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: BJ Upton. He returned from his 2-day hiatus and promptly hit a triple and it was even better seeing him pull the ball to left-center. He also walked. Sometimes a player needs an emotional spark. Let’s hope that was the case with Bossman…Joaquin Benoit. Another scoreless inning for Benoit who has now pitched 10 innings and allowed no runs and just 2 hits and 2 walks. He has struck out 15.

THE BAD: John Jaso. If Dyn-O-Mite is demoted next week, we can look at last night’s game as Exhibit A when we ask “why?” Jaso has indeed improved defensively, but that was the only direction he could have gone and he still isn’t that good. His mechanics behind the plate are too mechanical. He never looks comfortable. And last night he had 2 more passed balls. First there was the one on strike three that allowed the leadoff hitter in the 9th to reach base. Then there was the one that put the runner in scoring position. A runner that could have been doubled-up on the next batter’s groundball but was instead moved to third. A runner that would then score on a single, turning a reasonable 1-run lead with the heart of the Rays order due up, into an insurmountable 2-run lead. Jaso is a good hitter and he is an OBP machine. But catcher is a defense-first position and right now Jaso is only the Rays third best catcher…David Price. Price will learn that most important batter in any inning is the leadoff batter. Last night in the 4th he walked the leadoff batter. That was followed immediately by a 2-run home run that put the White Sox in front. In the 5th the leadoff hitter took care of things himself with a solo home run. He would also walk the leadoff hitter in the 1st who promptly stole second to get into scoring position. Outside of those 4 batters, Price allowed just 2 hits and 2 walks in 7 innings.

THE TELLING: Ben Zobrist was moved to the leadoff spot and Jason Bartlett and his .298 wOBA were dropped to 9th…Carl Crawford and Joe Maddon were (as expected) fined but not suspended for their ejections earlier this week…Kelly Shoppach will begin his rehab assignment Monday for Durham and will be reevaluated in a week.

WHERE THEY STAND: The Rays are 33-16 and lead the Yankees by 3.5 in the East and the Blue Jays by 5.5 in the Wild Card. After 49 games in 2008, the Rays were 29-20.

THE JUNKYARD DOGS WEBTOPIA

  • We had some technical difficulties yesterday and “The Hangover” didn’t go up until last night. Here it is if you want to check out yesterday’s links. [Rays Index]
  • The Rays are now Chicago Blackhawks fans, or more precisely, anti-Flyers fans and will wear Blackhawks jerseys for their upcoming roadtrip to Toronto (thanks Ro). [USA Today]
  • Jeremy Hellickson shows up at #2 on Baseball America’s weekly prospect “Hot Sheet.” Tim Beckham comes in at #10. [Baseball America]
  • TAUNTR is also behind the movement to get Pat Burrell elected to the 2010 All-Star game. [TAUNTR]
  • Ken Rosenthal says that Pat Burrell’s deal with the San Francisco Giants would have no promise of playing time and could allow him to opt-out within 2 weeks. [Twitter]
  • 7 members of the Charlotte Stone Crabs and their manager have been named to the FSL All-Star team. [St. Pete Times]

DOWN ON THE FARM

  • Check out “The Rundown” from Rays Prospects for boxscores and more detailed recaps. [Rays Prospects]
  • DURHAM: Richard de los Santos gave up 2 runs in 6.1 innings…Angel Chavez hit a 3-run home run, his 5th home run of the year…Desmond Jennings was 0-4 with 2 Ks and Fernando Perez stole his 15th base.
  • MONTGOMERY: Jake McGee pitched 7 shutout innings, striking out 11 and walking 1. He allowed just 5 hits and picked up his first win in almost 2 years…Matt Sweeney went 1-4 with an RBI.
  • CHARLOTTE: Matt Moore struck out 11 and walked just 1 in 6 innings, but gave up 5 runs in 6 innings and his ERA is now 6.52 and he dropped to 0-6…Tim Beckham was 0-4 with a strikeout and Matt Joyce went 1-3 with a double and 2 Ks.
  • BOWLING GREEN: Alex Colome struck out 7 but walked 4 and gave up 3 unearned runs in 5 innings…Brett Nommensen had 3 hits including his 8th double…Ty Morrison stole his 17th base.
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21 Comments

  1. Don says:

    Jaso is the reason we lost?....because he turned a one run lead into an "insurmountable" 2 run lead.... unbelievable!
    NOT because Pena, Bartlett, Blacock and others can't hit...two big runs scored by the Rays...got it!

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    • Cork Gaines says:

      Not saying he is the reason for last night's loss, but he certainly didnt help matters. My point is simply that a lot of people are arguing for Jaso over Navarro because Jaso's offensive numbers are a lot better than Navi's. But picking a catcher is more than looking at how well they hit.

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      • Alex says:

        So it's Jaso's fault Balfour threw two pitches to the complete opposite side than Jaso called for them? Navi does that all the time on pitches that are thrown right to him.

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        • Cork Gaines says:

          Is your point that Balfour shares some of the blame? Well, of course he does. But sometimes pitchers miss their spots and sometimes by a lot. It is still the catchers responsibility to catch the ball. Notice in the picture above that all Jaso does is snap his glove at the ball. And on top of that he is reaching forward. If a pitch is that far of the target and the catcher doesn't shift his weight he is either: a) being lazy or b) has bad reactions or c) has poor defensive mechanics. Take your pick. But what I have seen is that Jaso is anything but lazy. He gives max effort all time and his hitting is such that he has great hand-eye coordination.

          Has Navi had passed balls in the past?yep. When he does it, it looks like he is just being lazy. Is that better? Depends. At least with Navi I know he is capable.

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  2. Carey says:

    Is it just me, or does anyone else see Benoit as the closer for 2011?

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  3. Sarah says:

    The very bad: I always thought that the 82 mph change up was an effective pitch because a hitter is looking for a 90 mph fastball and gets 82mph instead.

    Last night's starting White Sox pitcher threw NOTHING BUT 82 mph change ups (OK, there was the occasional 82mph slider). How can they not hit this? Don't hitters learn to make adjustments? I swear, Hank Blalock struck out three times on three straight pitches and on EACH PITCH he was way ahead. Doesn't anyone think "Hmm he's thrown 65 straight pitches at 82mph, maybe I should start to expect that?"

    Argh. I happened to be at last night's game so perhaps I'm feeling especially frustrated.

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    • Tone says:

      They never really hit those kind of pitchers, righty or lefty. Change ups used over and over with small mixes of breakers and you too can no-hit the Rays(or at the very least shut them down). It must not be in their blood to make adjustments, how many no-hit/shut out 5 to 6 inning efforts have we seen that lady luck gives the Rays at the end of the game? She stopped smiling on them for now.

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  4. Indiana Rays Boy says:

    Blaming Jaso for that extra run to come in is ludicrous. Dioner Navarro has a combination of poor mechanics and tends to be lazy behind the plate. Dioner Navarro at this point is a backup catcher with no offense with so-so defense. It was Balfour that threw that ball out of the zone and Navi would not gotten that ball. I would rather have Jaso than Navi in the lineup and have Shoppach and Jaso share the duties; cut ties with Navi.

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    • Cork Gaines says:

      Navi has played in 26 games this year and has zero passed balls. He has never had more than 6 in a year. Jaso had 2 in the span of 2 batters in the 9th inning of a 1-run game.

      I'm not trying to defend Navi. He certainly has his faults. But he is usually decent behind the plate. And while Jaso is a very good hitter, he is not the next Johnny Bench.

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      • Sarah says:

        I also think the x factor with your catcher is his ability to handle a pitcher and call a good game. I certainly don't have enough inside knowledge of baseball to be able to say how well Navi (or anyone else) does this, but I also doubt that those getting down on Navarro can assess his abilities in this regard, either.

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      • Indiana Rays Boy says:

        I am not anointing Jaso to be the next Johnny Bench but in my opinion blaming Jaso for a two run loss is way off of in leftfield. Navi is not getting the job done and Shoppach will be an upgrade when he returns from the DL. I can deal with a Shoppach and Jaso catching combo for the Rays. Not to mention the Rays with RISP less than two outs in May has been horrendous and that has been their achilles heel. Players like Pena, Upton, Bartlett and among others have to step up. Send Rodriguez down to AAA so he can learn how to hit breaking balls and offspeed pitches; Joyce will be activated from his rehab assignment.

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  5. Zach says:

    Just going on the picture at the top of this post, everything Jaso is doing is wrong. First rule of catching when runners are on base is nothing gets by. And the #1 mechanic to make sure nothing gets by is to stay on the balls of your feet.

    Look at the heal of Jaso's right foot. It is still on the ground. He has no weight shift and the reason is because his right foot is buried in the dirt. Now look at the left foot. The heal is up, but the foot is level (left-to-right). He is not pushing off of that foot. If anything, he is pushing forward. That is the wrong move. Moving forward, cuts down the distance between you and the pitcher, giving the catcher less time to react.

    Even if the pitch is not in the dirt (as is the case here), the catcher's weight MUST shift. If the weight doesnt shift, the knee gets in the way. And if the knee is in the way, the glove arm must reach around the knee. Makes it nearly impossible to catch a pitch that far off-target.

    Horrible mechanics.

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  6. Marc says:

    I've sensed that some of the pitchers love Navi's defense and how he calls a game, while Jaso could definitely use some improvement behind the plate. Nonetheless, Navi is such a dead bat and coupled with the dead bats of BJ, Carlos and now Bartlett, we can't have nearly half the lineup as an automatic out. Jaso must stay in the lineup. Once Shoppach comes back, give it a month for them all compete for the starting job and demote the worst at the end.

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  7. Sarah says:

    But I think the problem is the other dead bats. We ought to be able to afford to have a weak-hitting catcher if he can provide good defense. But we can't have a weak hitting catcher AND first baseman AND centerfielder.

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  8. Marc says:

    Yep. We SHOULD be able to have a good defensive catcher with a dead bat, but we don't. Jaso is 1st on the team in OBP and 3rd in BA. There is no way in the world you can remove him from the lineup at this point until Carlos and BJ are at least back over the Mendoza line. We will just have to deal with Jaso's issues behind the plate for the time being.

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  9. Cork Gaines says:

    that is a very fair point, and one I dont necessarily disagree with. My only point in this entire matter is that I think some fans see the hitting stats and think Jaso is clearly the better player when it is a little more complicated than that.

    I am also worried about the pitching staff. A very large part of the Rays hot start was the starting pitching. And those pitchers have regressed a bit since Jaso started playing more. Now some regression was inevitable, but we cant discount that Navi knows these pitchers better than maybe anybody.

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