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: Mike Ekstrom. Ekstrom made one final case for the final bullpen spot by working 3 scoreless innings allowing just 1 hit and striking out 2…Evan Longoria. Dirtbag is peaking at the right time, hitting his 5th home run.

THE BAD: Pat Burrell. The Bat started in the outfield for the 11th (!) time this spring. Burrell says that last year he had trouble acclimating to the role of DH and all the down time. Isn’t that exactly what spring training should be for? Or have the Rays been showcasing Burrell to NL teams? Or maybe Joe Maddon thinks playing the outfield will help Burrell feel more comfortable at the plate and jumpstart his offense? We are just scared that this is more than “let’s give Burrell a few spring starts to appease him.

THE TELLING: With only 2 exhibition games remaining before the regular season starts, Joe Maddon had Ben Zobrist batting third, followed by Evan Longoria in the cleanup spot, Carlos Pena fifth and BJ Upton sixth. Look for this to be the opening day batting order…Matt Joyce was officially placed on the DL…The Rays finished with the best record in the Grapefruit League. In the last 13 years, the winner of the Grapefruit League finished the regular season with a median of 92 wins and an average of 88 wins.


  • Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette says the Rays may be discussing a trade with the Pirates for pitcher Virgil Vasquez. [Twitter]
  • Elliot Johnson has been removed from the 40-man roster and placed on waivers. No surprise here as he was out of minor league options. [The Heater]
  • Joe Maddon on Pat Burrell as an outfielder: “…he is mechanically a good outfielder. He just lacks overall foot speed. But he does a lot of other things well as an outfielder. So he has opened my eyes a bit with that.” [Tampa Tribune]
  • Now the mayors of Tampa, St. Pete and Clearwater are getting together to film a commercial to beg people to go to Rays games. [Tampa Tribune]
  • Five “pundits” and not one picks the Rays to make the playoffs. But Peter Gammons does pick BJ Upton to win the AL MVP award and Sean Rodriguez to win Rookie of the Year (see comments). [MLB]
  • Desmond Jennings will miss the start of the season. Jennings says he is “just not trying to rush it,” but that he is “feeling good.” [Biscuit Crumbs]
  • The Rays top Jon Heyman’s list of teams that “could surprise” this season. Could surprise? Most people consider the Rays one of the top 4 or 5 teams in baseball. What exactly would be surprising? []
  • The Rays are the top ranked organization in Baseball America’s list of talent rankings. [Rays Prospects]
  • Fangraphs also takes a look at the talent in the Rays organization. [Fangraphs]
  • RZ of DRaysBay compares Joaquin Benoit and Mike Ekstrom. [DRays Bay]
  • A Rays preview from Tom Korun featuring many Fennelyisms (one sentence paragraphs) (thanks Thad). [ABC Action News]
  • Hitting the Cutoff Man previews the Rays. [Hitting the Cutoff Man]
  • Will Kline will pitch in extended spring training to start the season. Kline, a 2nd round pick in 2007 hasn’t pitched the past 2 seasons. [Biscuit Crumbs]




  1. Charles says:

    Solution for his overall lack of footspeed:

    "Pat, everything in the area from the first outfield wall board slat in from the foul line over to the rightfield stands laterally, and from the wall to the bullpen mounds vertically is yours. Let BJ get everything else"

  2. Joel says:

    Three SI writers picked Wade Davis to win ROY, but two of them didn't pick Rays to make playoffs (other one had us winning it all). That sounded a little bit off to me, our 5th starter winning that award for a team that misses the playoffs.

    But a team scoring both ROY and MVP and still missing the playoffs? And the MVP being our 6th or 7th hitter? That's really off.

    • They (the writers) don't wait to face the wrath of Yankee and/or Red Sox fan. LOL.

      I'm telling you Red Sox fan, especially, is overrating that team. The lineup is very flawed without 2 big bats in the middle. This "run prevention" experiement may get them a few more games on the road, but it could cost them the same amount at Fenway. The Sox FO is getting away from what got them the rings: bringing in guys that will have success at Fenway. Oh well, their loss is our gain.

      • Yeah, it is going to be interesting to see what that team does. Not to mention the fans are used to a good hitting team and if the offense struggles at all the fans will get very unruly.

        Yes, having a good defensive team is better than a bad defense. But the difference between a good defense and a bad defense is not that much (statistically). If all else is equal, a good defense can be a difference maker, but it is not worth it if you are sacrificing a good chunk of offense.

        Defense is kinda like special teams in football. Yes it is one-third of the equation, but it is not an equal partner. You want a good special teams, but it would be silly for a football team to invest just as much time and money into the special teams at the expense if the O or D.

        • Joel says:

          In the Bill Simmons podcast with Jonah Keri, Simmons said last year's Red Sox were the most boring he'd ever ever seen. I don't think Red Sox Nation is suited to winning 2-1 games; but when the most recognizable moment in team history is a poor defensive play (sorry, Fisk), you'd think they'd be more receptive to run prevention.

      • Maybe I'm wrong, but I'm nearly as impressed with this Red Sox team as I have in past versions. The lineup just isn't as scary top to bottom as it was in past years. The Red Sox championship teams were built on dominating at Fenway. Notice how the Rays couldn't even sniff a win at Fenway until Manny was gone.

        Of course, a Red Sox fan told me the other day that the Rays were nothing but a "pimple on the ass" to Red Sox Nation. I have a feeling that pimple's going to turn into a big old infected puss-oozing boil this year.

  3. Charles says:

    Or, maybe my "mechanically good" they mean that Friedman et al. are implanting bionic legs into him.

  4. The enigma that is Pat the Bat!

    I think the extra outfield time was just to let Joe Maddon get more comfortable with PtB as his extra outfielder. Maddon loves options and having a DH that he's comfortable with playing OF in certain situations is definitely an option.

    For my money, I just want to see RBI's from PtB. I'm not going to stare at his homer total or average. I just want quality at-bats that lead to RBI's. That means no more striking out w/ RISP and less that 2 outs. Just put the ball in play, move the runner over, and don't even break a sweat on your way to first.

  5. MJ says:

    I was wondering the same thing about Burrell. Pat always made it sound like he would perform better at the plate if he was in the field too. I would guess that JoeMa thought putting him out there in the spring might jump start his bat for the season. That obviously hasn't happened. How far into the season do the Rays put up w/ this kinda performance before subbing in Joyce/Blalock/Aybar/my sister?

  6. SeanDubbs says:

    I noticed Gammons' pick of S-Rod for ROY, only problem is S-Rod isn't a rookie.

    • Too funny. Hadn't thought of that either but sure enough he is definitely NOT a rookie anymore.

      • Matt says:

        To be a rookie in the next season, you can't have more than 150 ab's and in 2008 Rodzilla had 167. I definitely believe Gammons is losing it.

    • MJ says:

      haha poor peter.

    • Michael says:

      Speaking of hilarious 'expert' predictions, I heard Bobby Valentine picked the Red Sox and Yankees as the AL East and Wild card winners then picked the Rays to win the World Series. Sure, I'd rather win the WS than either the division or a wild card, but.....


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