5-12-2013 1-06-38 PMThe GBT – The Good, The Bad and The Telling sandwich, where The Bad is nice and lean and the The Telling is ripe.

RAYS 4,  Padres 2 (boxscore)

THE GOOD: Sam Fuld. Fuld, starting in center set the tone early on Sunday with a long run and high jump against the wall to record an out in the first inning. You can see the replay and Roberto Hernandez fantastic reaction hereThe Bullpen. The relievers may have finally rediscovered their swagger. The bullpen has not allowed an earned run in their last 13.2 innings and none in this 3-game sweep of the Padres. And Fernando Rodney has been the anchor. In his last 3 appearances, he has struck out 6 in 3 innings with just 1 hit and 2 walks. And he just seems more confident on the field…Alex Cobb. We don’t ever think of Alex Cobb as a strikeout pitcher. But on Friday he struck out 13 in just 4.2 innings. And he became the first pitcher in recorded history to strike out every batter he faced in an inning and still allow a run (leadoff batter reached on a wild pitch, stole 2 bases, and scored on a balk).

THE BAD: Jeremy Hellickson. In a very typical Joe Maddon move, he saved his harshest comments for when the team is playing well. And the victim of those comments just happened to be Jeremy Hellickson who blew a lead in the wrong place at the wrong time. Holding a 6-2 lead in the 7th inning on Saturday, Hellickson walked the leadoff batter, and then gave up two 2-out hits, including a grand slam. Was Hellickson the first pitcher on the Rays to blow a lead this season? Nope. But he happened to do it when the team won, so that makes it a good time for Maddon to issue some harsh comments, saying “I’m not happy with that. I’m going to tell you, I’m not happy with that. Nooooo, I’m not happy with that. That’s inappropriate. That’s got to stop. We’re better than that…We want to play in October, we got to be better than that. That cannot happen. You’re not going to be lucky, you got to be good”…Yunel Escobar. Escobar’s go-ahead RBI double in the 6th was a huge hit. But go to this link and watch the video. In particular, watch the replay at the 0:39 mark and tell me if you think Escobar is running hard. To me it looks like he is spending a little too much time admiring a ball that landed on the warning track. Ultimately, not running hard didn’t impact the game. But Escobar has a reputation. And I did not watch Escobar enough to know if the reputation was deserved. But when you have the reputation, this is a bad look. And you can be sure Joe Maddon noticed.

THE TELLING: The Rays have now won 5 in a row and are 19-18. And yet they are still in 4th place, 4.5 games behind the Yankees…Accoridng to CoolStandings.com, the Rays have a 40.4% chance of making the playoffs, which is actually better than the Red Sox (39.6%) who are 2.5 games ahead of the Rays…Sean Rodriguez made his first start in right field since 2010 and just the 4th of his career…

THE JUNKYARD DOGS WEBTOPIA

  • “20 Reasons Why Rays Manager Joe Maddon Is The Craziest Person In Baseball” [BI Sports]
  • This story on Matt Joyce’s mom is weird. It seems like the intention was to show that strong female figures aren’t always moms. But instead, the story comes off as a bash-job on Joyce’s mom. And while that may be a legit story, a “hey look Matt Joyce’s mom sucks” story on Mother’s Day just felt weird. [TampaBay.com]
  • The Rays justify their complaining against the umpires and are not worried about back-lash. The Rays say they have been right every time, so they aren’t worried. I’d compare it to BJ Upton’s constant complaining about strikes. He was sometimes right, but often wrong. As a result, the umpires may have it out for him now. [TampaBay.com]
  • If you are worried that umpires are screwing the Rays, keep in mind that Alex Cobb and Jeremy Hellickson are two of the top ten pitchers that get strikes called on pitches that aren’t actually strikes. Jose Molina probably has a lot to do with this, but it still means umps aren’t screwing the Rays, at least when it comes to balls and strikes. [BaseballAnalytics]
  • A closer look at the pitching in triple-A. [WDDB]
  • Just how good is the Bucs secondary now? [JoeBucsFan]

DOWN ON THE FARM

Lehigh Valley 6, DURHAM 4. Alex Torres struck out 8 in 5.2 innings, but gave up 7 hits, 3 walks, and 6 runs (4 earned)…Shelley Duncan went 0-4 and is 6-28 in 7 games since being demoted.

Birmingham 7, MONTGOMERY 3. Kevin Kiermaier had 3 hits and his 6th stolen base. He is now hitting .308.

CHARLOTTE. no game scheduled

BOWLING GREEN 8, Lake County 0. Taylor Guerrieri struck out 10 of the 18 batters he faced and walked 2 in 5 shutout innings. He allowed just 1 hit…Andrew Toles had 2 hits and 3 stolen bases. He has now swiped 18 this season…Tyler Goeddel had a double and his 1st home run. He drove in 3.

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37 Comments

  1. Mr. Smith 1980 says:

    And suddenly the half-dozen or so doomsday preachers have disappeared.

    Four games ago I spent every post trying to talk near-suicidal Rays fans off the proverbial ledge and now all is well in the Rays-iverse.

    Short-sighted fans need to once again heed the reality of baseball’s fickle nature. 4 straight wins and suddenly the world is at rest.

    • Mr. Smith 1980 says:

      ** 5 straight wins

    • Mike says:

      Dude, they are 1 game over .500 and are hitting way over their heads right now. If the pitching doesn’t improve greatly this team won’t sniff the playoffs. I’ll say it after 5 straight losses or 5 straight wins. This team isn’t going to hit it’s way into the playoffs

      • Mr. Smith 1980 says:

        Ok, agreed. Where exactly in my statement did you see that I was implying that they would ride the back of the hitting into the playoffs?

        I simply said that all the doomsday-ers have disappeared because they know they were overreacting.

  2. Gus says:

    I have higher expectations for this team than a totally healthy 19-18, 4.5 games behind the depleted Yankees after a sweep of the lowly Padres.

    Catcher and SS continue to be a black hole. The “chrome” on Escobar’s defensive game continue to drive me nutty. The sure double play balls he misplayed this weekend are things that if you don’t watch the games, you don’t see. And didn’t up end costing the Rays, but against a better team.

    Nice to see Rodney and the bullpen back. And a nice start by Hernandez. Now 2-5 in his 7 starts (should have been 3-4), but he has been able to get throught the line up on the 2nd and 3rd pass without falling apart of late.

    Progress for sure. But this team still has some worrisome flaws — Hellickson and Price, the early bullpen, C and SS.

    The Matt Joyce wild mom story seemed weird to me too. Especially weaved into the “Joe won’t bat him against lefties” storyline.

    • Mr. Smith 1980 says:

      I think we all have higher expectations for this team, but taking the abysmal start to the season into consideration, this 1 over .500 mark in mid-May seems semi-satisfying.

      I’ve said it before, the Sox are over-achieving and will fall back to reality and the Rays were/are underachieving and would/will rise back toward the top.

      The real concern for me is that fact that the Yankees have a AAA team and they’re still winning. When all their superstars start filing-back into their typical roles they could end up being a real problem. No one had them at, or near, the top of the East while they suffered through all these injuries.

      The O’s aren’t going away and I think the Jays are going to get better, but as long as the Rays continue with a workmanlike resolve they should be fine– despite their warts. No team feels like all their holes are filled and the Rays are certainly no exception.

      Your distaste for Escobar is starting to rival that of your dislike for Fausto/Roberto… we get it, you don’t like his showmanship.
      He hasn’t been as adept at turning-2 as I thought he would be either, but at the end of the day his offense is improving and his defense isn’t what I would call a detriment, so relax.

      If he gets too lazy Longo will address it, a la Bossman.

    • Beth says:

      Oh, dear Gus. Of course you had higher expectations that 19-18. But can’t we just enjoy the sweep? There will be plenty of opportunities to call out Escobar and complain about the catching.

  3. Beth says:

    Re: the Matt Joyce story: has Gary Shelton ever written anything that didn’t leave you scratching your head? Granted, the head scratching is usually of the “they pay him to write that drivel?” variety.

    But oddly enough this was one Shelton story that I liked. At least I learned something new. And at this point, the over the top celebration of mother’s day has started to make me ill. No, I don’t have any unresolved conflicts with my mother, nor do my kids hate me (yet); I’m just tired of the pink, of the soppy tributes. A mother’s day column about a drug addicted absentee mom at least broke up the monotony.

    • Zach says:

      It’s important to remember that Gary Shelton is a columnist. He doesn’t get paid to report on news like Mark Topkin and Rick Stroud do. He gets paid to write his opinion.

    • Mike says:

      I don’t know why it is any of my business what relationship Matt Joyce has with his mother. From reading the article you can tell that Matt doesn’t really want to talk about it. (“Even now, Joyce picks his words carefully. There are halts and pauses as he decides how much to give away and how much to protect.”).

      If you want to write a nice story on Mother’s Day about a player and his mom, find a player who wants to talk about it and write the story. I have no doubt there are plenty of Rays who would happily talk about there mother and a story about one of them would be fine. But this article just seems like an intrusion into Matt’s privacy that served no purpose other than to bash his mother. It was unnecessary and uncalled for, especially on Mother’s Day.

  4. Ken says:

    ■”The Rays justify their complaining against the umpires… I’d compare it to BJ Upton’s constant complaining about strikes. He was sometimes right, but often wrong”.. I disagree with that comment….The Rays have only complained once about strikes and that is when Ben was called out to end a game. The ump later admitted that he was wrong. All the other complaints by the Rays have been with plays in the field. AND everyone of those plays when shown on instant replay showed that the Rays were correct in complaining because the ump did in fact make the wrong call. So I don’t believe the ump’s should have it out for the Rays. They have not been complaining just for the sake of making a scene.

    • Cork Gaines says:

      Thhat was actually the point I was trying to make, I just didn’t word it very well. I was just trying to say that the umps only have it out for you if you are often wrong, as in BJ. The Rays havent been wrong.

    • Gus says:

      Price was arguing strike zone with the home plate ump in Chicago, no?

      • Mr. Smith 1980 says:

        No. The ump argued with Price about the strike zone. Big difference.

        • Gus says:

          Not correct. “Price accused Hallion of swearing at him in the seventh inning after the ace left-hander showed frustration on the mound in reaction to a pitch he thought the umpire had missed.”

          http://espn.go.com/mlb/story/_/id/9234846/mlb-fines-tampa-bay-rays-david-price-matt-moore-jeremy-hellickson-umpire-tom-hallion-sources-say

          My point to Ken was that it was a ball-strike dispute and the Rays were hot about his strike zone there. Other than it is not his habit, Price carrying on while on the mound (and while walking off after the 3rd out) in Chicago was no different that an “Upton face” standing in the box after being called out on strikes. Both are bad form and won’t help you in the long run.

          • Mr.Smith 1980 says:

            You may say I’m splitting hairs, but Upton initiates all of those face-offs, whereas Price was walking off the field while obviously frustrated and did not engage the ump. The ump didn’t appreciate his body language and decided to initiate the confrontation- it’s two sides of the same coin, but the sides are very different.

    • Dave L says:

      Its all relative. San Diego was arguing strike zone all series against us.

      I think sometimes we get tunnel vision and think we argue more than most.

      We don’t.

      This year we got screwed more than most on some biggies. Which were recognized and repeated in the national baseball and sports press in general.

      The Zobrist phantom K, the Sean plate swipe and the ball off the knee that missed the knee by a mile were all noticed by every talking sports head in ESPN and MLB.

      I think there are zero repurcussions from the Umps. Even if some do hate JoeMa or whoever they are balanced by the others guys they hate on the other teams heheheh. The earth revolves around the sun and MLB doesn’t revolve around the Rays.

  5. Don says:

    OK you “Now were happy fans” We’re .500 and rolling now…..enough with the SD, TOR,KC,COL…..Bos, NY Bal coming up…do they(Rays) maintain “happy”.500 baseball… or do those teams still have too much money for the Rays to compete….I need to know …..Hate I told you so’s…I told you so, look it up, that the Rays were a .500 team after the first two series BAL, CLE…Beat the weak lose to better teams…but be happy… the “we’re satisfied days” are here…….again…..

    • Dave L says:

      Hey Mr. Shadow GM of the Rays.

      Hows your criticisms looking now.

      1/5 of the way through the season ole Kepp is LAST in MLB in the following categories.

      OBP
      SLG
      OPS
      XBH

      And he has the lowest WAR as well. -1.4 thats the guy you wanted to sign to a 3 year $12M+ deal.

      Most guys can’t get to a -1.4 because they get booted before it get that bad. He has ZERO walks in 125 plate appearences. How is that possible, no other qualified hitter has zero?? And only 2 extra base hits.

      Remember when you tried to goad me with well what about Luke (although I dont know the exact tie in as he is a DH)at 1/4 the $$ commitment. Someone pointed out correctly that although injured and not playing at least he wasn’t killling his team as Kepp was.

      Well guess what after only 8 games he has more RBI (8) than Kepp (7).

      Thats why Friedman is the best GM in MLB and your feeble attempts to criticize him make u look silly as and mean spirited as always

      • Don Jr. says:

        Dad what do all of those stats mean? Are they good?

        • Don says:

          Gotta ask old Dave…hes been trying to cover up Friedman Dumb ass moves since the time he let Hamilton go for $25,000,and the great signings fo Burrell and Pena,in spite of my costant warnings of Over the hill cast offs, But he was able to get rid of CC .300 lifetime hitter,not sign the best catcher since Johnny Bench,…I could go on and on but I’m tired of rehash Friedman mistakes….but he built a .500 team…..I just demand more…..but Avg is fine for some…. hey Dave

  6. Dave L says:

    I had forgotten about that Escobar admiring his double. I remember thinking ouch this isnt good. Getting the RBI was a good thing though, his 3rd in the last 2 nights.

    So far most of the Rays off season moves have paid off which is nice to see.

    • Mr. Smith 1980 says:

      One could argue that Loney (so far) has done enough all by himself to justify all the off-season moves.

  7. Dave L says:

    Since we have a day off here are my off season grades with 23% of the (regular) wink wink season in the books

    Additions:
    Loney – A+ #5 in OPS and #14 in WAR in the AL WOW
    Kelly Johnson – A Zobrist lite with a YTD 0.8 WAR to match Ben
    Escobar – C+ but a plus defender who has shored up our infield
    Fausto – B I would prefer a healthy Niemann but since he does not exist it was a wise move which ticks it up from a C+. And Archer struggling to get past the 6th inning in Durham this year could make it an ‘A’ by years end.

    Not Starting Will Myers with the Rays out of spring – A++ he needs some seasoning

    Losses:

    Cutting loose BJ and Kepp A++++ plus a huge savings.
    Pena – No brainer

    Trades:
    Shields for Myers – Incomplete – it was a move necessitated by financial considerations and cannot be judged until 2015 and beyond

    WD for Odorizzi et al. – Incomplete — Wade is what we knew he was. A great bullpen guy or a 5th starter on a mediocre rotation with no other options. He’s still a bullpen taxer averaging barely 5 innings per game with an ERA trending up at 5.86. Ororizzi looks good so far our best SP arm along with Torres in Durham this year.

    Overall it was sacrificing 2013 for the future and anyone who thought otherwise was kidding themselves.

    The 2013 edition has much better offense and much better defense over 2012. Longo is a solid MVP candidate with a 2.2 WAR tied with Machado and just behind Kinsler in the AL for all position players.

    The huge deficit is in usually reliable pitchers namely Price, Helli, Jake and Rodney. That wont last.

    2013 looks bright to me going forward.

    • Mr.Smith 1980 says:

      What was it about those moves that has you convinced they were “sacrificing 2013 for he future”?????

      • Dave L says:

        Shields/Wade will obviously produce in 2013 for the Royals. They would have produced mightily for the Rays this season as starter and reliever.

        Myers/Odorizzi may make only a whimper at the MLB level in 2013. Im ok with that if they are restocking the cupboard for the future.

        I want a very productive Myers 2015 to 2025. And an Odorizzi to make the rotation 2014 to 2015 and be solid. At a fraction of the 2013-2015 cost of Shields/Davis.

        • Don says:

          Well at least you got all the “costs” figured out, Stuie would be proud of you Friedman Jr…..A dollar saved ole Stuie makes everything OK

        • Mr.Smith 1980 says:

          I get the concept of instant return versus futures, but these decisions were far from stripping down and “sacrificing” this season.
          I would say that a more realistic take on this would be to say that they supplemented inevitable loss with extremely equitable return. ROI greatly outweighs the investment itself and has come without throwing away the present- the Rays have a roster with several offensive holes that are supplemented by well above average pitching. They are capable of competing in a 7 game series against every other team in baseball- that means that by no means have they sacrificed this season for future success- they have poised themselves for current and future success (albeit success is a relative term).

          • Dave L says:

            Its a simple formula.

            Jackson, Kaz, Garza, and Now Sheilds/WD were all guys that would produce more immediately following the trade season than their trade compensation we get in return.

            The factors were

            -huge financial payroll savings

            - did we have suitable less costly replacements available in the interim to cover thier loss in pitching.

            - our payoff would be in the later years

            Since our overall pitching has steadily improved until the peak of 2012 the first answer is a definite yes.

            The second part is still not answered. yet. That is the crux of the biscuit as we haven’t won a championship.

          • Mr.Smith 1980 says:

            Success cannot be measured in championships alone.

            Of the pitchers you listed only Jackson showed immediate, season-long results (of course Shields looks as if he’ll do fine, but there’s a lot of season left), but Jackson has been bounced all around the league and has not replicated his “success”. Kaz was such a basket case that he was practically out of baseball, and Garza has only done marginally well– to say that their value during the season after was better than the return value isn’t accurate. The replacement players have consistently filled and/or exceeded their predecessors shoes…

            Not only have they found the huge financial savings that their budget requires, but they’ve put together pennant-worthy teams with the players they’ve acquired and/or homegrown talent.

            The point remains the same- the moves have never been lateral and have most definitely never implied that they were sacrificing the now for the later.

      • Dave L says:

        In 2009 Edwin Jackson pitched 200+ innings of 3.62 ERA ball for the Tigers. Matt Joyce appeared in 37 games and had 7 RBI

        It was a move for the future and to save $$$, and he was replaceable.

        In late season 2009 Kaz was traded for Alex Torres and some other pawns who did zero that year and next . Kaz laid an egg in 2009 but they Rays have seen no fruits yet although as I keep repeating Torres is almost ready.

        It was a move for the future and to save $$$, and he was replaceable

        In 2011 Garza pitched 200 innings of 3.32 ERA ball for the Cubs. We got Archer, Guyer, Chirinos, Hak-Ju Lee and Fuld who did what in 2011 for the Rays?

        It was a move for the future and to save $$$, and he was replaceable

        Lather, rinse, repeat. Not once did the corresponding players match the next years production. Not even 1 was a lateral move. All were 1 step backward to get better overall later. Its all for the future.

        The 2013 move was 2 steps back to get hopefully 4 steps forward in the future.

        • Mr. Smith 1980 says:

          Your points are valid (although, the Kaz argument works against your point).

          What my point in countering your original point was focused on was your stating that the moves sacrificed the following year in order to set-up for the future. That is inaccurate. They made moves that improved their future, but did so without sacrificing the present in all instances.

        • Beth says:

          I see your point, but I don’t think Kazmir fits. Scott Kazmir did OK for the balance of 2009, but he was pretty lousy in 2010 (which counts if you are looking at the year following the trade) with just 150 innings and an ERA just shy of 6 .

          And also they got S-Rod in addition to Torres.

          • Dave L says:

            Yeah I stand corrected Beth. But my original point was that in all of the previous trades, the guys we got in return did next to nothing for the Rays their first season, compared to what our pitchers did for them. They got instant gratification. just as The ex KC players may do nothing for us in 2013. And what Im saying is thats OK.

            That was the ‘sacrifice’ of the first year following.

            Sean was the exception you are right he played and had his most productive year for us with a 3.6 WAR in 2010

  8. sidearmjustice says:

    Yup, Escobar was dogging it. This is not surprising and I am sure Joe Maddon was watching and has noticed. Escobar has a nice glove and strong arm at shortstop, but his bat has been weak and his body language at times comes off as ho-hum, which really bugs me. I wonder if the Rays could pry Freddy Galvis out of Philadelphia for Jeremy Hellickson when Chris Archer and/or Jake Orodizzi are ready for their permanent call-up(s)?

    • Mr. Smith 1980 says:

      Why? We have a SS with a proven statistical sample over the better part of a decade (better than your suggested replacement) and pitching is at a very high premium, especially in the case of young, experienced arms like Helli.

      Galvis .238/.274 in (250 games)
      Escobar .279/.350 in 8 years (800+ games)

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