Reality Check: Pat “The Faucet” Burrell

 


Ben Margot/ AP

I think it is time people. I am in a mood of discontentment and astonishment into the  further downward spiral that has taken over the hitting of Pat “the Faucet” Burrell. You have gone from a slugger who was celebrating with a World Championship, to a guy struggling to hit above the .250 mark this season. It is time for an Intervention. It is time for the stark truth with nothing held back and the hopes that the reality of the situations  basic shock and awe turn him towards a state of offensive recovery.

You are currently pulling this team down with him now, and that is something I will not have happen without recourse. I will not let a sinking ship devour this team and take them from playoff consideration. This is a pefect spot for the notion of “put up or shut up” right now. It is the time of the season when good teams churn out wins, and the bad teams just try and play the ‘spoiler” role. Pat, the Rays played that “spoiler” role for 10 seasons, and we did not like it then, and we hate it even more now that we have tasted the fruits of success.

Do we really need to show you that tough love concept to get you to  buckle down in this offense. Do I have to go all “Philly” on you and boo and jeer to get you so frustrated you want to succeed again. The hard-nosed, hard shell Philly faithful were not always your fans in the past. You had a chance to gain a new set of admirers here in Tampa Bay, but that might be wasted by a sub-par batting average. Maybe it is time to put out the stone cold demeanor and stark reality your signing might have been  mistake. Come on Pat, prove me wrong, I dare ya!.

Have you considered this Mr Burrell, that before your Busch Gardens inspired corkscrew up and down hitting streak that you have not performed even to within a 10th of your contract price. There are guying hitting in the minor leagues for under $ 65,000 a year that would run circles around you right now, and would kill to be in your shoes.

We had a guy here once named Vinny Castilla. Ask him how it felt to have a losing team’s crowd boo him on the field at the beginning of a game. Ask them how he seemed to give up before the first pitch because of the vocal barrage that hit him at third base in the top of the first inning. You are so lucky to not have to go out in the field and get met with a blanket of boos and jeers before you step to the plate the first time in the game. You have had the Rays dugout as your personal cocoon to keep you from the boo-birds who can not stand to see another DH candidate hit under .250 for the season. You just have to pop up four or five times a game from that warm environment……..must be nice.

And we are all over this urban legend that the switch from the National League to the American League is such a drain on your swing and batting persona. Get over it Pat, because we are totally over it.  We gave you until the All Star break as a courtesy, now it is time to shine. We got your fellow Rays teammate Gabe Gross last April 24th in a trade with the Brewers, a NL team and he did okay for his first season.

He made up for his lack of bat power with contact hitting and spectacular plays in right field. Oh, and he only hit .209 in the NL before coming over and hitting .239 in the American League. What Gross did that you seem to be missing is put his head down and concentrate on his hitting, and some memorable shots began to happen for him. And his season seemed to blossom in August, which is just one day away right now. 

What  great Rays feats have you done besides your game-winning HR on July 7th against Toronto for your first walk-off hit as a Ray. How can that even compare with  the year Gross in 2008. Well, coming into August, Gabe had hit only .215 for the season before he went on a bit of a roll and rocked to a .293 average just in August 2008.  That also began a time where he showcased a few special Gross inspired moments with the Rays. Yes, it was only August 6th when he hit that 437-foot 2-run homer that started the Rays rally against Cleveland.

Or maybe it was the fact that 14 of his 38 RBI last season either tied or helped the Rays take the lead. Or if you really want me to add insult to injury, maybe it was the fact that Gross hit 4 HR and 11 RBI in that month to help propel the Rays towards their first playoff run.  That is almost as many as you have so far in 2009, and he did it in one month. See Pat, you only have to look down the bench for a guy who was in the same spot as you in 2008. But Gross put in his licks at the plate, and the ball began to fall for him. Baseball is a simple game. You hit the ball, you catch the ball, you throw the ball. Everything else is just repetition.

Now this is not to mean you are a quitter or even remotely considering mailing in the rest of the season. But the reality is that both you and Carlos Pena right now are pulling this offense towards a bad  spiral in the abyss. The hole that you both are presenting in the 5 & 6 spot in the line-up are beginning to wear this club down to the bone. The guys above you and below you have done their jobs, and some of them are having banner seasons. But the middle of the batting order is a dead zone. Oh, do not think I am not angry right now Pat, but I am trying to kill you with kindness in hopes it snaps you into the right frame of mind.

Remember that Castilla dude I mentioned before, well he also tried to mail in the season and the Rays cut him like a cancer out of their team. And that was when we were a losing team. Why should we allow some one who can not even hit his weight to still take up valuable at bats when you have a hitter like Willy Aybar sitting next to you chomping at the bit for a chance to play. Last season Aybar took full advantage of his spot roles and became a instant success in the Rays system. Do you think he is not wondering why he is not getting some of your at bats? I know I wonder that at times.

You really need to go down there and shake Rays Manager Joe Maddon’s hand. Because I know if this was still a ‘Lou Pinella” based ship, you would be below deck scrubbing the pewter instead of holding a 34 inch bat in your hands. Do I really have to tell all these people and the baseball world why I have renamed you “The Faucet”. I was hoping you might get going and I would not have to vocally throw it out there time and time again why you deserve a new nickname. Oh, I am saving “The Bat” for when it is right, but right now, the other one is so perfect for you. Just think of me as your friendly Roto-Rooter man.


Jim Prishing / AP

“The Faucet” is because you can go very Hot and ex
tremely Cold at any moment during a game or series this season, but you never remain warm for too long. I guess the word “streaky” fits you like a glove right now. And I will be the first to pull back your old nickname if you can just put the bat to the ball to manufacture some offense.  Last time I thought you were hot you embarrassed me when I put it into a blog you were “heating up.” You went on a tear of 6 strikeouts in the next two games and slumped further into the abyss.

You started out the season on such a high note hitting your first Rays HR against the New York Yankees in the home opener. There was excitement in the air from the banners going up into the rafters and the anticipation of the new season. All was good in Burrell-land. But then the stark reality hit and you did not get your second Rays homer until your old team came here during the Inter League schedule. Your old team mate Joe Blanton served you up a mistake breaking ball that you hit out for only your second boomer of the year. Worst yet, you went 33 games and 104 at bats between homers after averaging 33 homers a year for the past 4 seasons.

And now as we are about to hit the stretch run, and you are coming off a July where you are hitting only .232 since July 5th. That might be a Burrell improvement for 2009, but it is taking down the hopes of  a Rays second playoff berth. And for that I can not let you slide Pat. We yearned for that excitement again. And you are a key piece to getting that chance again. August is a new month, and can be a good starting point for you to improve and show that you are the Rays type of player.

Sure you might work hard on and off the field beyond our eyes, but it is what we see between the lines that matter to us. You might have the admiration of your teammates and the staff, but we do not see that side of you here. We have seen the reserved and simply weak side of you so far in 2009. Oh, I want to throw you under the bus so bad, but we need you right now. We want you to make us admit we were wrong. We want you to show us that you got the guts and the glory still within yourself.

We want that Burrell that was advertised to us in the  Phillies statistics over the last 4 years. We want those averages of 99 RBIs and 103 walks to show their faces. We want to see the guy that only trails the Nationals Adam Dunn in walks over the past 4 years with 413 bases on balls. We want to see the same desire and passion that got you noticed in Philly after you were drafted in the First Round out of that quiet school in Coral Gables,Florida. Show us that University of Miami swagger again that we have seen for years from their athletes.

Be true to the fans, and be true to yourself and all will be fine.  In the 39 games since you came back off the DL we have seen basically shortstop numbers out of you. And I do not mean Jason Barlett-type numbers. You have hit only .209 with 4 HR, 6 doubles and 11 RBI. Those are not the type of  power numbers a guy hitting fifth should produce. It is a no surprise that the guy hitting in the eight spot, Dioner Navarro is kicking your butt at the plate, and he is having a down year.


Steve Nesius / AP

Your average with runners in scoring position is .292 this season. Not great, but it is showing you have had opportunities to drive in runs and produce. You just have to put some Scotch bonnets into the mix and flame up that average a bit to show that you have the killer instinct. Either that or let Aybar take your at bats and do not let the Rays suffer with you. As a key signing this off season, it is your duty as a teammate to leave it all out on the field every night. I have to admit Pat, some nights it seems that your English Bulldog Elvis has left a firm example of your at bats on the Field Turf. 

If that is to imply your bat leave a doggie residue, then so be it. This is the time to shine. One more game and a new month is upon you. I am not telling you to take tonight off, but to start the ball, get the hits and show the hustle  we know is within you and the crowd will again cheer. If not, that smattering of jeers during the Yankee series will just fester and grow until it can not be stopped by hiding in the dugout. It is time to man up and produce Pat.

I can not say it any other way. It is not like you are going to refund any of your salary back to the team because of your downfall. And it is not like we expect you to hit .750 the rest of the season either. Get some good hits, run well executed plays on the bases and the game will flow back into the positive for you. If you can not do it for yourself, do it for the kids in the stands that still believed in the Burrell magic. Do it for the women who have swooned when they saw you at Fan Fest only to be disappointed that the object of their affection is heading towards the bottom. 

Do it for that guys to the left and right of you in the dugout. You know they are giving 110 percent every night and they have failed too this season but have not slacked off in the least. And last, do it for Elvis. That is right, do it for your English Bulldog. If it means bringing him to the game like you did in Philly  the second hafl of the season every night, then outfit the car so you can do it. Westy will find someone to dog sit him for you. Heck, I will watch him if you like……but he better like french fries.


Brian Blanco / AP

But most of all, do it for yourself. You got that beautiful ring this April in Philadelphia during a ceremony you flew in especially for that day. You got to hear the cheers and the noise that winning can spawn. You got to taste and smell what winning can do for you and a team. But most of all, you got to see why you have worked so hard all those years. If you can not do it for anyone else listed above, do it for yourself.

You do not want to be 60 years old and wonder if you could have done better. I know I did not go out of the game on my own terma and I see regrets and mistakes all the time I would change in a heartbeat. You especially do not want to sit back after the 2009 season and bask in the negative and let it consume you. It is time to shine.

Come on Pat, I do not want to really get upset and fully call you out onto the carpet again this season. This was a mild, nice intervention compared to the first two drafts of this blog. Maybe it is because I still believe the season is far from over. Maybe it is because I faith in my heart until it is plucked out by my sense of reality. If you can not do it for anyone else, do it for yourself Pat. You and I both know the drive and passion it takes to win. Now all you have to do is apply a little elbow grease, spread your stance a little bit and drive the ball. The rs
t will follow……trust me.

14 Comments

I think there is at least one player on everyone’s team who needs a wake up call like this one. Burrell has proven himself to the Phillies, but now has to do that same for the Rays. We will need everyone to be doing their best now, including Burrell, if we want to make it to the playoffs at all.
Ginny
http://watercooler.mlblogs.com

Twenty-five paragraphs wasn’t FULLY calling him out? Wow.

Ginny,
He is the one player on the Rays who came into the season with a high ceiling for home runs and RBI.
He did have a good night tonight, and that is step 1.
Now if he can string a few games and hits together we can have a good streak going.
I have to say, I never saw him run as fast as he did tonight during that triple.
Way to get it started Pat.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

Baseballcelt,

If you have read any of my past stuff, I do not play around.
And I also tend to write long postings.
But I still have about 25 more paragraphs in me about Burrell if you would like to read more…………..

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

Nothing wrong with long postings. Thanks for the offer Renegade, but I watched him through the minors and his 9 years in Philly. I just came here as I do to other Rays blogs to see how he’s doing and what the perception of him is. I’m pretty sure I get it without more elaboration.

Nothing wrong with long postings, Renegade, and thanks for the offer, but I’ll pass. I watched Burrell through the minors and his 9 years in Philly, and came here as I do to other Rays’ blogs to see how he’s doing and how he’s perceived. I’m pretty sure I have a handle on that now without reading more.

Baseballcelt,

I wrote a pretty gleaming blog about a week or so ago when I thought he was turning the corner, but he went 0-6 the next two games and popped up a lot.
I want to see him do good.
I guess it is my way to vent frustration for a guy I truly thought might be a change for the better.
But the last two days he has had a better time at the plate, and has been hustling on the base paths.
I can not give up the new nickname yet, but it is starting to fade to dust.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

I agree. I had my doubts about him changing leagues but was thrilled to get him. Pat seems like the kind of player who needs to do it all. I mean, maybe he would be better in contributing at the plate if he were playing in the field. At the plate it is all or nothing so it is tough to feel you can never make up an at bat with a super play in the field. It is also tough to come off the bench and hit whereas some hitters seem to be made for the DH role, I think Pat is not from that mold. I hope he finds a way to be productive with the Rays.

Renegade,

I read the gleaming post when you wrote it, and had to cringe a bit. Not that it wasn’t a good post – it was – but because I cannot count the number of times in Philly Pat would put together a good few games and have everyone pronounce him as “fixed”, only to falter for the next couple of games. I was going to comment on that post, but didn’t want to dampen your enthusiasm. :-)

I think the fact that he’s had to undergo a MASSIVE change to his routine can’t be fully discounted. Should he have figured it out by now? Yes, absolutely, but the fact remains that he has gone from playing in the field everyday to solely batting 4 or 5 times a night. He was maddeningly streaky when he had a 9-year day in, day out routine and it only stands to reason that the streakiness would be magnified when that routine has to be fully reworked.
That said, he was one of my favorite players when he was here and I wish him well. That’s why I poke around on Rays blogs from time to time.

Oh, and I apologize for the double post earlier.

Baseball Celt,

I am starting to think this just might not have been the best fit…….plain and simple.
But that has happened before for the Rays. A guy comes here and he struggles and goes down a dark path, then he goes to another team and they flourish again.
Like I said before in other posts, I wanted him to come in and smack the cover off the ball, or at least produce some needed singles.
But after today’s two pop-ups with guys on base, and the local Rays post-game show calling for change, you know that Rays Manager Joe Maddon is going to stick by Burrell until Burrell himself calls for a change.
All you have to decide is if you have a better chance to win with him in the line-up or out of it.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

Realfan,

I have come to the conclusion that the best DH’s now are guys who seem to have done it also in the minor leagues. There is no more guys like Edgar Martinez or Travis Hafner hanging around the minor leagues or free agent market.
I was telling a fan today Burrell sometimes makes me miss Jonny Gomes and Cliff Floyd.
At least they showed their emotions on their sleeves and you knew they upset with losses or not hitting.
But Burrell might be one of those quiet guys.
Just hoping something good happens soon before we sink out of the playoff race for good.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

Pat’s never been one of those throw the helmet, kill the Gatorade cooler, scream obscenities when something goes wrong player, and I’m sure never will be (actually, that’s not entirely true – he does have his moments); but watch him long enough and you will come to know that his lack of outward emotion definitely does NOT mean he doesn’t care or is complacent with his performance. Totally understandable if you and the rest of the Bay area don’t have the patience to do that, though.

Baseballcelt,
I guess it is more the promise of a change and we are getting the same old performance out of the DH spot.
He might actually be a victim of his own success in Philly.
I did not know if he was a silent guy or a emotional guy, but you did shed some light on it all that I did not know.
Guess I will have to just accept the good with the bad right now.
But I really did like the taste of that GH Mumm’s champagne last season.
Thanks again for giving me some insight into him.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

I can certainly see where not getting an upgrade over what you had would be frustrating.
Generally speaking, he’s more the even keel type, but he will have his anger moments after it piles up for a while – generally long, LONG after people exhaust themselves calling for him to throw a tantrum or his batting helmet or both.
And I’m pretty sure he enjoyed his own experience with the champagne last year, and if there’s a way to get himself back there, I’m sure he’s looking for it.

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