As many of you know, I have been pretty incommunicato this week due to a week of sipping cocktails poolside in Orlando.
It’s been a good week.
I wanted to say alot about the upcoming trade deadline, but it has been difficult to find the time, obviously.
However, I do have some ideas of who might be coming to the Rays, who might be leaving the Rays, and who will be staying with the Rays.
–With the rumor that the Yanks are near a deal to acquire Lance Berkman, I would say that the Rays have become the frontrunners for picking up slugger Adam Dunn. They could do worse, for sure. But I am not sure I would like to see the Rays give up players for a guy who will be here only for these final few months and more more. That said, his incredible walk numbers, batting average, and power numbers will be a welcome addition to the DH slot.
Honestly, there is not alot of talk about who the Rays might try to pick up. The front office has been very quiet on the subject. I think that the Rays could use a stronger DH, surely, but a stronger 5th starter and another bullpen guy (never have enough of those) would strengthen this team as well.
–Minor league pitcher Jake McGee will more than likely be moving on. He has great talent, but it still not 100% after arm injuries. He is young, and will likely recover completely, which makes him valuable as a future ‘pen guy or bottom of the rotation guy, a la Wade Davis.
—Reid Brignac has done great things for the Rays this year. His power surge as of late has really lifted this team. But he is a man without a country. Or a position, anyway. He is a middle infielder in an organization full of ’em. Jason Bartlett is too beloved by the Rays management to go anywhere. Sean Rodriguez is the future 2b of the Rays (though he is kind of the present-day 2b of the Rays as well). Brignac does not fit in. He will somewhere else.
–This might be a longshot, but Wade Davis might be moved. If he can bring in a solid bat, he will certainly be moved with the pitching depth the Rays have in the minors.
—Jeremy Hellickson will be moved when hell freezes over. ‘Nuff said.
—Jason Bartlett ain’t goin’ anywhere. His arrival catapulted the Rays to the playoffs in 2008. They expect a return to form in these final months.
–Minor league veteran Dan Johnson might lead the International League in slugging numbers, but that just makes him more valuable as a late-season callup for the Rays than a bargaining chip. Plus, after Carlos Pena’s departure next season, he might inherit the 1b job.
It’s late, but I wanted to get some thoughts down before the trades start a-flyin’. I’m returning from poolside soon and I can’t wait to see what the Blogosphere’s intrepid writers have to say on the subject of the tradewinds.
All those weeks of voting.
All that repetitive SUBMITTING and REFRESHING of your screen (25 times per visit).
All that hoping.
And Sunday at noon we will all find out if it was worth it.
Last Year’s Game Was Truly Classic
As you know, TBS will announce the All-Star rosters Sunday at high noon, and I, for one, am a little nervous.
I am sure you can guess why. The Rays never get alot of love from the Midsummer Classic. It has been rare to find more than the one obligatory Ray on the All-Star roster each summer.
Last year was different, though, as the Rays had a ******** 7 players put on the roster.
Of course, Rays manager Joe Maddon was in charge of rounding out the rosters after the fan vote. But you would have gotten alot of beef if you tried to mount an argument that any of the Rays in last year’s group was undeserving.
(click the links below to see my thoughts on these stories last July–then again, I am sure you have better things to do, so…)
So what are the Rays going to do for an encore?
Well, first of all, Joe Maddon more than likely will not be managing the AL side. So that might mean that 7 Rays will not make the game.
That’s fair. 7 is alot.
However, I think that the Rays should certainly get at least 4 All Stars for this year’s game. There are 4 guys who are very deserving and have earned their spot.
(voted in as a starter)
.292, 12 HR, 55 RBI, 12 SB
(at last check, was being voted in as a starter–cross those fingers!)
.318, 60 Runs Scored, 29 SB
(not many relievers have been as dominant as he has)
2-0, 19 Saves, 1.57 ERA, 1 Blown Save
(he SHOULD be the starter of the game–who else has been as good?)
11-4, 2.92 ERA, 90 K, 1.20 WHIP
I think that John Jaso (has come on like gangbusters after being called up) and Reid Brignac (the AL’s leading pinch hitter) might get some consideration, but it is a snowball’s chance that they would make it.
Let’s CC What Happens
As I said, 4 Rays in the game should be a given. But Rays fans know how it works.
No respect=Few players in the game
But the team has had a solid first half of the season, even if they have faltered as of late. That should translate to increased respect and, hopefully, increased numbers in the game.
No matter what, I am really hoping that Carl Crawford will get into the game as a starter. I am confident that if he relinquished his lead as a starter that the AL manager will still choose him as a reserve.
But the longtime Rays left fielder has never made the game as a starter, and this would be a perfect way to cap his career as a Ray, should things not work out the way most Rays fans want them to and Carl leaves the team at the end of the season.
High noon. See ya there.
Major League Baseball will put on its draft tonight as every team around the league looks to improve its club
And if all goes well, these teams will see the fruits of their collective labor in, oh, say, about 3 or 4 years.
Yeah, come on, you know how it goes. This ain’t the NFL or NBA. These guys who hear their seemingly anonymous names called tonight won’t really find themselves on major league rosters for some time now.
Despite this, teams will be taking very seriously the goings-on that will occur at 7 pm Eastern Time.
A good draft tonight can turn a team like the 2007 Tampa Bay Devil Rays into, say, the 2008 Tampa Bay Rays.
That 2008 squad became potent with the development of one great draft pick, Evan Longoria, and the shining of another, BJ Upton. In fact, the Rays’ success can be attributed quite squarely on the fact that they have drafted well during the Stuart Sternberg era as 10 of the 25 guys on the roster are homegrown.
Manager Joe Maddon and General Manager Andrew Friedman have said this week that they will be looking at the middle of the field as the focus of their draft. We can take that to mean, I assume, catcher, second base, shortstop, and center field.
I am not an expert on amateur baseball players, so I won’t pretend to give a list of great college and high school players who can have an impact on the Rays in the near future. However, I will say that a guy like Zach Cox, a guy who can play 3B and 2B, would fit well with what Maddon and Friedman would like to see on the roster in the future.
The Rays have the 17th overall pick in the draft, and the rumor is that they have targeted a catcher who, at one time, was Stephen Strasburg‘s battery mate–just like every other team in the draft. So, we can’t expect Bryce Harper to don a Rays uni any time soon.
However, a move for a catcher such as this would make sense considering the fall of Dioner Navarro, the question marks surrounding Kelly Shoppach, and the high hopes–yet unrealized potential–that plague John Jaso.
You would think that the Rays would be pretty satiated at the middle infield positions. They have Jason Bartlett firmly ensconced at short. At second base they have multiple options: Ben Zobrist, Sean Rodriguez, and Reid Brignac. In the minors, the Rays have Eliot Johnson and Tim Beckham, though the latter 20-year-old seems to be a few years away as he is toiling at Single-A Charlotte.
Center field is a place that seems to be in question. BJ Upton mans the spot right now, but soon his arbitration clock will run out and he will become an unrestricted free agent. Then the Rays will have to decide whether or not to pay him what he thinks he is worth. Desmond Jennings has center field skills, but he might already be in left field after the Rays (potentially) lose Carl Crawford. Cuban defector Leslie Anderson was just promoted to AA Montgomery and could be with the big club in the next year or so if his fast rise continues.
Whichever way the Rays decide to go, I think we can rest assured that it will be the right way. They have not accrued what Baseball America has deemed the #1 ranked minor league system by accident. And with 6 picks in the first 98 of this year’s draft, the probability is high that the Rays will put together yet another successful group of recruits.
The Rays are coming up at pick 17.
The rumor is that they might choose a P/OF Bryce Brentz. Who knows what position he might play as a pro. Bryce Harper was supposed to be a catcher, yet the Nats have already made it clear he will be an outfielder.
However, should the Rays find INF Zach Cox still available at 17 (he is a top 10 projection), I think they will go with him. This guy is a left-handed hitting power hitter who has the defensive ability and range to play at the hot corner or at 2B.
Cubs are up. Rays coming up…
Cubbies took a pitcher. Rays have their pick (Brentz) and a top-tier infielder (Cox) available.
Rays took neither Cox nor Brentz. Instead they took Josh Sale, a guy that the MLB Net guys seem excited about. He is a college guy (Gonzaga) who plays the outfield. Apparently he will play a corner outfield spot who will hit for some decent power and has little speed. He sounds like a nice future RF, but it would be pointless to pontificate on where he will play as his major league debut is still several years away. However, as a college player (as David Price was) his future might arrive a little sooner than many might think.
Should this guy progress faster than most, then we might see a near-future outfield that could have Desmond Jennings, Leslie Anderson, BJ Upton, Ben Zobrist, and this kid in the mix. Not too shabby.
However, it should be noted that the Rays went neither middle infield NOR best available with this pick. Peter Gammons has guessed that this pick might be more motivated by $$ than anything else, which makes sense. Remember, the Rays were unable to sign two of their first three picks in their draft last year.
The Rays closed out their participation in the first round of the draft by taking a catcher with the 31st pick: Jason O’Conner. The experts said that this guy should be more versatile than a catcher has a right to be, which might mean that Maddon can see him playing middle infield or catcher. He is from the great state of Indiana, so he’s got that going for him.
So the Rays got (maybe) their catcher. That certainly was something that most Rays fans were looking for considering the current state, and franchise depth, of the position.
As Spring Training approaches (not fast enough, despite my Indianapolis Colts’ moving the Bowl of all Bowls), there are several areas on the Tampa Bay Rays that are in need of shoring up. These five areas certainly “ray-se” concerns among fans, and failure for Andrew Friedman and company to address them may result in a long summer for the Boys in Blue.
Here are the five key areas of consternation heading into these few weeks before pitchers and catchers report:
Rays fans loved Pat Burrell in 2009.
He did an amazing job of keeping those in attendance at the Trop cool every night as the human oscillating fan. Hearing Dwayne Staats announce, “Swing and a miss,” with regards to Burrell never got old. Wait…it did.
No folks, “The Bat” was far from a fan fave-the typical fate of so many .221, 14 hr, 64 RBI guys making 9 million dollars. As of this moment Burrell is still a Ray-not for lack of trying, though. While the much maligned Milton Bradley’s name was bandied about as a possible replacement at DH, nothing happened. Tough to know whether that was for the best or not.
The question remains, though: Who will fill the DH role in 2010? There is no clear cut answer. It seems unlikely that Tampa Bay will look to free agency to find a Burrell replacement. The addition of closer Rafael Soriano and the resigning of Kelly Shoppach pretty much ate up the petty cash lying around Stuart Sternberg’s office. Promoting from within might occur, with Willy Aybar itching for a chance to play every day. A Burrell trade could happen too, but the price tag for the 33-year-old veteran might be a little high for most teams.
Perhaps Rays fans should prepare for another breezy summer inside the Trop.
This position was occupied by several people in 2009. Akinori Iwamura was certainly one of the Rays’ most beloved second basemen of all time (sorry, Brent Abernathy). However, he is now gone, doomed to the Sarlaac Pitt. Other second basemen of 2009 include Reid Brignac, Joe Dillon, Willy Aybar (what an experiment in futility that was) and the great Ben Zobrist.
While Zobrist may very well become the Rays everyday 2B in 2010, there could be a problem should Zorilla be moved to right field instead. Brignac probably will not be the every day answer-though it would be neat to see him break camp as the starter so we can see what he can do with consistent at bats-so the Rays might just consider the recently acquired Sean Rodriguez.
Side Note: I know that every team wishes they had a player with the last name “Rodriguez” simply so they can take that player’s first initial and add it to “Rod,” ala “A-Rod.” But, seriously, Rays fans, let’s please avoid calling him S-rod, ok?
Rodriguez has some serious pop (easily 20 hr power) and shouldn’t be a defensive liability should he take over the 2B position. I am sure that the Rays see him as a long term answer at that spot in the infield, but it will remain to be seen if Andrew Friedman and Joe Maddon will give the youngster the green light coming out of Spring Training. If he can win the job when the team breaks from Port Charlotte, many things would be cleared up as Zorilla’s move to right would be set.
Should S-Rod (oops!) take the 2B competition, the question of who will be the next right fielder becomes simple arithmatic.
Zobrist’s bat and strong arm at the corner outfield position would be a perfect fit. He would seemingly complete one of the better outfields in the majors and finally settle the revolving door that the Rays have had at that position for years.
However, if Zobrist were forced to man the 2B position because Rodriguez was not ready for the majors and Reid Brignac was, well, the same ol’ Reid Brignac-a move that Maddon may not frown upon as much as may be thought-then the Rays could potentially be in trouble in right.
In the offseason they unloaded one of the Gabes (both Kapler and Gross were really one entity in 2009, but the Kap has stuck around for about a million in 2010) which means more playing time for Kap-should he earn it. But his struggles with righties means that the Rays will have only 1/2 of a right fielder-not ideal.
Right fielders in waiting (for how long is to be determined) might be Matt Joyce, Justin Ruggiano, Fernando Perez, and Desmond Jennings, but it is difficult to determine whether or not any are ready to be with the big club. Jennings, Ruggiano, and Perez may be better suited for CF, which limits thier contributions to RF to a simple “fill in” status from time to time.
Joyce was a big part of last year’s Edwin Jackson trade, a trade that Maddon has consistently said may work in the Rays favor despite Jackson’s double digit wins and All-Star appearance in 2009 and Joyce’s almost season-long stint at Durham. Will this be the year that Joyce shows his own All-Star potential and takes the right field spot by force?
If Rodriguez could take over 2B and Joyce was the every day RF (or at least could platoon with Kapler) then that might give Maddon the option of using Zobrist as that super-sub again-something that certainly worked in the past. Perfect scenario? Maybe, maybe not. It would seem that Zobrist would prefer to have his position staked out beforehand so he could maintain his focus throughout the long season.
This might be the most contentious position battle as we near spring training. However, the emergence of either Joyce or Rodriguez will clear everything up quickly.
The Rays seem to have gotten their money’s worth (we hope) in the Scott Kazmir deal. Adding the highly touted Sean Rodriguez and the potential of lefty Alex Torres and infielder Matt Sweeney (the biggest Sweeney) has put the Rays in a great position for the future.
However, after moving Mitch Talbot to Cleveland in the Kelly Shoppach trade (he was the player to be named later) the Rays find themselves potentially a little thin in big league ready starters.
Sure, the rotation looks fine at the top with James “Big Game” Shields and Matt “Just As Big Of A Game” Garza. Spots 3 and 4 should be fine with David Price and Jeff Nieman, especially if both build on their 2009 performances.
But where do the Rays go from there?
At the moment the 5th spot is manned by Wade Davis, but he was hardly consistent in his 6 starts last season in spite of his 2-2 record and 3.72 ERA. While he struck out an impressive 36 in 36 1/3 innings, he also had games where he simply blew up.
If Davis does win the 5th spot, who do the Rays turn to should somebody or, God forbid, two somebodys get injured? In the wings stand Jeremy Hellickson (he might be ready sooner than we think-hopefully) and-<gulp>-Andy Sonnanstine. Not exactly a scenario that inspires great confidence.
The likelihood of the Rays adding a 5th starter via free agency seem small, though veterans such as Vicente Padilla and Joel Pineiro might be interesting (both would likely expect more than the Rays could afford).
At the moment it seems that Joe Maddon’s squad will be content with the arms they have and head into Spring Training hoping for two things: 1) that those aforementioned arms remain healthy; and 2) that one of the guys in camp really stands out to claim the 5th spot.
We are now through the first week of Septemeber! The season is quickly approaching its final end.
It feels like a good time to get away from what the Rays might be doing on the field these days (especially since it could be better) and take a look at the guys who have been recently added to the expanded Rays roster.
Ginny at The Watercooler and Bob at More Cowbell are doing another co-post.
This time the duo will be analyzing the September callups of the Rays and deciding whether each player’s promotion to the big club should be designated a
GOOD CALL or a BAD CALL.
Remember, just because a guy is moved to the MLB roster does not always spell good things for the team. Or does it?
Let the debate begin!
After reading Bob’s analysis, click here to See what Ginny thinks!
.282 AVE 24 2B 8 HR 44 RBI 5 SB
This is the third time Brignac has been moved from Durham to St. Pete. Over the course of the season it seems that the guy has logged more air miles than a pelican! He has had so much promise, yet has yet to break Spring Training with the club and become a regular starter. All that aside, Joe Maddon has said that having Brignac is a good thing because when starter Jason Bartlett needs a day off he can avoid putting Ben Zobrist in a position he has rarely played this year and simply plug in Brignac. I like that idea. It allows Zorilla to concentrate on 2B or RF and keep his bat steady.
10-9 3.40 ERA 1.25 WHIP 158 IP 140 K
I get chills when I think about what this guy can do on the mound.
This 24-year-old righty has been seen as the next big thing in the Rays system. How amazing is it that the Rays can continually put out the “next big thing” for their fans year after year? (see: Evan Longoria, Jeff Nieman, David Price, Wade Davis) He will make his first start Sunday for the Rays against the Detroit Tigers, and I think that the entire Republic will have its eyes glued on the screen (or in person, hopefully) to see just what the kid can do.
Having him on the roster now gets him a few major league starts before Spring Training next year. He just might have a shot at cracking the rotation next year, especially with the move of Scott Kazmir out west.
.200 AVE 2 2B 1 HR 5 RBI (11 Games)
The call on this move is kind of tricky. I think that the addition of Gregg Zaun was a godsend for a club whose catcher play was inconsistent offensively at best. Seeing Zaun from the left side and Dioner Navarro from the right side has really helped the offense click a little more from the backstop position and the results have been pretty solid (who can forget Zaun’s grand slam!?). Adding Riggs might be a mistake, though. He will not log much playing time with the big club because of the reasons mentioned above and whatever playing time he does get will take away–and disrupt–the smooth flow that has been established by the Zaun/Navi platoon. It can’t hurt having Riggs on the bench, but if he gets some playing time I think the results will be less than desirable.
Last start: 4 IP 8 H 3 R 4 BB
Sonny is kind of a strange situation in that he was brought up September 1st because of the departure of one Scott Kazmir. His first start did not go much better than the previous 15 before it. This is a great chance for Sonny to earn a spot in next year’s rotation, but he did not impress in his first game back. He’ll be moved back one day to allow Davis to start at the Trop on Sunday and to get Sonny into the double header against the Yankees Monday. I am losing some faith in Sonnanstine’s ability to get batters out, and he may be ticketed for a long relief spot if he’s not careful.
.278 AVE 3 2B 0 HR 2 RBI 8 SB (13 games)
(This is Davey Lopes…but the ‘stache is the same–I can’t find a good pic of Perez’s stache!)
If the mustache doesn’t get you excited, then you must be dead!
This is one of my favorite players. The “Columbia Kid” was impressive in his stint with the Rays last season, culminating with a 2008 playoffs to remember. He is exciting on the basepaths and plays above average defense in center or right field. His bad is adequate, but he is also young (26) and will get better. His switch hitting ability is another plus.
He comes along at the right time, for BJ Upton’s ankle injury will sideline him for a few days. I think that this is a perfect chance for Perez to show the front office that he and BJ are the same age, possess the same skill set (minus the power for Fernando), but totally different salary situations. Hmmmmm….
The September callups for the Rays used to mean that the year was over. That it was time to figure out what to do next year.
I don’t think that is the case just yet, though things don’t look so great.
The guys above are all guys who could/should break Spring Training on the Rays major league roster. They should all be contributers to next year’s team as well.
This opportunity, though, comes with alot riding on it. Not only do they get to audition for the team for next season, but they can help get the team to the playoffs if they do well.
I’m hoping for some great baseball from these guys over the next few weeks!
KEEP AN EYE OUT FOR OUR NEXT CO-POST, COMING SOON!