Tampa Bay Rays (2 days until pitchers and catchers report)
The Tampa Tribune lists “Five Rays To Watch” in Spring Training. The list includes several obvious names, including Akinori Iwamura, Rocco Baldelli, Edwin Jackson, Dioner Navarro and Trever Miller.
We are not sure Trever Miller needs to be on this list. His role is set and he will be fine. However we would add three more players to the list of players to watch: Jeff Niemann, John Jaso and David Price.
Niemann’s bandwagon is starting to gain some steam. He is 25 and it may be now or never for the big right hander. Now comes word that he is in much better shape this Spring. If the front office was being honest, it is our belief that they would prefer Niemann to step-up and take the last spot in the rotation from Edwin Jackson.
Jaso, on the other hand, has zero chance of making the roster, but 2008 could be a referendum on Navarro’s future with the Rays. He needs to at least maintain the pace, offensively, that he set in the second half of 2007 and he needs to make great strides defensively. Jaso will spend all of 2008 in AAA, but you can be sure the team is going to be watching him closely to see if Navarro’s potential replacement is in-house.This year’s Spring Training could go a long ways to convincing the coaching staff and front office that Jaso deserves at least a platoon position in 2009.
Price made news when he stated that he wants to be in the majors by the beginning of July. Even prior to this statement many outlets speculated that Price could be ready for the majors by the second half of 2008. This seams awfully quick for an organization as patient as the Rays. It seems more likely that Price will spend 2007 at AA, with a possible late-season promotion to AAA. He would then begin the 2009 season at AAA with a June call-up being the most likely scenario. The only way we can see Price in the majors this season is if he is posting Tim Lincecum-type numbers (62.2 ip, 26h, 23bb, 104k, 1.01era) in the minors.
The Rays front office has been typically mum on the subject but they may tip their hand in Spring Training. If the Rays believe there is even a possibility of promoting Price to the bigs in 2008, he will see action in Spring Training games. If they plan on keeping him in the minors the entire season, he will be given a cursory 2 weeks with the parent club and then shipped over to minor league camp for the remainder of Spring Training without ever appearing in a Spring game. This was how Evan Longoria was handled last year.
Five Players To Watch [Tampa Tribune]
DEVIL RAYS WEBTOPIA…
- If you haven’t had a chance to vote in our “Rays Confidence Graph” survey. Please do so now. We will update the results tomorrow. [Rays Index]
- Marc Lancaster asks five questions that the Rays will need to answer in Spring Training. [Tampa Tribune]
- During our “12 Days of Raysmas”, we wished for a no-hitter from Scott Kazmir. Well, The Bill James Handbook lists Kid K as the most likely pitcher in baseball today to throw a no-no, with a 24% chance. And you guys thought we were being too optimistic in the Raysmas posts. Tisk, tisk. [Joe Posnanski]
- Rays Anatomy debates Matt Garza vs. Jon Lester. This is a rare case where we actually know more about the other team’s player than we do about our own. [Rays Anatomy]
- Project Prospect lists Reid Brignac as the top shortstop prospect. [Project Prospect]
The year 2006, however, was much kinder to Brignac, as the 6-foot-3, 180-pounder tabbed a stellar .321/.376/.539 line between High-A and Double-A. While the 2006 campaign may have put him on the map, you shouldn’t be navigating away from Brignac because of his 2007 showing. The St. Amant, La. native’s line drive rate from ’06 stayed true to form in ’07, while his BABIP tanked from .395 to .288. Though he was in the hitter-friendly California League in ’06, there’s still reason to believe that Brignac was a bit unlucky last season. He still holds the skills and power potential to become an above-average shortstop at the Major League level
- Kevin Gengler is up to #14 Glenn Gibson and #13 John Jaso in his prospect countdown. [DRays Bay]
- Baseball Analysts list the top 24 year olds in baseball. Scott Kazmir is ranked #5. [Baseball Analysts]
- As we get closer to the baseball season, the new Rays blogs are starting to roll out fast and furious. The latest is Outs Per Swing, which is a play on what OPS stand for. This brings up a question that DRG and I were debating recently and he may write-up at some point from a more mathematical point-of-view. 383 times in the history of baseball, a player has posted an OPS greater than 1.000. In essence that means a player is earning more than 1 base per plate appearance. So, if a player has an OPS greater than 1.000 shouldn’t the opposition intentionally walk him every time up? That would be an OPS of exactly 1.000. [Outs Per Swing]
- A 2008 Tampa Bay Rays preview. Looks like we the Rays are going to be the chic pick to do well in 2008. [Jim & Bob's Palatial Baseball Blog]