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: Carl Crawford. CC was 4-5 and stole a base. It was the fourth 4-hit game of the season for Crawford. He is now hitting .321 with a .376 OBP. Both would be career-highs…Ben Zobrist. Zorilla hit his 4th home run in the last 11 games and is hitting .356/.405/.525 in May…Evan Longoria. Dirtbag stole his 10th base and is now on pace to go 30-30 this year. He is also 26-28 for his career in stolen bases. One of the times he was caught was a pick-off.

THE BAD: James Shields. As Shields’ changeup goes, so goes the Rays when he starts. He threw his changeup 23 times yesterday and did not get a single swinging strike. In fact, he only had 5 swinging strikes on the day. Compare that to his last start versus the Red Sox in which he worked 8 innings and allowed 2 runs on 4 hits. In that game he had 4 swinging strikes on the changeup. The difference? Yesterday he was throwing the pitch a little slower (81.5 vs 82.6 mph) and as a result, the pitch had less vertical break (3.3 vs 4.6 inches). Or compare that to his May 15th start versus the Mariners in which he struck out 10. In that game, Shields had 9 swinging strikes on the changeup. His velocity (82.6) and vertical break (4.9) again showed where that pitch should be and where it wasn’t yesterday.

THE TELLING: Jason Bartlett was out of the lineup with a sore hamstring. He is not expected to play today either and is considered day-to-day…Willy Aybar made just his third start at DH versus a right-hander…As we mentioned previously, the Rays will wear a white cap today with the “TB” in stars and stripes.

WHERE THEY STAND: The Rays are 34-17, 3.5 games in front of the Yankees in the East and 4.5 games ahead of the Blue Jays in the Wild Card. After 51 games in 2008, the Rays were 31-20.

THE JUNKYARD DOGS WEBTOPIA

  • Matt Joyce has 8 games remaining on his rehab assignment and the Rays say he will play those games in Charlotte. After that is still undecided. [St. Pete Times]
  • Joe Maddon on the Rays version of the safety squeeze: “We’ve stumbled onto a few things with it…They are [Don Zimmer‘s] ideas presented to us, and we’ve been able to morph it a little bit”…As we said previously, it is more aggressive than a traditional safety squeeze but it is not a full-fledged suicide squeeze. [St. Pete Times]
  • James Shields talks about his poor outing (video). [The Heater]
  • James Shields was not very happy Jayson Nix was “pimping the home run” that he hit off Shields. [Chicago Breaking Sports]
  • John Romano says sending Dioner Navarro to triple-A might be the “slap in the face he needs,” and calls it “a matter of doing what’s best for the organization.” [St. Pete Times]

DOWN ON THE FARM

  • Check out “The Rundown” from Rays Prospects for boxscores and more detailed recaps. [Rays Prospects]
  • DURHAM: 7 more shutout innings for Jeremy Hellickson who improved to 8-2 with a 2.49 ERA. He struck out 7 and walked none, improving his season totals to 67 and 12. That’s a 5.6 strikeout-to-walk ratio (3.0 is good)…Elliot Johnson hit a pair of home runs and had three hits…Chris Richard and Jose Lobaton also homered.
  • MONTGOMERY: (postponed)
  • CHARLOTTE: In game 1, Shane Dyer allowed 2 unearned runs in 6 innings with 5 strikeouts and no walks. He is now 2-1 with a 1.50 ERA in 3 starts since his promotion…In game 2, Nick Barnese allowed 3 runs (1 earned) in 5 innings. He struck out 7 and walked 4…Tim Beckham was 1-6 with a walk and 3 strikeouts in the double-header…Matt Joyce was 3-3 with a walk in the night-cap. He is 11-29 (.379) during his rehab stint with 5 doubles and 2 home runs.
  • BOWLING GREEN: Jason McEachern threw 6 shutout innings with 5 Ks and 4 walks…Chris Murrill was 2-4 with his 19th stolen base. He is hitting .322.
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24 Comments

  1. Matt says:

    Navarro is awful. He might better than Jaso in the field but not by much. And the Rays need offense. The rest of the team besides Crawford and Longo are struggling and if Jaso is kept, we have three good hitting catchers. Plus, Navarro has one option left.

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  2. Tone says:

    Toronto is usually a kind place for the Rays in recent years, hope that keeps up. They need a winning streak right now to get the mojo working fully again. Things are not matching up right in the last few weeks. Yanks have an easy week ahead, they need to step it up. Ditch Kapler, he is a waste of space.

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  3. For a team built on defense and pitching, Romano sure makes a point to argue for offense.

    I don't have the stats in front of me, but I'm pretty sure that the Rays were pitching much better when Navarro was getting all the catching reps. Not to take anything away from Jaso, but I do remember a quote from Garza saying that whenever jaso used to catch, pitchers would be like, "Oh no!" While they don't say that now, I wonder if the pitchers are making subtle adjustments to Jaso that's changing their game just a little. Something to ponder.

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    • Sarah says:

      Well, Romano does have the stats -- Jaso's "catcher's ERA" is 3.44, whereas Navarro's is 2.60. He cautions that one can't read too much into this (Jaso's caught some well-pitched games). But to jettison Navarro in favor of Jaso and Shoppach means you have no catcher around who is really familiar with your pitching staff. I think that's a risk. Especially with a guy like Garza, who clearly needs a catcher able to help keep him focused.

      Fans tend to be quick to go with the "flavor of the month," and Jaso's good hitting and hustle are appealing, but I'm reluctant to keep him over Navarro simply based on his hitting. Or let's put it this way -- his hitting would have to be very good indeed if he's costing them .8 runs a game on defense (to the extent that you can read a catcher's ERA that way).

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      • I did see the ERA stat. I was talking that more important one Wins/Losses. LOL That's the one people always seem to leave out.

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        • Razzlegator says:

          I don't keep up much with stats, but I sure could tell that Shields had a look on his face that said"Are you effing kidding me?" when Jaso let that "pitch out" go to the back stop. Jaso was also catching Garza's last outing, and that didn't go very well if I remember correctly. Shoppach is almost an unknown with these pitchers but has no options, so we are stuck with him and his propensity for striking out. What happens if/when Jaso falls back to earth at the plate. Of course the interesting thing is, all of this may be a moot point should Shopp's rehab not go the way it is planned.

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        • Sarah says:

          Can't swear to this because I did it quickly, but this is what I get:

          Games started by Jaso: W 15 L 9 .625
          Games started by Navarro: W 18 L 6 .750

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    • Don says:

      Let me get this straight...IF you only had two catchers to choose from for your baseball team Navarro or Jaso....
      You would take Navarro?? I don't have to ponder anything!

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      • Razzlegator says:

        Jaso has 97 career AB at the major league level. Hardly a proven track record. So yes, if I'm picking a "catcher" I'd go with Navarro at this point. If Jaso is that good, and Navi is that bad "at" the plate, Jaso will be waiting in Durham for me to call him up. The problem is I'm not sold on Shoppach.

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      • That's what the Rays chose for the past 3 seasons, if you hadn't noticed.

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  4. Don says:

    Everybody is missing the player hurting us the MOST right now...
    Guess?.....PENA....I can't stand it...now he can't even run the bases.... without making an out...what he did last night...thrown out at third with one out..my Little League coach is rolling over in his grave...Please...
    GET RID OF PENA...Anyone at first!...defense doesn't mean s_it at 1st...
    Blalock..what he's going to make 3+/- more errors than Pena....
    Its worth it...Penas gone anyway after(during) the season...whats he worth in pay..... $1to2 mil...GET RID OF HIM!

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  5. Alex says:

    Did you guys see Navarro's awesome defense on Saturday??? I loved the pick off move he tried that ended up in LF. The curve ball that rolled off his chest was another good one too. It baffles me that Navarro hasn't one a gold glove with the impact he makes on defense.

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    • Razzlegator says:

      If Jaso keeps getting passed balls on pitch outs, he won't have to worry about how many gold gloves he's one[sic].

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    • Sarah says:

      Just to clarify -- I don't think those of us who are skeptical of going with Jaso are necessarily singing Navarro's praises -- at least I'm not. In fact, I'm a little shocked to find myself on the Navarro side of any debate. His poor hitting is pretty much established (and how can anyone be that big and slow and still have so little power? it's a mystery). His defense is hardly stellar. BUT Jaso may have made strides as a defensive catcher, but he's still not 100% there, nor am I confident that he is the best "quarterback" for the pitching and defensive effort, which he needs to be. And while I love his approach at the plate - he's one of the few Rays who doesn't have "strikeout-itis", it's early to conclude that he's a great hitter.

      So when I say it's early to anoint Jaso the starting catcher, please don't take this as some kind of ringing endorsement for Navarro. I wish we had better options. I guess we'll see how Shoppach comes along -- anyone know how he's rated as a defensive catcher?

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      • Razzlegator says:

        I don't know anything about his defense, but he is definitely a strikeout machine AT the plate. That ought to keep the chatterers going if/when he gets back. And I agree with you, this is not a defense of Navi, just a realization that he is probably a better option at this time. I do know that when I'm at the game, Jaso is looking in the dugout before each pitch(someone is calling them for him) whereas Navi rarely looks in the dugout.

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        • Sarah says:

          I had heard that about Shoppach (striking out a lot). But given our options -- if he can hit, say, .240 with a little pop, even with the strike outs, and provide solid defense, including knowing the AL hitters and learning the Rays pitchers, then that's a better option than a guy hitting .180.

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          • Razzlegator says:

            What would be nice is if out bats would make it not matter that Navi is struggling at the plate. I'm not sure at this point of the season that keeping a rookie and a "new" catcher is the best thing for our pitchers. I'm hoping that everyone will agree that what has gotten us where we are is our starting pitching. I could be totally wrong though.

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          • Scot says:

            First of all, I want complement you for promoting intelligent, evidence supported, comments.

            With regards to Jaso vs. Navarro vs. Shoppach, I would not be surprised if Jaso is kept as a C/DH and Bla(h)lock is asked to either return to Durham or walk.

            I tend to follow the statistical analysis of Baseball Prospectus, and already Jaso has become the 9th most useful Rays this season (above Bartlett, who has turned back into a pumpkin - no hitter with average range and Upton, very good CFr but limit performance at the plate.
            http://www.baseballprospectus.com/statistics/sortable/index.php?cid=245041

            Andrew is no dummy, Jaso's projections are superior to Bla(h)lock. (And now possibly Shoppach.)

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    • Alex says:

      Meant RF sorry

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  6. Razzlegator says:

    Shopp went 1 for 3 with 2 k's tonight. He'll be a great replacement.

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