James LoneyThe GBT – The Good, The Bad and The Telling sandwich, where The Bad is nice and lean and the The Telling is ripe.

RAYS 8, Rockies 3 (boxscore)

THE GOOD: Rays Way. The Rays won 2 of 3 this weekend. I had to go back and check to make sure I wasn’t misremembering. Because it was an ugly 3 games and it felt like the Rays didn’t play well in any of them. But sure enough, they won the series, which is just typical Rays…James Loney. Despite starting just 21 of 30 games, Loney now has 33 hits. Those 33 hits rank 23rd in the AL. His seven 3-hit games are tops in baseball. And his .398 batting average would lead all of MLB if he had enough plate appearances. Miguel Cabrera (.385) is the current leader…Jake McGee. This is what Jake McGee should be now. Until he reestablishes another pitch, he is a 1 or 2 batter specialist to bridge the gap between the starting pitcher and Joel Peralta in the 8th inning. And the key is that the starting pitcher needs to at least get into the 7th inning.

THE BAD: David Price. The 9 earned runs he allowed on Saturday were the second most of his career. In 2009, he gave up 10 runs to the Phillies. But on that night, only 5 were earned. His 9 earned runs were the most in his career, eclipsing the 8 earned runs he gave up way back on April 7th of this year…Yunel Escobar. When he was hit on the wrist, there was an immediate fear that he had broken a bone and would be out a long time. That fear was based mostly on the idea that the Rays do not have a true backup shortstop. Sure Ben Zobrist can play shortstop. And while he won’t make a ton of mistakes, he also doesn’t have the quickness to be a very good shortstop. And when Zobrist has to move, that just opens a hole someplace else. Behind Zobrist is Sean Rodriguez (no thanks) and Tim Beckham, whom the Rays moved to second base, which shows you what they think of his shortstop skills. And then there’s the idea that we were worried about losing a player hitting .174 with a .237 OBP. Of the 99 players in the AL with enough ABs to qualify, Escobar ranks 92nd. And his .233 wOBA ranks 94th. If Hak-Ju Lee wasn’t injured would we have been as scared?

THE TELLING: Shelley Duncan cleared waivers and has accepted his assignment to triple-A…On Thursday, David Price will go head-to-head with RA Dickey. It will be just the 3rd time reigning Cy Young winners faced each other…The home run by Josh Rutledge (who also happens to be Laura McKeeman’s boyfriend) was the first hit off of Matt Moore by somebody hitting 6th, 7th, or 8th. Those 3 spots were previously 0-33…Sunday’s game was the first multi-error game of the season…The Rays are 14-16, 5.5 games behind the Red Sox. Most frustrating aspect of that is that the Rays have held a lead in 25 of their 30 games.

THE JUNKYARD DOGS WEBTOPIA

  • Watching Durham Bulls Baseball writes about the no-hitter thrown by the Bulls yesterday. [WDBB]
  • They also noticed that former Rays outfielder Fernando Perez is now playing with the Sugarland Skeeters. That’s the same independent club that Scott Kazmir and Roger Clemens recently played for. [WDBB]
  • Has James Loney just been lucky or has he changed his approach at the plate and finally realized his potential? [Fangraphs.com]
  • BJ Upton’s .154 batting average is dead last in the NL, among 86 players with enough plate appearances to qualify. But hey, the Braves are encouraged by one opposite field double (where have I seen that 50 times before?). [AJC.com]
  • This article makes it sound like Tyler Goeddel, the Rays’ first-round pick in 2012, is being groomed to be the next Ben Zobrist. [MiLB.com]
  • Here’s a video of Evan Longoria talking about the “Tampa’s Got Wings” program. [YouTube]
  • Derek Dietrich, the player the Rays traded for Yunel Escobar, is off to a good start in the Marlins organization. [FishStripes]
  • “Nudging” Josh Freeman in 2013. [JoeBucsFan]

DOWN ON THE FARM

DURHAM 2, Pawtucket 1. Four pitchers combined on a no-hitter, led by Jake Odorizzi who allowed only 4 walks in 7 innings. He struck out 3…Wil Myers was 1-3 with a double and a walk.

Pensacola 8, MONTGOMERY 2. Mikie Mahtook went 1-3 with an RBI. He’s hitting .248.

Brevard County 10, CHARLOTTE 2. DH Alejandro Segovia hit his 6th home run of the year. He also struck out 3 times…Drew Vettleson was 1-4 and is hitting .216 while Richie Shaffer went 0-4 and is hitting .220.

Clinton 5, BOWLING GREEN 2. Taylor Guerrieri allowed 2 runs on 8 hits with 4 strikeouts in 5 innings. His ERA is now 2.45…3B Tyler Goeddel went 0-4 and committed his 9th error of the season. Not a good day after the story above came out.

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9 Comments

  1. JN says:

    So glad BJ is the Braves problem now. Got so tired of waiting for him to “get hot” or play to his potential.

  2. crazy says:

    What’s up with Price? Bad pitch selection? Fastball command? Over thinking? Or is he just a victim of better preparation and adjustments by the hitters he’s facing?

  3. Gus says:

    1. Loney’s treatment by the Rays is worthy of mention, and is reminiscent of 2007 Pena. Despite being a wreck at the plate the last couple of years, he is now the leading hitter in the AL. They seem to have rebuilt his approach, going the other way more and be shielding him from lefites, they’ve rebuilt his confidence, which may be even more important. Despite being a Coors Field assassin, they shielded him from a lefty Friday night, and he raked over the weekend.

    He’ll revert to the mean quite a bit, for sure, but he is already a nice upgrade over 1B the last two years. I was skeptical there. Didn’t think they could do it.

    2. Zobrist at SS is the answer for this team, if/when you get Myers/Guyer/Anderson in the OF. They you platoon Johnson/Roberts at 2b and that is a nice lineup (except for catcher, of course). They seem to be ceding at bats with BOTH Escobar and the Catching Twins in the lineup. Can’t win a world series game in an NL stadium with 3 automatic outs at the bottom of your order.

    3. When young prospects make it into the bigs, the Rays seem to be (a) ill-prepared or (b) just stubborn when it comes to approaching the “young bloods” as Uncle Drew might say. They had no plan for Arrenado all weekend, who might have had the greatest 1-4 night ever Saturday night, as he smoked lasers all over the park before the grand slam. I feel like the same thing happened with Macado last year, and several others (as well as young pitchers, who confound the Rays regularly). Without MLB scouting data, they seem hopeless. Somebody needs to throw an intern on that project, because it cost them any chance of the game Saturday (when his HR off of Price seemned all but inevitable given his prior ABs), and could have cost them Friday and Sunday as well.

    • Mr. Smith 1980 says:

      1. Good points about Loney. I was unhappy with the decision to protect him Friday, but Sat and Sun paid off. He will definitely return to a more realistic average, but .260-.280 isn’t a stretch of the imagination now, by any means (pun intended).

      2. Zobrist IS NOT the answer at SS, no way. He is a serviceable replacement at SS, but is at his most valuable as a versatile player who can fill any void if need be. Locking him in to one position is diminishing his overall value.

      2b. I don’t think Anderson will get his shot, and Guyer has not done anything to prove that he’s more than AAAA at this point (although, I’ve not lost hope quite yet).

      3. I don’t think a sense of unfamiliarity has a lot do do with struggles against Muchado and Arenado- I think Arenado and Muchado being quality big-leaguers is what has caused the Rays (and everyone else) problems.

      • Gus says:

        What defensive basis are you saying Zobrist is an inadequate SS? The most valuable thing he could do would be to get Escobar out of the line-up and free up an OF spot for someone who can hit above the Escobar-lline (.170). Zobrist at SS is still a very good SS. Myers or whoever gets the first call from Durham is a huge upgrade there. Esobar can be a late-inning defensive replacement and back-up. But he is not looking like a starter.

        Flexability for flexability’s sake is no badge of honor. In fact, Zobrist constantly changing positions mid-game and game to game was one of the reasons I think he was a little down at 2b last year. Finishing the season with Zobrist at SS was the best thing that happened to this team. With a healthy Longoria at 3b, SS with Zobrist is plenty good for this team, even if it doesn’t make Maddon look so smart with all of his poistion switching.

        • Mr. Smith 1980 says:

          As I said, Zobrist is a fine fill-in at SS, but to stick him there as the QB of the infield is fool hearty. His natural abilities allow him to be a serviceable player anywhere on the field, but his range and lateral speed do not lend themselves to the requirements of a SS. You are a well-spoken, well-informed individual and should know that to dismiss Escobar on a sample of 28 games is not a good idea, especially when you’re connecting his offensive skill-set to his defensive. Just as Loney will fall back to earth, career numbers show us that Escobar will inevitably improve at the plate. His swing isn’t irreparably damaged and one can only assume he will even-out somewhere closer to his lifetime BA and OBP of .279 and .350.

          I have a hard time believing that at the ripe old age of 24 that he’s suddenly forgotten how to maintain a very respectable average of nearly .280… to put it into perspective, everyone’s hero, Evan Longoria, has a career BA of .002 LESS than Escobar and his OBP is only .011 higher than Yunel’s.

          Back to Zobrist, Ben’s value lies primarily in his versatility and anchoring him down to one position is a net loss for the team.

  4. Gus says:

    Escobar is 30, not 24. He was terrible in the field pre injury. A disaster tonight. Cubans don’t always make it in the states after defection. He was given a job he didn’t earn. Zobrist was the starter at the end of last season. He shouldn’t have been replaced by a washed up hot dog.

    He will never equal those offensive numbers in the trop.

    • Mr. Smith 1980 says:

      Yeah, oops on the age thing, but even after a disastrous night last night I still stand by my initial reasoning.

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