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: Pitching. For all the pain inflicted by the bats this weekend, it easy to overlook just how good the pitching was. 21 Ks and only 4 walks is outstanding. And outside of Jake McGee’s batting practice fastball to Brian Roberts on Saturday, the bullpen has been solid…Minimized Suffering. One benefit of not being able to hit a lick is that the games go much faster. In the first series of the season, the games averaged a brisk 2 hours 33 minutes…It’s Early. CoolStandings.com still gives the Rays a 32.6% shot at making the playoffs. And there is more than 98% of the season left to play.

THE BAD: Going Batty. 3 games. 3 runs on just 12 hits, and only 1 stolen base (can’t steal first base). How many ABs do you need to judge a hitter? About 100? Well, the Rays have 91 at bats and are hitting .132 with a .225 OBP. We knew this team was going to struggle at times offensively. But this is the so-called worst case scenario. And it could continue for a while with Evan Longoria on the shelf for the next few weeks.

THE TELLING: The last team to start the year 0-3 and make the playoffs was the 2007 Phillies…The Orioles are 3-0 for the first time in 14 years…Wade Davis went bald after the game and Evan Longoria cut his mullet before the game (see videos below). So much for Joe Maddon’s wish that players let their hair go.

THE JUNKYARD DOGS WEBTOPIA

  • Mike Ekstrom was designated for assignment to make room for Felipe Lopez on the 40-man roster.
  • This isn’t the first time he has mentioned this, but David Price says he is open to a long-term extension with the Rays. What is really interesting is that Price previously mentioned that the two sides have never discussed a long-term deal. [TampaBay.com]
  • $142 million is a lot of money for Carl Crawford to bat seventh. The last time Crawford started a game batting lower than third was 2003. [Big League Stew]
  • Nevin Ashley talks about his stint with the Rays during last year’s playoffs. [Montgomery Advertiser]
  • The 2011 Rays is a 2008 Durham Bulls reunion. [Watching Durham Bulls Baseball]
  • Not everybody is excited about the idea of the Rays moving to an open-air stadium. [Downtown St. Pete]
  • Rays Prospects has the Durham Bulls roster and the Montgomery Biscuits roster.



Wade Davis getting his hair cut (via TampaBay.com)


Evan Longoria sans Mullet (via TampaBay.com)

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23 Comments

  1. Raysfan137 says:

    You need much more than 100 at bats to judge a hitter. “The Book” calculates at least 220, and even that is questionable.

    • Cork Gaines says:

      I’ve read that. And I would consider that the most conservative estimate. It all depends on how much error you’re willing to accept. We could go 1,000 at bats and still not have 100% accuracy.

  2. Michael says:

    Cork,

    I appreciate how you have not paniced yet. Most message boards are in absolute panic, and it is good to see that RaysIndex can spread the word that the team is not dead after three games. Thanks!

  3. Don says:

    I don’t need a 100 at bats to “judge” a hitter…..only 3 games and I can tell you we don’t have ANY (hitters) except Zobrist…the only guy who looks like he is trying…..
    Rodq, Joyce, Brig. look like they are scared to death of their new found place….Did Jaso die? told you before SHop. SHeldon & Maddon have this love affair thing going…good luck playing fat boy instead of Jaso……
    But so are things at the Rays….

    • Scot says:

      Hey Don, “Know what the difference between hitting .250 and .300 is? It’s 25 hits. 25 hits in 500 at bats is 50 points, okay? There’s 6 months in a season, that’s about 25 weeks. That means if you get just one extra flare a week – just one – a gorp… you get a groundball, you get a groundball with eyes… you get a dying quail, just one more dying quail a week… and you’re in Yankee Stadium.”
      – Crash Davis

      In short, for one extra hit per week, you can’t tell the difference between a .250 hitter and a .300 hitter.

  4. Cork,

    I noticed from Dirk’s tweets and the roster lists that Hayhurst is being used as a starter in Durham. Any idea on why? Are they trying to stretch out his arm or is he just a hired gunslinger to eat up AAA innings? He seemed incredibly effective out of the pen this spring.

    Thoughts?

    • Cork Gaines says:

      Just a guess at this point but beyond Sonnanstine, who do the Rays have that can start in case of emergency? They may feel that Torres and Cobb are not ready, even for spot starts. And a couple of the veteran arms that have been in Durham are now gone (eg Carlos Hernandez).

      So it could just be because it is easier to move from the rotation to the bullpen than vice versa (on short notice). So why not stretch out his arm as insurance (he’s done it before) and if needed they can easily move him back to the ‘pen.

  5. Gus says:

    I am enoying how a 38-year old outfielder who spent the weekend falling around in the OF and then trying to play a little 1B comes up sore on Sunday am with a young lefty on the hill and it is the Trop’s turf fault. Doesn’t anybody do any reporting? Damon didn’t even say that.

    Other comments:

    1. I counted 6 plays (3 in LF, 2 at 3b and 1 at 1B) where if the Pena-CC-Longo trio were out there, the plays would have been made. It is going to take some getting used to that the defense isn’t awesome anymore (and that the Orioles were by far the superior defensive team).

    2. Longo’s injury. Too much off-season lifting? A freak thing? Whatever it is, it is obviously a devastating timing. Am I crazy, but doesn’t it make more sense to put Zobrist at 3b and S-Rod at 2b. Can Chrinos play 3b. They need an offensive answer. 6 weeks is critical for this team.

    3. If Zobrist stays in the 3 hole, all the more reason to call up Jennings and lead him off.

    4. The Sports Illustrated stories on pitch types and hitters was revealing. BJ cannot hit a fastball at all, but is tops on a few breaking pitches. That explains him more than any other explanation that I’ve ever seen.

    • Derek says:

      When Flud nearly threw out Roberts, Crawford doesn’t make that throw. Johnson flashed some leather this weekend. Let’s not write him off because of one play.

      Chirinos is a catcher. He will remain there.

      Don’t read too much into that SI story. Pitch values change year in and year out. Although BJ has shown a trend in the wrong direction, he destroyed fastballs in 07. He will never catch that slider away, but I can see a good year from him this year.

      • Gus says:

        2007 is pretty far in the rear view mirror for BJ. One shoulder surgery ago. He is not the same hitter now. I think everyone agrees with that. I found it surprising that he hit off speed stuff so well, but it confirms my theory that he is a total guess hitter now and why he has so many strikeouts looking.

        Fuld made a great turn and throw there for sure. Tripping over the bullpen mound hopefully won’t happen with experience (although the Cubs have a smilar set-up), but that may have cost them a run with the Roberts tag (not sure if Lee walks there without an open base).

        All in all, defense was down slightly, but when you have no offense to speak of, that is going to be even more important. I think the “take and rake” offensive theory was exposed late in the year last year, and pitchers are going to keep challenging this lineup until they prove they can hit it out. Lots of balls were well struck but didn’t leave the yard. Credit the Orioles for running them all down.

        • Beth says:

          I think there’s no question that we’ll see a defensive drop off. When Longoria won his Gold Glove, he thanked Carlos Pena. A really good first baseman makes the whole infield look good. Fuld could be a good defensive replacement for Crawford, but doesn’t seem to have much of an upside as a hitter. And you just can’t replace Longo at third – although we can’t really blame the RFO for his absence; that’s just bad luck (or poor conditioning?)

          • Scot says:

            While I have seen advanced defensive stats support the argument that Pena was outstanding in 2009, he wasn’t as exceptional in 2010. Longo is good, and Pena has been good, but Golden Glove is often built on reputation. 3 games is not the season. However, I am not really expecting a playoff this season. (1/3rd chance seems reasonable.)

        • Derek says:

          The numbers could be a result of the surgery, maybe he just wasn’t able to catch up to them, so he would lay off of them in hopes they would miss the zone.

          But like I said, the numbers can change year in and year out. Crawford has had years where he has had a negative value against fastballs. Zobrist killed fastballs in 09, he was meh against them last year. He was great against the changeup in 09 but posted a negative value on it in 10.

          The numbers don’t lie, and BJ has not been good with fast pitches ( cutter, fastball, slider) but it’s a new year, and as always, let’s hope he has turned it around.

  6. Tone says:

    This 0-3 skid is troubling for sure, but when you add that Longoria will be out for 3-6 weeks(maybe more), this is very much a reason to panic. Evan is the ONLY player this team cannot afford to miss. Any other player could go down and the Rays could handle it; without Longoria for this extended period…well, let’s just say that falling behind will be an understatement. This is a re-building year now. Anyone who believes different is delusional, but I am happy for you all the same. Now I want Damon to go on the DL; time to see what the kids can do.

    • Derek says:

      0-3 isn’t troubling to anybody that understands there are 162 games in a season. Longoia going down is the only thing that anybody should be worrying about. We wont have too many series like the one that just happened in Texas, but more often than not, we will be on the winning end on these low scoring games. Call it delusional, but at least I still watch my team when it is losing.

      • Tone says:

        Oh I watched, it was a nightmare. 0-3 on its own does not matter; you are correct there, but the way the Rays lost the 3 games with total offensive collapse is the reason it was concerning. Add in that they have sucked at home in this same exact way going back to last season, and legitimate concern is deserved. You are delusional, but at least your happy in baseball terms. I personally think this team is not that good, but next year could be different. Hopefully your optimism is fulfilled and we get to see a winner.

  7. Hal says:

    Losing Longo sucks, but we have 8 other spots in the line-up that need to swing the bat. We lost him for a long time in ’08 and didn’t miss a beat.

    • Don says:

      Thats because they had willie AYbar, who MAddon & co. has completely buried….HE must have drUNK Maddons wine

  8. CC says:

    Has anybody but me compared our starting lineup to the other starting lineups in the AL East. If you are honest with yourself it does not look good. We do have quality starting pitchers with the Rays and in their minor league system. But we really don’t have any quality bats anywhere. You have to score runs in the AL East to compete.

    • Tone says:

      I have looked at the line-ups in all 3 AL divisions and the Rays have to be in the bottom 5 in hitters. If not for the starting rotation I would say this team is easily a last place team. Toronto is better, O’s look better, and of both the Yanks/Sox are better. If the O’s rotation is even half as good as what we saw this weekend the Rays are last place again.

      • Sarah says:

        We all knew this was not going to be a strong line-up if everyone played to their norms. The only way we’re going to see production here is if a few guys exceed expectations. That’s still possible — Damon and Manny may have a last spurt of effectiveness in them; Joyce and Rodriguez might have higher upsides than we’ve seen thus far. But surely a team that can succeed only if a few guys have career years is not in great shape.

        Doesn’t mean we can’t have some fun this season, even if that is just hanging around long enough to annoy the front runners.

        • CC says:

          Don’t get me wrong I’m a huge Rays fan. We go to many games. It just a little disconcerting to see a lineup like this. I don’t see where we will get that much production. I my opinion we are top heavy with pitching in the majors and in our minor league system. Every trade we make is for pitching prospects. We need a couple of stud positon players that can mash. We just don’t have that. Our organization is filled with all of the same type of players. I believe we will finish the season dead last in HR’s. So in other words we need some guys who can hit for average to drive in runs. Just don’t see it. Having said that Go Rays! Buck Foston and the Yankees suck.

  9. bal says:

    I realized the tweets of Dirk and payroll lists Hayhurst is being used as a starter at Durham. Any idea why? Are they trying to pull the arm or just a hired gun to eat innings AAA? It seemed very effective out of the pen this spring.

    Thoughts?

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