The Rays just went from playoff-lock to out of the playoffs in about 12.6 nanoseconds. So now we will introduce a semi-regular feature to see where we can or cannot lay the blame and determine just why this team is not very good these days. If you have anybody you would like to nominate for this feature, let’s hear it in the comments…

If it wasn’t obvious prior to this weekend, it should be abundantly clear now: the Rays clearly drafted from the shallow end of the Upton gene pool. And yes, it is easy to dump on BJ Upton after his abysmal display in yesterday’s game in which he loafed after a flyball, had to be restrained in the dugout, got picked off first base and displayed his warning track power to end the game.

But yesterday is not why Upton is a problem. Yesterday is just the perfect example of why Upton is a problem. And that problem needs to be fixed.

You want to say other players take plays off? Fine. But this isn’t Upton’s first rodeo. He has been benched twice on previous occasions by Joe Maddon for not giving 100%. If “everybody is doing it,” then why isn’t anybody else getting benched?

Or maybe you think Upton deserves a pass on the outfield play yesterday because he wasn’t playing with his normal left field partner and maybe Upton made the mistake of assuming Matt Joyce would get the ball. Fine. But our take has never been that Upton is “lazy,” as many have contended.

No, Upton is not lazy. He just sometimes appears to be absent-minded. Sometimes he forgets what he should be doing. Sometimes he forgets who else is in the game. Sometimes he chooses not to swing at pitches down the middle of the plate. Sometimes he takes naps at first base and gets picked off. OK, he does that more than “sometimes.”

And all of that would be fine if Upton was producing. But he is not. Here are his numbers from the last four seasons…

2007: .300-24-82, .894 OPS, .387 wOBA
2008: .273-9-67, .784 OPS, .354 wOBA
2009: .241-11-55, ..686 OPS, .310 wOBA
2010 (proj.): .226-15-63, .715, .330 wOBA

Decent numbers? Sure. Superstar in the making? Not even close.

His Baseball-Reference list of comparable players (by age) is a who’s who of mediocrity:

Rick Monday
Lee Mazzilli
Max West
Rupert Jones
Bobby Tolan
Chili Davis
Melky Cabrera

Melky Cabrera? No thanks.

But we can still depend on his defense, right? Let’s check out his UZR/150 for the last four seasons…

2007: 7.0
2008: 8.4
2009: 7.4
2010: -8.1

How bad is -8.1? In his last season as a full-time outfielder, Pat Burrell was only -12.2.

So Upton is not hitting. Heck he hasn’t hit since 2007 (unless you count the 2008 playoffs). And he isn’t even fielding well this season.

At what point do the Rays give up on holding out for a good offer in the trade market and just take the next one that comes along?

 
 

18 Comments

  1. Cork Gaines says:

    My problem with Upton is not yesterday. And it is not the last month. My problem is 3 seasons of sound and fury from his sycophants, signaling squat.

    • Gus says:

      The problem with BJ isn’t the last 30 days — he’s been just bad, just like the rest of them. And while the rest of the team picked him up in months 1 and 2 (Longo couldn’t stay that hot forever), he cannot carry them now. His offensive numbers are terrible.

      If he wasn’t a former No. 1 pick, would this guy even be in the Major Leagues right now? I kind of doubt it.

  2. ramedy says:

    Isn’t UZR weighted against the rest of the league? I know the difference between 2010 and the prior 3 years is quite large, but part of that could be that the rest of the league is getting better. I seem to remember reading somewhere that one reason UZR isn’t quite universally embraced is because it’s prone to very strange abnormalities like what you see with Upton.

    I know fielding can be hard to judge with the naked eye, but I’m quite sure that he hasn’t been -15 compared this last year.

  3. Sarah says:

    If he’s got an option left, why not send him down and bring up Perez? Fernando can’t hit, either, but at least when he’s in the game he’s actually in the game. A few bus trips to AAA ballparks will either: a. completely demoralize Upton, in which case we’re no worse off than we were, or b. fire him up, and remind him what it’s worth to be a successful MLB player.

    • Indiana Rays Boy says:

      That would the last thing that a team needs to call up a minor leaguer that can’t hit for a lazy and worthless major leaguer that can’t hit, refusing to hustle, lacks discipline and very uncoachable. I want Desmond Jennings (Rays top prospect) called up to play CF and he is hitting .298 BA for the season with 19 SB batting leadoff. Gabe Kapler on this roster is a waste of time and money. I would rather have Ruggiano and Jennings on this roster at this point; Ruggiano can’t get any worse than Kapler and Jennings gives the team hope for the future. At what point does Maddon going to hold players accountable for their lack of play and himself for making mistakes by tinkering the lineup.

  4. Joe D. says:

    I kind of wish out was Crawford that put his foot up BJ’s ass instead of Longo, that’s his OF tandem, and I also found it ironic that Longoria has less ML service time chewing out BJ. I don’t know, maybe CC wasn’t even in the dugout, with the sore shoulder… I just think that it was more CC’s role than Longo’s, but I am glad that someone (other than Maddon) spoke up.

  5. John G says:

    CC was in the dugout but worry about that.

  6. John G says:

    BJ needs to be set down or packaged in a deal to get something back while he still maintains the little value that he has left.

  7. Amanda says:

    Cork, you’re not going to believe this. I was listening to “Primetime with the Packman,” which is the primetime drive show in Charlotte featuring Mark Packer, the son of Billy Packer. He does his show with a different array of co-hosts daily, with former area athletes (like Cedric “Cornbread” Maxwell) and local media types. When I tuned in at 5 p.m. on my way home, they went over the topcis that they had covered over the first two hours (they have affiliates that join at 5, so they catch everyone up), and they brought up B.J./Longo. At that point, the local media guy interjected that he came into the office today absolutely FUMING at B.J. He’s not a Rays fan, just a baseball fan in general. He said he had watched the game, and couldn’t belive how awful he looked lollygagging after the ball. Everyone else in the studio chimed in on how bad it was too. Then, at 5:15 one of the show’s producers, QCB (short for Queen City Blackman) does his bit, and he cracked jokes about B.J.

    There are four voices I heard that were commenting on this situation, from jokes and slams, to outright fury at someone who they’re not even a fan of. And this is in Charlotte. That’s proof positive that it’s not local media just “picking on BJ for his past.”

    • Cork Gaines says:

      The national attention has been the most surprising aspect of this. PTI had it as one of their top stories today.

      • Amanda says:

        You can go to WFNZ.com and listen to the four hours of the show. The top of Hour 3 is what I heard specifically.

      • TP says:

        It was a top story because of the dugout altercation, not because BJ didn’t hustle.

        This is all really making a mountain out of a proverbial molehill. I don’t think any party really has acquitted themselves well in this situation, but let’s not point the finger here. Get back to winning some games, Rays.

  8. Jonathan Slotter says:

    What you don’t get is that Jennings has been plagued with injuries this entire year and is not ready to be brought up. Clearly you haven’t paid attention to what is going on in the minors. Aside from that

    You’re trade that you bring up is just ridiculous and I really don’t feel like even breaking down that ludicrous proposal.

    Upton isn’t a malcontent. He works hard. He doesn’t create problems with the media or teammates. He might not have hustled like 3 times in his career, far from a malcontent. I think you are way overreacting to this. Pat Burrell was a malcontent. He wasn’t liked in the clubhouse and he didnt produce and he couldn’t play defense. At least Upton has some qualities. I bet he apologizes to the team, longoria, and maddon. But we’ll see

    • Jason B says:

      what a fucking joke. we get, we really do! BJ Upton has a lot of talent. yay! RJ accuses Joe of cherry-picking stats and then does the exact same thing himself. How long are we going to have to listen to the BJ-apologists defend Upton as “unlucky”? He is not fucking unlucky. The dud just isn’t very good. GET OVER IT! Find somebody else to defend. It is getting annoying. 10 years from now, Upton will still be hitting .230 with 12 home runs a year and you guys will find somebody else to blame. HE SUCKS. and I actually think he is getting a raw deal on the effort thing. But the FACT IT, HE SUCKS! Now shut the hell up.

      • Jonathan Slotter says:

        At least I’, actually finding things to prove my argument and not just saying “he fucking sucks get over it” because thats real persuasive

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