Rays Diary 7/26/12


Watched the Rays finally put together a few hits tonight and even hit a few home runs.  With Price’s excellent pitching, it was one of those rare “easy wins” for the Rays.  Yesterday’s victory was more the typical Rays win, a pitchers’ duel won by the heretofore “luckless” Heliickson.  It was shocking to see the Rays actually bunt late in the game which led to a welcome insurance run.  Unfortunately, in the team’s two close losses, both 2-1 affairs, I watched a bunch of players busting their tails through all of their adversity, playing for a management consortium that had almost completely lost the will to win.

Let’s face it, even without all of the injuries, the Rays are not a heavy hitting team.  Their philosophy of trying to walk instead of hitting, does not coincide with their overall managing style of late.  No, praying for two hits in a row to score a man from first is like praying for rain in the Sahara.  If it works, believe me, two hits in a row is a mere coincidence!  Reviewing the last five or six games, something that I do and Rays management does not seem to do, I have found at least a dozen runs left on the field merely from disdaining the “mandatory” bunt.  Men on 1st and second, no outs repeatedly followed by a double play.  What’s up?  No attempt to steal, no bunt, no hit and run.  Instead, praying for a .190 hitter, the manager for a rare hit, the fans for a strikeout instead of a double play!

Even more frustrating is the clear absence of a hitting coach.  Whether Mr. Shelton knows anything about hitting is, of course, a mystery to me.  From pieces of player interviews that i have heard, I would assume that hardly anyone listens to him anyway.  The fact that Carlos Pena usually fails to drop his left elbow “into the slot” before he swings (you are the only player in the history of the game to swing this way, Carlos) belies some severe psychological problems.  First of all, it shows that manager and coaches are not watching “films” of Carlos batting in games.  Second, it shows that whether or not Management’s worship of computer information is appropriate or not, they need to become familiar with the old accountant’s motto: “garbage in, garbage out.”  Apparently there is a lot of worthless garbage that has been put into their computers.  It’s a funny thing, Carlos, but when you drop that elbow down into the slot where it belongs, you’re able to hit the inside pitch and even stroke a ball to the opposite field!  On virtually every strikeout, you flail that left elbow up in the air.  That’s why you like to swing at outside pitches, but you stand so far off the plate that you’re always looking at those called strike threes on the outside corner of the plate.  Do you not want to become a major league hitter again or are you going to continue taking money for nothing?

Meanwhile, B.J., who finally cut down his backward swaying to a minimum by severely widening his stance, still keeps striking out on called strikes on the inside corner.  He’s standing too close to the plate, Mr. Shelton.  Don’t you watch the “films?”  I do.  And, maybe you could address Rodriguez’s “chicken strance,” the one that keeps him from using his body to hit anything except the inside pitch.  You know, the pitch he almost always pulls foul?  It’s only his super quick hands that are keeping him from being sent down to the minors.  The way to get players to listen to you Mr. Shelton, is to have the manager bench them if they don’t.  Otherwise, it shows that he doesn’t believe what you’re telling the players either.

One thing I can’t blame the higher management for, however, is the totally inappropriate lineups devised by Mr. Maddon.  It seems that the only competently conceived Rays lineups have been those suggested by the local Chamber of Commerce.  Carlos Pena is not a number two in any lineup, nor is Matsui a number four hitter!  If the leadoff hitter gets on base Carlos is almost always a strikeout.  If he walks, then he’s not a base stealer.  You don’t have your “slugger” bunting, the proper play.  Meanwhile you have B.J., Johnson, Zobrist, Jennings and Joyce, not to mention Keppinger.  They’re all half way decent hitters.  I think third grade little leaguer could figure out some combination of the first six players in your lineup.   Why can’t you?   He probably doesn’t have all those psychological problems referred to previously.

Al Finkelstein,  Very Frustrated, Never Say Die Fan  7/26/12