Posted tagged ‘Tampa Bay Rays’

Tampa Bay Rays sign Johnny Damon and Manny Ramirez

January 22, 2011

The Damon deal is 1/$5.25mil and the Manny deal is 1/$2mil.

I like it. Especially the Manny deal.

Manny can still hit. In 320 PA last season, his line was .298/.409/.460/.382/141. That’s good. He had a 1.6 fWAR, which means he was worth over $6mil. The Rays might be getting the STEAL of the off-season right here. The Yankees signed Andruw Jones for $2mil to be a part-time outfielder. Manny will be paid the same to be a full-time DH and hit a lot better than Jones will. I see no downside to this acquisition. The Rays didn’t have a DH, now they do.

I’m iffy on the Damon. He should be worth 1-2 WAR, so technically he will be “worth it”. But with the Manny signing, Damon will be the left fielder. At this stage in his career, he is a poor fielder. To me, it would make a lot more sense to stick Desmond Jennings there. He is ready and he is a top,big-time prospect. Even if Jennings struggles to hit, his defense should make him an equal player or superior player to Damon- at a cheaper price. Jennings could still patrol the outfielder if Ben Zobrist is moved to the second. While I think Sean Rodriguez should get a chance to start, a Damon-Upton-Jennings outfield with Zobrist at second might be a better lineup. Also, the Damon signing might open up the possibility of an Upton trade, a trade which could further stock the farm system or get ML talent to make the club better. So I’m neutral on the signing. It might work, it might not.

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Tampa Bay Rays reportedly trade Matt Garza to Chicago Cubs

January 7, 2011

That is the breaking news this morning/afternoon. Along with Matt Garza, the Rays will be sending a minor league pitcher and out fielder. In return, the Rays will receive Cubs top prospect Chris Archer, Hak-Ju Lee, Brandon Guyer, Robinson Chirinos, and Sam Fulds. This might not be the biggest blockbuster, but it’s a big time deal. And I like how Tampa makes out.

Personally, I think Matt Garza is overrated at the moment. He is a nice pitcher, but I believe his annual high 3 ERA overrates him, and as a result the MSM talks him up like he is a top of the rotation pitcher. Right now, he is not that good. His BB/9 is okay, as he tends to sit around 3 walks per nine. But his HR/9 is not that good. He gives up lots of fly balls and lots of home runs. He will be headed to Chicago and their infamous wind, where the ball can fly out of the park. Moreover, the division he will pitch in is home to other notorious bandboxes in Cincinnati, Houston, and Milwaukee. The only saving grace is the weaker lineups of the NL and NL Central specifically compared to the AL East.

Granted, he is just 27. I don’t think he’s been great, but I do think he is a solid, good #3ish pitcher. His FIP has been in the low 4’s the past three seasons, and he is good for 30 starts and 200 innings a year. That consistency and dependability merits some value. But he isn’t an ace pitcher- yet. I don’t think he will achieve that status with his HR tendency, but he can emerge as an All-Star caliber pitcher for a few seasons if everything goes right. So the Cubs still are getting a good pitcher. It’s just a matter of if they paid the right price.

Garza will be under team control for three more seasons. But he was paid over $3mil last season, so the 40/60/80 won’t quite work, because he was a Super 2. So I will use a 60/80/100 scale. I have him pegged at 2 WAR or a total of 6 WAR over the next three seasons. Why 2 WAR and not 2.5 or a favorable 3? Well, looking at park factors from the past three seasons, Wrigley is prone to more walks, more runs, and more homers. Garza already had an average walk rate in the Trop and a bad HR in the trop. Going to Wrigley won’t help things unless his skill in those areas improves on its own. So I have his value in 2011 at $9mil, 10$mil in 2012, and $11mil in 2013 for a total of $30. Using the 60/80/10 scale he should be paid and will probably be paid around $24mil for $30mil worth of value. So yeah, the Cubs get a good net value there. BUT, there is something to consider…

…the prospects they are giving up.

Chris Archer is the Cubs number prospect according to BA. He has put up some real good numbers in the minors so far, outside a bad walk rate, and figures to be a pretty good closer or reliever in the future. The Rays will also be getting Hak-Ju Lee, the Cubs #4 rated prospect. He is a twenty year old prospect with speed and lots and lots of potential. After trading Jason Bartlett, it appears that Tampa just got their shortstop of the future. Brandon Guyer is a defense guy. He was the Cubs #10 rated prospect, and his offense is okay. But he was the Cubs best defensive outfielder in the minors. We know Tampa loves defense. Depending on his upcoming season, Guyer could make BJ Upton even more expendable. Robinson Chirinos is a player I like. He has an AMAZING walk rate and owned the upper minors last season. Yes, he is 27. Very old for the minors and that is why he is not ranked as a top Cubs prospect. But he was converted to catcher just two years ago. Yet he is already the Cubs best defensive catcher in the minors. If he can provide sound defense and get on base, he could very be the Rays starting catcher at some point this season and contribute. They also get Sam Fulds but who cares?

So, for three years of an okay pitcher (who they won’t miss- David Price, James Shields, and Jeremy Hellickson are better for sure. Jeff Niemann and Wade Davis are good as well and Matt Moore is still in the minors…) the Rays get a team’s #1 prospect and possible future closer, future shortstop, future outfielder, and future/current catcher. That’s a good pitching prospect, two up the middle position players, and another good prospect. I am not going to call this a heist, especially since we don’t know the PTBNL, but I like this deal for Tampa- a lot. They can sell an over-hyped Garza for a lot of prospects who they can use to cover the value Garza provides and then some. I mean, lets call Chris Archer a top 50 or so pitching prospect. That’s $15mil of value right there. Garza only provides $5mil, remember? Then you have to factor in the other prospects…

However, this trade doesn’t totally stink for Chicago. They already have a dominant closer in Carlos Marmol. Lee is blocked at short because of Starlin Castro, so Lee is not as valuable to Chicago as he is to Tampa. But still, you’d think they would have drawn the line somewhere.

 

UPDATE: Fernando Perez is the outfielder going to Chicago. This doesn’t change my opinion much. A couple years ago I thought he might have been a decent player, but that ship has sailed.

Valuing the 2011 free agent class: Manny Ramirez

November 27, 2010

Manny Ramirez is one of the more recognizable baseball faces of the past generation. Despite that, he seemingly has garnered zero interest this off-season. But that’s understandable- he’s old, has behavior issues few teams want to deal with at this stage in his career, has been hurt the past couple seasons, and “struggled” in 2010.

So who would want to sign him? If you were to ask me, I’d say the Tampa Bay Rays.

Yes, the Tampa Bay Rays. They are losing Carl Crawford and Carl Pena, two players who have bolstered their lineup for the past few seasons. Even though Pena struggled in 2010, losing those two will be a blow to the offense. Manny Ramirez is one of the best hitters of all-time and even in his injury-plagued “down year” he still had a 141 wRC+ in 320 PA and an OBP north of .400. If you let him strictly DH, so that his body can rest and not deal with the rigors of fielding, I fully believe Manny will continue to produce at a .400 OBP/.500 SLG level of production. Tampa Bay could really use that production after losing two key offensive players- especially if they want to keep up New York, Boston, and even Toronto.

Now, you might ask, isn’t Manny Ramirez too expensive? The dood was paid $20mil last season. Tampa is too frugal to pay him a similar contract. You’re right. But Manny will not be getting paid much. According to this report, the best Manny will do this off-season is 800k to $5mil with incentives. Tampa Bay can afford that.

If Manny hits like he can, at the DH position, he could be a 2 WAR player. So that’s about $9mil-$10mil worth of value. Tampa Bay, as cheap as they are, will and can afford to pay someone that much if they will help the club. Manny can help the club. So if he is paid $2mil-$5mil, he could be a bargain. The best part for Tampa is that Manny will not cost them a draft pick, but when he leaves after 2011, he could net them a pick or two in return. It’s a win-win for Tampa.

Manny is looking for a new home and Tampa Bay is looking for a hitter. I think the two should get together for a little bit.

New York Yankees playoff roster

September 29, 2010

With the Yankees clinching last night, I want to take a look at the possible Yankees playoff roster for the ALDS (as every quasi-related and fully related Yankees blog has done within the past 24 hours).

First, let’s take a look at those players who are a shoe-in to make the roster.

Catcher

Jorge Posada

Francisco Cervelli

Infield

Mark Teixeira

Robinson Cano

Derek Jeter

Alex Rodriguez

Lance Berkman

Outfield

Brett Gardner

Curtis Granderson

Nick Swisher

Marcus Thames

Austin Kearns

Starting Pitchers

CC Sabathia

Andy Pettitte

Phil Hughes

AJ Burnett

Relief Pitchers

Mariano Rivera

Dave Robertson

Kerry Wood

Joba Chamberlain

Boone Logan

For those of you counting at home, that is twenty-one players who pretty much have a spot locked up. That means there are four open slots on the roster. I would guess they would take an extra infielder defense, an extra outfielder for defense, and two pitchers considering pitching is a concern. I do not think they will take a third catcher for a five game series.

The available options for the infield are Ramiro Pena and Eduardo Nunez. Personally, I would take Pena. While Nunez might be a better hitter, neither should be in the game for offense. The only playing time they should get is to base run or to replace A-Rod/Jeter on defense. Pena has a better glove and their base running skills offset, so give me Pena.

In the outfield the only option is Greg Golson. He would also be the main pinch runner and could be a defensive replacement for the hobbling Nick Swisher, or Marcus Thames if a situation occurs where he had to hit for Brett Gardner or Curtis Granderson late in a game.

Now comes starting pitching. The options here include Javy Vazquez, Ivan Nova, Dustin Moseley, Chad Guadin, Sergio Mitre, Royce Ring, and possibly Demaso Marte. Ring was in AAA all season and Marte is supposed to still be hurt, so I won’t even consider them. That leaves Vazquez, Nova, Moseley, Gaudin, and Mitre. Chad Gaudin has been all season so throw him out. Throw out Moseley since he hasn’t been great either. Despite recent struggles, I am bringing Javy Vazquez. He could be effective for a few innings at a time. The same goes for Ivan Nova. I know Sergio Mitre has been on the team all season and is a good GB pitcher, but Nova is just better. I think he could dominate for 2-3 innings where his fastball will be juiced up.

So my final roster is:

C- Posada, Cervelli

IF- Teixeira, Cano, Rodriguez, Jeter, Berkman, Pena

OF- Gardner, Granderson, Swisher, Thames, Kearns, Golson

SP- Sabathia, Pettitte, Hughes, Burnett

RP- Rivera, Robertson, Wood, Chamberlain, Logan, Vazquez, Nova

Despite our so-so performance the past two months, I’m feeling confident about this team on paper.

In my opinion, if we start out on the road, Phil should start game two. He is a mega FB/HR pitcher, so he pitches well on the road. Presumably the Yankees would be facing the Twins if they are the Wild Card team and the Twins play at Target Field, a big ballpark. That can help Phil out with his fly ball tendencies. So the Game 1 and Game 2 match-ups would be Sabathia/Liriano and Hughes/Pavano. Then Game 3 would be Pettitte/Duenseng. While the Twins are throwing good pitchers, I feel comfortable with those match-ups. It’s game four that could be scary with Burnett pitching. That is why I think we should throw a combo of Burnett/Vazquez/Nova. To limit the potential damage of each pitcher, each guy should get about one go around of the opponent’s lineup. It’s a strategy endorsed by Tom Tango as well, considering that the more times through a lineup a pitcher goes, the worse his wOBA Against is.

If the Yankees start at home, they would be play Texas. In this case, I would throw CC and Pettitte at home, and throw Phil game 3. For Game 4 I would still do the same thing I mentioned earlier.

Obviously I’d love to win the division and play Texas, but I’m starting to feel more comfortable about playing Minnesota. They will be a tough team, but not unbeatable. With four super good teams, the AL playoffs should be one of the more exciting playoffs in recent history.

Jose Bautista- Ya just can’t predict baseball

September 24, 2010

Although his name appears in the title, I am not writing about Jose Bautista. I just simply wanted to comment on a fascinating aspect of baseball seasons. Each season there is always a unique, unexpected storyline that seemingly comes out of nowhere. That, is one of the many reasons why baseball is awesome.

This year nobody expected Jose Bautista to hit fifty home runs. Last season Aaron Hill hit thirty-six home runs as a second baseman, after hitting two in 2008. In 2008 Josh Hamilton burst onto the scene after a solid partial season in 2007. Before that year began, did anyone think Yankee Stadium would be chanting his name at the Home Run Derby? In that same season the lowly Rays won 98 games in the regular season and advanced to the World Series. Even though SABR-heads thought the Rays would be good, I don’t think anyone expected them to be that good.

The point is- ya can’t predict baseball. And that’s why baseball is awesome.

Yankees should claim Hiroki Kuroda

August 25, 2010

Hiroki Kuroda of the LA Dodgers hit waivers yesterday, but New York Yankees GM Brian Cashman is standing pat. He believes there is no pitcher on the market worth making a claim for, because he believes Dustin Moseley has pitched better than anyone available.

Before I get into Cashman’s opinions, I want to talk about Kuroda.

He is good. Real good. Now that I think about it, he may be the most underrated pitcher in baseball. Seriously- the dood is a very good pitcher and I NEVER he his name mentioned as being a great pitcher by the MSM. That is especially intriguing since he pitches in LA, but I digress.

Since his debut in 2008, Kuroda has had a sub-4 ERA, FIP, xFIP, and tERA. Whoa. His career line is 6.45 K/9, 2.09 BB/9, 0.74 HR/9 with a 3.66 ERA, 3.53 FIP, 3.77 xFIP, and 3.59 tERA. Talk about consistent across the board. He also has a career 51.2% GB rate and 30.5% FB rate. So besides keeping runners off the bases by not issuing walks, he limits fly balls which prevents home runs, and induces ground balls which is key considering he has a good, but not special K rate. His 2010 season has been right in line with his career to date. He has a 7.21 K/9, 2.32 BB/9, 0.73 HR/9 with a 3.48 ERA and 3.41 FIP over 147 innings. His GB% is also at 52.6%, so Kuroda is still getting ground balls. Going forward, ZiPS believes Kuroda will maintain his production and finish with a 3.50 ERA and 3.48 FIP.

Hiroki Kuroda would be a great fit in NYS. While the jury is still out, especially with limited sample size, it looks as though NYS actually deflates a pitchers K numbers, just looking at the numbers of CC Sabathia, AJ Burnett, and Javy Vazquez. So Kuroda won’t be losing a weapon of his, since he is not a strikeout pitcher. Also, home runs are inflated at NYS, so the fact Kuroda really limits homers is crucial. As long as he keeps generating ground ball outs, the negatives of NYS will not effect him. Kuroda would also be a key member of the rotation down the stretch. Right now, the Yankees rotation as a whole is not World Series caliber. Yes, CC has been awesome as usual, but outside him there are several question marks. Vazquez was just relegated to the bullpen and was replaced by a rookie. Andy Pettitte’s injury is not healing and no one knows how will pitch when he returns, if he returns. AJ Burnett is Jekyll and Hyde. Phil Hughes has an innings limit and hasn’t been that great in the second half. Moselely is Moseley. Kuroda could step in and be our surefire number two and really bolster the rotation. CC/Kuroda/Pettitte/Burnett or Hughes sounds a lot better than CC/Pettitte/Burnett/Hughes.

So why is Brian Cashman saying the Yankees are content with what they currently have? Personally, I think it’s a bluff. In order to get Kuroda, no other team in baseball will have made a claim on him. So I believe Cashman is showing no interest on the outside no team tries to block him from the Yankees. At the same time, by “showing faith” in Moseley, Cashman is trying to bump Moseley’s value. Cashman is not a fool. Moseley was never good in the past, and hasn’t pitched that well in New York. He knows Kuroda is better. So he is probably trying to inflate Moseley’s worth and perceived value, while trying to make sure no one blocks Kuroda from New York.

Now what will it cost to get Kuroda? I cannot imagine it will be much. Including October, the number of starts he would make as a Yankee would be in the single digits, or just above ten. Despite that, the Yanks will still owe him a couple million dollars, which is offset by the fact he is a type B free agent (but I doubt New York would offer him arbitration). If the Yanks give up more than a C or D prospect, I would be disappointed. But it might just be worth it if New York wants to really strengthen its chances of beating Texas, Minnesota, or Tampa Bay in the postseason.

The Toronto Blue Jays Historic Weekend

August 8, 2010

You might not have noticed, but the Toronto Blue Jays achieved two incredible feats during Saturday and Sunday’s games against the Tampa Bay Rays. On Saturday, the Blue Jays bashed 8 home runs, including two from J.P. Arencibia in his first major league game. It was only the twentieth time in major league history that a team has hit at least 8 home runs in a single game. As if that wasn’t enough, Brandon Morrow had, arguably, the best performance by a major league pitcher this year earlier today by throwing a complete game, one hitter (which came with two outs in the ninth when a grounder deflected off the glove of Aaron Hill that seemed a little out of reach), with two walks and seventeen strikeouts. Incredible. That is in Nolan Ryan and Randy Johnson territory.

This is an example of one of many reasons why baseball is an incredible game.