FIRST INNING (A look back)…
Joe Maddon is a big fan of the reverse-split theory (dubbed The Danks Theory by Tommy Rancel) in which he will load the lineup with right-handed bats against a righty or left-handed bats versus a lefty should the pitcher’s splits dictate such a move. It seemed to work well on Wednesday againt Shaun Marcum…Should we be sold on the idea?
If a right-handed pitcher is tougher on lefties, then it *may* be a good idea. But there are two sets of splits at play here, the pitcher’s and the hitters’. Should Maddon just ignore that a particular hitter can’t hit a like-handed pitcher? Might a righty’s pitches move like a lefty’s? Yes. But there is more to a pitcher than just the movement. There is also the path and the trajectory. One reason a left-handed batter hits right-handers better is that they see the ball better than a right-handed batter. The release point is out in front of left-handed bat, but it is coming from off the front shoulder for a right-handed bat. That still holds for a pitcher even if the pitches act like they are being thrown by the opposite hand. And the matter is even more dramatic for a switch-hitter, who never sees a release point that is not out in front of them. So it is more complicated than just looking at the pitcher’s splits. But as long as it works….GO FOR IT
SECOND INNING (Headlines)…
While batting right-handed against the right-handed Shaun Marcum, Dioner Navarro hit a home run…Will he finally take the hint and drop the switch-hitting?
For his career, Navi’s OPS is over 100 points higher from the right-side (.743) than the left-side (.640). Unfortunately, this year his OPS sucks from both sides (.523 vRHP, .497 vLHP). On top of that, we don’t ever recall Joe Maddon even commenting on Navarro’s switch-hitting. But in the end, how much worse could he be against righties if he bats right-handed instead of left-handed? The problem with switch-hitting catchers is that they already spend an enormous amount of practice/preparation on their defense. So catchers don’t get as much time during batting practice as other players. And a switch-hitting catcher has to split that already reduced time. So each of Navi’s swings gets less than half the practice and preparation that a typical hitter would get. If Navi wants to stick in the big leagues, the time has come….STOP SWITCH-HITTING
THIRD INNING (Headlines)…
Jason Bartlett could be back as early as next week and the Rays will likely go back to two catchers… Who will be the odd-man out?
There is about a 90% chance Dioner Navarro will be demoted to Durham. Joe Maddon all but said that Navi is the third-string catcher. But we wouldn’t be surprised if the Rays keep all three catchers. John Jaso’s bat is good enough to DH occasionally, and Navarro would make for an excellent late-inning defensive sub. But if the Rays keep three catchers, somebody else would need to go (Blalock?). On the other hand, if the Rays demote Navi, they can keep everybody in the organization and the Rays love to horde players….NAVI TO DURHAM (OR DL)
FOURTH INNING (Headlines)…
Outside of the last few games, Carlos Pena is having an awful year…Should the Rays be less inclined to keep Pena now that he might be showing signs of old-man’s skills?
When we think of Old-Man’s Skills (power, patience, slow) we think of a player that loses bat speed very quickly (e.g. Pat Burrell). But bat speed doesn’t seem to be a problem for Pena. In fact, when Pena wakes up in the morning, he pisses bat speed. But Pena is a streaky hitter. Always has been, always will be. We suspect that if the Rays inked Pena to an extension, we would see more of the same. Lots of hot and cold. The Rays might be able to live with that, but it will still take a deep discount….ALL DEPENDS ON THE MONEY
FIFTH INNING (Headlines)…
There is a very good chance Carl Crawford ends up in a Yankees uniform next season…Is there anything that Raysheads can look at to make them feel better?
Sure. Raysheads get to watch Crawford get old in another team’s uniform and they get to see him being overpaid by a rival in 2013, 2014 and 2015. And don’t forget, the Rays will get the Yankees first-round pick next year. It will be nice cashing in that chip and then later using that player to beat the Yankees (again)…HE WON’T AGE GRACEFULLY
SIXTH INNING (A look outside the box)…
As of today, three teams are within 5.5 games of the Rays…Which team should Raysheads be most worried about?
The Yankees will be a playoff team. The only question is whether they win the division or the Wild Card. Finish ahead of the Yankees and the Rays are a guaranteed playoff team. Fall behind, and all bets are off…YANKEES
SEVENTH INNING (Oddsmakers)…
Tampa Bay Rays All-Stars: 4.5
Locks at this point are Even Longoria, Carl Crawford and David Price. Rafael Soriano and Jeff Niemann also have good shots (James Shields deserves it, but his classical stat line is not sexy enough). Will both Soriano and Niemann get the nod? Our gut says “no”…UNDER
Dioner Navarro starts in remaining 102 games: 15
In the first 60 games, Navi has started nearly half (28). But right now is effectively the third-string catcher. And next week he will either be in Durham or on the DL. But at some point Kelly Shoppach will go back on the DL and Navi will certainly be back in September…OVER
Reid Brignac starts at SS in remaining 102 games: 30
In the first 60 games, Brignac has started 14 at SS, and that is with Bartlett on the DL the past week. But we have a feeling Joe Maddon will start using Briggy Baseball more often as the SS when a righty is on the hill. Let’s face it, JoeMa never met a platoon he didn’t like…OVER
Wins for the Rays: 99.5
The Rays are currently 39-21 and on pace to win 105 games. And even if the Rays played .500 the rest of the way, they’d still win 90 games. To win 100, they would have to go 61-41 in the last 102. That is the equivelant of going 97-65 in a full season. That seems steep…UNDER
EIGHTH INNING (On deck)…
Jason Bartlett is not eligible for free agency until after the 2011 season, but Reid Brignac looks to be ready now…Is there any chance Jason Bartlett will be with the Rays next year?
Jason Bartlett is still a serviceable player, but he is probably going to command $5-6 million in arbitration for next season. Why should the Rays pay Bartlett north of $5 million when they can pay Briggy Baseball $400K to do the same job and to do it just as well? At some point prior to next season, Bartlett will be traded. And we wouldn’t be surprised if it happens before the trade deadline this year…NO, NOPE, NONE
NINTH INNING (three up, three down)…
Is there any player in baseball you would trade Evan Longoria for?
No. Next question.
You have defended the Rays against a lot of attendance bashing recently. Are you really OK with the attendance?
No. It should be better. But it is not as bad as some think and it will get better.
We hear that you pick your beverages each series based on the opponent…What is your poison pick this weekend?
Here come the Marlins. And as everybody from the west coast know, Sunsets kick sunrise ass…KEY WEST SUNSET ALE