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: The Bullpen. It has been a while, but most remember that the key to the ’08 Rays was the bullpen. The outstanding bullpen in ’08 led to a league-best 29-18 record in 1-run games which was a big reason the Rays played 5 games better than their Pythagorean record. Last year, the Rays bullpen was not as strong and the Rays were only 20-25 in 1-run games. So far in 2010, the Rays 7-5 record in 1-run games is second only to the A’s (6-2) and shows that the bullpen is back to ’08 levels even without JP Howell. Yesterday, 4 pitchers combined for 3 shutout innings allowing just 2 baserunners and Rafael Soriano picked up his 10th save in 10 opportunities…Gonzo. Matt Garza struggled early with his control but the M’s were unable to breakthrough. And Garza and his defense did a good job of surviving the 5th inning having allowed only 1 run. A 6-4-3 killed the bases loaded situation.

THE BAD: Maddonology. With no Ben Zobrist and no Carlos Pena, Joe Maddon went with Gabe Kapler in the 3-spot against the lefty. JoeMa said he chose Kapler because he is good against lefties and wanted him setting the table for Longoria. If that is the case, then why isn’t Kapler always higher in the order against lefties? Kapler has struggled against lefties this season (.302 OBP) and he was a 1-8 with 4 Ks versus Cliff Lee in his career. There was nothing to suggest Kapler was the best option. And yes, Kapler drove in the go-ahead run with a sac fly, but BJ Upton who actually has table-setting skills had 2 doubles…The Bullpen. Yes, we just got done praising the bullpen above. And yes Randy Choate and Dan Wheeler got the job done. But does anybody feel good about Choate and Wheeler pitching the 8th inning of a tie game? Please hurry back JP Howell.

THE TELLING: Carlos Pena and Ben Zobrist were not in the starting lineup with Hank Blalock making his Rays debut at first base. It was Blalock’s first appearance at first base this season, having only played third base and DH in triple-A…Andy Sonnanstine hasn’t pitched in a week. This is in part due to the sudden lack of runs scored by the Rays. In his last 6 appearances, The Duke has recorded the final outs for the Rays. The average margin of victory in those 6 games was 6.5 runs. Sonny is now officially the “Even you can’t eff this up” guy.

WHERE THEY STAND: The Rays are 26-11 and lead the AL East by 2 games over the Yankees. They are 4 games ahead of the Blue Jays in the Wild Card. After 37 games in 2008 the Rays were 21-16.

DEVIL DOGS WEBTOPIA

  • If you missed it on Saturday, Heath Rollins caused quite a stir around here. [Rays Index]
  • The Yankees will skip Javier Vazquez today. That means the Rays will face AJ Burnett and Andy Pettitte on Wednesday and Thursday and not CC Sabathia who almost no-hit the Rays in week 1. And why the switch? Because apparently Sabathia’s bat during interleague is more important than facing the team the Yankees are chasing in the standings. [New York Post]
  • According to Andrew Friedman, Pat Burrell was the reason for the move, not Hank Blalock’s demand to be promoted. In fact, Friedman says the Rays considered replacing Burrell with Dan Johnson. [The Heater]
  • Hank Blalock-for-Pat Burrell is just the first of several roster moves that will be made in the near future. [St. Pete Times]
  • Rise of the Rays argues for trading Hank Blalock now. [Rise of the Rays]
  • A look at where Pat Burrell could end up. [MLB Trade Rumors]
  • Might Pat Burrell be a good fit for the Mets? Only if they return to Shea (thanks Beth). [New York Times]
  • The lesson of Pat Burrell: sometimes projections are wrong…Something to keep in mind. As you know, we are not afraid to take shots at the Rays. But we are not going to blame Andrew Friedman for this one. At the time, the Burrell deal was considered a steal by most. So much so, that some were blaming Burrell for lowering the going rate for other free agents that off-season. There were some red flags (old man skills). But nobody predicted The Bat to be this bad. [Fangraphs]
  • Rays Renegade feels the Rays unnecessarily caved to Hank Blalock’s demands when they had Willy Aybar available. [Rays Renegade]
  • Ken Rosenthal thinks the market for first basemen might lead to Carlos Pena staying with the Rays…This is just a hunch, but we have a feeling that Pena has already told Scott Boras he is re-signing with the Rays and that Boras can do whatever is necessary to get the most money. But that at the end of the day, Pena will be a Ray next year. [MLB Trade Rumors]
  • Why are pitchers better against the Rays the second time they face them this season? [Dock of the Rays]
  • Oh dear Lord, Raymond is multiplying? Picture via RaysRenegade. [TwitPic]

DOWN ON THE FARM

  • Check out “The Rundown” from Rays Prospects for boxscores and more detailed recaps. [Rays Prospects]
  • DURHAM: Aneury Rodriguez allowed 5 runs on 7 hits in 6 innings. He did not strike out a batter and gave up 2 home runs…The Bulls had 10 hits but did not score a run…Dan Johnson was 4-4 to raise his average to .325…Desmond Jennings was 1-3 with a walk.
  • MONTGOMERY: Jake McGee was pounded for 8 runs on 10 hits and a walk in 3.2 innings. He struck out 5. For those that believe McGee is a future closer, he did retire the first 7 batters he faced with 3 Ks…The Biscuits managed just 1 hit in the 7-inning game.
  • CHARLOTTE: (postponed)
  • BOWLING GREEN: (postponed)

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22 Comments

  1. Don says:

    Kaplar is the worst player on the team, and Maddon placing him third had nothing to do with the “luck” of HIM coming to bat with a man on 3rd
    BUT Kaplar does have “old time” baseball skills..watch a replay of his sac fly…he choked down on the bat and was going to make CONTACT no matter what….Pena, Upton, Navarro, even Longo can NOT do that…
    they only take “full” swings…. most often missing the ball completely…
    New hitting coach…maybe Kaplar can help you with the others??
    Soriano is the BIGGEST improvement to this team… well worth the $7mil!

  2. Tone says:

    Kapler batting 3rd was almost as silly as Sonny batting there last year. But a win is win. Not sure why Ben AND Carlos had to be off at the same time in rubber game. Maddon is too outside of the book for my taste, that was a close one.

  3. Joe D. says:

    Anyone really think Burrell is getting picked up by some team and going on their 25 man roster, even at a league minimum after he clears waivers? I don’t. Burrell got DFA’d I think he ends up in Durham, and is still part of the Rays farm system, I don’t think he has any other options.

  4. Sublime says:

    Defensively speaking, Navi made some plays! I appreciated his hustle and being able to throw someone out ( did you hear that Jaso). hopefully, this is the Beginning to BJ getting hot, we could use your bat my dude.

    • Cork Gaines says:

      Thanks for pointing out Navi’s defense. Meant to do that myself. Throwing out that runner at third was huge as was the sliding catch in foul territory just before that.

  5. Mike says:

    Correct me if I am wrong, but Blalock never said anything himself about opting out at the end of the week right? His agent pressing the issue is different, IMO. That is why the agent gets paid, and the agent saw an opportunity with Burrell being shown the door and didn’t want his client to miss out. The Rays probably were sensitive to losing a potential good bench player like they did with Adam Kennedy. Lets just hope Blalock can get some hits and fits in in the clubhouse. We are halfway through May and hold the best record in baseball. What could be better.

    • Cork Gaines says:

      You are right. I would say Boras played his cards perfectly. I thought before the season that Burrell would get about 6 weeks to prove himself. That is a good amount of time to properly evaluate a player and Boras knows that. He probably had this scenario planned out before the season.

  6. CharlieRay says:

    I feel good when Choate and Wheeler pitching the 8th inning of a tie game. As long a Choate faces a lefty. Then he is lights out. Wheeler has done his job this year and Maddon has managed them efficiently.

    • Cork Gaines says:

      I agree about Choate. But after getting the lefty to end the 7th JoeMa stuck with him to start the 8th facing Figgins. And yes, the right side is Figgins weaker side, but the splits aren’t that great. Not enough that it trumps Choate’s horrible splits versus righties. He got Figgins this time, but I wouldn’t want to play that card very often.

    • ramedy says:

      I have no problem with Wheeloate (Choaler?) in the 8th inning.

      I really do not understand the hate Wheeler gets from a lot of Rays fans. In a bullpen full of struggles last year, he actually had a decent season. He’s pitching well this season too. I think a lot of fans are only aware that he’s even on the mound until after he allows a home run. Really strange, almost as strange as the eternal free pass Peña gets (I know, it’s the smile or something).

      As for Choate, he’s been rock solid since that ugly start which was partially due to the fallout from Niemann’s injury. I believe he got Figgins on out Friday too; I’m sure Maddon felt pretty confident after that result to trot him out there again on Sunday. That and Figgins can’t hit at all right now.

    • MJ says:

      I agree, I feel comfortable with Wheeler in the 8th in high leverage situations. He goes through some rough patches, but right now he is hitting his corners w/ the FB and sweeping that slider right off of the plate for swing and misses.

  7. Gus says:

    We have a happier team since Pat the Bat was set free; I think he is officially the worst free agent bat we’ve ever signed (Greg Vaughn or Vinny Castilla being the current holders of that dubious distinction) and the pitcher who threw one inning signed that same year is still probably the worst signing ever.

    Good for the Rays to swallow their pride and get rid of Pat the Bat.

    • Cork Gaines says:

      Vaughn was certainly a terrible signing, so it is easy to forget that his first season with Rays was actually not bad. He hit 28 home runs and had a .375 wOBA (good). Of course, by the third year he was below replacement. And Castilla, well he sucked.

  8. carey says:

    Cork,

    Thanks for not linking to Shelton’s garbage, sophomoric, pile-on column from Sunday re. Burrell. Don’t know if that was intentional or not, but thanks either way.

    Look, the move didn’t work out. Everyone – even all the “experts” – thought it was a good move when it was made. I just have a problem when fans, media, etc. get personal with these things, as if Burrell is wasting their money. I don’t think the guy was going home after an 0-4 outing smiling about the money he supposedly “stole” from us. The guy has always been a competitor and I’m sure he wanted this to work out differently more, even, than us fans.

    So, rather than pile on, I’ll tip my cap to the man and wish him the best in his professional future (provided he doesn’t sign with the Red Sox or Checkbooks).

    • Beth says:

      I agree — the way fans and columnists tend to personalize these things is unfortunate. Burrell didn’t work out, and we are disappointed (as is he, no doubt), but you’d think that he’d personally despoiled our beaches or brought disease to our region from the way he is bashed.

      But heck, if we are bashing….I never find Shelton (or, generally, Romano) to be very insightful when they write about baseball. The beat writers really know the team and have something to say — the columnists are little more than glorified fans who write stuff that is discussed with more sophistication in these blog comments. The point of having columnists (as opposed to just having reporters) is to have writers who can offer new insights and a broader perspective, but these guys rarely do that.

      • carey says:

        Romano is clearly the better of the two and the issue would have been better served if he had gotten that assignment.

        Shelton used to be very good, but like Mizell before him, his columns have devolved into 12 inches of “cuteisms.” IE. Rather than offer good analysis, he just fixates on trying to turn cute one-liners. Blah. Boring.

      • Gus says:

        Here is the sad thing about the Times columnists — neither of them is a baseball guy. They don’t live and breathe it. The people who write here are funnier and more observant. Romano calling for PTB’s release last week when it was obviously going to happen almost looked like a planted column from management. Romano gets to lool prescient and management has the blow softened by favorable press blaming Pat, not management.

    • Tone says:

      He sucked REALLY hard, that made us very angry. Myself and most people I’ve talked to always thought it was a bad signing. Yet, we all had to keep seeing him suck up every game of our favorite team with no end in sight. He’s not reading this crap. He had MUCH worse fan reaction/media to deal with back in Philly. He sucks and we can call him fat and sucky if we want.

  9. Alex says:

    That Pettitte game scares me. I see another potential perfect game there.

  10. Don says:

    Burrell gone…Willie/Blalock in..things couldn’t be better….
    Next attack…Navarro, Pena, Upton..in order..coming soon!

  11. Cork Gaines says:

    But Jose Lopez got the dreaded hanging slider yesterday. Luckily for Wheels, he drove the ball foul.

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