Orioles Rays Baseball

Time to bring back 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: Matt Garza. Strange day for The Garza Complex. Only 4 hits in 8 innings, but 2 of those were home runs to guys that entered the game with 3 total…Old Fashioned CC Run. Carl Crawford singled in the first. He then stole second, moved to third when the catcher’s throw went into center and then scored when Adam Jones’ throw went in the dugout…Pena’s Glove Is Golden Again. A line drive double play to Carlos Pena ended the first and then he picked an errant throw from Jason Bartlett out of the dirt to end the second…Bossman and Navi. They were only a combined 3-7, but that was about 3 more hits than they have been getting in most games…MVP! MVP! MVP! Evan Longoria hit his league leading 13th double and drove in 3. He also leads the league with 34 RBI.

THE BAD: No Batting Practice. The Rays did not take BP prior to the game and it showed. Carl Crawford’s first inning single was the only baserunner allowed by Koji Uehara in the first 5 innings in which he only needed 51 pitches…Not back yet. BJ Upton struck out in the 6th with the bases loaded and nobody out. A situation in which any contact would have scored a run with the D playing back.

THE TELLING: Gabe Kapler got a rare start in right field against a right-handed starter…Dioner Navarro was back behind the plate with Matt Garza on the mound despite Garza’s well-documented performances without Navi on the other end of his pitches.

SUNBURST PLAYER OF THE GAME: Evan Longoria. This was a tough call between Longo and Matt Garza, but the home runs given up to light hitters tipped this in favor of the leading candidate for the AL MVP award.


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  • If you missed it yesterday, we started tracking the 2009 attendance. [Rays Index]
  • Evan Longoria was named the AL player of the month. [The Heater]
  • Carl Crawford is taking a bigger lead off first base this season and Joe Maddon says he is going to use Troy Percival in more situations like yesterday. That is 1 out saves. So while Mo Rivera and Jonathon Papelbon can get 4 and 5 out saves, Maddon’s guy can’t even be trusted with 3-out saves. [St. Pete Times]
  • John Romano writes that yesterday’s game was vindication for Joe Maddon for sticking with BJ Upton and Dioner Navarro…We never advocated their removals (Upton from the leadoff spot and Navi from the lineup) but we also need to see more than one game before we declare them “healed.” [St. Pete Times]
  • Fangraphs thinks Evan Longoria Scott Kazmir is broken. [Fangraphs]
  • The Yankees placed Jorge Posada on the DL and called up Francisco Cervelli. If that name is familiar it is because that is the catcher that Elliot Johnson plowed through in spring training last year that led to the Shelley Duncan spike-high slide on Aki Iwamura that led to Jonny Gomes going caveman. [ESPN]
  • The columnists at the St. Pete Times are finally using video for good. John Romano discusses whether Carl Crawford can steal 100 bases. [The Heater]
  • The Rays Party says Grant Balfour has not been as bad the numbers indicate. [The Rays Party]
  • Rays the Stakes puts the Rays involved in Sundays fan-related incident on notice. [Rays the Stakes]




  1. Michael says:

    One small correction: FanGraphs thinks Scott Kazmir is broken, not Evan Longoria. Longo is pretty far from broken.

  2. Rayhawk says:

    Question, can we get papa Joe to switch Aki and Bossman for say a week?? I think that would be good for both..

  3. TheRevTy says:

    I believe you mean 'FanGraphs thinks Scott Kazmir is broken'.

  4. Dirtbag Fan says:

    Is the Kapler start in RF "telling" because you think they're showcasing him?

    • I'm not sure yet, but that is certainly possible. Matt Joyce sure looks ready in Durham. But I would think the Rays would rather deal Gross because Kapler can play more positions. At this point it is just something to keep an eye on.

      • Dirtbag Fan says:

        But Gross is a better RF-er. They've got Zobrist for versatility for now and Perez later if need be... you're right, we'll have to keep our eyes on it for sure.

      • Joe D. says:

        I think Maddon's reasoning behind the Kapler start was Uehara's splits favor righty hitters. I think coming in to yesterday Uehara was pitching with an ERA of something like 5.8ERA Vs. righty's and something like 3.4 ERA Vs. Lefty's.

  5. bobrittner says:

    "Dioner Navarro was back behind the plate with Matt Garza on the mound despite Garza’s well-documented performances without Navi on the other end of his pitches."
    I don't think it is all that well-documented or clear cut. This year, prior to yesterday's game, he had only pitched to Navarro once and did very well:
    7IP, 5H, 2R, 2BBs, 9Ks

    He had pitched to Hernandez 3 times and while one was the brilliant near no-hitter, the other two times he was mediocre at best going just 5.2 innings each time and allowing 7 runs once and 4 the other time while walking 5 and 4 respectively. His one game with Riggans was excellent.

    Last year, while he generally pitched well to Riggans, and I think usually had more Ks in those games, the sample size is not just small but inconclusive. I count 6 games with Navarro that were excellent, all more than 7 innings and only once giving up as many as 2 runs and 5 times no earned runs. I also count 2 Riggans games and 1 Hernandez game that were poor or mediocre, although as I said quite a few of the Riggans starts were outstanding.

    It seems to me the apparent differences are more a matter of remembering a few special games, more likely a random variation rather than an indication that Garza pitches better to catchers other than Navarro.

    • I don't have the exact numbers but during the previous start the broadcast crew gave us the split with and without Navi. At the time his ERA with the Rays was over a run higher with Navarro behind the plate as compared to anybody else.

      • bobrittner says:

        I think that is true, but again, it is still not much of a sample, especially as Riggans had so few total starts, and if you check game by game the pattern is less clear. He had quite a few poor starts with Navarro but also some really excellent ones, and while the bulk of his starts with Riggans were very good, there were some clinkers there too.

        I am simply quibbling over the phrase "well-documented" and the implication that there is a reasonable certainty that he works better with other catchers. I think he may, but find the documentation still skimpy and the conclusion premature.

        To be specific, last year Riggans started 9 games with Garza pitching. The results were excellent, no doubt. In 4 of those games, Garza was brilliant and in 2 more he was excellent. There were three in which he was either mediocre or rather poor. Do you consider that sample adequate to label the conclusion to be based on well documented performances, or is it simply suggestive at this point, especially as he had at least 6 brilliant performances with Navarro in admittedly quite a few more starts?

        • Joe D. says:

          Okay, I looked up the numbers for you. Riggans caught 9 Garza Games last year 63 Innings, and Garza gave up 17 ER, for an ERA of 2.43, Hernandez caught one game for 5 Garza innings pitched and Garza gave up 3 ER. Those were the only 2 catchers other than Navi to catch Garza, (I didn't find any games that DiFelice caught Garza) so that's 10 Games 68 Innings 20ER, an ERA of 2.65.

          The other 116.2 IP, in 20 games, By Garza were caught by Navi and Garza gave up 56 ER. That's an ERA of 4.32.

          Let also not forget that even though they say they are "Brothers" Garza and Navi have been in an in game fight too.

          I see no reason why Navi should be catching Garza.

          • bobrittner says:

            But Joe D., that is exactly my point, absent the conclusion. You are drawing a conclusion based on a 9 game sample in one case and a 20 game sample in the other. Such evidence is virtually meaningless.

            What the game by game stats show, stats that are also virtually meaningless of course, is that Navarro was perfectly capable of catching Garza's brilliant starts while occasionally Riggans caught a stinker. The pattern is neither convincing enough nor based on enough data to say anything more than it suggests that Garza may do better with another catcher.

            The reason that Navarro should be catching Garza is that he is the superior player to Riggans and the regular catcher, but if Maddon thinks it advisable that he rest Dioner during some of Garza's starts, I doubt anyone can complain. Nonetheless that is no reason to assume that Navarro should not resume catching Garza in the future or that he should not simply catch him regularly with others relieving him based on some factor other than Garza's starts.

          • Joe D. says:

            I agree with you to an extent. I agree that numbers a skewed in small sampling but I would argue that 9-10 games, out of 30, and 63-68 IP out of 184 2/3 is a fairly significant portion, it's 1/3 (or slightly more if we're going by IP-- possibly more evidence that Garza does better with out Navi).

            Now, the numbers that I used were just 2008 numbers, I could go back and take into account his MIN days, that would fall under the blanket of "Games not caught by Navi", but those were partial seasons, and they were also part of his "rookie" ML campaign, those I think could skew the numbers even more, as well as taking into account this years numbers, I also don't think that would be too fair of an assessment, because we are once again taking in small sample size of data. There are also playoff inning that I didn't take into account, I didn't check, but I doubt that anyone other then Navi caught him in those games, and those were some good games, but there is a whole slue of reasons those numbers can be skewed, once again small sample size, extra rest, but in general Garza was dominate and Navi did catch for him in the playoffs.

            That kind of just leaves us with his one full ML season in 2008. and those 30 starts, 20 caught by Navi that weren't as good as the 9 caught by Riggans, and what ever we can make of the one caught by Hernandez.

            This isn't some dis to Navi, he's an all star catcher, it just seems to be that Garza works better with someone else behind the dish.

  6. bobrittner says:

    "but I would argue that 9-10 games, out of 30, and 63-68 IP out of 184 2/3 is a fairly significant portion, it’s 1/3 (or slightly more if we’re going by IP–"

    Yes, a decent proportion but not a large sample to start, kind of like saying that 8 of 10 games would be a sizable proportion. And thank you for mentioning the playoffs which I had not thought about. As you point out, they also indicate that he had no particular trouble with Navarro although as you correctly note it remains too small a sample from which to draw any conclusions.

    In any case, I think we agree that while there is some provocative evidence that Garza works better with Riggans than with Navarro, it is far from conclusive or even convincing at this point, and my only quarrel was with the initial statement. and particularly its implication, that there has been "well-documented performances" of Garza without Navarro.

    Incidentally, the reason I focus on what appears to be minutae is that too often such off-hand remarks enter the realm of fact. It is quite common for nonsense such as "A-Rod does not hit in the clutch" or "Bonds's records are tainted because they were fueled by steroids" to become articles of faith, or even worse, simply accepted facts rather than either speculation or provably inaccurate. We saw this last year with the silly stories about Upton being a lazy ballplayer or the linking of Upton with the supposed bad guys Young and Dukes, when exactly the opposite was true.

  7. Joe D. says:

    I won't even touch the last paragraph...

    I think we might be agreeing more then disagreeing here. Another thing to consider would be Navi's offense Vs. back-up Catcher's offense. But, and here's a rebuttal, and I have a pretty good idea of where you might stand on this too... if a minor leaguer pitches 68 innings of 2.65 ERA baseball for a season he's a top prospect, if another pitches 116.2 innings with 4.32 ERA he's a mid level prospect.

  8. bobrittner says:

    "if a minor leaguer pitches 68 innings of 2.65 ERA baseball for a season he’s a top prospect, if another pitches 116.2 innings with 4.32 ERA he’s a mid level prospect."

    Not necessarily. Aside from such factors as age, level and so on, prospect evaluators would look at a lot of other issues such as K/BB rates and scouting reports on stuff. In any case, while this is not an exactly analogous situation, here are two lines:

    A: In AA, in 107.2IP has a 3.85 ERA with a BB/9 rate of 3.5 and a K rate of
    6.8. His WHIP is 1.36. He is 22

    B: In AAA, in 161IP has a 3.86 ERA with a BB/9 rate of 2 and a K rate of
    7.9. His WHIP is 1.24. He is 24.

    Are they considered about equal prospects? Or is A or B considered a significantly better prospect? Is either a top prospect?

    The answer is that A is Wade Davis and B is Mitch Talbot, and I think it clear that Davis is considered a top prospect and Talbot is not. Despite his mediocre numbers at AA, Davis was promoted to AAA mid-year while Talbot only got to TB when the rosters filled out in September.

    • Joe D. says:

      Taking this back to the Garza situation, we are talking about the same guy, same "stuff" for the most part, also for the most part same talent level faced (MLB), the major difference is that in situation A, he's throwing to Riggans, situation B he's throwing to Navi.

      I like the breakdown of Talbot and Davis though, and the comparing of the numbers. I actually like Talbot's numbers better, I'd give the .01 ERA for the BB, K, and WHIP numbers, I could be interesting to see a breakdown on how the Durham staff did last year pitching to a guy like DiFelice, who Maddon praised as "it's like having another coach" (something to that effect) Vs Jaso, and Gimenez. (another can of worms)

      I'm guessing Talbot may have benefited last year from throwing to DiFelice (aka the real life Crash Davis).

      • bobrittner says:

        I did stray from the Garza situation to address a tangent suggested in your earlier reply. So we come back to the judgment about whether a 30 game sample with a 20 (Navarro) to 9 (Riggans) to 1 (Hernandez) split is adequate to do more than speculate about cause/effect. In my view it is not, and particularly since, although the gross figures show a significant difference, a game by game analysis indicates a much less clear pattern.

        As a matter of fact, when Davis moved up to Durham he did much better (and interestingly both he and Price are struggling a bit there this year with Jaso usually behind the plate). I have seen but do not remember the results of studies that assess the impact of catchers on pitchers' performances. I know there is a catcher ERA stat. But I am not sure that the investigators have been willing to make any definite conclusions yet.

        In any case, while catchers may make a difference to pitcher success, and I am guessing they do, I see little evidence that Navarro is less capable of assisting Garza than Riggans or Hernandez is. Garza threw enough brilliant games with him to indicate there is no particular problem and the gross figures that indicate a difference are likely more random than a case of cause/effect.


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