Just a quick note to send off Dan Johnson uhh, urm, umm…well, I guess. Our AAA all-star first baseman has chosen to become a free agent by declining a move that would find him, yet again, in AAA Durham. Yes, to be fair DanJo is indeed a class act. However, manners and likability do not a major league slugger make.
According to MLB Trade Rumors, the Rays have exercised both Big Game James Shields $7.5 million and Kyle Farnsworths $3.3 million one year options. However, they declined Kelly Shoppach’s $3.2 million option.
Is it an understatement to say that picking up both Shield and Farnsy were easy decisions? I’d say so!
Shields posted a 2.82 ERA with 8.1 K/9 and 2.3 BB/9 in 249 1/3 innings in 2011, including a league leading 11 complete games and for shutouts. It’s safe to say that Shields trade value has sky-rocketed through the roof though Rays executive VP of baseball operations Andrew Friedman has made mention that he’d prefer to preserve the Rays pitching depth. Farnsworth posted a 2.18 ERA with 8.0 K/9 and 1.9 BB/9 in 57 2/3 innings out of the bullpen in 2011 as the Rays “closer”.
In not so humorous news, former director of baseball operations for the Rays, Dan Feinstein, has left the Rays organization to join the Oakland Athletics, where he will be director of professional scouting and baseball development. Feinstein would have been the next in line for the general manager role if Rays executive vice president Andrew Friedman were to go elsewhere. Feinstein has been Friedman’s right hand man for the last six seasons, and because of this move, a lot of speculation has been made as to whether Friedman will take the role of team president for the Los Angeles Angels. The Los Angeles Times reported today that the odds of Friedman being lured away are “slim”. Be still my pitter-pattering heart…
Former Rays special assistant, Dave Eiland, has taken the position of pitching coach for the Kansas City Royals. After spending one season as Rays special assistant, Eiland made his intentions known, that he’d again like to be a pitching coach toward the end of the 2011 season. The St. Petersburg Times reported Eiland as saying, “I’m very happy; it’s what I do, I wouldn’t have left Tampa Bay for any pitching coach job. It had to be the right fit, and Kansas City felt like a very good fit.”
Let’s talk for a moment, shall we. I know, I know…I’ve been really busy lately. Between work, keeping up with what’s going on in the world, relationships, the band, and the imminent return of Beavis and Butthead, I’ve been a bit stretched at the seams and my head has become a bit cloudy. That’s a relatable feeling, innit? Because of those types of things not to mention the effective end of the season (read: ours at least), most of us pay no mind to things surrounding the Rays in the Hot-Stove period. With all of that in mind, imagine my chagrin when I read that Tampa is possibly willing to contribute $90-$100 million toward the building of a new stadium on that side of the bay. Wait, what’s that mayor Buckhorn? You’re not going to get involved in this issue? Hmm…
Nevertheless, mayor Foster has said that he, along with the St. Petersburg city council, would have to put off talks regarding the future of the Rays in St. Petersburg, until October. Mind you, he said this toward the end of August/beginning of September during the same meeting that he also mentioned that he has a secret plan to save the Rays, but I digress…
Well mayor Foster, it’s now a bit past the middle of October, and we’ve seen hide nor hair of any meetings. We also haven’t heard of the scheduling of any meetings or public forums in the near future. Something smells fishy, and I don’t like it. Mayor Foster, I call BS on you.
Folks, it looks like it is up to us to light that proverbial flame beneath the collective bottoms of the mayor, city council, and Pinellas County Commission. Below are the snail mail and email contacts of the above mentioned people/local government entities. While we wait for those folks to try to devise a plan to save the Rays, let’s load their respective mail boxes (email and otherwise) with messages of our concerns. In short, losing the Rays would be detrimental to Pinellas County as a whole. Let’s let them know how we feel!
City of St. Petersburg
175 Fifth Street North
St. Petersburg, FL 33701
City council administrative officer: Terri.Scott@stpete.org
General city council email address: email@example.com
Mayor Foster: firstname.lastname@example.org
Board of County Commissioners
315 Court Street
Phone: (727) 464-3377
Neil Brickfield: email@example.com
Norm Roche: firstname.lastname@example.org
Nancy Bostock: email@example.com
Susan Latvala: firstname.lastname@example.org
Karen Seel: email@example.com
John Morroni: firstname.lastname@example.org
Kenneth Welch: email@example.com
Well kiddies, it’s that time of year that we refer to as the Hot-Stove. Let’s talk about a couple of things in today’s Hot-Stove edition of Raysbaseball.co. Most notably, let’s talk about any off-season transactions, or rumors herein. There are ten players currently on the Rays roster that can be separated into three categories: free agents, up for arbitration, and players that the Rays hold options on. It’s not certain whether these players will get extensions on their contracts, more money, or re-signed. The future is, as they say, unwritten. Nevertheless, let’s break those ten players up into the three categories, and discuss things a bit.
Johnny Damon, Casey Kotchman, and Juan Cruz
Up For Arbitration
JP Howell, David Price, Jeff Neimann, Joel Peralta, and BJ Upton
Players That the Rays Hold Options On
Kelly Shoppach, and Kyle Farnsworth
Both Johnny Damon and BJ Upton have stated publicly that they’d like to remain on the team. According to Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times, Damon went as far as to say:
I don’t even feel like packing anything up, I felt like this was the perfect fit. … I would love to be back.
I speak for many a Rays fan when I say we’d love to have Johnny back. His one year, $5.25 million contact was a small price to pay for his stability and experience in the clubhouse and on the field. Damon also represents a well needed bat and good speed in the lineup.
BJ Upton on the other hand, is up for arbitration and is in line to make $7 million next year. According to the same article Marc Topkin, Upton noted:
I’m hoping I’m back. That’s out of my hands, I’ve got nothing to do with that. But I’ve grown up with a lot of these guys, and the guys we’ve acquired, I enjoy being around them. So hopefully next February I’m still in a Rays uniform.
The Upton situation is a bit trickier. True, BJ did turn it on at the plate in the last third of the season. He also represents (and always has) solid defense in center. If I may paraphrase Evan Longoria, as Upton goes, so do the Rays. I’ve always contended that if Upton hit at least .270, which historically he is fully capable of, BJ could help the Rays immensely. You also can’t deny his ability to hit 20+ homers and steal 30+ bases a year. However, the Rays have played the game of what if for the last three seasons to no avail. If I could be certain that his numbers at the plate would be consistently good, then I’d be all for keeping the Bossman around. Otherwise, I hope his end of the year performance has helped him accrue more value than he had in July, because I think it’s reasonable to assume that there’s a strong likelihood that BJ might not be under the big top next season.
Out of the other eight players on the list, I’d love to see Casey Kotchman, Kyle Farnsworth, and (gulp) Kelly Shoppach on next years roster. True, Kelly didn’t have the best year at the plate, however he is the best defensive catcher in the Rays organization. With the year that Jaso had at and behind the plate, I’d much rather have a catcher on the roster that can block balls in the dirt, call a good game, and throw out base runners over someone who isn’t good on either side of the plate (read: Lobaton, Jaso, and Chirinos).
Out of the five players up for arbitration, Joel Peralta and David Price are certainly deserving of more money. Price didn’t have the best year, at least compared to 2010. Then again, his 2011 numbers are also a bit deceiving. If he had more run support, Price would easily have five or six more wins under his belt. As for Neimann and Howell (I’ve already shared my thoughts on BJ), I’m not certain if they should make more money in 2012.
When Neimann is on, he’s great. His spiked curveball and fastball are killer KO pitches! However, his lingering health issues compounded with inconsistent quality starts leave a lot to be desired. Keep in mind too, Matt Moore looks as though he’s ready to make the great leap forward into the big leagues. Would the Rays go with a six man rotation in 2012? If not, it’s obvious that someone’s going to get the axe and I’m hesitant to give James Shields his walking papers. In any case, Neimann’s 2010 and 2011 performance don’t necessitate a raise. And Howell? Oy vey, he’d be lucky to even make next years roster. I heard Durham might need a relief pitcher…
Thankfully, we’re not in a deja vu situation. That is to say, the Rays are in a much better place going into this years off-season than they were a year ago. More Hot-Stove news to come, folks!