Yesterday, we thought it was a bit strange that Rocco Baldelli was on the ALDS roster and Willy Aybar was not. Well, it turns out, Joe Maddon may have just wanted Rocco for game 1 to face the lefty Cliff Lee.

Marc Topkin is reporting that the Rays today removed Rocco from the ALDS roster for medical reasons, and replaced him with Aybar. Aybar will DH today. Also, Ben Zobrist is playing first base today with Carlos Pena out of the lineup. Desmond Jennings will start in right field.

We can’t help but wonder if this was Maddon’s Mad plan all along. In order to replace Baldelli, the Rays would have had to petition Major League Baseball. But with Rocco’s on-going medical condition, the Rays were probably confident the move would be approved. By being replaced, Rocco is not eligible for a potential ALCS roster.

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11 Comments

  1. Don says:

    Had to laugh my ass off when I heard the Baldelli caper...
    Proof continues to mount Maddon doesn't have a clue....
    Leave Aybar off the rooster for Rocko (frekin) Baldelli is a joke, playing Pena all season was a joke, pitching Shields today instead of NO Hit Garza is a joke....WHEN does the Maddness stop....Really hard to watch this team go down the drain....but the moron fans keep praising this idiot MADDMAN!
    Wise up Rays management...get a real manager...!

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    • Gatorbuc15 says:

      LOL! You should have heard what Skip Bayless said about Maddon this moring. He hit the nail on the head.

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  2. MJ says:

    How can u not love this FO?

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  3. Gus says:

    The scapegoating begins. I actually may be the only one, but to me batting an aggressive batter like Baldelli against a strike thrower was a good idea; that said, if you were thinking of that, why did they waste all those at bats on Brad Hawpe down the stretch. To face Cliff Lee off of 25 plate appearances is asking a bit much of Baldelli. He didn't earn those postseason at bats through his regular season; he just didn't play enough.

    You can justify almost any roster move with the rash of stats, swing planes, good or bad luck stats, etc. The guys over at DRays Bay have made a cottage industry of defending Upton the batter and his relative value in ways that leave me unconvinced (especially when he is at the top of the order). But at some point, the manager has to balance all that data with the fact these guys are human beings, and they don't always act in predictable fashion. They need to be motivated, and believe that playing time and at bats are based on merit, not data they don't understand. My feeling has been for lots of the 2nd half of the season, Maddon has relied too much on the data and not enough on his own observations. Shields is down this year and much as he may project well today, he hasn't earned the right to pitch this game, and I think he's losing the players over some of these moves. Jaso has earned the right to catch most everyday, same with Joyce in RF. I though Hellickson earned a rotation slot; instead he was sent to the bullpen when he's the Rays best pitcher to be pitching today if he'd been given the chance to stay in the rotation (subject to innings limits, I know). Upton shouldn't be getting extra at bats at the top of the order. His strikeouts and low obp are too much to overcome. If he plays (and given his defense, he may be the best answer they have), he bats 8th.

    Maddon had a quote in the Trib this weekend that I didn't like very much -- to the effect that if he didn't monkey with the line-up so much, they'd get their assess kicked. Maybe he is right, but that is something he should have never said, as it can be read to show that you don't believe in your guys and you are the reason for the success.

    Hopefully, Shields pitches well today. If he gets blown up, I think Maddon (for the first time in his tenure) risks losing the clubhouse.

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    • Sarah says:

      Gus, I thought that was really well put; a good perspective much more insightful than the usual "Maddon is an idiot."

      Personally, I was happy to see Baldelli on the roster, although perhaps not for rational reasons -- he just seems to be there when good things happen. Aybar may be a better choice at the moment, but how can we forget that Willie is basically a .250 hitter with little speed and mediocre fielding ability -- that doesn't cry out for a roster spot in my book.

      But I think the main problem is that the Rays have gotten this far despite a very poor offense, and that's why I don't think Joe is completely off base to say that he tinkers for a reason. He can sit the poor hitting Pena, but replace him with whom -- Zobrist? (Hitting about .250)? Johnson (about .220)? It's not like there are .300 hitters sitting on the bench. Notice that Maddon rarely tinkers with Crawford and Longo -- it was a big deal when he moved them down the order a bit -- so clearly he understands that when you have players who perform consistently you let them be.

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      • Gus says:

        Baldelli has been kind of a good luck charm; he inspires the guys perhaps by just being there, knowing that talent is fleeting.

        Sad to see him get sick again. Of all the Maddon moves, putting him on the roster wasn't wrong in my book. Starting him at DH v. Lee without the at bats may have been the mistake (but not many options, I realize).

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  4. Gatorbuc15 says:

    Willy should have never been left off of the roster in the 1st place. Just another example that shows how much Maddon is full of himself.

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  5. D-Rome says:

    You know, prior to this season I used to never buy into this stuff about the hubris of Joe Maddon and that he thinks he's smarter than everyone. Maddon has been a great manager but putting in Baldelli and leaving out Aybar shows me that there really may be something to this. I don't agree with most of the Maddon bashing but he's not some kind of baseball genius like he seemingly wants us to believe.

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    • Gus says:

      The baseball genius has been outmanaged by a crack addict. Convincingly. Falling in love with his own press clippings.

      Maybe Dave Martinez will let Jaso and Joyce play.

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  6. Jon says:

    Why is Jennings playing instead of Joyce? Yeah hes fast, but why play a guy who just got called up to the majors? Leave him for next year to take over for CC . I wonder what players are pissed off that a guy they just called up, is playing instead of them who have been with the team the whole year. And please get a new coaching staff that know how the manage,and teach us how to hit,and play the game(no thinking walk first,hit second)

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