Tag Archives: Tampa Bay Rays

Season Preview: Playoffs and Awards


With less than a week until opening day, here’s my predictions for the playoffs and the major awards as well. I already gave my division winners in each division preview post, but here’s a recap:

NL: San Francisco, Milwaukee, Philadelphia
AL: Texas, Minnesota, Boston

My two wild card predictions are Atlanta and Tampa Bay. As a result, here’s my playoff matchups:

Atlanta vs. San Francisco
Milwaukee vs. Philadelphia
Tampa Bay vs. Minnesota
Texas vs. Boston

I think that San Francisco and Philadelphia will both just have too much pitching not to advance in these matchups, and will face each other in the NL Championship. On the other side, I think that Tampa and Boston will be the top two teams overall in the league, and will advance to the AL Championship

Tampa Bay vs. Boston
San Francisco vs. Philadelphia

In the AL Championship, I think that the Boston lineup will be just too much for Tampa, despite potential flaws in the Boston pitching staff. In the National League, the addition of a 4th ace by the Phillies may be too much for the Giants, but it will definitely be a series that is built around pitching.

Boston vs. Philadelphia

In what appears likely to be the top offensive team facing off against one of the best pitching staffs in recent memory, I think that Philadelphia would likely defeat Boston. Off the top of my head guess makes me think it will take 6 games.

Awards Predictions

Here’s my picks for the major awards:

AL Rookie of the Year: Jeremy Hellickson
NL Rookie of the Year: Brandon Belt
AL Cy Young Award: Jon Lester
NL Cy Young Award: Roy Halladay
AL Most Valuable Player: Evan Longoria
NL Most Valuable Player: Ryan Braun
AL Manager of the Year: Joe Maddon
NL Manager of the Year: Ron Roenicke

Season Preview: AL East


With Spring Training well under way and the first games starting very soon, I figured it was a good time to take a look at my own predictions for the league, and the changes the respective teams have made.

Last Year’s Records
Tampa Bay – 96-66
New York – 95-67
Boston – 89-73
Toronto – 85-77
Baltimore – 66-96

Notable Additions

Baltimore – Derrek Lee, Mark Reynolds, Vladimir Guerrero, J.J. Hardy, Justin Duchscherer

Boston – Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, Bobby Jenks, Dan Wheeler

New York – Russell Martin, Rafael Soriano, Pedro Feliciano, Freddy Garcia, Bartolo Colon, Eric Chavez

Tampa Bay – Johnny Damon, Manny Ramirez, Adam Russell, Cesar Ramos, Felipe Lopez, Sam Fuld, Chris Archer

Toronto – Frank Francisco, Jon Rauch, Juan Rivera, Scott Podsednik, Brett Lawrie, Rajai Davis

Notable Losses

Baltimore – Kevin Millwood, Julio Lugo, Ty Wigginton, David Hernandez, Kam Mickolio

Boston – Adrian Beltre, Victor Martinez, Anthony Rizzo, Casey Kelly, Bill Hall

New York – Javier Vazquez, Andy Pettitte, Lance Berkman, Kerry Wood

Tampa Bay – Carl Crawford, Matt Garza, Rafael Soriano, Carlos Pena, Grant Balfour, Joaquin Benoit

Toronto – Vernon Wells, Shaun Marcum, John Buck, Miguel Olivo, Scott Downs

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Who are the Faces of their Franchise? AL East Edition


The recent signing of Eric Chavez by the Yankees and trade request by Michael Young got me thinking: which players are truly the face of their franchise right now?

Generally, this is most likely someone who is among the highest paid players on the team, and usually one of the best players on the team as well. It generally seems to be a position player, but some teams may have a pitcher as the face of the team. And of course, there’s always the possibility that a team simply doesn’t have one player who stands out from the rest. With that, here’s my thoughts on each franchise:

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Trade Review – Matt Garza to the Cubs


Another starting pitcher came off the trade market on Friday, as the Rays traded starter Matt Garza and minor leaguers Fernando Perez and Zach Rosscup to the Cubs in exchange for prospects Chris Archer, Robinson Chirinos, Brandon Guyer, Hak-Ju Lee, and Sam Fuld.

Chicago Cubs

The Cubs acquire Garza coming off what was probably his best season to date, as he posted a 15-10 record with a 3.91 ERA, 150 strikeouts and a 1.25 WHIP for the Rays. They will add him to a rather deep rotation already, with Carlos Zambrano, Ryan Dempster, Carlos Silva, and Randy Wells likely to hold spots. Also in competition for a rotation spot for the Cubs are Andrew Cashner, Tom Gorzelanny, and possibly Sean Marshall. Continue reading

Free Agent Signing – Carl Crawford To The Red Sox


I know I skipped that humongous contract that Jayson Werth signed last weekend, and I plan on getting back to that, but this signing seemed to come so far out of left field that I felt I needed to write about it first. Pete Abraham of the Boston Globe is reporting (via MLBTR) that the Red Sox have not completed their offseason spending spree, and have agreed to a contract with the top position player free agent on the market, Carl Crawford, on a 7 year, $142 million contract. Before I get into the impact on the involved parties, let’s note this: Crawford will now be the highest paid outfielder (based on Average Annual Value) in the history of baseball.

From the Red Sox Perspective

Clearly, they felt that they needed to make a gigantic splash after not reaching the playoffs last season. Crawford will bring them an excellent defender, a definitive speedster to pair with center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury, and another middle of the order type hitter. I am not entirely sure how this lineup will be constructed, but this seems like a definite possibility:

  1. Carl Crawford LF
  2. Dustin Pedroia 2B
  3. Kevin Youkilis 3B
  4. Adrian Gonzalez 1B
  5. David Ortiz DH
  6. J.D. Drew RF
  7. Jarrod Saltalamacchia C
  8. Marco Scutaro SS
  9. Jacoby Ellsbury CF

Of course, this could change by having Gonzalez and Youkilis switch to offset having too many left handed batters in a row, but I’m not sure I see a lineup that makes a lot of sense for the Red Sox that doesn’t put Crawford at the top of it. They don’t really need him to be a #3 hitter type like the Rays did, and will probably not use him that way as a result.

I find it extremely interesting to see what the Red Sox are going to do long-term. They have now committed to Crawford through 2017, and seems like they have spent an amazing amount of long term money in the past few offseasons.

That said, they do have J.D. Drew, David Ortiz, and Mike Cameron all coming off the payroll come 2012. Speaking of Cameron, I’m not sure where he plays coming into 2011 unless they are completely banking on needing another full-time outfielder for when J.D. Drew or Jacoby Ellsbury get hurt. Always a possibility at this point.

From the Rays Perspective

The Rays will receive two compensation draft picks for losing Crawford to the Red Sox. They will receive the 24th pick for sure (the Red Sox’ first round pick), and a pick in the sandwich round as well. The only way that they could possibly lose this pick is if the Red Sox were to also sign Cliff Lee (based on the Elias rankings reported by MLBTR). The team had already established previously that they were extremely unlikely to retain Crawford, as they would simply be outbid for his services. Thankfully for them, they have a player who appears to possess similar tools (which I also wrote up last year) in Desmond Jennings.

What This Means for the Free Agent Market At Large

Crawford was pretty far and away the top prize on the position player side of the free agent market. As a result, his contract may start the dominoes going for a lot of the other secondary free agents on the market. To me, the players who could stand to benefit the most include Adrian Beltre, Cliff Lee, and Carl Pavano. The rising tide raises all ships, and Beltre now is the best offensive option available who is still on the market. Pavano’s value is helped if Lee’s value goes up, and with the Red Sox taking these shots across the bow of the Yankees, I am not sure I see a scenario where the Yankees don’t offer Lee the most money of any team.

Honestly, I’m not sure that there is a future free agent that this particularly affects as of right now. There is the possibility that the Red Sox don’t get Adrian Gonzalez inked to an extension. (As of this writing, I can’t find anything involving the Red Sox that definitively states a contract extension is complete.), which could affect the First Baseman market come next offseason, but it seems likely to me that someone is going to get paid to play 1B by the Red Sox starting in 2011 regardless of whether or not it is Adrian Gonzalez.

My Overall Thoughts

This one really came out of left field (not to be punny), as I didn’t really think that the Red Sox would go out and attempt to sign Crawford. I think he’s a class guy that will fit in well with the organization, and will definitely be able to take on the role of the “face of the franchise”, but will not necessarily need to do so. It seems a bit like an overreaction to not making the playoffs in 2010, but it’s hard to argue with spending your money on a player of the caliber of Crawford. The contract’s length does concern me some, as Crawford is a player who does rely on speed pretty significantly, and the contract will pay him until he is 36 years old. But otherwise, a job well done by the Red Sox, as it clearly makes the other teams that were chasing him weaker.

Season Previews in Review: American League East


Back during Spring Training, I took a look at each team and made predictions about how each team would do and how I thought their season would go. This was the first year doing this, and I figured now was a good time to take a look back and see how it went. I’ll be going a division at a time, starting with the American League East.

Baltimore Orioles

Predicted Record: 70-92            Actual Record: 66-96

It was a tale of two seasons for the Orioles, as they spent the first half of the season clearly as the worst team in all of baseball. Nothing seemed to go right for the team, and it ended up costing manager Dave Trembley his job before too long. This left interim skipper Juan Samuel to try and right the ship, while the Orioles also continued to look for his (and Trembley’s) replacement. By the August 31st trade deadline, the team had managed to ship just one of its movable pieces for prospects with Miguel Tejada being traded to the Padres. But they had also hired Buck Showalter to manage the team, and the team has already seen a drastic improvement. This record would have actually been much further off if not for the late-season turnaround.

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The AL Connie Mack Award


Over at the Baseball Bloggers’ Alliance, we will be voting over the coming weeks on our award winners for the regular season. First up on the voting docket is the American League’s manager of the Year, the Connie Mack Award winner.

When I started to look at the manager of the year for the AL, there really were only 4 candidates who came to mind as having very good years this season. These are in order from east to west (approximately), and I will have my final vote at the bottom.

Joe Girardi (NYY)

Yes, they have continued to spend more money than any other team in the history of sports practically for their talent. But when I look at the team as it stands now, I find it really interesting that the Yankees have done so well. There is pretty clearly a large problem in the pitching rotation, with both A.J. Burnett and Javier Vazquez struggling mightily this year. C. C. Sabathia has had a great season, but the team has also had injuries to key players during the season (Alex Rodriguez, Andy Pettitte), as well as under performing players to adjust for (Derek Jeter, Curtis Granderson, Mark Teixeira).

Joe Maddon (TAM)

This was a team that seemed to be widely thought to be the 3rd best in their division, and has pretty much been at the top of the AL East’s standings from the word go. The team has been lead by their solid pitching staff, and Maddon has continued to plug in the pieces the team needs around All-Stars Evan Longoria and Carl Crawford.

Ron Gardenhire (MIN)

The expectations coming into this season were high, as the team was fresh off of locking up its brightest star (Mauer), and moving into its brand new downtown stadium. For the first time in 3 years, the team clinched the division title before the end of the season, and was actually the first to do so. Gardenhire has done this in spite of being without one or both of his former MVPs (Mauer, Morneau) since mid July. Throw in that he’s done this with a patchwork of starting pitchers behind Francisco Liriano, and the job looks even better.

Ron Washington (TEX)

He seems to be the complete surprise of the whole season for managers, as there was concern prior to the season that he would be fired due to issues involving drugs. The team was widely expected to do very little this year, and behind MVP candidate Josh Hamilton and recently converted starting pitcher C.J. Wilson the team outperformed expectations early on. Despite the distraction that the change in ownership of the team became, the team continued their excellent performance, enough so that the team went out and acquired a bona fide ace in Cliff Lee. Despite a weak division, the Rangers won it going away.

My Vote

For me, it came down to the expectation of performance, or lack there of in this particular manager’s case. No one expected the Rangers to do anything but finish out the stretch, and their skipper helped to lead them to the playoffs this season.

  1. Ron Washington (TEX)
  2. Ron Gardenhire (MIN)
  3. Joe Maddon (TAM)

Original Draft Series: #7 – Tampa Bay Rays


For those that missed the guidelines I am using for this series of posts, you can find them here.

Team #7: Tampa Bay Rays

General Managers(since 1998)

Chuck LaMar (1998-2005): 518-775
Andrew Friedman (2006-Current): 308-340

Team Performance

Playoffs Division Finish
WC League Playoff App 1st 2nd 3rd 4th Last
0 1 1 1 0 1 1 9

All information is drawn from Baseball Reference.

Position Name Acquired Years with Org.
Stats with Organization
Left?
C John Jaso 2003 – 12th Rd 7 91 gm, .280/.390/.398, 4 HR, 42 RBI, 4 SB Currently with Org.
1B Jorge Cantu Int’l FA – 1998 9 332 gm, .272/.308/.448, 44 HR, 200 RBI Traded to CIN – 7/28/07
2B Akinori Iwamura
Int’l FA – 2007 3 344 gm, .281/.354/.393, 14 HR, 104 RBI, 29 SB Traded to PIT – 11/3/09
3B Evan Longoria 2006 – 1st Rd (3) 4 3 All-Star Appearances, 2008 Rookie of the Year, 1 Gold Glove, 1 Silver Slugger
406 gm, .282/.359/.523, 79 HR, 284 RBI, 31 SB
Currently with Org.
SS Reid Brignac 2004 – 2nd Rd 6 126 gm, .254/.298/.385, 7 HR, 42 RBI, 5 SB Currently with Org.
LF Josh Hamilton 1999 – 1st Rd (1) 8 No Major League Appearances with Org. Selected by CHC – 12/7/06
CF B.J. Upton 2002 – 1st Rd (2) 8 634 gm, .261/.347/.411, 61 HR, 271 RBI, 160 SB Currently with Org.
RF Carl Crawford
1999 – 2nd Rd 11 4 All Star Appearances
1202 gm, .295/.336/.441, 99 HR, 570 RBI, 403 SB
Currently with Org.
DH Aubrey Huff 1998 – 5th Rd 8 799 gm, .287/.343/.477, 128 HR, 449 RBI, 20 SB Traded to HOU – 7/12/06
SP David Price 2007 – 1st Rd (1) 3 1 All-Star Appearance
25-13, 3.55 ERA, 307 IP, 268 K, 123 BB, 1.283 WHIP
Currently with Org.
SP James Shields
2000 – 16th Rd 10 55-47, 4.14 ERA, 939 IP, 768 K, 207 BB Currently with Org.
SP Jeff Niemann 2004 – 1st Rd (4) 6 25-12, 3.88 ERA, 341.1 IP, 243 K, 114 BB, 1.307 WHIP Currently with Org.
SP Wade Davis
2004 – 3rd Rd 6 12-11, 4.25 ERA, 163 IP, 118 K, 64 BB Currently with Org.
SP Jeremy Hellickson
2005 – 4th Rd 5 3-0, 2.05 ERA, 26.1 IP, 25 K, 4 BB, 0.759 WHIP Currently with Org.
RP Jason Hammel 2002 – 10th Rd 6 7-15, 5.90 ERA, 207.1 IP, 140 K, 96 BB Traded to COL – 4/5/09
RP Brian Stokes Amateur FA – 1998 9 3-7, 6.46 ERA, 86.1 IP, 50 K, 34 BB Purchased by NYM – 11/28/07
RP Andy Sonnanstine 2004 – 13th Rd 6 28-29, 5.23 ERA, 492 IP, 326 K, 120 BB Currently with Org.
RP Chad Gaudin 2001 – 34th Rd 3 3-2, 4.25 ERA, 82.2 IP, 53 K, 32 BB Traded to TOR – 12/12/04
RP Josh Butler 2006 – 2nd Rd 2 No Major League Appearances with Org. Traded to MIL – 4/22/08
CL Dan Wheeler 1996 – 34th Rd 5+1 13-22, 4.30 ERA, 18 SV, 228 K, 82 BB Currently with Org.
BN Delmon Young
2003 – 1st Rd (1) 4 192 gm, .293/.319/.419, 16 HR, 103 RBI, 12 SB Traded to MIN – 11/28/07
BN Matt Diaz 1999 – 17th Rd 5 14 gm, .167/.265/.367, HR, 3 RBI Selected by BAL – 2/22/05
BN Jonny Gomes 2001 – 18th Rd 6 415 gm, .235/.329/.455, 66 HR, 184 RBI, 30 SB Left via Free Agency – 12/12/08
BN Paul Hoover 1997 – 23rd Rd 5 8 gm, .190/.190/.190, 2 RBI Left via Free Agency – 10/14/02
BN Rhyne Hughes
2004 – 8th Rd 5 No Major League Appearances with Org. Traded to BAL – 8/15/09

June Amateur Draft

The Rays have done extremely well in the draft, and it is especially good to see that they have done well with their picks since they had so many in the top 10 in the first few years of their organization. This also seems like one of the teams that has retained the most of their prospects as well, as 12 of the 25 players listed above are still with the organization. Clearly, having the top pick 3 times and a top-4 pick 3 more times in the last 11 seasons is going to bring a lot of talent into the system. The team is finally seeing the fruits of their system, with a World Series appearance in 2008 and a team that is in contention here in 2010. The problem for them remains the same, in that they will become constrained by payroll soon enough. But the system remains extremely flush with high end prospects, and should allow the team to remain in contention even as free agents leave for greener pastures.

International Free Agency

The Rays have not done a whole lot in the international markets, as they generally are not big spenders in any market. But they have found a couple of nice players in Jorge Cantu and Aki Iwamura who both provided some decent value to the team while there. Iwamura probably has become more valuable as a trade piece, as he was moved to the Pirates for Jesse Chavez, who was part of the trade to acquire current closer Rafael Soriano. Other than that though, they really haven’t done much, and with the production they’ve received from the draft, there really hasn’t been as much of a need to work this market.

Overall Grade

A-. The Rays have done extremely well to acquire not only high end talent, but also a lot of it. Through the draft, they have done extremely well, and their success on the field has finally come to the Tampa market. It would be nice to see them do more in the international markets, but if they can continue to draft with this level of success, they really won’t need to improve much there. And with prospects like Desmond Jennings, Matt Moore, and Alex Torres down in the system ready to be called upon as well, they are set for the future about as well as can be expected.

Trade Retrospective: Ken Griffey Jr


I always find it extremely interesting to see how trades worked out for the teams involved, and what effects the trade had on both teams’ fortunes. I’ll be doing one of these each week, as there have been so many blockbuster trades that happened in recent years.

One of the first blockbuster trades of the 2000s was the requested, and achieved trade of Ken Griffey Jr to the Reds for OF Mike Cameron, SP Brett Tomko, IF Antonio Perez, and P Jake Meyer.

The Background

Griffey requested a trade to Cincinnati so that he could be closer to his home and his family. Griffey had posted 3 consecutive seasons of 45+ home runs and 134+ RBI, and was going to be 30 years old in 2000. Griffey was going to be a free agent after the 2000 season, and the Mariners must have known that they were unlikely to keep Griffey.

The Mariners were coming off of a 79-83 season where they finished in 3rd place, and also knew that young SS Alex Rodriguez would also be a free agent after the 2000 season. The team would most likely have to begin a rebuilding effort based on the rest of the competition in the division, and moving Griffey would help to move that forward.

The Reds had finished 1999 with a 96-67 record, losing a play-in game against the Mets for the Wild Card playoff spot. I imagine that they had to feel that bringing the elite Ken Griffey Jr in would be enough to help put them over the top in their division.

The Moving Pieces

Griffey went to Cincinnati, and almost immediately signed a 9 year, $112.5 million contract extension. The Reds slotted him in to play CF, and were hopeful that he would help to bring them closer to a championship. With 398 career homeruns, it was widely expected that he would be able to compete for the all-time home run record in Cincinnati, and reach that number before the end of the contract.

Mike Cameron was slotted in by the Mariners to replace Griffey in center field. Cameron had been the starting center fielder in Cincinnati, and posted a .256 batting average with 21 HR, 66 RBI and 38 SB. While he wasn’t going to be Griffey in the outfield, he still had the potential to be a very solid center fielder and was also under team control for 4 more seasons.

Brett Tomko was 26 and coming off of a 5-7 season record with 132 strikeouts in 172 innings (33 appearances).

Jake Meyer was a 24 year old minor leaguer who had finished the season with the Reds’ AA team. He had posted a 3.57 ERA with 16 saves between A and AA.

Antonio Perez had been an international signing by the Reds, and was a 19 year old shortstop who had dominated the Midwest League with a .288 batting average, 7 home runs, and 35 stolen bases.

What Happened Next

Ken Griffey had another excellent season, although slightly below his previous levels. He hit .271/.387/.556 with 40 HR, 118 RBI, and 100 runs scored. Unfortunately, this didn’t lead to the improvement that they had hoped, and the Reds finished 85-77, 10 games back in the division and out of the playoffs.

The Mariners, almost surprisingly, went in the opposite direction, finishing 91-71 and winning the AL Wild Card. Mike Cameron hit 19 HR and stole 24 bases while playing a solid center field.

The Net Moves

Cincinnati – First Level

  • Cincinnati had Griffey for the 9 seasons of the contract, but it didn’t quite play out the way they had hoped. Griffey spent large portions of the 2001-2007 seasons on the disabled list, and the contract hamstrung the team. The performance surrounding Griffey was poor also, as they never won more than 80 games while Griffey was with the team.
  • At the end of his stint with the Reds, Griffey had hit 210 home runs, but had only averaged 105 games per season there.
  • In 2008, he was traded to the White Sox in the hope that he could compete for a championship. The Reds acquired P Nick Masset and IF Danny Richar for him.

Cincinnati – Second Level

  • Richar spent the remainder of the 2008 and 2009 seasons with the Reds, appearing in only 23 games total. He was not brought back for 2010.
  • Masset has spent both the remainder of 2008 and all of 2009 with the Reds. He has posted a 6-1 record with a 2.74 ERA in 95 innings over the two seasons, and remains in the bullpen for the Reds in 2010.

Seattle – First Level

  • Mike Cameron spent the 2000-2003 seasons with the Mariners, averaging 152 games a season, hitting 87 home runs, stealing 106 bases, and posting a .256 batting average. He left via free agency, and no compensation was received.
  • Brett Tomko spent the 2000 and 2001 seasons with the Mariners, posting a 10-6 record overall in 43 appearances (12 starts) and a 4.82 ERA. He was traded in the 2001 offseason, along with C Tom Lampkin and IF Ramon Vazquez to the Padres for C Ben Davis, IF Alex Arias, and P Wascar Serrano.
  • Antonio Perez never played in the Majors for the Mariners, and was traded to the Devil Rays in part of the compensation that the  Mariners received for signing manager Lou Piniella. The Mariners received OF Randy Winn as well.
  • Jake Meyer never made it to the Majors, not with the Mariners or with anyone else. He was traded to the White Sox in 2002 as a part of a trade involving another minor leaguer.

Seattle – Second Level

  • C Ben Davis was included in the trade of SP Freddy Garcia to the White Sox. This trade netted the Mariners C Miguel Olivo, IF Mike Morse, and OF Jeremy Reed. Reed, it was thought, would be able to play CF for the Mariners and help to bring some offense to the lineup as well.
  • P Wascar Serrano and IF Alex Arias had essentially no impact on the Mariners, as neither played in a game for the team. Arias was released, and Serrano did not pitch.
  • OF Randy Winn played for the Mariners for the 2003-2005 seasons, being traded to the Giants at the trading deadline for P Jesse Foppert and C Yorvit Torrealba. Foppert played in AAA for the Mariners, never pitching in the Majors before being released. Torrealba spent the remainder of the 2005 season with the Mariners before being traded to the Rockies for a minor leaguer.

Seattle – Third Level

  • Miguel Olivo was traded to San Diego for a pair of minor leaguers (Nathaniel Mateo and Miguel Ojeda), neither of whom pitched in the Majors.
  • Mike Morse was traded in 2009 to Washington for OF Ryan Langerhans, who played in 38 games for the Mariners, and is currently on the Major League roster.
  • Jeremy Reed never really fulfilled the potential he was thought to possess, playing sporadically from 2004-2008 and posting a .255 batting average with 11 HR and 19 SB over the 4 seasons. He was traded after the 2008 season as a part of the 3 team trade with the Mets and the Indians. The Mariners sent RP J.J. Putz and Sean Green to the Mets, and IF Luis Valbuena to the Indians, and received back from Cleveland OF Franklin Gutierrez, and from New York received IF Mike Carp, OF Endy Chavez, RP Aaron Heilman and Jason Vargas, and prospects Maikel Cleto and Ezequiel Carrera.
  • Gutierrez is a fixture in the Mariners outfield, and widely considered to be the top defensive center fielder in all of baseball right now.
  • P Aaron Heilman was traded to the Chicago Cubs for SS Ronny Cedeno and P Garrett Olson without throwing a pitch for the team.
  • During midseason 2009, the Mariners moved SS Ronny Cedeno as a part of the trade that brought SS Jack Wilson and SP Ian Snell to Seattle.

Overall Reactions

This is a trade that overall, I thought would be really good for the Reds at the time. Griffey had shown himself to be an elite outfielder, and well on his way to being the greatest player of all time. Injuries derailed that thought, and the Reds spent a lot of money and unfortunately did not get nearly the production and wins that they had hoped for.

For the Mariners, this trade has eventually worked itself out to some extent. Frankin Gutierrez, Ian Snell, and Jack Wilson are all major players on the current Mariners roster, and the team was able to make the playoffs in 2000 and 2001 with the contributions of the players acquired.

I think that overall, this is one of those trades that had the potential to be really a good one for both teams, and in the end they both got lackluster results overall.

Team Preview – Tampa Bay Rays


Roster Makeup
Lineup Pitching Staff
Pos Name Role Name
C Kelly Shoppach SP 1 James Shields
1B Carlos Pena SP 2 Matt Garza
2B Ben Zobrist SP 3 Jeff Niemann
3B Evan Longoria SP 4 David Price
SS Jason Bartlett SP 5 Wade Davis
LF Carl Crawford Bullpen
CF B.J. Upton CL Rafael Soriano
RF Matt Joyce RP J.P. Howell
DH Pat Burrell RP Dan Wheeler
Bench RP Grant Balfour
IF Sean Rodriguez RP Randy Choate
C Dioner Navarro RP Andy Sonnanstine

Additional roster information can be found at MLB Depth Charts.

Off-Season Transactions
Key Additions Key Losses
Pos Name How Pos Name How
C Kelly Shoppach Trade (CLE) 2B Akinori Iwamura Trade (PIT)
RP Rafael Soriano Trade (ATL) RP Troy Percival Free Agency

Top Prospects: Desmond Jennings (OF), Jeremy Hellickson (P), Tim Beckham (SS)

2009 Review

The Rays were riding high off of their improbable World Series appearance in 2008, and expectations were high for repeat success in 2009. While the Rays didn’t have quite the same success, posting an 84-78 record last season, there was lots of things to be really excited about.

The offense was led by the breakout season of Ben Zobrist. Zobrist played all over the field, mostly at 2B, SS, and RF, and hit everywhere he played. He posted a .297/.405/.543 line with 27 HR, 91 RBI, and 17 SB. A rather amazing season, especially when the Rays were expected to be led by 1B Carlos Pena (39 HR, 100 RBI), 3B Evan Longoria (.281, 33 HR, 113 RBI), and LF Carl Crawford (.305, 15 HR, 60 SB).

The pitching staff was inconsistent, and really appeared to be the reason that the Rays didn’t return to the playoffs. The only starters to post sub-4.00 eras were rookie Jeff Niemann (13-6, 3.94), and Matt Garza (8-12, 3.95). The late season trade of Scott Kazmir was a bit curious, but the Rays had decided at that point that they would not catch the Red Sox, and were able to get a pretty good package for a still very young pitcher.

Team Outlook for 2010

The Rays will look to make another playoff run this season, acquiring C Kelly Shoppach to help address a lack of offensive production behind the plate. They also helped to solidify the back end of their bullpen with the acquisition of Rafael Soriano to be the closer. This is a team that would probably win the Central division on a consistent basis if they were in it, but unfortunately for them, they are not. The records they have posted in spite of having to play the Yankees and Red Sox 19 times each are a credit to manager Joe Maddon and general manager Andrew Friedman.

I think that they will be in the hunt for the majority of the season, but are going to need some luck to catch the Red Sox or the Yankees. Something to watch for throughout the season is how long it takes for the Rays to call up top prospect Desmond Jennings. If Matt Joyce struggles early on, look for him to get the call sooner. Something else is the impending free agency of LF Carl Crawford. Rays’ fans are hopeful that the sides will work out a contract extension before he hits free agency, but the Rays are likely to be priced out of the market if he gets there. As a result, the Rays could look to move Crawford if they fall out of the race early on and don’t believe that they will be able to get anything for him besides the 2 draft picks for type A free agents.

Fantasy Outlook for 2010

OF Carl Crawford was a top-tier outfielder with his 60 stolen bases last season, although he had a precipitous drop off in success after the first two months of last season. Nearly every other everyday player for the Rays is ownable in standard fantasy leagues, with 2B/SS/OF Ben Zobrist and 3B Evan Longoria being the cream of the crop. The pitching staff also is mostly ownable, although I personally have been burned by James Shields one too many times for me to recommend him. Garza should have a better won-loss record this season, and Niemann will hopefully build on his excellent rookie campaign.

Prediction for 2010

The Rays need a bit of luck to help get them past Boston and New York, and should be in this race until very late in the season, possibly even the last weekend. Unfortunately, I think that they’re going to come up a bit short, and have another excellent season that ends with no games in the postseason.

88-74, 3rd in the AL East