Results tagged ‘ Tampa Bay Rays ’
The Tampa Bay Rays have had their fair share of touted prospects in their nearly 15-year history.
Stars such as Scott Kazmir, Evan Longoria and David Price are Rays who lived up to their high expectations. The organization, however, has seen a handful of busts and underachieving prospects as well.
Without further delay, here’s a look back at the four Rays prospects who never lived up to the hype.
Drafted third overall in the 2001 MLB Draft right behind Joe Mauer and Mark Prior, Dewon Brazelton was expected to be the Devil Rays’ ace for years to come.
He never would find success at the big league level, though, struggling mightily throughout his brief five-year MLB career.
Brazelton posted a lifetime 8-25 record and a 6.38 ERA, pitching most of his innings with Tampa Bay.
B.J. Upton is obviously nothing near a prospect bust, but he has yet to live up to the very high expectations put upon him since the age of 17.
Over eight seasons with Tampa Bay, the now 28-year-old centerfielder was a productive player. He put up a .255/.336/.422 slash line with 118 home runs, 232 stolen bases and a 107 wRC+.
Upton will likely never live up to the hype of being a No. 2 overall draft pick and the No. 2 ranked prospect in all of baseball in 2004, but his tenure with the Rays wasn’t all that disappointing.
Delmon Young’s case is similar to B.J. Upton’s: He was a Devil Rays top prospect who simply never played as well as expected, and is now a somewhat productive big league outfielder.
One year after Upton was drafted second overall, Young was taken by Tampa Bay first overall. He was ranked in the top three of Baseball America’s Top 100 Prospects list four straight years (2004-2007), including being ranked the game’s No. 1 prospect in 2006.
The kid who was once expected to be an MVP caliber slugger has turned out to be a career 97-wRC+ and -0.3 WAR player.
General Manager Andrew Friedman really made the right move when he traded Young to Minnesota in a blockbuster deal before the 2008 season which included Matt Garza and shortstop Jason Bartlett, two guys who would help bring Tampa Bay its first pennant that year.
Rocco Baldelli was another top prospect who was a key part of the Devil Rays’ once bright outfield future.
Baldelli, a former sixth overall draft pick and No. 2 ranked prospect, didn’t disappoint at all to begin his career. He had a successful first two seasons, finishing third for Rookie of the Year in 2003 and quickly becoming a fan favorite in Tampa Bay.
It would only go downhill from there for Baldelli, however, as a rare muscle disease caused him numerous injuries and derailed his promising career.
Rocco, now retired, owns a career 98 wRC+.
It hasn’t been an ideal start to the year for the Tampa Bay Rays. With one quarter of the season already behind us, the Rays currently stand at an even 20-20.
The’ve really underachieved overall as a team, as things simply aren’t falling into place for them just yet.
With a strong offense and a struggling bullpen, it’s looked like 2009 all over again so far for Tampa Bay. They missed the playoffs and finished the season with just 84 wins that year, so Rays fans hope their team is not going down a similar path.
After the first 40 games of the 2013 season, here’s a graded evaluation of the Rays’ offense, starting rotation, bullpen and defense.
The Rays currently have the third best offense in Major League Baseball with a wRC+ of 108.
Evan Longoria and James Loney have both enjoyed red-hot starts to the season. Longoria has posted a .417 wOBA and Loney is leading the league in batting at .367.
Kelly Johnson and Sean Rodriguez have both been pleasant surprises. Johnson’s posted a 119 wRC+ and Rodriguez has looked like a much-improved hitter, putting up a .326 wOBA in 60 plate appearances.
Below’s a chart of every player’ wOBA compared to their preseason projections (Fangraphs’ ZIPS projections):
Overall Grade: A-
With statistically one of the league’s best offenses, I thought the Rays deserved a high grade here. The difference between an A- and an A+ for me was the first two weeks of the season where the offense was anemic. Since late April, however, the lineup has been scorching hot.
“Disappointing” is the best word to describe the Rays’ starting rotation at the first quarter mark. Tampa’s starters have posted a collective 4.05 ERA (16th in MLB) and a 4.22 FIP (18th in MLB).
Shockingly, the starting pitching struggles have stemmed from the rotation’s front two: David Price and Jeremy Hellickson. Price—who’s now on the 15-day DL—is 1-4 with a 5.24 ERA through nine starts and Hellickson is 1-2 with a 5.25 ERA through eight.
There has been two bright spots in the rotation, however, as youngsters Matt Moore and Alex Cobb have both shined. Moore is an impressive 7-0 with a 2.44 ERA and a 9.56 K/9, while Cobb is 4-2 with a 2.89 ERA and a rotation-leading WAR of 0.9.
Roberto Hernandez has been nothing more than decent in his first seven starts. He’s 2-4 with a 4.43 ERA, but he’s actually looked pretty encouraging. His career-high 8.65 K/9 rate, 3.43 SIERA and 3.45 xFIP are possibly signs of a comeback year for Hernandez.
Overall Grade: C-
What was expected to be one of the better bullpens in baseball as turned out to be somewhat of a disaster. Tampa’s ‘pen ranks fourth worst in the league in ERA (4.67) and sixth worst in FIP (4.04).
Closer Fernando Rodney has been suprisingly lousy so far, blowing three saves in 10 opportunities to go along with a 5.28 ERA and a pair of losses. Jake McGee (8.80 ERA), Kyle Farnsworth (6.52 ERA), Jamey Wright (4.24 ERA) and Brandon Gomes (5.40 ERA) have all struggled as well.
The Rays have held leads in 34 of their 40 games this season, and have blown countless leads late in games. The bullpen is simply going to have to improve if the Rays want a shot at competing in October.
Overall Grade: D
They have the best defensive corner-infield combo in the game with Evan Longoria and James Loney, Longoria, as usual, has been nothing short of amazing this season, leading the team with a 3.8 UZR as he continues to play like a Gold Glove caliber third baseman.
In the outfield, Desmond Jennings has done a fine job adjusting to centerfield, posting a 3.2 UZR. Sam Fuld and Matt Joyce haven’t done a very good job in the corners, but Fuld still covers plenty of ground and Kelly Johnson has bolstered the outfield defense a bit.
Johnson’s also played very well at second base thus far, owning a 0.8 UZR at the position.
At shortstop, Yunel Escobar has proven to be the defensive upgrade he was signed for. He gives the Rays the adequate-fielding everyday shortstop they haven’t had since Jason Bartlett in 2010.
As for the Rays’ catching tandem, both Jose Molina and Jose Lobaton have been below average in terms of throwing out runners and blocking pitching. It’s obviously a big minus for the overall defense, but it doesn’t erase the fact that Molina is the best framing catcher in the game.
Overall Grade: B
When the Tampa Bay Rays signed veteran catcher Jose Molina to a two-year deal worth $3.3 million following the 2011 season, they actually got much more than what the 37-year-old’s numbers show.
However, where Molina’s value lies is in a part of catching that isn’t calculated: The art of framing pitches.
Although he may not be the superstar that his younger brother Yadier is, framing pitches is one thing that Jose does better than both of his brothers. In fact, he’s probably been the best at it in all of baseball over the past years.
His pitch-framing wizardry has made a significant impact with the Rays as well as other teams he’s played with throughout his 14-year career. Tampa had the best pitching staff in the MLB in 2012, ranking first in ERA, FIP, strikeouts and strike percentage. Molina, who caught 102 games for the Rays last year, more than likely had something to do with this historic success.
Here’s some examples of Molina’s special talent:
As you can see, frustrating opposing batters and making umpires look bad is something that Molina has a knack for.
Molina’s excellency in framing pitches does not only make him a valuable catcher, but it also can contribute to a pitcher’s success.
Fernando Rodney is one pitcher that comes to mind. With Molina behind the plate for over half the innings he pitched last season, Rodney’s called strike percentage went up 4.44% from the previous season (without Molina). There were obviously multiple factors that played a part in Rodney’s career year in 2012, but Molina was probably one of them.
Two more examples come from when Molina was with the Yankees; Mariano Rivera and Mike Mussina both in 2008. Rivera had arguably the best season of his great career with Molina catching most of his innings. His CLDSTR% increased 4.36% that year from 2007.
Molina was also behind the plate for all but 10 innings pitched by Mussina during his impressive 20-win season. Mussina, who was pitching the last year of his career at age 39, saw his CLDSTR% go up 3.86% from his disappointing 2007 campaign.
Now in 2013, what I’ve observed is that Molina’s glovework helping out sinkerballers Alex Cobb and Roberto Hernandez. Both starters are dependent on throwing quality pitches low in the zone. With Molina catching, that strikezone widens a bit, which Joe Maddon has clearly taken into consideration.
Cobb is off to a great start to the season, while Hernandez—despite some ugly numbers—is having an encouraging start with some positive signs towards a turnaround year for him. Molina has caught most of the time for Cobb and Hernandez, while Jose Lobaton has received more playing time with David Price, Matt Moore and Jeremy Hellickson on the mound.
In conclusion, Jose Molina is living proof of how much a catcher can positively affect a pitcher and even an entire pitching staff. He may not be good at blocking balls or even throwing out baserunners (at this point in his career), but framing pitches is one asset he’ll likely never lose as long as he’s in the league.
A David Price trade is pretty much inevitable; the question is when and with which team.
The reigning Cy Young award-winner could leave Tampa as early as this summer if the Rays fall out of contention, but could possibly stick around for two or even three more years. My guess is that he’s dealt this offseason, but when GM Andrew Friedman decides to pull the trigger depends any many factors.
After mammoth contracts signed by other elite pitchers recently (Zack Greinke, Justin Verander and Felix Hernandez), the Rays clearly won’t be able to afford Price long-term, which is why it’s time for the Rays to search for potential trade suitors.
Here are a few potential trade packages that should be able to pry Price from Tampa Bay.
St. Louis Cardinals
The Cardinals definitely have the capability to acquire David Price with the extremely deep farm system that they have.
The question is whether the Red Birds will want to take a huge chunk out of their talented pool of prospects, giving up some depth that they might need in the future.
Their top prospect list is highlighted by phenoms Oscar Taveras and Shelby Miller, but the Cardinals might not need to trade away either of the two in order to get Price. Matt Adams—who’s had a terrific start to his MLB career this season as St. Louis’ first baseman—is one player who needs to be included in this deal.
Right-handers Carlos Martinez and Michael Wacha could also both be possibilities, as well as Triple-A second baseman Kolten Wong.
Here are two different Rays-Cardinals trades that I think would be fair:
Price to St. Louis in exchange for OF Oscar Taveras, 2B Kolten Wong and RHP Seth Blair or Price to St. Louis for Wong, 1B Matt Adams and RHP Michael Wacha.
Rangers everyday shortstop Elvis Andrus also inked a massive eight-year extension recently.
Like St. Louis, Texas has a stacked organization that should be able to bring them a superstar even of Price’s caliber via trade. So even if they decide to hang on to Profar, they probably could still put together a deal.
Touted Triple-A slugging prospect Mike Olt has already been subject of many trade rumors this offseason. His high offensive potential is something that should be very appealing for the Rays.
Tampa’s also going to want a high-ceiling arm in the package. Southpaw Martin Perez, another top prospect whose name has come up in multiple trade rumors, is a good fit.
Catcher Jorge Alfaro is one prospect that should be essential for this deal, as the Rays could really use a talented backstop like him in an organization that seriously lacks it.
Again, here are two different trades that might work:
Price to Texas in exchange for SS Jurickson Profar, C Jorge Alfaro and RHP C.J. Edwards or Price to Texas for 3B Mike Olt, C Jorge Alfaro, LHP Martin Perez and OF Roland Guzman.
Yet another organization loaded with minor league talent, the Cubs have a very impressive trio of top prospects to offer in shortstop Javier Baez, outfielder Albert Almora and outfielder Jorge Soler.
Right-handed pitching prospects Arodys Vizcaino, Dillon Maples and Pierce Johnson are all potential pieces to consider in a Price-to-Cubs trade.
First baseman Dan Vogelbach is another player the Rays would like to include in the package. He’s a good well-rounded hitter with great plate discipline and raw power.
Here’s a swap that I think the Rays would go for:
Price to the Cubs in exchange for SS Javier Baez, RHP Arodys Vizcaino, Dan Vogelbach and OF Jae-Hoon Ha.
We’re just a little over two weeks into the MLB regular season, but there’s been plenty of action down at the farm in the Tampa Bay Rays organization.
Top prospect Wil Myers has been the talk of the town and Chris Archer has also drawn his fair share of hype, but neither of the two have had real intriguing starts to the season.
Take a look at five names to keep an eye on as the 2013 minor league baseball season takes flight.
It’s been a fantastic start to the season for hard-throwing right-hander Alex Colome with Triple-A Durham.
Colome, who’s considered one of the top pitching prospects in the organization, has allowed just one run over 16 innings (three starts). His line includes eight hits, eight walks and 18 strikeouts.
His electric stuff has looked dominant, but he’s going to have to cut down on the walks if he wants to make his big-league debut this year. Hopefully, he can rise above the cluster of talented arms in the Rays’ system and make a positive contribution to the bullpen as soon as possible.
Right-hander Jesse Hahn was a speculated breakout candidate coming into the 2013 after his success last year in his pro debut. Following Tommy John surgery which sidelined him for the entire 2011 season, Hahn hit his stride with short-season Hudson Valley in 2012. He got better as the season progressed, and clearly hasn’t cooled off yet.
Hahn’s made three starts of three innings each so far with Class A+ Charlotte, giving up just one run on six hits and one walk while striking out 11.
It really looks like it could the beginning of a big breakout year for the 23-year-old right-hander.
Catcher Alejandro Segovia is another player who is worthy of the breakout prospect discussion.
The 22-year-0ld Venezuelan native is batting .286/.333/.619 with four home runs and 10 RBI through 12 games. His exciting power is definitely something to watch as the season progresses.
Talent at the catching position is something that the Rays organization lacks, so Segovia emerging as a top prospect would be huge.
Alex Torres’ name kinda got lost in the mix last year after an atrocious year with Durham. Again with the Bulls in 2013, the 25-year-old southpaw looks to be turning things around so far.
Torres has made two starts (11 innings), not allowing a single run while striking out 11 batters and letting up just four hits. Control has been the biggest issue for Torres throughout his entire career, which is why it’s both surprising and encouraging to see that he’s walked only one batter thus far.
Torres is a guy who already has some major league experience as a reliever, so if he stays on track he could possibly see time in the ‘pen.
It was a big year for Jeff Ames’ development last season. The 2011 first-round draft pick had a outstanding campaign with Hudson Valley, and has started his first full pro season (Class A Bowling Green) off on the right foot.
Ames surrendered just two runs (both home runs), five hits and one walk with 15 strikeouts over his first three first starts (five innings each).
He’s a player with sky-high potential and believe he’ll shine this season in the Midwest League.
It’s been a rough start to the year for the Tampa Bay Rays. Anemic offense has been the theme of the first two weeks of the season, which shows in the Rays’ 5-9 last-place record.
But of course, it’s still very early, and anything can happen in the next 149 games. Life in the AL East is never easy, however, as the Rays have plenty obstacles to overcome in duration of the season if they want to be crowned division champs in October.
Without further adieu, here are the four biggest barriers for the Rays standing in the way of a division title.
The Rays have their work cut out for them this year, as they compete in what is maybe the toughest divisions in all of sports.
The New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, Toronto Blue Jays and Baltimore Orioles are all potential playoff teams in 2013. Each one of them is a definite threat to a division title, but the Rays have a good enough team to compete with all four of these talented clubs.
There are a few things we’ve learned about Tampa Bay’s competitors after the first two weeks of the season. If one thing’s for sure, the Yankees are no team to overlook. Despite having a huge chunk of their roster out with injury, the Yanks stand at a surprising 8-5, as they’ve been finding ways to win ballgames while on the mend.
Once they get the rest of their team back—which includes Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira, Curtis Granderson and Michael Pineda—they should be very dangerous.
The Red Sox didn’t come into the season with high expectations at all, but have started off the season very strongly with a first-place 10-4 record. Boston’s rotation was supposed to be the team’s main weak spot, but has shockingly been outstanding thus far. Their rotation has been by far the best in the division and probably the best in the American League, posting a 2.30 ERA and a 3.45 FIP.
The Orioles have began to prove that their 2012 success was not a fluke. They’ve played solid baseball and appear to have a pretty well-rounded team. The O’s are a team to watch out for if Chris Davis continues to put up big-time numbers at the DH spot.
As for Blue Jays, it’s been a disappointing start for them. As bad as they look right now, they’re a team that can turn things around quickly with that star-studded roster. Jose Reyes’ ankle injury, however, will be a big blow for them until he returns after the All-Star break.
The Rays’ offense has been flat-out awful in the first two weeks of the regular season. With a wOBA of .277 and a wRC+ of 77, they are currently the worst hitting team in the American League.
Outside of Evan Longoria, Ben Zobrist and Kelly Johnson, who’ve all had solid starts to the year, nobody in the lineup has given the Rays any kind of significant production offensively.
Lack of power is one of the main issues for Tampa Bay, as they’ve posted just a .113 ISO. Another major concern is the how much runners the Rays are stranding on base. They’ve had a very tough time getting the man in, hitting just .192 with RISP.
Although the offense is very worrying for Rays fans at the moment, there is an optimistic way of looking at it: It will more than likely only get better from here.
Designated hitter Luke Scott has been out with a calf injury since spring training and has yet to play this season. Once he gets back, the lineup will surely be more potent with Scott in and Sam Fuld out.
As the season progresses, the Rays will also get a boost from their minor league system. Wil Myers should be terrific addition later in the year, and Brandon Guyer could also contribute.
In 2012, the injury bug was the largest barrier that stood in the way of a third division title for the Rays. Evan Longoria’s hamstring tear highlighted a plethora of injuries suffered by a very banged-up ball club.
So far this season, the Rays have done a pretty good job avoiding the DL. Luke Scott is the only player who has missed any time at all this year due to injury.
For this team to function properly, the entire team is going to have to stay relatively healthy throughout the season. I don’t see the Rays winning the division as a possibility if they’re hit with injury issues again.
Tampa Bay has a handful of prospects who could be a key part of the team later this season.
Wil Myers, who is arguably baseball’s top hitting prospect, may be the Rays’ X-factor once he’s called up to the majors. He appears to be about ready for The Show, but it’s possible he won’t make his MLB debut until July due to financial reasons.
Whenever he is called up, his immediate impact will be crucial, especially with the lineup as weak as it is.
Outfielder Brandon Guyer and middle infielders Hak-Ju Lee and Tim Beckham are other position player prospects who could all see big league action this year. All three have the potential to bolster both the Rays’ offensive and defensive depth down the stretch.
the Rays have probably more pitchers on the verge of breaking into the majors this season than they do hitters. Chris Archer—the organization’s top upper-level pitching prospect—looks to be ready to take over a spot in the rotation once the time comes. This time, he’ll likely stay there for good.
The development of these Triple-A prospects will definitely come to play in this year’s pennant race. They Rays might need as many minor league contributions as they can get in order to win the AL East.
A tough loss spoiled what was great Opening Day atmosphere at a sold-out Tropicana Field Tuesday afternoon.
Cy Young award winner David Price took the mound against former Ray Jason Hammel. It wasn’t one of Price’s better starts, as he struggled with command throughout the game.
Matt Wieters—who was one of three Orioles hitters to have big games offensively—started the scoring with a two-run homer in the first inning.
Although those were the only two runs Price would allow, he didn’t exactly settle in after the first. He managed to get through only six innings (100 pitches), and finished the day with 7 hits, 2 walks and 4 strikeouts. Great defense behind him, most notably from Evan Longoria who made three outstanding plays at third, helped out Price a lot in this ballgame.
Overall, it was a pretty solid start from Price, who kept his team in the game throughout. The three issues he had were with efficiency, some mislocation—which led to a handful of hard-hit balls—and velocity. It shouldn’t be a concern, though, as it was his first start of the season.
Offensively, the Tampa’s bats were worryingly quiet in the first three innings. They put together only one single, which was the only runner to reach until the fourth.
Ben Zobrist, who had that only hit, opened up the scoring for the Rays with a solo dinger to right, making it a one-run ballgame. All the way up until the sixth, Hammel was still flying through frames, on pace for a complete game in terms of pitch count.
The Rays were able to get to Hammel in the sixth. Kelly Johnson started off the rally with a leadoff walk, and then Desmond Jennings—who looked great all day at the plate—followed with an game-tying double down the third base line. After a Sam Fuld bunt, the Rays took the lead with a sac fly off the bat of Zobrist.
Jake McGee entered the game in relief of Price in seventh, looking to keep it a 3-2 game in Tampa’s favor. Unfortunately, it was the turning point in this game as things would unfold for McGee and the Rays.
McGee found himself in a jam: Two runners on with two outs and Adam Jones up to bat. Two high-velocity fastballs got him ahead in the count 0-2, leaving Jones—who hadn’t had success at all in the past against McGee—in a bad position. But McGee, who was struggling with command from the beginning of his outing, missed location very badly, giving Jones a fastball right down the middle:
He took advantage, and raked the pitch into the left-center field gap for a two-run double, giving Baltimore a 4-3 lead.
After intentionally walking Matt Wieters, the lefty swinging Chris Davis was next to face McGee. With two men on, Davis crushed the first pitch he saw for a three-run blast, blowing the Orioles’ lead open to 7-3. He was served with a slow 91 MPH pitch in a terrible location:
It was a day to forget for McGee, who is one of baseball’s best up-and-coming relievers, but simply didn’t have it Tuesday. He gave up five earned runs on four hits while recording just two outs in what was the worst performance of his big-league career. He allowed just 12 runs in the entire 2012 season (55.1 IP).
There wasn’t much action in this game after the seventh. Jamey Wright, who relieved McGee, escaped a bases-loaded jam in the eighth without any damage. Cesar Ramos had a 1-2-3 ninth inning.
The Rays tacked on one more run via a Sam Fuld RBI groundout in the eighth, but weren’t able to get any kind of rally going against Baltimore’s strong bullpen.
Here’s some notable stat lines from Tuesday’s game:
- D. Jennings: 2-4, 2 R, RBI, SB
- B. Zobrist: 2-3, R, 2 RBI, HR
- E. Longoria: 1-4
- A. Jones: 3-5, 2 R, 2 RBI
- M. Wieters: 2-3, 2 R, 2 RBI, 2 BB
- Here’s a full boxscore
The Rays return to action tonight against the Orioles for Game 2 of this three-game series. Jeremy Hellickson will start against right-hander Wei-Yin Chen.
After a long winter of anticipation, baseball is finally returning to Tropicana Field! The Rays will kick off the 2013 season today at 3:10 ET with a sold-out home opener against the Baltimore Orioles.
Lineups for the game are out.
Rays: Jennings CF, Fuld RF, Zobrist 2B, Longoria 3B, Joyce LF, Escobar SS, Loney 1B, Molina C, Johnson DH, Price P
Orioles: Markakis RF, Machado 3B, Jones CF, Wieters C, Davis 1B, Hardy SS, Reimold LF, Pearce DH, Roberts 2B, Hammel SP
The Rays finalized both their 40-man and 25-man roster Sunday. With DH Luke Scott headed to the DL, right-handed power hitter Shelley Duncan was added to the Opening Day roster as his replacement.
Relievers Jamey Wright—who will be in the bullpen Opening Day—and Juan Carlos Oviedo (60-day DL) were added to the 40-man roster as well.
Utility man Stephen Vogt and catcher Robinson Chirinos were both designated for assignment to make room on the roster.
Here’s a look at the complete 40-man roster, including player contract statuses and payroll:
Courtesy of RaysIndex.com. All players in white except for Oviedo are on the Opening Day roster.
News from around the league:
- MLB’s first slate of regular season games was yesterday. The Red Sox beat the Yankees 8-2 in Yankee Stadium, Bryce Harper homered twice, and Clayton Kershaw had a performance for the ages. Here’s a complete scoreboard from Sunday’s action.
- The Rangers signed shortstop Elvis Andrus to a huge eight-year extension.
The Rays capped off spring training in Tropicana Field Saturday afternoon, tying the Tigers 3-3.
Matt Moore, who has struggled throughout the spring, had a much improved start in this game. He pitched four scoreless innings, allowing just one hit, one walk and struck out five.
All of Tampa’s offense came from three solo home runs off the bats of Ryan Roberts, James Loney and Sean Rodriguez.
Five of the Rays’ seven relievers made appearances Saturday, each of them tossing one inning each. Kyle Farnsworth, Joel Peralta and Fernando Rodney all had scoreless outings. Jamey Wright allowed two runs on two hits and Jake McGee gave up a run on two hits.
The Rays finish Grapefruit League play with a 15-17-2 record. Their next game is Opening Day at the Trop versus the Baltimore Orioles, David Price will make the first pitch of the season at 3:10 ET.
Here’s a full boxscore of Saturday’s exhibition.
Rays News and Notes:
- Luke Scott has been placed on the DL, and is out for a minimum of 2-3 weeks with a strained right calf. The Rays will announce his replacement today, with Brandon Guyer possibly the favorite for the job.
- Buster Posey and Justin Verlander both inked huge contracts Saturday. Verlander’s record deal just reaffirms that the Rays won’t be able to afford David Price long term, Buster Olney tweets.
The decision for the fifth starter in the Rays’ rotation is finally in. Roberto Hernandez will join Tampa Bay’s starting five and Jeff Niemann will start the season in the bullpen.
#Rays have named Hernandez their fifth starter. Niemann will pitch out of the bullpen. Starters: Price, Hellickson, Moore, Cobb, Hernandez.
— Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) March 29, 2013
Jeff Niemann—who competed well and made this a very tough decision for Joe Maddon—had the better spring. He posted a 2.92 ERA with 17 strikeouts and four walks over 24.2 innings in Grapefruit League play, while Hernandez posted a 5.33 ERA with 14 strikeouts and six walks over 27 innings.
Despite performing better, Niemann lost this job due to lack of velocity during spring training. He didn’t even reach 90 MPH on his fastball once, which obviously concerned the Rays considering his average fastball velocity lifetime is 91.3 MPH.
#Rays will put Niemann in bullpen, give him time to build velocity, use him in long relief for now.
— Marc Topkin (@TBTimes_Rays) March 29, 2013
Another reason why Hernandez got the edge over Niemann is because Maddon, at the moment, believes that the 32-year-old veteran can provide more innings. Getting deep into games is maybe the biggest thing Maddon was looking for out of these two.
Another advantage in Hernandez’s favor is the fact that he does well enticing groundballs, something that he’s had success in throughout his entire career.
Niemann, who will serve as the Rays’ long reliever, has not not been a successful relief pitcher in the past. However, his steady increase in groundballs over the last years could be a positive sign.
#Rays Niemann disappointed at decision, felt he did all he could, but willing to accept new role in bullpen
— Marc Topkin (@TBTimes_Rays) March 29, 2013
Remember, Niemann had a shoulder injury at the end of last season, so he’s not in the same form as he was in the beginning of last year.
The Rays also announced the order of their rotation this morning:
So #Rays rotation is Price, Hellickson, Hernandez, Moore, Cobb
— Marc Topkin (@TBTimes_Rays) March 29, 2013
Hernandez will actually slot in the third spot in the rotation, due to the way things line up from spring training, giving everyone the full-time rest they need.
At the end of the day, this decision is really just a makeshift roster move by the Rays, as prospect Chris Archer will soon be called up to take over the fifth spot in the starting rotation. Unti then, it will be interesting to see if Hernandez will become the next verteran arm to turn his career around with the Rays.
Here’s Maddon on his choice: