After yesterday’s win, the Rays are now seven games behind the Red Sox. And with just 20 games remaining, you would think Joe Maddon would be inclined to push his young players just a little harder with the team’s season on life support.

You would be wrong.

Maddon promises that he will continue to give his regulars occasional days off from the everyday grind of standing around and occasionally running to first base (although they certainly haven’t done that very often this season).

And why is Maddon resting his best players when every game can potentially end the Rays season?

“…if you grind them right into the ground they have no chance to play well at the end of the month. I choose not to grind them into the ground right now.”

Ahhh, we see now. Decrease the team’s chances at winning today, so that there is a better chance that the games at the end of the month mean nothing. But hey, at least the regulars will be well-rested for those tee-times in the first week of October.

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20 Comments

  1. Beth says:

    I agree that the Rays need to go with their absolutely best line-ups over the next week or so.

    But I don't think you need to be dismissive of the toll that playing professional baseball can take. While baseball certainly has a lot of built-in down time, I don't imagine that playing on the field is quite the same as "standing around and occasionally running to first base".

    Rather I'd put it this way: Maddon has been conscientious about resting players throughout the season PRECISELY SO THEY WILL BE READY TO PLAY ALL-OUT now that the season is surely on the line. There will be plenty of time to ease up when (if?) the team is mathematically eliminated.

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  2. Don says:

    Told you the guy's a nut..but most fans dont know the difference..they think ole Joe giving his older players (25-26 yo.s) a day off is such a nice thing
    Many businessmen wish ole Joe was their boss they could use Weds off to play golf...what do you think Joe keep them fresh...huh..

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  3. Morgan says:

    Can't argue w/ Maddon's 40-something years of baseball experience.

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  4. Gus says:

    Being a Rays fan is in a certain respect like being one of the characters in Waiting for Godot. It is always tomorrow, always next season, always about our next stadium, etc.

    Some organizational urgency (even living within the tight-fisted budget given by management) might have produced the extra 4-5 wins needed in the first half of the season. These include, the Boneheaded Jennings promotion one year too late, the July 6-man rotation where one pitcher got better and 5 got worse and the inability to solve SS. Sometimes always playing for the future isn't the right move.

    I'd like to "Rest in Peace" like Bill Simmons and those Red Sox fans too. Ironic that Simmons is the only national writer to take on the folly of Rays management and not fall for the "Tao of Andy" nonsense. Freidman is a good thinker and does a good job with no $ (you always look like a good shopper when you have to shop in the bargain basement). But he isn't Branch Rickey either. Lots to learn.

    The last 4 years have netted 2 division titles and 2 3rd place finishes (likely). With this one in a lifetime pitching in the organization and Longoria, is it wrong to suggest that they could have acheived more?

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  5. Jay says:

    There are NO FACTS to support his "resting" of players theory. For such a pragmatist, I just wish he would be consistent enough to see his strategy doesn't work and therefor should be changed.

    We do not have less injuries than other teams. We have the same nicks and strains as everyone else. It's no more and no less than any other ball club faces.

    We don't have 'rested players' go on hitting streaks. They don't hit any better or worse than they do when they aren't rested.

    Until Joe can prove his resting of players keeps them healthier and more productive, he's wrong and pissing off am increasingly disinterested fan base.

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    • Beth says:

      Jay, how do you know they have no data on the impact of resting players? And where are your data showing that rest has no impact on injuries? I get that you disagree with their approach, but how can you criticize them for having "no facts" unless you are supplying some of your own?

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      • Jay says:

        Beth,
        Sorry I didn't quote stats at you... I think you can look at the players' batting averages to justify the production theory is wrong. You can do an analysis of the numbers if that makes you feel warm and fuzzy about Joe.

        As far as DL research - I confess I have a day job and the Rays use the DL as a roster spot so there's no way to really know who's hurt and who's not. But throughout out Joe's time we've always dealt with a Longo, Pena, Bartlett stint on the DL. Resting them doesn't prevent the injuries that happen.

        In the end of the day, winning and staying in the playoff race should be the only barometer for his decisions. Right now, it's not good enough.

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        • Beth says:

          But Jay, that's my point - you have a day job, and so do I, so we don't have the time to collect the data on how many innings a pitcher can increase his workload before he risks injury, or whether days off in July can produce more effective play in September. But presumably the Rays and other major league teams DO have these data and make decisions based on them. No one's suggesting you spend hours doing this analysis, but then why accuse them of having "no facts"?

          And surely you aren't suggesting that the Rays record would be better if they'd rested players less? Honestly, the only things that I would imagine would have significantly improved the Rays' chances would have involved spending money on some hitters and a stronger bullpen, or finding the magic potion that would allow Upton and Longoria to both have career years at once. Maybe bringing Desmond up a few weeks earlier would have helped, too, but that would have at best meant an extra win or two, not the 7 they are now trailing.

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  6. Steve says:

    Would you guys rather have Lou back? Or maybe Rothschild? How can you argue against JoeMa? He is the best manager in baseball, maybe you'll appreciate him when he's managing the Dodgers in a couple years.

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    • Cork Gaines says:

      I don't want to speak for everybody, but I think most of us do appreciate Maddon. But that doesn't mean he can't be wrong from time-to-time.

      For all the great things Maddon does, there are still some things I disagree with. For example, Maddon is not afraid to think outside the box and buck baseball tradition, which is often great. But he also often seems unwilling to think outside his own box. He occasionally is so tied to one idea that he seems unwilling to bend even if a specific situation calls for it.

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      • Gus says:

        Excellent summation of his own box. Last year's playoff start of Shields on the theory that he had been unlucky was just ill-conceived. He had been unlucky, his confidence was shot, he wasn;t the bets pitcher to pitch and it cost the Rays a chance to advance in the playoffs.

        I generally like Maddon and what he has done with the limitations of management (I'm assiming he would have had the young relievers and Jennings on the team to start the season) is incredible. But he is sometimes too clever by half.

        This has been his best season managing by the way, and he should be manager of the year for his work with that shaky bullpen alone. But like us all, he could be better. And his resting for a pennant race that may never happen is a frustrating thing (especially since the Rays should be uniquely position to add to the roster in September with their killer farm system). Skip Hellickson's starts for a Moore start, etc.

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  7. rayalan says:

    Resting top line players at this point of the season is pure heresy. Every game is absolutely critical. Putting Elliott Johnson up to bat at this point of the season is treasonous.
    The logic behind resting top players down the homestretch in early to mid September is absolutely insane!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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  8. Hal says:

    Joe plays matchups plain and simple. I think he calls it "rest" to make the players feel better. Its hard to sit BJ and tell him that its because of him sucking versus a particular pitcher or style of pitcher (not a good example, BJ sucks versus all styles of pitcher). Its easier to say he needs a bit of rest. I do hate me some Elliott Johnson though and would love to see him rest for the rest of the season. He definitely needs more rest. Lots and lots of rest.

    After we sweep these three (Come on people - get to the Trop!) and are four back beginning next week will you print a retraction that these games are meaningless?

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    • sarah says:

      Hal, interesting point about "rest" being a euphamism for "I think you'll stink up the place if you play today."

      But I think you misunderstood Cork's point about meaningless games. THESE games aren't meaningless. These are the games in which the best players should be out there. The games 2 weeks from now are likely to be meaningless if the Rays don't win this week.

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  9. Tom says:

    Francona is "resting" Gonzalez tonight. I realize the Sox are in a different situation than the Rays with a big lead in the WC race and facing there closest competitor in 7 of their nex 10 games but still.

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  10. Morgan says:

    How have Rays done injury-wise compared to their division opponents. Seems like they haven't lost any important players for a significant amount of time other than the beginning of the season w/ Longoria.

    Sounds like Joe Maddon knows what he's doing.

    With a payroll like the Rays, an prolonged injury to a key player could have be the end to any playoff chase.

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  11. Morgan says:

    16 Sept: are the games meaningless yet?

    Just checking.....

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