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: James Shields. James the Greater continues to be one of the most dominant pitchers in the AL with another solid 8 inning performance. And he got stronger as the game went along, retiring the final 16 batters he faced.

THE BAD: Bob Davidson. That pitch above was the one that set Carl Crawford off and eventually led to his ejection. You could have made the strikezone twice as wide and it still wouldn’t have been a strike. But that was just the latest of many pitches last night that helped Jon Lester look like 1991 Tom Glavine who was the master of expanding the zone. If you want a light-side to the story, it is that this is the closest we have ever seen to a real-life reenactment of Billy Crystal flipping out as an NBA ref in “Forget Paris.” Crawford says he was ejected because Davidson told him he was “invading [his] space.” We still have no idea why Joe Maddon was ejected since he was ejected before he even had a chance to say anything…BJ Upton. Once one of the fastest bats and owner of the quickest wrists in baseball, Bossman is a shell of his former self. He has injured his shoulder at least 6 times and we have to wonder if it will ever be the same or if he is just afraid to injure it again. In May, Upton is 12-74 (.162) with 29 strikeouts and 6 walks…Dioner Navarro. Navi has the slowest bat ever. He should name it “Casey Fossum.”

THE TELLING: Joe Maddon will continue to use Willy Aybar and John Jaso in the 5th spot for the time being…Kelly Shoppach could begin a rehab assignment as soon as Monday.

WHERE THEY STAND: The Rays still have an MLB-best record of 32-14, 5 games ahead of the Yankees in the East and 6 games ahead of the Blue Jays in the Wild Card. After 46 games in 2008 the Rays were 27-19.

THE JUNKYARD DOGS WEBTOPIA

  • Carl Crawford speaks after the game about the ejection (video). [The Heater]
  • Marc Topkin has quotes from the crew chief of last night’s game on the ejections. [The Heater]
  • Wade Davis tells Marc Topkin that he was “probably a little upset” at how long it took David Ortiz to get around the bases after his Monday night home run. [St. Pete Times]
  • Sean Rodriguez and Jason Bartlett had to call 911 after Rodriguez was stung by a stingray. [St. Pete Times]
  • Eddie Morlan, the third player the Rays received in the Matt Garza and Jason Bartlett trade with the Twins, has been released. [Biscuit Crumbs]
  • Sure it is early, but in ESPN.com’s Cy Young predictor, David Price is first, followed by Rafael Soriano (2nd), Matt Garza (3rd) and James Shields (5th). That’s crazy. [ESPN]
  • “If you only go six innings, you’re going to get made fun of,” said Price, who reveals that he got “crushed” by his teammates after a recent six-inning, 97-pitch appearance against Cleveland…And if you go five?…”Don’t come to the field the next day,” Price said. [ESPN]
  • Evan Longoria makes WhatIfSports “All-Budget Lineup.” [WhatIfSports]
  • Brian Joura of Fangraphs predicts Jeremy Hellickson will be promoted soon (Ed. note: he won’t be). [Fangraphs]

DOWN ON THE FARM

  • Check out “The Rundown” from Rays Prospects for boxscores and more detailed recaps. [Rays Prospects]
  • DURHAM: Heath Phillips gave up 2 runs in 5 innings…Dan Johnson hit his 14th home run and added a double…Desmond Jennings was 1-5 with an RBI.
  • MONTGOMERY: (no game scheduled)
  • CHARLOTTE: (postponed)
  • BOWLING GREEN: Jason McEachern pitched 5 shutout innings with 7 strikeouts and 3 walks.

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36 Comments

  1. Sarah says:

    I so agree about Upton. It’s painful to watch him bat.

    • leningan says:

      Agreed, it’s becoming sad… when do we give up all hope? I love the Bossman, why won’t he love us back? I checked out ESPN for their take on the ejections and ridiculous umpire, and caught bobby valentine commenting on BJ saying, “i don’t like that style of hitting… he’ll never be a great hitter with that style…” Not sure what he was getting at, swinging at first pitches? waiting till the last possible moment to swing? whatever he meant, i am beginning to think the bossman needs to change something… style or whatever else you want to call it…ugh!

      • Alex says:

        Its probably that stupid swing he has. I really wish he would get rid of that foot thing he does. That is by far the stupidest timing mechanism I’ve ever seen. It only worked for one year.

  2. I think Maddon got ejected for leaving the dugout to argue balls and strikes… at least that’s the explanation I heard.

    As for the Rays, I wish their lineup would wake-up. One run versus the Red Sox in 2 games isn’t going to get it done. And losing to the Red Sox puts me in a really crappy mood the next day.

    • Sarah says:

      That’s so true! I’ve yelled at my kids and kicked my dog several times already this morning. And it’s all the Rays’ fault.

      • Kelley says:

        I know. I couldn’t even kiss my husband good night last night because I was so mad at the Rays. And BJ is breaking my heart. Can’t Derek Shelton help him? or is it too hopeless?

    • Cork Gaines says:

      I read that too, but I’m not sure it makes sense. Did JoeMa say anything before being ejected? Davideson can’t just assume Maddon came out to argue balls and strikes.

      • leningan says:

        i think maddon got tossed for putting his hands on davidson. and did you see the way he tossed Joe? “Boooom!” with a sly grin on his face… unbelievable

      • Connie says:

        He didn’t get a chance to say anything. He just tried to separate Crawford and Davidson and the ump immediately threw him out.

    • ramedy says:

      Maddon being the smart guy that he is, I’d like to think he discovered or maybe even invented the filthiest word in recorded history. Al Swearengen would have been proud of that argument last night.

      • Thad says:

        Ramedy, nice Deadwood reference (greatest show all-time, BTW). Crew Chief Tim Tschida (sp?) said there was “no swearing”. Uhhhhh, right Tim. The eye in the sky doesn’t lie. That set some sort of F-Bomb record for an ejection.

        Isn’t Bob Davidson the umpire that also has the nickname “Balkin’ Bob” because he calls balks all the time? Didn’t he flag CJ Wilson on a few dubious calls a few weeks ago? Davidson is a pompous a$$ with a mean streak whose fuse lights up instantly. Hey he IS Al Swearingen.

    • MJ says:

      The only reason Maddon came out was to protect Crawford. He then got in the umps face because the ump tossed him before he even had a chance to say anything. Not to mention Bob Davidson was the one who was pushing Maddon, not the other way around. Talk about an ego trip. Dude prob isn’t getting any these days.

  3. leningan says:

    and on the strikezone… are there rules stipulating the size of a catcher’s mitt? Varitek’s is large and has go-go-gadget extended webbing… can we just ask for it be measured anyway? One more thing, and this has bugged me for as long as I can remember, how can an umpire not realize the pitches are being “framed” (i.e. yanked back into the zone)? Tek and piehead are by far the worst culprits. this does not make them good catchers it makes them good convincers and I cannot believe how often it works on umps…rant over

  4. Don says:

    Said it early in the season, will say it again….and will probably be saying it close to end of season..
    “The Rays can NOT win with FOUR players carrying the load…when CC, Longo, Bartlett and Zo have “0 fer” nights the other hitters…. Pena, Upton, Navarro and usually 9th batter are NO help!
    Aybar, Jaso, Bryn., and Bralock have to get in the lineup ….
    We could have had three(3) no hitters against us in the first 40 days or so of 2010….If Maddon thinks thats ok….. and Upton and Pena and others will “come around”….He’s wrong!

  5. Amanda says:

    Forget Paris? Best. Reference. EVER! lol

  6. Hal says:

    I hate being this guy, but I’m going to be him anyway. Dan Johnson is just killing it. I know, I know – he’s a 30 year-old never-been, a AAAA player, etc… But we just can’t keep striking out 10 times a night. Rodzilla to Durham, Los to the bench, B.J. to therapy, Johnson to 1st???

  7. Mike says:

    I know Carlos and Bossman have struggled, and BJ in particular has looked over-matched at the plate recently, but they will come around. Assuming they are not injured, they are too good to continue performing like this. Pena has already started to hit better and should move back up to the 5 hole. Put Zorilla in the leadoff spot and lets score some runs.

    • MJ says:

      what makes you think BJ will come around?

    • Thad says:

      Yeah, sorry, when he can’t a grooved four-seam fastball on a hitter’s count, it’s time for a change. It’s one thing if he was JUST missing the fastball and they were getting him to chase off-speed stuff, but they don’t even have to do that. He can’t even hit a fastball anymore. His defense isn’t good enough to offset being a complete black hole in the lineup with a K/BB ratio of 5/1. You can’t hide that in the lineup. He can’t even make a productive out.

      Pena, at least has a body of work to refer back to for some confidence that he will regress back to his mean. And he has the power no matter what the average. Upton has nothing outside of a pretty good 2007 regular season and a two week stretch in the 2008 post season.

      • Hal says:

        But who plays for BJ that offers much of an upgrade? He’s not sitting on the bench right now – Rodzilla has been basically the same player when he plays minus the great defense; lots of strikeouts, very little production. Is he in Durham? Ruggiano? His offensive numbers in Durham: .294 avg., .386 obp., 4 HR’s, 35/15 K/BB. Nothing that blows you away and I don’t remember seeing him ever play center. Fernando? Uh, no. Desmond?

    • ramedy says:

      Well, there are four players in baseball in who are making contact at a worse rate than BJ this year; unfortunately those players are Mark Reynolds, Justin Upton, Josh Hamilton and Ryan Howard, all of which make their contact count a whole heck of a lot more than BJ.

      BJ is getting first-pitch strikes at a higher rate than all but 3 players in MLB this year, so I guess getting friendlier counts would be a start. It used to be (at least from what I remember) that he looked at all those first-pitch strikes, but now he seems to be swinging at more of them – clearly neither approach is working. If Derek Shelton couldn’t fix that swing during the offseason and spring training, I have no idea what he can do now.

  8. Don says:

    You know Upton still has a little of that “unlimited potential” tag around baseball…if the Rays wanted to unload now is the time…then Jennings could be brought up to see how he fits in CF…whats the worst can happen? we would have a CF hitting better than .200

  9. Thad says:

    Don, that is actually a semi-logical point you make. Can we mark this post for the record?

    However, it’s unlikely they would unload Upton at this point (low value). Nor would they be likely to get a whole lot for him while he’s mired in a horrific slump. Nor is there any guarantee that Jennings can handle MLB pitching better than Upton or S-Rod. It’s not a video game. Hitting at the highest level is hard and much different than AAA.

    Hal, I disagree. With the flexibility of this team. There are some short term options, if you decided to sit Upton for an extended period and use him as a late inning defensive replacement for a few weeks with an occasional start. The ONE thing S-Rod can do VERY well is hammer the $hit out of a fastball. That’s where you start as a MLB hitter. Then you prove a little discipline and lay off the soft stuff out of the zone. Would S-Rod be appreciably better than Upton right now? Maybe not, because he chases too much outside the zone, but at least you have something to work with in S-Rod. Upton just isn’t hitting ANYTHING.

    You could platoon a bit and go Zoby in CF, Kapler RF, S-Rod 2B against LHP. And you could go Zoby CF, S-Rod RF, Brignac SS against RHP. They CAN sit Upton for some extended time and use him off the bench for a few weeks, until they figure out what to do.

    However, having said all of that, knowing the Rays they prob won’t do anything for another month, which in the end is prob the right thing. Move him down in the order and hope he snaps out of it. As much as I hate watching it.

    • Amanda says:

      That’s because Don said it without calling people names and being rude. If he would do that more often, more people would pay attention to him.

  10. Alex says:

    One thing Maddon could do is start getting away from match ups. He really should give Brignac chances against lefties this year because I’m really starting to believe that if Bartlett doesn’t pick it up the Rays will trade/non tender him. He also needs to start Jaso more but that’s a whole different argument. If he did start Brignac more at second then Zobrist could play CF or Rod could play CF more. With Kapler in RF seeing as he’s not going anywhere.

    • MJ says:

      Bart is the least of their worries right now. They are not going to non tender him.

    • Sarah says:

      And Kapler is also among the least of their worries. Last I checked he was hitting in the .250 – .260 range. In the Rays’ present line -up, that’s a decent average. Moreover he plays a highly competent defense and runs the bases well.

  11. Hal says:

    All good points – I get no joy watching Upton right now, but there is no way Desmond comes up now. Out of all of the above scenarios, moving Zobrist to Center at least makes a little sense; Reid plays second most days, platoon Kapler and Rodzilla in right. They’ll never do any of this though; could you imagine Upton’s attitude if he’s shown the pine? No way Joma risks this kind of disruption with the boys still firmly in first.

    • Sarah says:

      Also, let’s not lose sight of one point: it’s in everyone’s interest for BJ to do better. That’s good for him and good for the team. So while watching him hit is depressing/infuriating, it’s early to just bench him, which essentially means you are writing him off. Especially since the alternatives for every day center field aren’t appreciably better.

  12. Steve says:

    http://talksportsphilly.com/?p=1959

    Nice showing for the rays in the MLB Power rankings!

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