I'm hanging last night's loss right around Joe Maddon's neck. Maddon has always been a little different. He's been called "unconventional". Another term that fits instead of that would be lucky. And with luck, there's often a lot of failure involved.
There's no question that the Rays have gotten an awful lot out of very little over the last few years with Maddon pulling the strings, but situations like he put his team in last night will have Joe looking for a job soon. The fact of the matter is that it's the players that will be the ultimate determining factor in the success or failure of a manager. You know the old baseball rule: A team will win a third of it's games regardless of what it does and lose a third no matter how well they play. It's that final 50 games or so that belong to the manager, and Maddon blew it last night.
At the very least, he didn't give his team the best opportunity to win the game. At most, he flat out is responsible for the loss. You just can't bring in a left-handed reliever to replace the left-handed starter to face 2 righty hitters with your team ahead by a run and the tying run on 2nd base. That's Baseball 101. We all have seen over the years that Maddon marches to the beat of his own drummer in the past, and in the past, his players have bailed him out many times. But as a manager, you just can't continually put your players in compromising situations. Anoter old baseball saw: Everything evens out. Things may be doing just that for Maddon and the Rays this season.
It's travel day for me, so thankfully, there's very little on the baseball slate to cover. It is a full schedule of games, and I've been toying with the idea of letting you all in on the metrics I'm using to get a run line projection for each game, just like I do in football and basketball, but that's not going to start just yet. I've still got a couple of teams out there that haven't yet reached an acceptable level of data in critical areas to post all games, but as I look over my templates, that should be all cleared up after tonight. We shall see what we see, I guess.
THE SHOW (0-3 yesterday and 3-6 so far for the week)
The thing that's most upsetting about the Rays loss last night, other than the fact that it should have probably been a win, is that I was right on in not getting on the other 2 games I covered yesterday. Gallardo mowed down The Champs as the trending data said he would, and the Tigers were just too blurry eyed after that 14-inning game from Wednesday night to support a strong Verlander performance. That's baseball, and the beauty of it is, there's always tomorrow, and tomorrow is today.
BUTTA (0-1 last night and 1-2 so far for the week)
1. Braves (Hudson -135) over PIRATES (RODRIGUEZ) - After a brief hiccup in the final game of their series against my Royals, the Bravos were back at it again last night. Hudson has all the trending data to go along with his talent in this matchup, and the Bucs just don't have the firepower to match up with that Atlanta lineup.
2. RED SOX (BUCHHOLZ -150) over Royals (Shields) - The Royals are going into a buzzsaw tonight. Not only are the Sox rolling on the field, but this will be their first game at home since the bombs went off at the Marathon on Monday. K.C. is a much better team this season, and Shields is going to be the horse we ride all season long, but Big Game James is only 8-15 lifetime against the BoSox, while Buchholz looks like he's back to form again and sports a 3-1 lifetime record against the Royals.
ON THE CUTTING ROOM FLOOR
REDS (LATOS -255) over Marlins (Slowey) - About all I can say about the Fish so far this season is that if something can go wrong for them, it has. This looks like it should be another easy romp for the Reds behind Latos, but the price is way too high. He's never beaten the Marlins in his career (0-3), and his lifetime ERA against them is 7.50. I know what I see on the field, and the eyes are the best tool in the quest for truth, but this price is way too high with numbers that don't add up. Pass.
It's been another great trip. I can hardly wait to get in that cramped plane and head home...NOT! Have a great Friday, be careful out there and I'll see you all again tomorrow from the central command post.