[Update: 7:05pm] The White Sox have set their rotation. After game 1 starter Javier Vazquez, the Sox will go with Mark Buehrle in game 2, John Danks in game 3 and Gavin Floyd in game 4, if necessary. Also, Carlos Quentin has been left off the White Sox roster.

[Update: 5:47pm] Marc Topkin has the Rays roster for the ALDS. No surprises. With no Percival and only 10 pitchers, both Fernando Perez and Eric Hinske are in, as is David Price.


  • Troy Percival is telling the press that he thinks he is not on the roster for the ALDS…This likely means that David Price is in and that both Fernando Perez and Eric Hinske will be on the bench. [Rays Report]
  • Joe Maddon is just about set with the game 1 lineup. The only question is whether Carl Crawford will bat 5th or 6th. [MLB]
  • The New York Roadkill’s writer over at Bugs and Cranks would rather see the Red Sox win the World Series than the Rays…Based on how well things are going for the Yankees these days, that should be enough to guarantee a world championship for the Rays. [Bugs and Cranks]

I absolutely can’t stomach the thought of a Rays World Series title. To some that sounds like a nice story — perennial floormat turned champion. Not me. The thought of having to put up with the pompous gloating of the Rays and their 12 fans if they do happen to win makes me ill. So, they top this list.

  • We all know that a batter can win a free steak if they hit the Bull at Burham Bulls Athletic Park (or a salad if they hit the grass), but did you know that a player won $25 if they hit the bull back in 1910 and that the original bull was a tobacco advertisement? [UNIWATCH]
  • Buster Olney lists Edwin Jackson as one of several young pitchers that could be available this off-season…Last month we mentioned that the Rays will almost certainly trade either Andy Sonnanstine or Jackson this winter. [ESPN]
  • The Brewers “Ain’t S#!t” compared to the Rays. [Bugs and Cranks]
  • Walkoff Walk has up a Tampa Bay Rays playoff preview. [Walkoff Walk]
  • 19 ESPN “experts”, and only 1 picked the Rays to win the World Series. [ESPN]


  1. Anonymous says:

    i am confused. there were so many people touting Howell for team MVP and yet nobody thinks he can close a game in the postseason?

  2. steve-o1285 says:

    New Yorkers can't stomach the potential gloating of Rays fans?


  3. Scot says:

    Why Joe Maddon is a better manager than most #32: Maddon uses his best reliever when its is most important - when the opposition has runner on base and are about to tie the game - not the 9th inning with no one one. So keep Balfour from closing!

    Why I don't understand Maddon, but maybe he has data I lack #17. Why does Maddon carry 4 lefties against the team which has only 1 lefty in the line up?

    Finally - maybe Maddon knows something or the trend is negative #12. In terms of likelihood a pitcher will win a start, Jackson was the Rays 2nd best starter after Kazmir. Actually everyone was pretty much the same except for Sonny - who was below average.

  4. Scot says:

    More data: According to Baseball Prospectus, the Rays probability of winning the division series is 52%, probability of winning the championship series is 25% and the World Series is 13%. The Cubs are the favorite of winning it all at 32% followed by the Red Sox at 19%, then the Rays. Why are the Rays so low against the White Sox? Because the ChiSox carry 2 left handed starters! If they make it past the ChiSox, they are more likely to face MLB's best team - the Red Sox. And then at that point, MLB's 2nd or 3rd best team - Cubs.

    So why the Cubs the favorites? Because they are one of the top 3 (with Red Sox and Rays) and they face pretty weak competition until they reach the World Series where they are most likely to meet the BoSox.

    So should the Rays reach the Championship series (about 50/50 at this point), things really don't get much better. If the Rays win it all - they truly deserve it.

  5. Robert Rittner says:

    Two points about Maddon's roster.

    First, only Miller is a loogy. Howell has to be on the roster because he has been so effective all year, and Price can get out both lefties and righties. Howell also has very little split vs. righties or lefties, so to consider him a lefty in the classic sense is meaningless.

    Second, Jackson has been pretty much the worst pitcher on the Rays while Sonnanstine has been among the best. There is practically no area in which Jackson was superior to Sonnanstine.

  6. Doug A. Milhoan says:

    Robert nails it, Price is sort of a wild card. Who knows, he could end up pitching in high leverage situations as the playoffs progress. Nice wild card to have.

  7. Scot says:

    Robert - I would argue it takes 2 to tango - the Sox hit lefties hence why include another lefty in Price?

    As for Jackson, the argument might be there is a trend of declining quality in Jackson's performance in the last couple weeks while Sonnanstine has risen, but if we look at the expected win percentage for starters (assuming a neutral offense) for the entire season:

    Kazmir 605
    Jackson 568
    Garza 561
    Shields 543
    Sonnanstine 496

    I will contend that the difference between 543 and 568 is negligible, however the top four were better than Sonny. There were several games that Jackson pitched this year where if he had been provided runs (or relief pitching), he would have won.

    Now let me argue against myself. 😎 If we compare pitchers as if each inning were equal, yes, Jackson fair runs allowed value (how many runs he should be charged given the number of hits/walks he surrendered) was worse than the others:

    Price 2.47 (based on 14 IP)
    Kazmir 3.78
    Shields 3.91
    Garza 4.25
    Jackson 4.67
    Sonnanstine 4.95

    As the Prof has pointed out, Jackson is a Dr. Jekyll / Mr. Hyde type - really good or really bad and when he went bad, they let him stay bad.

    So for Maddon, maybe it is an issue of risk - you are more likely to win with Jackson, but unless you pull him quickly, the game may get "out of hand" very quickly.

    IMO, in the end, Jackson out performed Sonny this year - at some point this season, even the Prof noted he might be the Rays best starter.

  8. Scot says:

    Given that game 2 and 3 will be started by lefties on the ChiSox, is tomorrow's game a must win for the Rays?

  9. Robert Rittner says:

    I think it is too rigid to worry about how many lefties a team has. The issue is which are the best 10 pitchers to keep, and right now, between Price and Percival I would take Price. I probably would take Miller over Percival too right now as his primary job would be to face Thome in a key situation.

    As for Sonnanstine vs. Jackson, I will not dispute your figures but point out that by every advanced metric I have seen Sonnanstine outpitched Jackson. While it may be impolitic to mention DRays Bay on this site, there has been a year long discussion there about this issue, and the progressive stats group has demonstrated over and over that Andy's performance has been significantly better than Edwin's.

    Sonnanstine strikes out more batters, walks a lot fewer and gave up fewer home runs in more innings. He pitches deeper into games, by a slight margin, but still more. According to BB-Ref, if you neutralize their stats, they look very similar to each other although Andy ends with a better WHIP. Edwin was nowhere near the Rays' second best starter; at best he was tied with Andy for the 4th best and more probably was 5th.

    There is also the possibility that Sonnanstine could be better suited to the bullpen if needed. I don't like him there, but think Jackson is particularly ill-suited to that role.

  10. DirtbagFan says:


    Did i see that you just called the Red Sox the best team in the league? (in your second post.)

    That comment makes every other point you make completely null and void.

    You can throw out all the stats you want to show why Jackson is good (which also discounts your actual baseball knowledge), but if you truly consider the BoSox the best team in baseball then your opinions are completely irrelevent... they're not even in the top 3- even if they manage to win the series.

  11. Scot says:

    Thanks Robert - I'll look at what they are discussing on Drays Bay. I'm not sure what advanced metric people are discussing, so it will be good to look at other interpretations.

    Sorry folks - the Red Sox are a better team than the Rays - they have the AL's largest run differential (151 vs. Rays 103). And because the AL is measurably superior to the NL (is the NL a AAAA league?) this makes the Red Sox the best in the business.

    A team's record is an estimate of the team's quality. In any given year, the margin of error between a team's record and their true value is around + or - 6 games. If they played a 1000 game season, the percentage error would decrease. The Sox have been unlucky this year and thus are underrated, while the Angels true value based upon offense and defense is closer to an 84-88 win season which make them completely overrated. Some teams recognize this and adjust (Athletics - knew last year they really were terrible) and some don't (Mariners last year were very lucky but thought they were a playoff team... did not work out.)

  12. DirtbagFan says:

    How can you use statistical analysis as the basis for your argument, ,and then turn around in the same sentence and say that the Sox were "unlucky"... stats people don't factor luck into determining the answer for their analysis...

    pick a side; stats-guy or reality guy...

  13. Robert Rittner says:

    No, Scot is correct, and stats people do account for luck. In fact, a major point of the stats argument is that in a macro sense the stats can give you a pretty good idea of what will happen, but in any smaller sample unexpected factors (such as luck) can alter the reality.

    In other words, should the 2008 season be played 1000s of times, we should expect the Red Sox to win the division more often than the Rays, but in any given season the Rays might well beat them out. This in no way demeans what the Rays have done. The Rays are a very good team and can take advantage of exceptional circumstances.

    For example, the Rays were a better team than the Yankees this year, yet NY won the season series. That in no way suggests the Yankees are better, just that in 18 games the poorer team might do better. In the same way, the better team might not win the division in a given season.

    People who criticize stats based analysis ordinarily do not understand it or oversimplify it or outright misinterpret what it does. In this case it is entirely possible to admit that the Red Sox are a better team while glorying in the fact that the Rays beat them both in the season series and for the division crown. In fact, it only enhances the achievement which is always sweeter when you beat the best. (I never understand why fans chant the opposition sucks when they should be praising the opposition for its excellence which we overcame.)

  14. DirtbagFan says:

    It is certainly not a case of me oversimplifying or misinterpreting anything.

    I clearly understand the concept of statistical analysis as well as statistical anamole, but the word "luck" does not belong anywhere near the conversation. There is no scientific/statistical determination for luck.

    You can calculate infinite variables an infinite number of times, and there will always be some variance- but the larger point is that the variance cannot be attributed to "luck". Something or some part of one (or more)of the variables somehow affected the outcome. It is a misnomer to call it "luck".

    Luck has no place in statitical analysis.

    I'm not viewing this as a "homer" who is convoluted enough to believe that "my" team is the best by default; I'm just simply stating that there is very little (if any) evidence to prove that the Red Sox are baseball's best team.

  15. Robert Rittner says:

    It isn't a question of luck being factored in. It is the recognition by statistical analysts that the stats are not absolutely reliable and that unquantifiable factors such as luck can make their projections uncertain.

    Unfortunately many people assume that because they use formulas and numbers that the analysts consider their projections and evaluations to be absolute. They don't. They recognize the uncertainty of even the most detailed of statistical analysis due to those "intangibles" that are not included in the formulas.

    But given a large enough sample, the metrics they use can be shown to be more accurate than other means of projection. So running through 10s of 1000s of seasons with the rosters of Boston and TB, it is pretty clear that Boston is the superior team. Perhaps X% of the time TB will win the division, but Boston will win X+% of the time and NY, Toronto and even Baltimore will win X-%.

    Actually, you don't even have to run through seasons on a computer to figure that out. Simply considering the rosters demonstrates pretty clearly that Boston has more talent. I cannot imagine anyone not recognizing that. TB is very good, and I think will get better. In fact, I think we may surpass Boston in the next few years no matter what they spend (although there is tremendous talent on deck there too), but right now our glory is that we beat them over 162 games.

  16. DirtbagFan says:

    Again, you are assuming that I believe the Rays are superior to the Sox... I never said that. I simply stated that I don't think the Sox are the best team in baseball.

    I never even alluded to the fact that TB was better.

  17. Robert Rittner says:

    If the Red Sox are not the best team in baseball, I cannot imagine who is. The only team with a better Pythagorean record is the Cubs, and given the superiority of the AL and particularly the AL East, I can't see that they really compete for that honor. I am pretty sure they had the biggest gap between runs scored and allowed in the majors, or at least in the AL.

    In your initial post you disagree first with Scot's view that Boston is the best team in the league but then change to "in baseball" claiming they are not even in the top 3. I cannot imagine what argument could be made that they are not among the best 3 teams in baseball, or for that matter, not the best team in baseball, and certainly the best team in the AL. Even if such an argument is possible, I think the following statement (referring to Scot's calling Boston the best team in the league) you make is wildly overstated:

    "That comment makes every other point you make completely null and void.

    ... but if you truly consider the BoSox the best team in baseball then your opinions are completely irrelevent... they're not even in the top 3- even if they manage to win the series."

    I would be willing to entertain discussion that disputes the view that Boston is the best AL or Major league team, but not with such a vehement assertion that defending it betokens irrelevant points.

  18. Scot says:

    Wow - this discuss has taken off.

    1) I can sympathize with your issue of my use of the "luck". I should probably use a more accurate word - possibly variance. But my point is that a team win-loss record is only a good approximation of a team's value/worth/quality. So I tend to interpret a variance below a team record that one would expect for a given set of data. Scoring runs and keeping the opposition from scoring means winning games. So given the Sox runs differential is greater than the Rays, the Sox are probably better. (But they may not be.8-) )

    2) Thanks Robert - you argued my point better I could have.


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