Series Preview: Mariners at Rays


Ahoy, welcome aboard.

Our Mariners forge out to sea, braving the colder waters of the Atlantic beneath their vessel. There be devil rays in those waters, watch out! What’s that? They’re just rays now? Like sunshine? Oh, the same thing as before, just without the word that may hurt the feelings of sensitive snowflakes? Gotcha.

In this preview, you’ll find:

  • Graphical Explorations
  • Pitching Matchups
  • View From Rays Colored Glasses

Graphical Explorations!

Player Data via FanGraphs | Manager Data via Baseball-Reference

The Mariners aren’t as good as the Rays if you’re just going off this chart. My brain tells me the same thing, though, and so do the won-loss records. Perhaps I could do a lightning poll on the streets, but I bet we get more reasons to believe the statement is true.

Joe Maddon scores much higher than Eric Wedge on the Carsoncalc Manager Score. Formula Reminder: W-L+Playoff Berths (50)+LCS Win (75)+WS Win (175)/10/10

Pitching Matchups

The Mariners could be extremely favored on the pitching matchup side of things. Felix Hernandez has a clear edge over Wade Davis. Small Sample Charlie Furbush hasn’t pitched much worse than Breaking In Rookie Jeremy Hellickson. On Sunday, Michael Pineda takes on the dreaded TBA, who sometimes is amazing and sometimes terrible. TBA is the most inconsistent pitcher of all time.

Small Sample Concerns! Vs Felix Hernandez

Small Sample Concerns! Vs Wade Davis

Charlie Furbush, Jeremy Hellickson and Michael Pineda are all facing brand new batters. Let the Small Sample Concerns! begin here.

View From Rays Colored Glasses

Keith had a sit down with the folks at Rays Colored Glasses and asked a fine set of questions for them. Here they are:

How concerned are Rays’ fans about Evan Longoria’s fairly average numbers this season? Do they realize that he’s likely to regress back to his usual awesomeness, or is there panic in the streets?
Well, they haven’t turned Tampa Bay into Vancouver yet, so I think all is pretty calm in the streets for the moment. I think fans know his struggles mainly stem from the nagging injuries he battled early in the year. He has shown flashes of the star he’s expected to be but has lacked the consistency that made him so productive the last few seasons. What some fans don’t get is the nature of his injury. You say ACL or shoulder or ankle and fans immediately understand what a player is dealing with. You say oblique and most fans don’t even know what area of the body is injured. Why can’t this guy get out there and play? The Rays’ dependency on him to perform also draws attention to his stat line. In the Rays’ wins Longo is batting close to .300 and he is batting under .150 in their losses. That makes it hard not to panic when your team’s record is so closely tied to one player’s production. We’ll go with subdued panic right now and hope that he closes the year strong.

Were the rumors of B.J. Upton being shopped true, and if so, how surprised are you that he’s still a Ray?

They were very true. I am quite surprised he is still with the club. The only thing that tells me is the Rays didn’t get an offer on the level they needed to make a deal happen. Upton has been a good player for the Rays but he just doesn’t seem to “get it” a lot of times. His production has tailed over the last few years and Joe Maddon’s doghouse has a wing dedicated just to him. The Rays also have made it clear that they are going to do what makes the most sense financially. Upton is under contract for next year at close to five million, not a lot for a top flight centerfielder. But what would it take to re-sign him after next year? I don’t think the Rays will keep him through next year and then let him walk. They weren’t desperate to make a move this year but look for them to be more serious about it either in the offseason or at next year’s deadline if they’re not in a playoff race.

Will people ever really grasp how awesome Ben Zobrist is? I mean seriously… ever?

Who doesn’t know how awesome Big Z is, other than everybody outside of Tampa? Part of it has to be the appearance, right? The guy looks more like he could be pointing out the features on the latest Smartphone than leading all of baseball in doubles. He just doesn’t do anything flashy. He’s a humble guy who goes about his business and gets the job done. He has played basically everywhere on the field and his plate production doesn’t suffer. It’s just a product of our society. A guy who hits 50 homers, but bats less than .250 and strikes out 200 times is celebrated. Ben Zobrist meanwhile who is solid across the board but not outstanding in a particular category flies under the radar. Something tells me that is just fine with him.

Is it ok if Mariner fans hate the Rays just a little bit just because of Casey Kotchman? He was a huge part of why the Mariners lost so many games in 2010, and here he is excelling just one year later.

That is totally legit. I grew up a Braves fans in the 80’s and I grew weary of the trail of players the Braves let go, as they struggled, only to see them blossom on a different team. Nothing is worse than sitting there wondering, “Why couldn’t that guy do that here?” I wrote off this season for Kotchman a long time ago. I assumed that there was no way he would keep putting up quality offensive numbers. Man, have I been wrong. He continues to bat well over .300, already has 30 more hits than he had all of last year and two more doubles. Not making things any better, am I?

The Rays have a good young team, have won their division 2 out of the last 3 years, and still are 2nd to last in attendance this season in the AL. What will it take to get fans to actually come out to the ballpark and watch the team play?

Funny how often this question comes up. It’s hard to say what would get fans to the park other than a new park itself. It’s hard to get to, is not the most fan friendly venue and doesn’t have enough of the bells and whistles that fans seem to expect. You almost want to throw your hands up and scream at people, “Don’t you see what you have here?” There are cities and fan bases that would kill to have a team that is well run and competes on a nightly basis. It would be great to put the Rays’ product in different packaging and see what type of response you would get.

How disappointed are the fans that the Rays fell out of the race this year? Were expectations all that high after losing Crawford and company this past off-season?

Are you telling me we’re out of the race? We just took two out of the three from the mighty Red Sox. Oh, so did you guys? Well, the Rays are going to hang on until the end. Fans are disappointed but not devastated. Everyone knew it was going to be a tough year and the start of the season reinforced that notion. When the Rays rebounded and found themselves in first place, there was a sense that maybe they could beat the odds. The hitting just hasn’t been there this year and neither has the consistency out of the bullpen. The lowered expectations heading into the season helped lessen any disappointment the fans might feel after being in the race earlier in the year and faltering late.