MLB: MAR 03 Spring Training - Yankees at RaysUp until now, most of us had been assuming that the Rays were looking for a DH-type that might also be able to play in left field until Wil Myers is ready for promotion in (hopefully) May or June. But Jayson Stark puts a little twist on that scenario (via Twitter)…

“I hear Rays still looking around for a CF but not much out there. I wonder if they could be a landing spot for Michael Bourn. #justathought

Let’s ignore the Michael Born thought, which seems like a stretch at best. Not only would he be expensive, but even if he were willing to take a 1-year flyer and try free agency again next year, the Rays would still have to give up their first round draft pick to sign him. And the Rays are not a team that is going to give up a first round pick for a 1-year rental.

But what is interesting is that Stark specifically mentioned center field. He didn’t say “outfielder” or “left fielder.” And if the Rays are actively looking for a center fielder it could mean one of two things:

1) The Rays don’t think Jennings will be a very good everyday center fielder – Certainly keeping Jennings in left field is an option. But with Sam Fuld and Brandon Guyer, as well as Wil Myers in the minors, on the surface it makes more sense to move Jennings. In addition, left fielders are just easier to find than center fielders. The problem with this scenario is that if the Rays don’t want Jennings to play center, then the Wil Myers trade makes less sense. Of course, maybe the Rays view Myers long-term as a right fielder (certainly possible).

2) Wil Myers may not be as close to the majors as we would all like to believe – Up until now, most of us were assuming (hoping?) that Myers would be promoted sometime in May or June. But if the Rays are considering the possibility of leaving Jennings in left, that may mean the Rays don’t see Myers being ready before the all-star break or even longer.

One other possibility is that the Rays are just looking for another Sam Fuld-type fourth outfielder, but that they prefer he be an athletic, speedy center fielder. But that seems unlikely considering that the Rays already have a bunch of fourth-outfielders, and Stark is speculating about Bourn.

Of course, none of this may matter if the Rays can’t find the center fielder they are apparently looking for. But it is one more wrinkle to keep an eye on in Spring Training at a position that we already assumed was set.

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18 Comments

  1. Mike M says:

    I have to admit, I am a little worried about Jennings in CF. I just hope he does a little better than he did last year when he filled in for BJ. I think we were definitely spoiled with Upton's defense.

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    • Tom says:

      To me Jennings looked fine in CF. He does not have BJ's arm but as a Center Fielder he had a better range factor (2.5-2.15) and Zone Rating (.970-.927) than Upton. I also realize this is an EXTREMELY small sample size for Jennings defensive stats need to be taken with a grain of salt but Jenning also rates well by advanced metrics in left.

      I know other people have said they believe Jennings will be a big downgrade from Upton defensively but I do not see it. Am I in the minority here?

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  2. Ray A says:

    Would Bourjos of the Angels still be an option?

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  3. Don says:

    I have to chuckle...you mean everybody's replacement for Carl Crawford NOW can't replace BJ Upton....boy... how every expert/fan... changes their attitude& assesments of talent real quick when the real (ML) game starts
    Make note: until you SEE Myres hit big time pitching...THEN you will see how much he wil or won't help..

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    • Tom says:

      Lets do a comparison of CC and DJ since CC went to Boston:

      Jennings AB 752 .250/.325/.408 51 SB 8 CS
      Crawford AB 623 .260/.292/.419 23 SB 6 CS

      Looks like Jenning has actually performed better than Crawford at a fraction of the cost.

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      • KT says:

        C'mon Tom, you KNOW Don's only going to look at the batting averages when comparing the two players! :)

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      • Don says:

        Lets look at Jennings vs. CC over the time they have been in the ML not the two years CC was hurt, Jennings will never post numbers in his career that Carl has done over 10+ years...any figure you want...BA and anything else..NO comparision..
        Now Jennings can't replace a .240 hitter,or CF why? because he is too slow? Just wondering

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        • Tom says:

          I do not think anyone would dispute Jennings career numbers will not surpass Crawford's career numbers. Please tell me WHO suggested they would? Crawford is right now the best player in Rays history.

          On the other hand, the Rays clearly made the correct decision to let him leave. It makes me chuckle that you cannot see this.

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  4. Jim says:

    If the Rays could pick up a CF with more pop that Sam Fuld it would make sense. He would create competition in Spring Training. One candidate would be Tyler Colvin from the Rockies. He's played some center and had good defensive stats. He is 27 and had a good offensive year in 2012 (.891 OPS vs right handers and .752 vs left handers). He would be under team control through 2016. Colorado has Fowler, Cuddyer, and Carlos Gonzalez so they may be williing to part with him. He would be a nice pick up for the right price. Another OF to take a look at would be Jesus Guzman from San Diego. Although not a CF, he does have 1B experience and could platoon with Loney against left handers.

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  5. Dave L says:

    The concern with Jennings defense has nothing to do with him getting to the ball. Its what he does once he gets it. He (like Crawford)has a pretty weak arm. Thats solely based on my observations of him I have no metrics to back it up.

    So on the one hand he wont' be airmailing moon shots to home like BJ always did, which up until last year was a net negative. Last year BJ's arm finally became a big net plus.

    But on the other hand he will get challenged more at home and at third.

    I think we can live with it though. We have more glaring concerns offensively to be addressed.

    Plus Bourn will eventually sign for double what we would offer (just like Berkman did) so fuggetabodit.

    So to answer the question we need:

    POWER!

    we lost about 70 HR in free agents and signed about 20 max in FA. Fuld aint gonna make it up and Myers is a late arrival.

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    • Beth says:

      I agree. Find a DH who can play part time first base/OF and has some power.

      I love a center fielder with a strong arm, but the number of games where that is a huge factor is limited. Teach him to hit a cut off man and take your chances.

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      • Dave L says:

        Exactly and if he's spelling Loney who splits are crappy he needs to be a RHB or switchhitter. So that kinda puts some doubt in my long held belief that we will eventually bring back a cheaper and hopefully healthier Luke Scott.

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      • Joe says:

        That player was Michael Morse, Beth :)

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  6. Beth says:

    Or...maybe Jayson Stark has no clue?

    Some national reporter tweets a random thought and we all spend days analyzing it as though he had some inside info.

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  7. Alex says:

    Yep... Just like the trade rumors that get sent out. No one knows what the Rays are actually doing. Everything is always a ruse with them

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  8. Edward says:

    I got an idea. Just sign a bat. I don't care who it is. This team will be maybe a 75-85 win team if they do not sign two more bats. As a Rays fan, I do hope they win that many games because I would love to see what our awsome ownership, who claims they have no money, say what they will do the year after.

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  9. Brianknowsbest says:

    NEIMANN AND BECKHAM FOR JUSTIN UPTON......... LETS DO IT!

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  10. Rob says:

    Just read that Delmon Young signed with the Phillies. But not to worry (ahem), the Rays signed a new left fielder to a minor league contract: Shelley Duncan.

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