DM3229FIRST INNING (A look back)…
The Rays moved Jeremy Hellickson to the bullpen and so far he has struggled…In hindsight, was the correct move?

Hell no. But not because he is struggling in the ‘pen. The mistake is that working 1-2 two innings a pop takes away any possibility of him starting in the postseason. And it boggles our mind that the Rays would enter the postseason with one of their three best starting pitchers working in the bullpen. The move was made because the Rays are worried about putting too many innings on Hellickson’s arm. He only threw 113 innings in 2009, and the Rays prefer to limit their pitchers to a 20% increase (136ip). This season he is already up to 147. But Hellickson did throw 151 innings in 2008, so a big load is not foreign to his arm. If they are that concerned they could delay the start of his 2011 season. Opprotunities to win the World Series don’t come every season. And the Rays are going into October without their best possible rotation…IT’S A MISTAKE

SECOND INNING (Headlines)…
Much has been made of Jeff Niemann’s struggles since returning from the DL…Should Niemann be pulled from the rotation?

Derek Shelton said Niemann had several mechanical issues that are easily fixable. Maybe each individual flaw is easily fixable, but how easy will it be to fix “several” at the same time? The Rays will let him work it out in games. And that’s fine. But when the 4th starter gives up 23 runs and 27 baserunners in his first 10 innings back from the DL, it seems reasonable to be worried. With 23 games left in the regular season, Neimann has 4 starts to figure it out. If he doesn’t, Wade Davis will be the 4th starter in the postseason, and Niemann could very well be off the roster…NOT YET

THIRD INNING (Headlines)…
The Rays attendance has been…*SMACK*

Shut up. Just shut up already. SHUT UP! It is not that big of a deal. The Rays are still competitive. They still have very strong TV ratings. They still have a competitive payroll. And even though the payroll will go down next season, it is not going to be like the Marlins. And the team will still be competetive. And like Rob Neyer recently said, it is not a fanbase problem. It is a stadium problem. Once the stadium issue is fixed, the attendance will be fine. So just SHUT UP!….JUST. SHUT. UP.

FOURTH INNING (Headlines)…
David Price is considered one of the candidates for the Cy Young award…Do you think he should win it?

Based on ESPN’s Cy Young predictor, Price (17-6, 2.87) is second to CC Sabathia (19-6, 3.14). Felix Hernandez will also get votes based on his 2.30 ERA. But no matter what you think of Wins as a stat, there is no way Hernandez is winning the Cy Young at 11-10. And unlike last season when Zack Greinke won the award at 16-8, King Felix’ FIP (2.96) is not leading the AL. Price does have a better FIP (3.50, 11th in AL) than Sabathia (3.63, 16th in AL). With similar statlines, this race will likely come down to who has the bigger starts down the stretch. In the last month (5 starts), Price has a 3.00 ERA, while Sabathia (5 starts) has a 3.15 ERA. And let’s not forget Monday’s matchup in which Price and Sabathia go head-to-head. The winner of that game could get the hardware. And no matter how well Hernandez pitches, it is hard to ignore that he is not doing it against the Red Sox and Yankees while fighting for a playoff spot…IT’S CLOSE

FIFTH INNING (Headlines)…
Rain delay, queue The Steve Harvey Show

zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

SIXTH INNING (A look outside the box)…
Many in Red Sox Nation think their team still has a shot at the Wild Card…Should Raysheads be worried?

We love saying “The Red Sox are Roadkill.” Can’t say it enough. We want to get toilet paper with a Red Sox logo and the word “Roadkill” printed across it. If thinking they are still alive for the Wild Card helps them sleep better when their boys are playing golf next month, that’s fine. We just can’t wait to hear what Red Sox fans have to say when The Trop is outdrawing Fenway in October…..THE RED SOX ARE ROADKILL

SEVENTH INNING (Over/Unders)…
Starts for Andy Sonnanstine in the last 3 weeks: 1.5

Joe Maddon will want extra rest for his starters down the stretch. And after yesterday, the Rays only have one more off-day in the regular season. So look for The Duke to make a start in the final 2 weeks. But probably not 2…UNDER

Regular season wins for the 2010 Rays: 99.5

To get to 100 wins, the Rays would have to go 15-8 down the stretch. Their final 10 are against the Royals, M’s and O’s. But they also have 7 against the Yankees and Maddon will certainly be resting his regulars as much as possible. It will probably take 100 wins to win the division. We think the Wild Card is the destination…UNDER

Stories about the Rays attendance during upcoming Yankees series: 1.6 kazillion pertillion

Just kill us now..OVER

EIGHTH INNING (On deck)…
James “Big Game” Shields was Joe Maddon’s opening day starter…But would he be the game 1 starter in the playoffs?

This could depend on the Rays first-round opponent. If the Rays do face the Twins, he may prefer to lead-off with David Price to neutralize the big left-handed bats. Price also has a 1.80 ERA in 2 starts versus the Twins this season. Meanwhile, Shields gave up 4 runs in 6 innings in his only start versus the Twins. But, game 1 would be in Minnesota, and while Price has been the Rays best pitcher, he is lights-out at home with a 2.16 ERA. Unless Shields pitches better in the last 3 weeks, we think JoeMa will go with Price in game 1. And no matter what you think about Maddon’s loyalty to certain players, he loves matchups more….NO, DAVID PRICE WILL

NINTH INNING (Putting out the fire)…
Can you explain why Pat Burrell went from Pat the Fat with the Rays to Pat the Big Bat with the Giants?

Some think it is the NL pitching. Some say it is his comfort with playing in the outfield. We think Burrell is just finding comfort in the familiar NL road beef.

Now that the Rays have concluded their season series with the Red Sox, is there any reason for Dan Johnson to play again this season?

Of his 5 career home runs with the Rays, 4 have come against the Red Sox. So, now would be a good time for the Rays to thank DJ for his service, tell him his playoff-share will be in the mail and we will see him again next September.

Why were the Bucs practicing at The Trop?

Why do we think this has something to do with Stuart Sternberg trying to prove that teams in Tampa can still be “regional”?

We hear that you pick your beverages each series based on the opponent…What is your poison pick this weekend?

It is time we got in touch with our roots. The Rays have talent. But they do it on the cheap. The Richie Rich’s of the baseball world snub their nose at the Rays. And while the rest of baseball won’t admit it, they are secretly envious. A lot like…PBR

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17 Comments

  1. Beth says:

    Wow, this was a great post, giving us something to chew over after an off day!

    A few thoughts:
    1. I agree they are misusing Hellickson's talents, and I'm not quick to criticize Rays management, which I assume knows a lot more about this stuff than I do.
    2. Neimann's struggles would be less problematic if Shields, Garza and Davis, and the entire middle relief section weren't melting down as well. The Rays should be able to absorb a shaky outing every five days; every other day is a problem.
    3. I'm so with you on being sick of every national Rays discussion ending up with an attendance discussion. See this column, linked to Topkins' blog, for more of the same: http://espn.go.com/mlb/baseballtonight. The columnist here is supposed to be talking about weaknesses in the Rays' line up, which is quite legitimate, but then suddenly the column shifts gears and we have three paragraphs on the usual attendance stuff.
    4. We've got to be rooting for the Padres in the NL west, because the idea of Pat Burrell getting to the playoffs with another team while living off of our $8 million makes me nuts.

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  2. stunna says:

    Good read. I missed the pepper; seems like it's been a while

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  3. Preston says:

    I love it. Your thoughts about the attendance issue remind me of what I go through as a Iowa Hawkeye football fan. "BUT THEY'RE IN THE BIG TEN! THEY CAN'T POSSIBLY BE AS GOOD AS A TWO LOSS SEC TEAM!"

    Sick of hearing both.

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  4. Gatorbuc15 says:

    Great post Cork. But I kinda think that it sounds like your venting a little bit. Just a thought.
    But I don't care. If you are venting, then let it all out man! :)

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  5. cubanballfan says:

    1st: they are going to miss hellickson next month
    2nd:Is Derek Shelton our pitching coach now? who is Neimann?
    3rd:Just a fast train from Tampa every 30 minutes will sell out the Trop.
    4th:Start Price in games that matters to the Rays.There is no I in TEAM.
    5th:Corona Light Break.
    6th:You've been saying for 2 weeks now “The Red Sox are Roadkill.”
    7th:Please Leave Andy and Dan alone. Rays will win 99-63.***
    8th:Trade James for Jeremy in game 2.
    9th: Pat grew mad at playing DH and the BOOOOOO's. He paid back.

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  6. James says:

    Why don't they just walk Bautista?

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  7. Tone says:

    I hope you right about Shields. He would be my 3rd or 4th starter in the playoffs. Why the hell is Kelly Shoppach still getting playing time. Anyone is better than him. I would take Jaso vs a lefthander a million times over that useless strikeout machine. He is so bad. I like that some comments and even writings have reflected some of the huge mistakes of Freid, Stu, and Maddon. They get such praise and ass kissing all the time, some is well deserved, but there should not be just ass kiss propaganda all the time either.

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    • I'll tell you why... Shoppach is due. His history suggests that he should be hitting much better than he is now. I'm expecting Shoppach to get really hot, really soon.

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      • Tone says:

        Yeah, that homer today really won the game. He is clutch. And having him take up starts on the basis that he will just magically get hot makes tons of sense. It's smart like signing Pat Burrell and sticking with him through most of his contract. It's smart like putting BJ in the lead off spot last year over a guy hitting well over 300. That trade for Shoppach looks great, that Talbot guy sucks this year. Having extra quality pitchers is lame; much better to have fat catchers that can't throw or hit.

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        • Sarcasm aside, Shoppach's going to be part of the post season roster. So, to me, it's much better to root for a hot streak then bitch and moan about the trade that brought him here.

          As for the Pat the Bat reference, remind me again what he's doing in San Fransico? The Rays were on the right track w/ Pat the Bat, unfortunately he just couldn't get it together mentall over here.

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          • Sarah says:

            Why are you so sure he'll be on the post season roster? At this point I'd prefer to see Navarro.

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  8. Razzlegator says:

    Does this place ever update it posts angmore?

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  9. MJ says:

    man i missed the taste of fresh pepper. favorite posts on here.

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