Carlos Pena is back in a Rays uniform. He had most of his best years with the team and now he’ll be back at first base for the Rays. He’ll make $7.25 million. It’s hard to believe he’s only 33 because it seems like he’s been around forever.
I like the one year deal because it makes it very low risk. His best season is a few years behind him when he had a 1.037 OPS in 2007 but he’s had an OPS+ over 120 in four of the past five seasons. Last year with the Cubs, he hit 28 home runs but like usual, he hit just .225. He did draw more then 100 walks for the second time in his career though.
Durability can be an issue but his 153 games last year were the most of his career. He usually good for around 140 games though so if he can produce, he’s good. His defense has diminished the past few years so we’ll see if he can continue to handle first base as well as he has in the past.
The Rays signed a couple of big names and one new Ray to one year deals to avoid going to the arbitration table with these players. B.J. Upton, David Price and Burke Badenhop all signed deals today.
B.J. Upton got the biggest pay day although he’s the furthers along in his MLB career. He’ll be paid $7 million. David Price will get $4.35 million and reliever Burke Badenhop will get just over one million. I like the Price deal a ton but I think that’s a little too much for Upton. Still, I’ll take it.
J.P. Howell signed yesterday so that leaves Jeff Niemann as the lone arbitration eligible player to sign.
The Rays bolstered their bullpen with a trade with the Marlins. They sent catcher Jake Jeffries and in exchange, they got Burke Bandenhop. I like Badenhop and he should do better then his numbers warrant because the Rays should give Badenhop a nice upgrade behind with their defense. He went 2-3 with a 4.10 ERA and he also threw some innings for the Marlins Triple-A affiliate in New Orleans. Badenhop is the last guy left from the megatrade in 2007 that sent Miguel Cabrera to Detroit.
Badenhop is arbitration eligible so his pay is TBD. Jeffries split time between Single-A and Double-A. He hasn’t shown a lot of power and he probably would have been no better as a backup for the Rays over the next few years.
The Rays locked up late season callup and top prospect Matt Moore to what will hopefully end up being an eight year deal. They get Moore for five years at $14 million and there club options for 2017, 2018 and 2019 that would up the overall amount of the deal to just under $40 million.
These deals always have their downsides but Moore is a potential stud. By the end of the five years, he could be a $25 million pitcher by then. The Rays are getting him in those last three option years for just $13 million a year and if Moore goes down to injury, then they don’t take the option. It also gives the team cost certainty and they’ve locked up a few of their stars in this way.
Right now, Moore is the MLB.com’s third best prospect. Mike Trout and Bryce Harper are the only guys ahead of him.
The Rays never really had a catching hole because they signed Jose Molina pretty quickly. They’ll pay him $1.5 million for another year and then there’s a club option for 2013 at another $1.5 million.
It’ll be interesting how much time Molina gets. He’s been used primarily as a backup for the better part of his career so my bet is he ends up splitting time with one of the younger backstops. Still, Molina is never going to win a batting title, but he hit .281 last year and he’s one of the best defenders in the game. I like the move because it’s low cost, just for a year and it frees up some much needed funds for some other spots where the Rays need help at.
The Rays traded catcher John Jaso to the Mariners for an infamous player to be named later (or cash consideration) as well as right handed pitcher Josh Lueke. This is a solid pickup because the Rays have some options at catcher and in exchange they get a younger right handed reliever. Lueke had a really nice second half of the season after a rough start. Still, this kid could be a keeper.
He’s got three solid pitches and he ended up on the PCL All Star Team last year. If you look at his second half when he got called back up to the Mariners, he had a 3.42 ERA in 17 appearances with a solid 21 to 7 strikeout to walk ratio. He’s probably not going to be a Major League all star, but he’s probably good enough to help round out the pen or make a reserve if someone goes down.
The Rays pitching staff is great. The offense, while not horrible, could use a touch up or two. They finished eighth in runs scored which puts them right in the middle of the pack but while they’re twelfth in batting average, they’re sixth in OBP so I like that. They also led the AL in stolen bases with 155, but they also led in caught stealing with 62. I don’t like those percentages .
Evan Longoria anchors the offense and even he didn’t have his best year. He missed some time and only hit .244 but he made up for it with 30 home runs and 80 walks. Ben Zobrist also had a nice season with 46 doubles and 20 home runs while Justin Upton and Matt Joyce had solid season in the outifleld. Johnny Damon will most likely be gone.
Reid Brignac is the guy who has to pull it together. He played in 92 games and he had a horrendous OPS+ of 29. His slugging was just above the Mendoza line with a .221 mark. And he struck out 63 times versus 10 walks. He was a full run below replacement if you’re a fan of WAR.
With some incremental gains, the Rays should be very competitive next year. Their pitching will make the noise, but they definitely have some fire power to help things along when those pitchers have a rough start or two.
Well, the Rays are the playoffs. It wasn’t looking good because they were down 7-0 to the Yankees as late as the eighth inning but a six inning rally in that frame and a walk off home run in the twelth inning by Evan Longoria finished what was a historic come back for the Rays.
Longoria also had the big hit with a three run blast in the eighth. He finished with four RBIs and 31 home runs on the season. Dan Johnson hit just his second home run but it was the hit that sent the game into extra innings.
David Price was lit up but the pen did their job. Five different relievers held the Yankees scoreless in the final 5 1/3 innings. Kyle Farnsworth struck out the side but walked two in his inning of work.
So now it’s on to Texas and it’s time to find some Rays playoff tickets. With this rotation, I like our chances and the rookie will be throwing in game one. Leave it Maddon to make things interesting.
It’s tough being in the AL East. You could make the claim that the Rays are the third best team in the American League, yet they’re going to go without a playoff spot because they play in a division with the two best teams. Throw in the way the ownership is holding the team hostage to get a new ballpark and it makes it tough to be a Rays fan. Still, we have a month of baseball left and while the chances of the Rays making a run are slim, they could still have an impact on some of the races.
Last night they did just that with a win over the Rangers. James Shields pitched eight shutout innings in a 4-1 win. Kyle Farnsworth came in and gave up a run in the ninth but that was it.
Johnny Damon went one for three with a walk and an RBI. Matt Joyce also reached base with a single, a walk and he drove in a run.
The rubber game is tonight. Jeff Niemann throws for the Rays and C.J. Wilson gets the ball for the Rangers. Let’s hope the Rays at least make things interesting in September.
The Rays have pretty much fallen out of the race but man is this pitching staff fun to watch. Alex Cobb improved to 3-0 (both on the season and in his career) with seven shutout innings in a 5-0 win over Kansas City. He gave up six hits and he struck out two without giving up a walk in the win. Jake McGee pitched a shutout ninth to close out the game in a non-save situation.
Ben Zobrist had a big day at the plate. He went three for four with two RBIs and a run. Desmond Jennings went two for three.
53-47 isn’t anything to scoff at but it’s still only good for third base. So goes life in the AL East. At this point, with the big deficit, the Rays should start concentrating on developing for next year. I know they’re not out of out, but the Red Sox and Yankees are just going to be tough to catch.
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