Tampa Bay Rays (28 days until pitchers and catchers report)
Rays Anatomy points to a Jim Callis chat at ESPN.com in which Callis believes the Rays catcher in 2010 will be John Jaso. We are big believers in Jaso, a 12th-round selection in the 2003 draft, and eagerly await the opportunity to see him play at Durham this year.
While there is little chance we will see Jaso at the big league level in 2008, if Navarro fails to step-up his game offensively and defensively this season, a Navi-Jaso platoon is not out of the question for 2009. We have argued in the past that Navarro should become a full-time right-handed hitter. In the past three seasons combined, Navarro has posted an .804 OPS right-handed compared to a .635 OPS left-handed. In fact, in one two-game stretch this past season, Navarro was forced to bat right-handed against a right-handed pitcher due to a sore wrist. In one of those games, Navi collected a career-high four hits.
Navi may be perfectly capable of being a successful big league switch-hitter, but the process is much more difficult for a catcher. While other fielders get to spend a large amount of time in the cage, honing their hitting skills, catchers need to work on blocking pitches, footwork on throws to second, sitting in on pitchers meetings, catching pitchers during their bullpen sessions, scouting other team’s hitters, work on calling a game and having their heads rubbed for luck. So the amount of time spent on the offensive aspect of their game is already reduced. Now take that and cut it in half for a switch-hitter as Navarro need to do everything twice…once from each side of the plate.
Jaso, a left-handed hitter, has battled injuries his entire minor league career, but that has not kept him from posting a .300 batting average and .800 OPS each of the past four seasons. He has also posted a very impressive 208:178 strikeout-to-walk ratio during his minor league career. In part due to injuries and in part due to the slow maturation of catchers in general, Jaso has moved through the system slowly but methodically. He has never been promoted in-season and has spent a full season at each level.
Jaso will most likely spend the 2008 season at AAA Durham. If this season is similar to the rest, statistically, and Jaso can remain healthy, he will be given every opportunity to win a job with the 2009 Tampa Bay Rays.
Jaso, The Trio and Other Rays News and Notes [Rays Anatomy]
DEVIL RAYS WEBTOPIA…
- The Heater is reporting that the Rays are close to a deal with Jonny Gomes. The deal would be for approximately $1.25 million, with incentives. If the numbers are accurate, that would be about $500,000 more than we predicted. [TampaBay.com]
- Armchair GM takes a look at the Rays Top 10 Prospects (according to Baseball America) and looks at each player a little closer. [ArmchairGM]
…most importantly, Baseball America has ranked Tampa’s Minor League Organization number one in all of baseball in each of the past two seasons. Three of their four top prospects are pitchers, and if even two of them make an impact, the Rays will become very good, very quickly. Combined with their already formidable group of young position players (the Rays fielded the second youngest overall team in the majors last season), they should soon be able to hang with the likes of the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees.
- Bill Chastain continues his examination of the Rays. Today’s “position” is the middle infield, featuring Akinori Iwamura, Jason Bartlett and Ben Zobrist, whom Joe Maddon says is the backup middle infielder as of now. [DevilRays.com]
- Akinori Iwamura spent the off-season in Japan working with his former infield coach of the Yakult Swallows on his transition to second base. Muu-Rah has set four goals for 2008…He wants to hit .300, score 100 runs, remain healthy and play October baseball. Finally…somebody that get’s it. [TBO]
- “Ten pitching seasons to forget”. Or as we like to call it…”The 2006 Tampa Bay Devil Rays”. Seriously though. How is there not one single Devil Ray on this list? Not even Ryan Rupe from 2001? In their defense, Jae Seo and Casey Fossum from last season did not pitch enough innings to qualify. And if not for the 4-hit shutout, Edwin Jackson most likely is on the list (his numbers appear to just miss the cutoff). We went back and looked…We were shocked to see that Fossum and Seo only made ten starts apiece. Twenty starts total? Felt more like 50. In fact they were both out of the rotation by June. Wow. And to think the Rays were actually flirting with .500 during that time period. [The Hardball Times]