Tag Archives: Jeff Niemann

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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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.

Week in Review – August 9 to August 15


If the Playoffs Started Today

Tampa Bay Rays (71-46) vs. Texas Rangers (67-49)
Minnesota Twins (68-50) vs. New York Yankees (72-45)

San Francisco Giants (67-52) vs. Atlanta Braves (68-49)
Cincinnati Reds (67-51) vs. San Diego Padres (69-47)

League Leaders

Batting Average – Josh Hamilton (TEX) .362
Runs – Mark Teixeira (NYY) 86
Home Runs – Jose Bautista (TOR) 36
Runs Batted In – Alex Rodriguez (NYY) 97
Stolen Bases – Juan Pierre (CHW) 45

Wins – Adam Wainwright (STL) and Ubaldo Jimenez (COL) 17
Saves – Heath Bell (SD) 35
ERA – Adam Wainwright (STL) 1.99
Strikeouts – Jered Weaver (LAA) 182
WHIP – Cliff Lee (TEX) 0.93

Roster Movement

To the Disabled List: Cristian Guzman, Jacoby Ellsbury, Chipper Jones, Adam Rosales, Jason LaRue, Wade Davis, Jeff Niemann, Geovany Soto, Rafael Furcal, Edgar Renteria, LaTroy Hawkins, Rich Harden

Return from the Disabled List:  Mark Teahen, Carlos Guillen, Stephen Strasburg, Kyle Lohse, Homer Bailey, Travis Hafner

To the Minors: Jess Todd, Dayan Viciedo, Brad Mills, Jeremy Hermida, Travis Wood, Will Rhymes, Ramon Troncoso

Called Up: Michael Bowden, Eric Young Jr, Chris Carter, Jeff Larish, Mark Melancon, Jeremy Hellickson, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Mark Rzepczynski

Other Roster Moves:

Top Stories and Weekly Links

  • Some extremely strange news out of New York during the week with Mets’ closer Francisco Rodriguez being arrested for allegedly assaulting his father in law. He returned to the team on Saturday and has stated that he will seek out anger management counseling after the incident. Let’s hope he can put this behind him, and soon.
  • Chipper Jones‘ career may be over after tearing his ACL on an excellent play he made during Tuesday’s game. He had surgery on the injury on Saturday, and is hoping to make a comeback in 2011.
  • The Wild-Card leading Rays took a pair of hits to their rotation this week with both Wade Davis and Jeff Niemann going on the disabled list on the same day this week. However, they are one of the few teams that can handle this loss to some extent, as Jeremy Hellickson and Andy Sonnanstine were both moved into the rotation in their place.
  • Stephen Strasburg returned from the disabled list on Tuesday, and proceeded to get shelled. He did pitch better in his start on Sunday though, and I’m wondering at this point when he gets shut down for the year.
  • Further proof of the volatility of prospects as Oakland’s top international signee from a couple of years ago, Michael Ynoa, will need Tommy John surgery and will miss the 2011 season. To date, he’s thrown 9 innings in his professional career.
  • Jonathan Broxton was removed from the closer’s role by the Dodgers on Friday, as he continues to struggle in his appearances. Hong-Chih Kuo will get the majority of opportunities for now, and I have to imagine that at some point Broxton will return to the role this season.
  • Brandon Phillips really made some noise in the critical series between the Reds and Cardinals at the beginning of the week, and unfortunately most of it was not good for his team. Between the comments he made and the bat tap on the shin guards of Yadier Molina which lead to the brawl in Tuesday’s game, it didn’t really go all that well for Phillips. Oh, and he had a poor performance as well, which really didn’t help things.
  • Apparently the Orioles should have hired Buck Showalter a lot sooner, as the team has gone on a hot streak since he was installed in the manager’s job. Since being hired, the O’s are now 9-3 since Showalter took over the team, after winning only 32 of their first 107 games.
  • Ricky Romero received a 5 year, $30.1 million contract extension from the Blue Jays, and I really like this deal for the team. They’ve locked in a really good young pitcher at a reasonable price. You know, unless something happens that doesn’t allow him to finish as well as he’s started.

From the Twitter Followers and Friends

If you aren’t yet, you can follow me over at Twitter here. These are some of the better reads I found from the previous week.

From Wezen-Ball: Larry Granillo posted a presentation that he made at SABR 40 about the statistics of the baseball played by Charlie Brown and the Peanuts gang. It’s actually really interesting, which surprised me a bit.

From Thunder Baseball: Mike Ashmore posted a great article about the minors and the effects it has on players. It’s an extremely interesting read and I highly recommend it.

Upcoming Posts This Week:

Tuesday: With the signing deadline for amateur draft picks coming on Monday, I’ll be doing a brief writeup of the notable signings and the few who didn’t sign.

Wednesday: I’ll be continuing on with the Original Draft Series, posting team #10.

Friday:  Trade Retrospective of Dan Haren being traded to the Diamondbacks. We actually have a better idea of how this trade will look for the Diamondbacks after having already been traded by them to the Angels this season. That will finish up the final trade of the series involving the A’s as well.

One Other Thing

Lastly, I wanted to bring up a charity that the Baseball Bloggers Alliance has taken up. Here’s the official word, and what you can do:

Pitch In For Baseball is delighted to have been selected to participate in State Farm’s ‘Go To Bat’ campaign.  Now we need your
help!

‘Go To Bat’ was launched nationally during the State Farm Home Run Derby.  ’Go To Bat’ gives entrants a chance to win tickets to the upcoming World Series and selected charity partners the chance to receive significant financial support.

Here’s how to play and how to help Pitch In For Baseball:

* Go to  www.statefarm.com/gotobat to register for your chance to win World Series tickets.
* As you register, you will get a chance to designate a charity that could win up to $25,000/week.
* To designate Pitch In For Baseball as your charity, select PUBLIC GOOD as the charity category and then choose Pitch In For
Baseball from the drop down list.
* Revisit www.statefarm.com/gotobat each day and play the ‘Go To Bat’ online game to increase your chances for tickets and Pitch In For
Baseball’s chance at financial support

Thanks to all the readers who help out with this. You can find a lot more information about Pitch In For Baseball at their website

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

AL Rookie of the Year Review


Andrew Bailey was announced as the winner of the American League Rookie of the Year for 2009 yesterday.

In my predictions, I thought Bailey would win the award, but it was a lot closer than I thought it would be. The voting (first place in parentheses):

Bailey – 88 votes (13)
Elvis Andrus – 65 (8)
Rick Porcello – 64 (7)
Jeff Niemann – 21
Gordon Beckham – 10
Brett Anderson – 4

Andrew Bailey
Andrew spent the majority of the 2009 season as the closer for the A’s, and was 26-for-30 in save opportunities this year. But his dominance is better illustrated in his other stats: 1.84 ERA, 91 strikeouts, a .167 opponents batting average, and a 0.88 WHIP.  His numbers were extremely comparable to the elite players at his position:

Bailey: 1.84 ERA, 91 K, .167 Opp BA, 0.88 WHIP, 26 saves
Mariano Rivera: 1.76 ERA, 72 K, .197 Opp BA, 0.91 WHIP, 44 saves
Joe Nathan: 2.10 ERA, 89 K, .171 Opp BA, 0.93 WHIP, 47 saves

Bear in mind, that Bailey did not take over the closer role until early May, and could potentially have had a lot more saves on a more competitive team. Digging in a little deeper, there are a couple of concerns I have for the next season.

Bailey’s Batting Average on Balls in Play (BABIP) was a very low .234. Those same comps had .252 (Nathan), and .263 (Rivera), so I would be inclined to believe that some form of correction to the mean may occur next season. His Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP) number was 2.56, almost a full run higher than his actual era. Again, not a huge problem necessarily for a reliever, but something to keep an eye on.

So, how did his competitors fare last season?

Elvis Andrus

Andrus was named the starting shortstop for the Rangers prior to the season. The Rangers thought so highly of him that they asked All-Star SS Michael Young to switch to 3B. Andrus definitely did not disappoint. He hit to the tune of .267/.329/.373 with 72 runs, 6 hr, and 33 sb. Andrus was also no slouch with the glove, as he compiled a 10.7 UZR rating at SS. A very good rookie season.

Rick Porcello
Porcello joined the Tigers out of spring training, and made the rotation. This was a huge surprise, considering that he had only pitched one year in the minors, and it was in A-ball at that. However, he made a very strong impact, compiling a 14-9 record with a 3.96 era, 89 strikeouts, and a 1.34 whip. They believed in him so heavily, in fact, that he was the choice to start the play-in game against the Twins on 10/6. Porcello should be a very good major league pitcher for years to come.

Jeff Niemann
Niemann made the Rays rotation out of spring training, after having a couple of starts in 2008. With a 13-6 record, Niemann was one of the few pitchers that the Rays could rely on throughout the season. He gave the Rays 180 innings, while compiling a 3.94 era, 1.35 whip, and 125 strikeouts. I frankly thought that Niemann would finish ahead of Porcello, but that could be partially due to Porcello pitching meaningful games in October. Niemann will be a solid #2-3 anchor for the Rays rotation in a system that is full of top-level pitching.

Gordon Beckham
Beckham was called up in May, and was the first player from the 2008 draft to have a meaningful impact in the Majors. He posted a very solid .270/.360/.477 line, with 14 homers, 58 rbi, and 7 steals. All while learning a new position in the major leagues. While he had some of the better stats of the season, I felt that he should be discounted slightly due to not being up for the whole season. Not really his fault, but that’s how it goes. Beckham will have another transition to make next season, as the White Sox announced that he would be moving to 2B to accommodate newly acquired Mark Teahen.

Brett Anderson
Anderson spent the whole season in the A’s rotation, and posted a respectable 11-10 record on a bad team. He really came on in the second half, going 6-4 with a 3.48 era, 86 strikeouts, and a 1.19 whip. If he puts together a full season like his second half, he’s going to be a very, very good pitcher for a long time.

Overall, this year’s AL rookie class was one of the strongest. Especially when you consider that the two top rookies in the AL at the beginning of the season aren’t here either. (Matt Wieters, David Price). This whole group should be interesting to watch for years to come.