With the General Manager’s meetings currently underway in Orlando and the Winter Meetings just around the corner, we are now neck deep in baseball’s Hot Stove League.
This off-season, rumors are already swirling concerning several of the Rays top players (Scott Kazmir, Delmon Young, Carl Crawford, etc.). While the chances of one of those players being moved is slim, the Rays are in the market for a shortstop with strong defensive skills as well as a starting pitcher and relief pitchers with pitching skills.
Therefore it is time for us to update our Tampa Bay Rays Trade Value Index (TVI)…
The TVI ranks every player on the current 40-man roster and the top prospects in the organization. Our goal is to determine which players in the organization are the most valuable to the team. Ultimately, when looking at the rankings, the question should be, if the Rays could only keep one of two players (A or B) from the organization, which player would the front office choose to keep. If the answer is player A, he would be ranked ahead of player B.
The rankings consider a number factors in addition to talent and good looks, such as potential, age, contract and depth of position in organization. This last factor comes into effect if one player is stuck behind another player with more ability. For example, Fernando Perez would be a little higher due to his exceptional speed and strong OBP, but loses a little value because he has bad hair, and some more value because the team has Rocco Baldelli, Carl Crawford, BJ Upton, Elijah Duke and Delmon Young ahead of him on the depth chart for outfielders. Another factor is team needs. A pitcher may be ranked ahead of a more “talented” fielder because the team has a stronger need for pitching at the major league level. (Please see the original TVI post for further explanation).
Feel free to tell us where we screwed up in the comments.
[More detailed notes about specific players, follow the Rankings]
- Scott Kazmir retains his hold on the top spot, but now that he is arbitration eligible his lead over the rest of the field is narrower. James Shields along with his dominance, consistency, ability to work late in games and the fact that he is still a year from arbitration, brings him much closer to Kid K. Still, the fact that Kazmir is left-handed still gives the nod.
- BJ Upton leapfrog’s Carl Crawford and Delmon Young and is now the most valuable hitter in the organization. Young may still end up the best of the trio, but questions remain about his power, his glove (not his arm) and his attitude after lashing out at Joe Maddon after the next-to-last game of the year in 2007. Still, barring a trade or the re-emergence of Rocco Baldelli or Elijah Dukes, the Rays outfield is set for at least the next three years.
- We always hesitate to give a very high ranking to a player until they have proven themselves above A-ball. And now that Jake McGee has done that, the power lefty makes a big leap to #6. Edwin Jackson finally started to show some of the promise that scouts have long harped about in the second half of 2007. His arm alone gets him a spot in top 10, however, he needs a strong showing in 2008 (12 wins?) to remain an elite prospect. David Price has yet to throw a pitch as a professional, but his status as the top pick gets him a top-10 nod.
- In the past, there has been a clear distinction between the top 5-6 players and the rest of the field. Now that top-tier includes the entire top-10. Despite his 40 home runs in 2007, Carlos Pena only comes in at #10 because he needs to show that there are no longer holes in swing to be found, he is arbitration eligible and of course his agent is Scott Boras, which means his cost is bound to go up, hurting his value.
- Jeff Niemann remains an enigma at #11, just outside the top-tier. He has yet to show he can dominate at the minor league level and it is starting to look as if the big right-hander may be destined to be a back-of-the-rotation starter.
- Rocco Baldelli and Elijah Dukes, both have the talent to be in the top-10, but each have their issues, hurting any value the two outfielders may have.
- Al Reyes is still a valuable commodity as a proven veteran relief pitcher, but once the season begins, he will start losing value quickly as he is a free agent at the end of the season.
- Reid Brignac is exactly why we hesitate to over-rank players with big numbers at single-A (ie. Heath Rollins). He is still an elite prospect but until he reestablishes his offense at higher levels, his value to the franchise is hurt.
- Akinori Iwamura would be further down the list if he wasn’t destined for second base. Most predicted his power numbers to decline, but nobody could have predicted that a player that once hit 40+ in Japan, would only hit 7 in the States. There is still a chance that he will adjust to the AL and if he does, even a slight improvement in his numbers would make for a valuable second baseman.