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Remember the old joke about the New Orleans Saints fan who was so disgusted with his team's play that he left two tickets on the dashboard of his car, hoping they'd be stolen? He returned an hour later to find his windshield smashed and four more Saints tickets lying there.

Well, it was a smashed-windshield sort of game yesterday afternoon in Tampa. If there was one game to miss this year, this was it.

Every loss has its scapegoat, and this one comes with two of those animals already gift-wrapped: lefty reliever Scott Schoeneweis, who failed to retire any of the left-handers he was brought in to face, and manager John Gibbons, who brought the portsider in to pitch for a third consecutive day. Yesterday's Game Thread contained plenty of missiles lobbed at these two:

Rob: "Schoeneweis pitching three days in a row? I wouldn't do that. If Gibby is going to use his lefty for the L-L matchup every night, the Jays need another one on the roster. And right on cue, Crawford tripled."

robertdudek: "Again, Gibbons is slow to get his relievers ready, so Schoeneweis has to face Huff."

But you know, blame is like peanut butter -- it's great fun to spread around. In that spirit, here are two other candidates for the goat horns today.

To begin with, in all the rush to torpedo the SS Loogy for his ineffectiveness, it should be noted that Justin Speier was responsible for the tying, go-ahead, go-further-ahead, and put-the-game-out-of-easy reach runs crossing the plate. After retiring Nick Green, Speier allowed an RBI single to Chris Singleton and a three-run dinger to Jorge Cantu, who's going to top a lot of most-added lists in fantasy baseball leagues today. So don't forget to raise Speier during the blamestorming session, and be sure to save some love for the Jays' young right fielder:

Elijah: "Rios made a poor decision to throw to third. It was not even that great of a throw and by the time the throw got to Koskie, Crawford was halfway between third and home. May not have made a difference but Alex still needs to grow more into the RF position. It'll still take some time."

BC Mike: "Not sure I like that squeeze call, especially since it appears Rios missed it. The third base coach and the batter need to make sure that the runner at third is at least watching the signs."

Every team talks about getting "the fundamentals" right, by which they mean, doing the bare minimum expected of big-league ballplayers: hitting the cutoff man, throwing to the right base, watching the coaches, knowing how many outs there are, etc. Alex Rios had himself a bad day on the fundamentals side of the ledger. He missed the cutoff man on the Crawford inside-the-parker and threw to the wrong base, dropped a flyball in the 7th to load the bases, and misread the drag bunt by Adams early in the match. Making one mistake in a game isn't serious, but making several, each showing a lack of judgment or attention, is a good way to get lectured about having your head in every game, including the April matinees in Tampa.

Elijah: "I'm glad that Gibbons tried to get to the bottom of the 9th by putting in Cat and worrying about defense later."

Yes, and this is a point worth making. When he pinch-hit Frank Catalanotto, Gibbons had no shortstops left on his bench. Nada. Not even the ghost of Manny Lee. But who cares? Get the tying run across the plate, and then worry later about how ugly the infield defence would look in a hypothetical bottom of the 9th. And really, you'd be in more trouble if you couldn't field a third baseman: the opposition would just keep dropping bunts down the line, and a team like the Rays, with speed to burn, could kill you that way.

So, altogether, not one for the highlight reels yesterday. But it seems like every team has one of these games in April, where everyone seems to have a collective sort of brain- and energy-fade. A midweek afternoon game in early April in a Florida dome on getaway day, with a home opener against the World Series champions next on the schedule, is a textbook example. That the Jays came as close to sweeping this series as they did is nonetheless an excellent sign (as was Josh Towers' solid starting performance), and sends a message from Toronto to Tampa: don't get your mail redirected from last place quite yet.

Some highlights from the wires:

Gabe Gross likely headed back to Syracuse -- it really is the best thing for him: he needs to play every day. Gross made it into the Opening Day lineup in the major leagues, and that should both please and further motivate him when he does go down. He won't be there long.

A bad start for star closers -- Mariano Rivera blew his second save in as many days against Boston, while Eric Gagne performed the rare feat of getting ejected from a ballgame while on the disabled list. So Schoeneweis and Speier shouldn't feel too bad.

Mariners release Ryan Anderson -- remember the Little Unit? A never-ending wave of injuries and surgeries ruined one of the most promising pitching prospects of all time. Dustin McGowan and Francisco Rosario are other abject lessons for Jays fans of the rule: never invest too much hope in a pitching prospect, because they're simply not reliable.

No choice? A detailed and sensitive report from Mike Ulmer on the life and tragic death of Doug Ault.

Rays 8, Jays 5: Smashed Windshield | 30 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
Andrew S - Thursday, April 07 2005 @ 09:06 AM EDT (#109779) #
I think the criticism with regards to the whole SS Loogy event, whether they be leveled at Gibbons, SS or whomever are knee jerk overreaction. One bad does not a season make. Changing your whole plan on one bad outing is what leads to Foulke for Koch type trades. SS Loogy has the endurance to be a starter, he may be able to pitch three days in a row, especially if its only a dozen pitches each outing and the usage shouldn't be changed based on one appearence. One game rarely tells us anything.
Mark - Thursday, April 07 2005 @ 09:25 AM EDT (#109780) #
Since these are the days of mlb tv I prefer to call yesterdays game a "smashed laptop" game. However, I liked Gibby taking some of the blame away from SS Loogy and Speier was excited to win the series, which I assume means he has a very short memory, which relievers need to have. Props to the Hobbit for a solid 6 innings.
timpinder - Thursday, April 07 2005 @ 09:43 AM EDT (#109781) #
It was a very disappointing 8th inning last night, but it is too early in the season to stress over it or to second guess Gibbon's decisions. I don't think you can read much into that series with Tampa anyway, the good or the bad. The Jays performance against Boston at home will be the real test. We'll see what kind of team they are against great hitting and solid pitching.
Mike Green - Thursday, April 07 2005 @ 09:47 AM EDT (#109782) #
Blame-casting seems to me to be a waste.

Alex Rios will get a stern lecture from Gibbons on the importance of focus, and hopefully Gibbons will fine tune his thinking on usage of Schoeneweis and the rest of the relief corps.

I've been impressed with Gibbons' managing overall. Adjusting usage of Schoeneweis marginally is simpler than getting away from the short stint problem that Tosca had the past 2 Aprils. I am confident that Gibbons will get it right.
Mick Doherty - Thursday, April 07 2005 @ 10:08 AM EDT (#109786) #
A bad start for star closers

Also Coco Cordero in Texas. With Foulke coughing up a loss the other day and former 50-save guy John Smoltz getting torched in his return to the rotation, there has to be some sort of analytical feature coming on Da Box addressing "The Death of the Closer" some time soon.

Named For Hank - Thursday, April 07 2005 @ 10:19 AM EDT (#109787) #
That Ault article is really depressing.

I agree, this weekend series against Boston will tell us a whole lot more about where the team stands. How close will the series have to be to be seen as a "success"? I mean, the general consensus is that the team is not going to compete this year (and in my foolish optimism I like to believe otherwise, but I'm unencumbered by actual baseball knowledge), so what will be considered a positive outcome? No blowouts? One win? Good performances by the rookies?
uglyone - Thursday, April 07 2005 @ 10:25 AM EDT (#109789) #
It's not just the "3 days in a row" factor, though.

It's also the "3 days in a row AGAINST THE SAME TEAM, even the SAME HITTERS" factor as well.

If another team brought the same lefty pitcher out to face our good lefty hitters 3 games in a row, we'd be pretty upset if they weren't able to tag him at least once.
Ryan Day - Thursday, April 07 2005 @ 10:52 AM EDT (#109790) #
Gibbons agrees that using SS three days in a row may have been pushing it:

"It is a lot to ask a guy coming out of spring training, three nights in a row," Gibbons said. "So, I'll take (the blame)." Although it totally backfired yesterday, Gibbons said that down the road he would ask Schoeneweis to roll another triple. It was something he never asked during the spring. "Over the long haul that's going to be his job," Gibbons said.

(from the Sun)

Mark - Thursday, April 07 2005 @ 10:56 AM EDT (#109791) #
Don't know where to post this tidbit from BP so I'll do it here. But an interesting article on contracts given out this winter. They basically figure out a players worth in $$, +/- the contract he was given out.

Which teams had the best and worst winters?
Nationals +$20,557K
Dodgers +$17,261K
Blue Jays +$13,243K

Mariners -$14,468K
Diamondbacks -$16,461K
Tigers -$35,955K

+/- is a measure of market value. As it works out, the aggregate $/Win spent on the 47 players was around $2.14 million. We can use this number to determine how overpriced or underpriced a particular player was relative to the rest of the market

The jays spent 13 million less on Koskie(11) and SS Loogy(2) than market value. Interesting to see the dodgers (Lowe) and Nationals (Everything) near the top.
Chuck - Thursday, April 07 2005 @ 11:38 AM EDT (#109794) #

A couple of things...

1. The blown Rivera save needs a whole bunch of context. While it wasn't pretty, he did what he had to do. His team blew it for him.

After loading the bases with none out, Rivera struck out Nixon. He then got Ramirez to hit a DP groundball to ARod which should have had one of two results: 1. the likeliest, a game-ending DP, 2. the next likeliest, a force out at home. ARod bobbled the ball once, ruining scenario #1, then bobbled the ball again, ruining scenario #2. Ortiz then hit a little dribbler groundout to score the go-ahead run. In scenario #1, Ortiz doesn't bat. In scenario #2, he is the 3rd out.

2. Someone suggested this yesterday and I am in total agreement. The Jays need a 2nd lefty, even a LOOGY, to pitch in lower leverage situations in the 6th and 7th innings. If you're going to have 7 (!!!) men in your bullpen, two of them should be left handed. Hell, this should probably be the case in a 6-man pen.

Flex - Thursday, April 07 2005 @ 11:41 AM EDT (#109795) #
Hey, how about Trever Miller?
Oh... darn.
Hey, how about Jason Kershner?
Oh... rats.
Hey, how about Mark Hendrickson?
Oh... drat.
Marc Hulet - Thursday, April 07 2005 @ 11:58 AM EDT (#109797) #
I was really impressed with what I saw of left-handed reliever Adrian Burnside in the spring. He is a former highly-thought of prospect who has bounced around a lot after suffering numerous injuries. He use to throw 92-93 but was throwing 88-89 when I saw him pitch.

Either he or Scott Downs (mainly a starter in his career) would be a lot more useful than Chulk at this point.
Gerry - Thursday, April 07 2005 @ 12:01 PM EDT (#109799) #
With teams having played either two or three games there are only three undefeated teams, and all are 2-0. The juggernauts are:

Chicago White Sox
Cincinnati Reds
Milwaukee Brewers

Three central division teams. The Reds send Aaron Harang to the mound today to try and get them to 3-0; the White Sox rely on Jose Contreras. The Brewers have the day off before facing the Cubs tomorrow.

Conversely there are three winless teams, the New York Mets; Pittsburgh Pirates; and the Cleveland Indians.
Dave Till - Thursday, April 07 2005 @ 12:34 PM EDT (#109801) #
I'm not sure which is better: to have a second lefty in the pen, or a bunch of right-handed relief pitchers who can actually, occasionally, get left-handed hitters out.

I don't like the idea of obsessively switching pitchers to get the platoon advantage. You wind up emptying your bullpen every night, and you'll always find somebody who is having an off day.

If Gibbons is going to want to keep bringing a lefty into close game situations when there is a power-hitting lefthanded batter at the plate, the Jays had better find another lefty, or SS will be on the DL by July. He can't pitch every day.
uglyone - Thursday, April 07 2005 @ 12:39 PM EDT (#109802) #
I think TBay is a rare example of a team dominated by lefties at the top of the order.

I don't think we should take this as an indication that Gibbons intends to use Schoeneweis this much.
robertdudek - Thursday, April 07 2005 @ 01:01 PM EDT (#109805) #
Rivera loaded the bases in the first place. After the error, he pitched poorly and made a bad situation worse. It's not fair to give A-Rod all, or even most, of the blame.
Gitz - Thursday, April 07 2005 @ 01:32 PM EDT (#109806) #
It doesn't matter who booted the ball, and it didn't seem like Chuck was blaming A-Rod simply because he's A-Rod. The point is he's exactly right: Rivera should have been out of the inning, whether or not he put himself in trouble in the first place, and whether or not it was A-Rod or Miguel Cairo at third base.

It goes both ways: sometimes you bail your teammates out when they don't have their best stuff, sometimes you don't. There will come a time in the season where A-Rod or Tony Womack will rescue Rivera, just as there will come a time when Rivera strikes out the side in the ninth to close out a game or keep it tied.
Mick Doherty - Thursday, April 07 2005 @ 01:33 PM EDT (#109807) #
... there are only three undefeated teams, and all are 2-0. The juggernauts are:

Chicago White Sox
Cincinnati Reds
Milwaukee Brewers

Gerry, Gerry, Gerry ... will you please begin referring to them with the proper honorific? That's your 2005 National League Champion Cincinnati Reds at 2-0, sir.

Braby21 - Thursday, April 07 2005 @ 01:38 PM EDT (#109808) #
Sorry to girlfriend and myself are going down to New York for a little vacation after school is done in late April. We're staying at the Roger Smith hotel and I was wondering if anyone knows of anything that we should go check out while we're in town. We're staying from April 27th to May 1st. And yes we're going to Yankee Stadium for 2 of the 3 games that weekend...against the Jays.
Mike D - Thursday, April 07 2005 @ 01:45 PM EDT (#109809) #
Braby, click on my name and send me an e-mail. I live in New York and would be happy to answer any questions you might have.
Named For Hank - Thursday, April 07 2005 @ 01:54 PM EDT (#109810) #
Oh, it sucks to be the Devil Rays. But how much does it suck? Behold:

On a recent "Jeopardy!" show featuring three former five-time champions, the category was baseball stadiums and the teams that play in them.

The brainiacs on the panel breezed through the first four offerings in the category (among them Busch Stadium and the Cardinals and Shea Stadium and the Mets), then reached the final offering for $1,000: "Tropicana Field." Blank stares and uncomfortable silence filled the air until the times-up buzzer sounded and Alex Trebek leaned forward to say, softly: "Who are the Devil Rays?"

sweat - Thursday, April 07 2005 @ 01:54 PM EDT (#109811) #
Go anywhere and everywhere. Just walk around, go to the MET, go to museums, galleries. Eat dinner in one resteraunt and desert in another. Central Park, is a great place to walk. Chinatown is also pretty awesome.
Mick Doherty - Thursday, April 07 2005 @ 02:05 PM EDT (#109814) #
"Who are the Devil Rays?"

Ah, a question far too many Tampa Bay-are residents ask themselves!

Mike Green - Thursday, April 07 2005 @ 02:13 PM EDT (#109816) #
One lefty in the pen is fine, in my view. However, it means that you have to trust your right-handed middle relievers sometimes to get out lefties. In both game 2 and 3 of the Tampa series, SS was brought in in low leverage situations, and in Game 2, he was brought in to face L-R-L. I anticipate that Gibbons will prune SS' usage, so that in future, Chulk or Frasor or Speier will get the call in situations like the Game 2 one.
Brett - Thursday, April 07 2005 @ 02:33 PM EDT (#109822) #
That's your 2005 National League Champion Cincinnati Reds at 2-0, sir.

Well, there is something to be said about a team that scores six runs on three hits. They could soon go 3-0, now that the Mets are making Aaron Harang look like Catfish Hunter.

Last night, the Mets were trailing the Reds 5-3 in the 8th inning. In a span of about 15 minutes, they

1) Ran themselves out of the inning when Cliff Floyd was thrown out trying to steal
2) Pulled a double switch in which Mike DeJean came into pitch and Chris Woodward came out to play first base
3) %#@%ed up the double switch, were forced to take Woodward out again
4) Served up a grand slam to Joe Randa

Yesterday was disappointing for the Jays, but anything is better than what the Mets are going through right now. Woody, unfortunately, has got the Moonlight Graham thing going, one game, no at bats.

Mick Doherty - Thursday, April 07 2005 @ 02:41 PM EDT (#109824) #
Actually, I'm disturbed that Harang is in the #3 slot in the rotation, especially if that indicates some sort of perception they have on how the other guys look; in my preview, linked above, I had Harang as the #5 guy and long man.
Chuck - Thursday, April 07 2005 @ 03:30 PM EDT (#109840) #
Interesting that the Reds have moved Griffey to the 2-hole. Thought there would be more resistance from moving out of a traditional RBI slot.

With Griffey, Casey and Dunn, the Reds are just begging for two LOOGYs a game.
robertdudek - Thursday, April 07 2005 @ 04:15 PM EDT (#109851) #
The really important thing isn't whether Rivera would have gotten out of the inning. The important thing is did Rivera pitch well or poorly? He pitched poorly. That doesn't mean he's lost it, however.
Gitz - Thursday, April 07 2005 @ 05:29 PM EDT (#109870) #
The really important thing is that if Rivera goes down, I've got Tom Gordon for $3 in my AL-only keeper fantasy league. Let's keep things in perspective, shall we?
James W - Thursday, April 07 2005 @ 07:02 PM EDT (#109902) #
Gordon should continue to rack up holds. Hopefully your league is a "wave-of-the-future" league, and uses holds. :)
Rays 8, Jays 5: Smashed Windshield | 30 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.