MLB: Spring Training-Tampa Bay Rays at Toronto Blue JaysI am not a big fan of using questions in headlines. Writers shouldn’t be coy or try to be too clever, and we should try to be definitive when possible. But I honestly have no idea what the future holds for Mr. Jeffrey Warren Niemann.

If Niemann is the odd-man out of the rotation, as the evidence suggests, the Rays most likely options would be to send Niemann to the bullpen or trade him before the regular season starts.

The Rays faced a similar scenario last year with Wade Davis and chose to go the bullpen route with resounding success. But would Niemann be as good in the ‘pen as Davis?

One reason often cited for keeping Niemann is the pitching depth. But we learned last year that keeping the starting pitcher in the bullpen does not add to that depth. When needs arose for starting pitchers in 2012, the Rays bypassed Davis, noting that it would take too long to get him back into starting pitcher shape.

On the other hand, we also know from the Davis saga that the Rays can stash a starting pitcher in the bullpen for a year and other teams may still be interested in trading for Niemann even if he hasn’t started a game in 18 months.

Ultimately, it may come down to how good the Rays feel about their bullpen (is Niemann a better option than Jamey Wright, Josh Lueke, or Brandon Gomes?) or what other teams are offering in a trade.

We have heard that the Rockies have already asked the Rays about trading for Niemann. And if they, or another club, offer the Rays a package they think is fair, they will probably make the deal.

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19 Comments

  1. Dave L says:

    So if the proposed options are

    a) Trade Niemann

    b) Move Niemann to the pen

    I dont think either will happen frankly. If someone isn't 'injured' between now and April

    I am for the wildly unpopular option

    c) Option MM back to Durham and let him work out his springtime blues there. We have option might as well use them. He hasnt pitched much and when he has he hasn't impressed. I am not worried about his head. He's still young.

    I am not saying give up on him by any stretch but he is s notoriously slow starter so I expect MM might be the surprise odd man out opening week unless we get a nice couple or 3 prospects for big Jeff.

    Then if Niemann breaks down or RH doesnt continue to impress, MM can come back later when he works out he kinks.

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  2. Alex says:

    What? Matt Moore showed that even in a down year he's still a great pitcher. It's spring training. He's working on things. He's not worried about results. He's going to be even better this year than he was last year. Why would they send him down. He has nothing more to prove in AAA

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    • Dave L says:

      Yes he's working on them and they are not working out well. He has nothing to prove at AAA is certainly true. But Hernandez and Niemann both look ready to go so lets go with them.

      Lets review Matt's health April 1......

      Stranger things have happened to these Rays.

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      • Ted Sheckler says:

        Being anything more than mildly concerned about Moore right now is beyond moronic. Being mildly concerned is just normal moronic.

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        • Dave L says:

          Being more than mildly concerned about David Price would be irrational. Being mildly concerned about any Rays player other than Price going into 2013 would be understandable.

          Thinking Matt is right on track pollyanna-ish at the minimum.

          If you think its laughable to think Niemann and Fausto could be more productive than Moore in April and into May in a Rays uni at the big league level then, well you havent watched Matt Moore's career very closely. We need ALOT of innings out of the whole staff.

          This staff is deep right now. I prefer to go with the 5 guys who can find the strike zone and get guys out. If Matt can do it by April 1 fine and dandy. If not then sorry young man go work on it where it doesnt count

          As for moronic well I am assuming you are more qualified than I to hand out such labels or you dont know the full meaning of the words you use. If you do please defend them

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          • Ted Sheckler says:

            Being concerned about Matt Moore after 3 spring starts means you haven't watched his career very closely. He starts slow. Always has. Every season since he signed (except one).

            He had 12 walks to 11 strikeouts after his first 3 regular season starts last year. He had a 5.71 ERA after his first SIX regular season starts last year. He was a rookie and they had Davis stashed in the pen, and they still didn't send him down.

            A manager can't tell his pitchers not to worry about results early in spring if he is going to worry about results early in spring. If Moore never looks good this spring, you can be concerned that he's going to have a bad April. He has a history of bad Aprils. But he isn't going anywhere unless his spring gets much worse. It's not like he's getting run off the field in the first inning.

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          • Bill says:

            So Dave L, to translate into Moronese, because apparently I am one too since I share the concern, the argument is that because he always has crappy starts, we shoud not be concerned. And it's only about 3 Spring starts, even though some stats that show slow starts in the regular season are given. I'm too moronic to follow how those fit the argument. I think it is to say that the Rays don't mind leaving a guy who starts slow in there to lose games early, so we are morons to be concerned. But I'm not sure if the main premise of the argument is that we shouldn't be concerned because the Rays aren't going to do anything about it, or because there is no reason for concern. Either way, I think it was Einstien who defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over but expecting different results.

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  3. Andy says:

    Totally agree w/Dave L & have been thinking same for @10 days. Sending Matty down may shock him into doing what he needs to do to become ready earlier in the baseball year than he has to this point. Working out his kinks in the minors costs the Rays nothing. Using him in the first month may cost us 2-3 games, which we've learned could be vital come playoff time!!

    If Niemann is to be traded at some point, a few starts in April allows him to prove (hopefully) that he's physically okay & worth what we need/want in return. If we keep him, this arrangement will allow for he & BoBo to duke it out when games count & the team to make sure which 1 to keep in the rotation & which to deploy to the 'pen. Lastly, I seem to recall that Niemann did okay out of the 'pen a couple years ago, howbeit for only a short time.

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  4. Miguel Grande says:

    I seem to remember Niemann coming out of the bullpen once and striking out the sides. Three up, three down. I'm not an expert on these things but I certainly was impressed. Imagine having an eight foot tall closer?

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    • Bill says:

      That was 2010 after he came off the DL at the very end of the season. He was pretty dominant albeit in very few opportunities. But it shows he can do it. But personally I think we get more value trading him than we get adding another big guy to the pen.

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  5. Ted Sheckler says:

    Bill... I never called you morons. I called the idea of being concerned "right now", after three spring starts, moronic. There's a difference. It's not moronic to be concerned that he'll start the year slow again, because he usually does. But it shouldn't have anything to do with the results of his first 3 spring starts.

    DaveL said he frankly doesn't think Niemann will move to the pen or be traded. He said he is "for" Moore being sent to AAA to start the season. That means it is the option he thinks will happen and it's the option he prefers. The stats I provided from last year were to point out that he didn't even get sent down after six bad regular season starts (it was really more like 3 bad, 2 mediocre, 1 good).

    After today's start, I'm guessing he has lightened his stance on sending Moore down to begin the year. One spring start shouldn't change your mind on anything, but I'm sure he's not as high on the idea as he was this morning. He might be if Moore's next start isn't good though.

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    • Bill says:

      Thanks for clarifying. But when you say something some else posted is moronic thing to do, you're pretty much calling them a moron. But don't worry, I just did the same to Don, our favorite pessimist.

      I am still more than mildly concerned about Moore even after that start. The fact that they didn't do anything last year when he was inconsistent, and probably won't this year if it happens again, exacerbates the situation. Missing post season by a couple of games is the reason. Any pitcher being inconsistent raises that concern.

      I have a ton of belief in Moore long term. But he lived in his head a lot last season, and if he does it again.... Trouble. We're spoiled. Hellboy, Price, Shields, Cobb and Jeff all seem so calm up there. Moore and Archer seem to need some mental seasoning that those didn't need. That's the concern. It's not about stats or potential.

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      • Ted Sheckler says:

        I understand, but if the Rays send him down and he starts slow, when would you call him up? Overall, he starts slow, but he mixes in a some good starts. You can't predict when he'll heat up. You could be throwing away some wins too.

        He had a 5.71 ERA after 6 starts. If you take out his 2nd and 6th starts, he had a 3.10. The Rays were 2-2 in those games, but they could have won all of them. Overall, he pitched well enough for them to go 4-2, but they went 2-4... and he had a 5.71 ERA. It looks much worse than it is.

        The problem is that the 2 really bad starts are guaranteed losses, and he only looked really good in 2 of the other starts. He was 33% terrible, 33% good, 33% decent, 1% teeth. You have to try to avoid the terrible, not throw it all out.

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        • Bill says:

          Yeah, you're right. Again, we're spoiled with pitchers and we have sucked offensively. Makes us all more sensitive to pitchers who still need a bit of work. Would be nice to see the O pick up more terrible starts - at least more than it wastes brilliant starts (1-0 and 2-1 losses). When you get right down to it, I think we're more critical of our pitchers both because we're spoiled that way and because we're so sensitive to lack of O. If fans of other teams looked at these threads they would probably think we're insane.

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        • Dave L says:

          I am BIG on Matt long term. So thats not what I am trying to accomplish.

          He was known for slow starts at all levels not just with the big club. I seriously doubt he would fail to get it together by Early to late May at the latest.

          So I am just saying if he is up to his usual slow start and cant throw strikes, and Jeff and Fausto are warmed up and look like they are in a groove, give em a go.

          Its a long season and we have alot of innings to cover.

          My scenario still has MM July and August as the #3 starter if we are to make the playoffs and thats all I care about.

          Niemann is a starting pitcher when he gets all those parts moving together. He doesnt warm up fast nor fade late.

          I noted the Fausto was a great move when it happened and he has really given our rotation alot of flexibility so lets use it!

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  6. Craig says:

    Niemann will be traded at some point during the season: that's a fairly safe prediction. It's just a matter of time before the right circumstances fall into place. What I suspect is that come July it's very possible we'll see Hernandez moved to long relief while Archer takes his turns in the rotation. With the roster as it stands now, I think we may see a drop in overall pitching performance (compared to last year) that is not made up for in added run support. If this season looks really bad come July, we might see more familiar faces than just Niemann (Price?) headed for greener pastures. Or the Rays will win 95 games and go back to the World Series. Who can say?

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  7. alan says:

    Why not a six man rotation?

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    • Cork Gaines says:

      The 6-man rotation works best later in the season when guys need rest. Early in the season, all you are doing is taking one or two starts away from David Price and giving them to either Hernandez or Niemann. You also leave your bullpen a man short. And as much as Maddon loves to play matchups, he doesnt want a short bullpen unless he has to.

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    • Bill says:

      Kind of implied in what Cork said, but also it works against you earlier in the season because often it takes a few starts to truly get into a groove regardless of how much work they got in the spring. Putting extra days between can slow that down. Barring more than one starter getting traded (not likely), we will almost certainly see a six man rotation later this season at some point.

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