitching Depth. The Rays have the one thing all teams covet, starting pitcher depth. It is never good to lose a starting pitcher in the second inning. But is eases the pain when a 27-year old pitcher with 72 career starts (Andy Sonnanstine) can come in and take his place…Pat Burrell. We know that The Bat could hit 4 home runs and a few of you would still be upset if we listed Burrell under “The Good.” Maybe our standards have just been lowered, but he did walk twice last night and was on base 50% of the time. That was, in part, why the Rays gave him a lot of money. He usually is pretty good about getting on base.

THE BAD: Baserunning. Were the Rays guessing on Brian Matusz? Two times would-be basestealers left too soon and were picked off going to second…Cold Bats. At one point from the 4th until the 7th innings, Orioles pitchers retired 9 straight Rays. During that time, the Rays went from leading 2-1 to trailing 5-2…The Bullpen. Mike Ekstrom and Grant Balfour had a rough 6th inning. The two combined to allow 4 runs on 3 hits, a walk, a hit batter and a wild pitch.

THE TELLING: Jeff Niemann is day-to-day after being hit in the shoulder with a come-backer…Despite seeing attendance fall by 50% in day 2, television ratings were actually up about 4%, and that is after setting a record for opening day…Evan Longoria was picked off first base and thrown out trying to steal second. This was the first caught stealing of his career. He was 16-16 and ended up 11 short of Tim Raines’ record of 27 consecutive steals to start a career…Matt Joyce was a DH for Durham last night and is expected to continue in that role for a while until he is able to throw without restraint.

DEVIL DOGS WEBTOPIA

  • Jeff Niemann says the shot off his shoulder was a “best-case scenario” but that about 10 minutes after coming out, he knew Joe Maddon had made the right decision. [St. Pete Times]
  • Joe Maddon speaks about the upcoming series with the Yankees. [Tampa Tribune]
  • Jeff Passan rebuts Jonah Keri’s rebuttal. You can read my own long-winded response in the comments section (hint: I think they are both right). [JonahKeri.com]
  • James Shields speaks about the birth of his daughter (video). [The Heater]
  • Could Evan Longoria replace Derek Jeter as the face of baseball? [FanNation]
  • Stephen Nohlgren notes that while attendance rose only slightly in 2009, the Rays made a lot more money off of those fans thanks to increases in concession prices. [St. Pete Times]
  • The Sarasota Herald-Tribune interviewed Sean Rodriguez about his role with the Rays. [Sarasota Herald-Tribune]
  • Stacy Long interviewed Alex Torres about the 2010 season and the responsibility of being an opening day starter. [Montgomery Advertiser]
  • Some fans got scammed on opening night and left the game to find their cars had been towed. [St. Pete Times]
  • The leader of the ABC group says it is time for the Rays and St. Pete to start talking about a new stadium. [St. Pete Times]
  • The Bulls have a new webcam that is focused on the DBAP. [DurhamBulls]
  • Jeremiah Wood interviewed Mike Ekstrom for his college newspaper. [PointLoma]

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31 Comments

  1. LOL @ putting Pat the Bat in the “good.”

    On Niemann: While he’s listed day-to-day, that doesn’t mean much when it comes to the Rays. I could easily see them slipping him on the DL next week at the last minute in an attempt to outwit the Baltimore Orioles’ plans. The question is: Would the Rays make Sonanstine the starter and bring up Benoit? Or could we see Hellboy real early. My money is on Sonanstine.

    • MJ says:

      LOL indeed. How about those three hanging sliders he couldn’t hit in the top of the ninth? Two should have been drilled, but of course he swung under them, and he just watched the last one float right through the zone for strike three. Maybe all he does is look for the walk these days.

      • So now you’re going to criticize him for “looking for the walk?” What’s next? Criticizing him for not hitting a homer far enough?

        Let’s be honest, Pat the Bat Burrell was hardly responsible for last night’s loss. I do, however, blame him for the fact that I have to pay the IRS sometime before next Thursday.

        • MJ says:

          im just going by the eye test. and what i see doesn’t look much better or different than last year. hopefully i’ll have to eat my words.

    • Joel says:

      Re: Burrell

      1. Right now he has a higher OBP than Sean John, Zobrist, Peña

      2. But it doesn’t matter anyway, because we’ve played all of 3 friggin games. If the season ended today, Vernon Wells would probably be the MVP. Does that sound right to you? If it does, I can’t help you.

      • I really don’t think anybody is ready to say his contract is now justified or that Burrell is heading to the all-star game. We are simply just pointing out that so far, in this limited sample, he has shown some positive signs. Will that translate into 30HR and a .360 OBP? I have no idea. If I was betting, I would say ‘no.’ but there is a glimmer of hope, and I don’t think that is a bad thing.

        • Joel says:

          Every time I see Burrell I think of one of the few funny things MadTV ever did, a recurring bit about a dating service called Lowered Expectations.

          One opportunity for optimism even after only 3 games – last season, Burrell had multiple walks in a game 6 times. Only once did he have multiple-walk games in one month (June, with the second game being on the 30th). For comparison, he had 17 multi-walk games in 2008. Yes, this could be his one time in April, or it could be a sign of some correction.

  2. leningan says:

    What was the thinking in pinch hitting SeanJohn for Reid in the ninth? Are Diddy’s splits that much better against lefties? It seemed like a like for like swap at the time. Wheeler could also have been put in the good. Another “good” is that this ump crew is gone, seriously how many check swings did they miss? and the “trap” call on Carl’s great catch was inexcusable… Here’s to another series win this weekend.

  3. Got to say, I am a anti-Burrell guy, but it was his first time facing a leftie in 2010 and he worked the count well on his at-bats last night. Scoring half the Rays runs also puts him in a better light in my book. Deep down I want to see him succeed for the team, and maybe last night we saw a little “Ray of Light”.
    Neimann did look fine when he was throwing, but Rays Manager Joe Maddon was wise to take him out. Why test the Baseball Gods so early in the year when you had both Lance Cormier or Andy Sonnanstine in the Bullpen with fresh arms. Kudos to Maddon and high five to Neimann for not pulling a “Percy” and yell and scream with Maddon to stay in the game.

  4. Michael says:

    Wait a second, where in the article linked to by Stephen Nohlgren ever note that the Rays ‘made a lot more money’ last year due to price increases for concessions? It doesn’t say that at all.

    • Check out the table at the bottom of the page. I am inferring a little, but there were more fans and Price Index per fan went up about 20%. That seems like a lot more money to me.

  5. Pinto says:

    I liked seeing that Balfour threw a nice slider with a lot of bite to it. I would put that under the “Good”. He’ll need something other than a fastball to have success. Also, it was lame they gave him a wild pitch on that one. That was a passed ball by Shoppach…

  6. Tone says:

    Burrell is really bad. But most of the Rays line up looks bad in the 1st 3 games. I thought situational hitting was something they had worked hard on. They looked like the same Rays I know and love. VERY STREAKY. All or nothing. 4 runs a game looks to be the limit so far. Not feeling good about the Yanks series based on how bad the bats look at this point. Hope they can hit. Reid, Ben, Barty, and Evan look good. Burrell is a total waste of roster space, walks for a slow clunky man like him alone are almost worthless. Willy Aybar would have 3 runs and 4 RBIs by now.

  7. Gus says:

    I guess I’m in the category of Burrell detractors. Fair enough. But a guy doesn’t earn 1/8th of the payroll by drawing a few walks. But keep up the optimism.

    Somehwere, Hank Blaylock, Matt Joyce and Justin Ruggilano ride a bus through North Carolina and think to themselves: “I’m losing to that guy?”

  8. Joe D. says:

    I think for bad: was Balfour’s 92 mph I know fox’s gun in the playoffs is about 3mph fast, but they had him in the uper 90′s then, Balfour without his fastball is a very average, or below average reliever.

    Also Longo batting 4th, if he’s batting 3rd he’s at the plate not Zobrist when the game ended, I’m not saying. Zobrist is a bad guy to have up, but I would have rathered Longoria.

    • Pinto says:

      That type of thinking about Longo is flawed logic. You are making the assumption that if Longo was hitting 3rd the whole game, and fill-in-the-blank was hitting 4th the whole game, everything else would play out exactly the same so that Longo would have been up in that situation.

  9. Justin says:

    Where’s the “Bad,” that criticizes the Rays for continued trouble hitting lefties?

  10. td says:

    I thought balfour threw pretty good. His velocity still isnt quite as good as 2008, but lets look at his appearance.
    1)Got ahead of Wieters, then threw a chest high fastball that Wieters somehow got on top of. That’s not a bad pitch, especially ahead in the count.
    2)Wild Pitch was Shoppach’s fault
    3)Got a K, showed nice slider
    4)Jammed the hell out of Atkins and he hits a blooper down the RF line
    5)Another K
    6)groundout

    The results sucked, but I thought he looked solid. I think it would be unwise for any of us to expect 2008 Balfour to walk through the door.

  11. Don says:

    Burrell walks two times and things are looking up?? Are you nuts!!
    Paying a player $9mil to go to bat “looking” to walk!!
    Why don’t they sign a midget….he might draw a walk??
    I think what hurts the most is I KNOW there are better hitters sitting on the bench that could help us win….and we have to watch Burrell… because they paid him too much…does that make sense to
    ANYONE??? except Maddon and Mgt.!

    • My cat threw up today, I blame Burrell.

      • Don says:

        Your cat didn’t throw up because of Burrell….He threw up because he reads what you write about certain players!
        Try to watch Bartlett, Zo, Longo and CC…then watch Burrell… and see if you can tell the difference in the way they swing a bat!
        You MIGHT learn something!

  12. Joe D. says:

    Td I see what you’re saying about Balfour, but the reason Maddon brought him in that situation, especially this early in the season is because he was hoping to get the guy that threw 95- 96 and struck guys out, not jam them and give up bloops…

    I agree w/ prof. Burrell’s AB’s, have been better, and Kennedy mentioned during the wed game his bat speed looks better, and he looks like he’s in better shape.

  13. Justin says:

    Does anyone else think Maddon took Sonny out too early last night? Given that he normally pitches more than 50 in his count, what not let him stay in for another round?

    Especially, in hindsight, given that Ekstrom hurt us. 81 Era? Woo.

  14. Joe D. says:

    I thought about that, but I think that it’s an indication that they see him as a reliever now, and want to be able to use him on 3 days not 5…

  15. Don says:

    I CAN’T BELIEVE IT!….Just seen tonights line up NO BURRELL!
    Willie Aybar at DH….things are looking up…we have a better chance Now!
    Guess….. Maddon/mgt. didn’t see Burrell’s progress you boys were talking about!

  16. Alex says:

    Come on guys how can you keep bashing Burrell? After his stellar season last year, his subsequent rebuttal stating that he was in better shape, followed by his amazing spring and his hot start this year????

    He’s only GIDP twice, struck out 5 times in 9 ab but he has 3 walks and one hit in 3 games!!!!! Things certainly are looking up for our best DH canidate.

    • Well I for one never said you couldn’t bash the guy. Any bashing is well deserved. My point was simply that I have seen a couple of things that were encouraging in the HOPES that he might snap out of this year+ long slump. Never said he is doing great. Just that he MIGHT stop sucking soon. But at the same time I fully expect him to keep sucking until he actually doesn’t.

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