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Series Preview: Tampa Bay Rays @ Seattle Mariners

Seattle: 44-70
Rays: 68-45


Game 1: Felix Hernandez vs Andy Sonnanstine
Game 2: Carlos Silva vs James Shields
Game 3: Ryan Rowland-Smith* vs Matt Garza
Game 3: R.A. Dickey vs Edwin Jackson

Sonnanstine is a control artist on the likes of what the Mariners were hoping Carlos Silva actually was. Andy Sonnanstine probably wouldn't have been too difficult to acquire this past winter. He throws strikes nearly 70% of the time leading to a minuscule 4.5% walk rate (4.2% this year) and yet still manages to miss nearly an average number of bats and generates just under an average number of groundballs. When you're roughly average across two important categories and excellent at the third, you tend to be a pretty good pitcher and Andy is, with a tRA sitting at 3.97

James Shields takes a less extreme path to success than Sonnanstine but rest assured he still does take a path there. He's marginally above average in throwing strikes but manages to really control his walks. Furthermore he does miss a goodly number of bats and strikes out nearly 20% of batters faced, running a K:BB rate around 4 which is very impressive. On top of all that, Shields is a neutral pitcher when it comes to batted balls. All in all he has a 3.93 tRA after a flat 4.00 in 2007.

The much maligned Matt Garza, victim of a terrible BABIP while in Minnesota and some weird inconsistency in Tampa, has been the model of average across all key categories this year. For example, he strikes out 15.6% of batters faced to a league average of 15.7%. He issues a free base to 8.3% while the league does it 8.6% of the time. 42% of his balls in play are on the ground and 19.37% are line drives; the league is at 43% for grounders and 19.33% for liners. What Garza has done above average is limit home runs a touch better than average and garner many more pop ups. Those two combined with average everywhere else pushes his tRA down to 4.39.

Rightfully maligned Edwin Jackson. He was also a favorite possible trade target this past winter but he hasn't taken as big a step forward as most people hoped. In honesty, I think most people thought his 2007 was better (because of his horrible .342 BABIP) than it actually was (he did surrender an ungood 23.4% line drives) as he walked and was hit hard to the tune of a 5.94 tRA. Jackson's control has improved a bit this year, but it's still quite bad and the little improvement has come at the cost of missing fewer bats, eating into his strikeout rate, now below average. He's still allowing too many line drives and is below average at getting grounders as well. Edwin Jackson really isn't good and his 5.43 tRA, though much better from last year, shows that.

Also, small side note. The Rays just nabeed Chad Bradford off waivers from Baltimore.

Likely Starters:
C Dioner Navarro^
1 Carlos Pena*
2 Akinori Iwamura*
3 Evan Longoria
S Jason Bartlett
L Carl Crawford*
C B.J. Upton
R Eric Hinske*
D Cliff Floyd*/Jonny Gomes

The Rays signed Erik Hinske to a minor league contract this spring. The lefthanded hitter has played the majority of his games in rightfield and hit .249/.346/.495. The Mariners signed Brad Wilkerson to play right field for much more money and he hit .suck/.meh/.noRoids.

Evan Longoria is signed through the next millennium and at 22 in his first taste of the big leagues is hitting .278/.350/.534 already with some stellar defensive plays as well.

The Rays have six regulars in the lineup with an OBP of .345 or higher. The Mariners have Ibanez, Ichiro and Bloomquist above that mark. >:(


Just for fun, 2008 Mariner pitchers with an ERA+ of 100 or better
Felix Hernandez: awesome
Erik Bedard: injured (but still really awesome)
Brandon Morrow: now in Tacoma (yay!)
Sean Green: resting from overuse
Arthur Rhodes: now in Florida
Ryan Rowland-Smith: now in Tacoma
Cesar Jimenez: pleasant surprise


Barney Flats Oatmeal Stout
Anderson Valley Brewing. Boonville, CA

Black with a big lacy tan head there's a deep chocolate and coffee aroma with hints of oat and malt pretty typical for a stout. What got me here was the taste, a much more latte-like milky chocolate. The oats came out a bit more and the malts were smooth and creamy. Really liked this for giving something unique to an overpopulated genre.