As the first half of the 2013 MLB season nears an end, let’s look back at what went right and what went wrong for the Tampa Bay Rays after almost three months of baseball.
It’s been a frustrating first half for the Rays for multiple reasons, but at 42-39, they’re still very much in competition.
Here are the main winners and losers from the first half of the Rays’ season.
Winner: The offense
The Rays’ offense has been amongst the best in all of baseball this season. Tampa Bay ranks fourth in the MLB in wRC+ (Weighted Runs Created Plus) at 109 and ninth in the league in runs (375).
The lineup, which has managed to stay healthy, has really clicked for Joe Maddon’s club. Evan Longoria (.388 wOBA and 47 RBI) has swung the bat very well, along with Matt Joyce (.348 wOBA) and James Loney (.361 wOBA). Ben Zobrist, Kelly Johnson and Desmond Jennings have also been key contributors.
With Wil Myers now in the meat of this impressive lineup, Tampa’s offensive could be even more dangerous in the second half.
Loser: David Price
It’s been a lousy 2013 for David Price coming off a Cy Young award-winning season last year. The Rays’ ace posted a 1-4 record with a 5.24 ERA and 4.03 FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching) through nine starts before hitting the DL with a tricep strain last month.
Not only have Price’s early-season struggles and injury hurt the Rays, but they haven’t helped out his future trade value much either. On a more positive note, though, he is set to join the rotation this Tuesday.
If one thing’s for sure, the Rays are going to need Price back to to form in the second half if they want to compete in October.
Winner: James Loney
James Loney has enjoyed a nice comeback year with the Rays so far after disappointing 2012 season. Loney’s put up an impressive .314/.367/.474 line with 40 RBI and a 134 wRC+.
He’s been very productive defensively as well, posting a 2.9 UZR (Ultimate Zone Rating).
Loser: Jeff Niemann
The Jeff Niemann story is a very unfortunate one. It seems like every time the “Tall Texan” is about to break out into stardom, a big injury ruins his season.
The 30-year-old right-hander won’t throw a single pitch in 2013 due to a shoulder injury that required surgery. Niemann already lost his spot in the rotation in spring training to veteran Roberto Hernandez, so his future as a starter in Tampa Bay isn’t a very bright one, especially now with the emergence of Chris Archer, Alex Colome and Alex Torres.
Winner: Rookie pitchers
It’s been a good season for the Rays’ talented young crop of prospect pitchers. Chris Archer, Alex Colome and Alex Torres have all received some big league playing time this year thanks to injuries.
Archer, who proved he was Major League ready in 2012, has once again flashed his high potential this season. He owns a 4.40 ERA through six starts.
Colome has been solid in his big league debut this season, allowing just four earned runs in his first three starts with the Rays. He’s pitched 16 innings, striking out 12 batters but also walking nine.
Archer and Colome sure have been exciting, but neither have made as big of a splash as Torres. The 25-year-old southpaw has been ridiculously good out of the bullpen, allowing just one run in 23 innings while striking out 31 and walking seven. If Torres can continue to pitch lights out, he’ll find himself in a bigger role on the team.
Loser: The Bullpen
Tampa Bay’s bullpen has been a huge disappointment this year, blowing countless leads late in games after being nearly flawless last season. Rays relievers have posted a 3.79 ERA, which ranks 17th in the league.
Fernando Rodney has regressed significantly as well in 2012, blowing already five saves in 21 opportunities. However, Rodney—like the rest of the Rays’ bullpen—appears to be turning things around now as the ‘pen seems to be going into the second half on a high note.
We’re just a little over two weeks into the MLB regular season, but there’s been plenty of action down at the farm in the Tampa Bay Rays organization.
Top prospect Wil Myers has been the talk of the town and Chris Archer has also drawn his fair share of hype, but neither of the two have had real intriguing starts to the season.
Take a look at five names to keep an eye on as the 2013 minor league baseball season takes flight.
It’s been a fantastic start to the season for hard-throwing right-hander Alex Colome with Triple-A Durham.
Colome, who’s considered one of the top pitching prospects in the organization, has allowed just one run over 16 innings (three starts). His line includes eight hits, eight walks and 18 strikeouts.
His electric stuff has looked dominant, but he’s going to have to cut down on the walks if he wants to make his big-league debut this year. Hopefully, he can rise above the cluster of talented arms in the Rays’ system and make a positive contribution to the bullpen as soon as possible.
Right-hander Jesse Hahn was a speculated breakout candidate coming into the 2013 after his success last year in his pro debut. Following Tommy John surgery which sidelined him for the entire 2011 season, Hahn hit his stride with short-season Hudson Valley in 2012. He got better as the season progressed, and clearly hasn’t cooled off yet.
Hahn’s made three starts of three innings each so far with Class A+ Charlotte, giving up just one run on six hits and one walk while striking out 11.
It really looks like it could the beginning of a big breakout year for the 23-year-old right-hander.
Catcher Alejandro Segovia is another player who is worthy of the breakout prospect discussion.
The 22-year-0ld Venezuelan native is batting .286/.333/.619 with four home runs and 10 RBI through 12 games. His exciting power is definitely something to watch as the season progresses.
Talent at the catching position is something that the Rays organization lacks, so Segovia emerging as a top prospect would be huge.
Alex Torres’ name kinda got lost in the mix last year after an atrocious year with Durham. Again with the Bulls in 2013, the 25-year-old southpaw looks to be turning things around so far.
Torres has made two starts (11 innings), not allowing a single run while striking out 11 batters and letting up just four hits. Control has been the biggest issue for Torres throughout his entire career, which is why it’s both surprising and encouraging to see that he’s walked only one batter thus far.
Torres is a guy who already has some major league experience as a reliever, so if he stays on track he could possibly see time in the ‘pen.
It was a big year for Jeff Ames’ development last season. The 2011 first-round draft pick had a outstanding campaign with Hudson Valley, and has started his first full pro season (Class A Bowling Green) off on the right foot.
Ames surrendered just two runs (both home runs), five hits and one walk with 15 strikeouts over his first three first starts (five innings each).
He’s a player with sky-high potential and believe he’ll shine this season in the Midwest League.
The Rays improved their Grapefruit League record to 12-7 Thursday afternoon, defeating the Baltimore Orioles by a score of 4-3.
Jeff Niemann was pretty sharp in his outing, allowing just one run on four hits and three walks in his 4 1/3 innings of work.
His velocity was down (didn’t throw a single pitch over 88 MPH), but it was nothing to be concerned about. Both Joe Maddon and Niemann said after the game that he was just working on movement.
Juan Sandoval and Josh Lueke came on in relief following Niemann. Sandoval continued to struggle, allowing two runs (off a Matt Wieters) home run in 1 2/3 inning. Lueke, on the other hand, continued his excellent spring tossing two scoreless innings.
The Rays’ four runs were scored an Evan Longoria RBI double, a Luke Scott two-run homer and a Tim Beckham RBI single. Wil Myers also had a double Thursday in his only at bat.
On the injury front, Beckham (face) returned yesterday but Sam Fuld (hamstring) remains out. He could return in the next few days.
Here’s a complete boxscore of Thursday’s game.
Rays News and Notes:
- The Rays optioned down Chris Archer, Jake Odorizzi and Alex Torres to Triple-A Durham in their latest round of cuts Tuesday.
- David Price pitched five scoreless inning in a minor-league spring training game against the Orioles’ Class A squad Wednesday. He allowed just four singles while striking out six and walking none.
- Jeremy Hellickson also had a minor-league start this week, but it didn’t go nearly as well for him. He gave up two runs on four hits, four walks (and a HBP) and three strikeouts through 3 1/3 innings pitched. He pitched 70 pitches, just 41 of them strikes.
- Here’s Price on being named the Opening Day starter earlier this week.
- More David Price: could special K-9 seating when Price starts be a thing this year for the Rays?
- The United States lost 3-1 to the Dominican Republic Thursday night and are now on the brink of elimination. Fernando Rodney collected his fourth save (out of four opportunities) of the World Baseball Classic, continuing what has been a terrific tournament for him thus far. Ben Zobrist also appeared in this game, striking out in his only at bat.
The Rays got back to their winning ways Saturday afternoon, defeating the O’s 4-1 in Port Charlotte to improve their Grapefruit League record to 6-3.
Alex Cobb started for Tampa Bay, and looked very sharp in his outing. He allowed just one hit while striking out five batters without a walk through his three scoreless innings.
Fernando Rodney and Brandon Gomes followed up with one scoreless inning each. Gomes found himself in a bit of trouble after allowing two hits, but escaped the jam with the help of two big strikeouts.
Prospect Alex Torres also contributed to the bullpen’s effort, tossing two scoreless innings late in the game.
On the offensive side of things, Rays fans enjoyed their share of power in this ballgame. All four runs were scored on long balls; Yunel Escobar with a two-run blast and Ryan Roberts and Sean Rodriguez with the solo shots.
Evan Longoria returned to the lineup, making his second start of the spring. He finished the day 0-2 with a walk and a run.
Rays News and Notes:
- The Rays made their first round of cuts this spring.
- Evan Longoria’s baby has been released from the hospital.
- Rays prospect Leonardo Reginatto is making noise in the World Baseball Classic with Team Brazil. The 22-year-old, who has spent the past two seasons with Class A- Hudson Valley, is 4-7 with two RBI and two doubles after his first two games of the tournament.
In the earlier game against the Pirates, the Rays displayed some very good pitching. Roberto Hernandez, Jeff Niemann and Fernando Rodney all pitched scoreless one-inning outings. Prospect Enny Romero also contributed with two scoreless innings later in the game.
Things weren’t nearly as pretty on the offensive side, however, as the Rays managed to muster only four hits in the game that featured more regulars. The only runs for Tampa Bay came from a 2-RBI double by minor league centerfielder Kevin Kiermaier.
Top prospect Wil Myers—who made his spring training debut—walked and grounded out.
The pitching on the Rays’ second squad was just as impressive down in Fort Myers against the Red Sox. They kicked off the game with three scoreless one-inning outings by Alex Colome, Brandon Gomes and Felipe Rivero. Josh Lueke added to the scoreless streak with two quick innings of his own.
Offensive notables from the game include Desmond Jennings (2-2), Hak-Ju Lee (0-2) and Leslie Anderson (1-2, 2-run HR).
Other Rays News and Notes:
- Congratulations to Evan Longoria, who is now a father! Here’s Evan on the recent birth of his daughter:
- The Rockies have been showing interest in Jeff Niemann.
- There’s been some buzz over what David Price said about the Yankees recently.
- Reliever Alex Torres will play for Team Venezuela in the Wold Baseball Classic. Torres now becomes the fifth Ray in the tournament, joining Fernando Rodney (Dominican Republic), Ben Zobrist (U.S.), Jose Molina (Puerto Rico), Cesar Ramos (Mexico).
- Here are the pitchers scheduled for today’s 1:05 game against the Twins in Fort Myers: Chris Archer, Jake Odorizzi, Frank De Los Santos, Will Inman, Matt Nevarez, Jimmy Patterson, Juan Sandoval, Alex Torres, Kirby Yates
The MLB offseason is still over a month from over, and the Tampa Bay Rays have yet some holes to fill in on their roster. One addition they could really use is a DH, prefferably a power-hitting right-handed one who can also platoon at first base with the newly-acquired James Loney.
Michael Morse could be just the guy. After re-signing first baseman Adam LaRoche earlier this week, the Washington Nationals are now open to trading Morse, and have already discussed a potential deal with multiple teams. It looks like the Rays could very possibly be one of teams in on him (Twitterlinks), and Nationals even pointed out that “the Rays would make great trade partners.”
The 30-year-old outfielder has hit .296/.345/.516 with 64 homers and 198 RBI over the last three years, which is exactly the kind of offensive production the Rays need in their lineup. Morse is mainly an corner outfielder, but can also play a bit of first base and third base as well. His poor defense is likely the reason why AL clubs seem to be more suitable to acquire Morse as a designated hitter. The problem with that, however, is that Morse strongly opposes playing DH. Knowing how much the Rays value defense, he’d have to accept playing DH if they were to sign him.
It’s clear that Morse would be a great fit for the Rays, but is he affordable for Tampa Bay’s small budget? Morse is under a contract that will make him $7 million in 2013 before he becomes a free agent after the season. Considering that the contract is only for one more year, I believe picking up a quality DH who can supply 20+ home run power as well as platoon at first base is definitely worth the money and will without a doubt improve the Rays’ chances of contending this season.
What would a potential Mike Morse deal include? In exchange for the slugger, the Nats are reportedly looking for a left-handed reliever and/or prospects. Prospect southpaw Alex Torres and lefty specialist Cesar Ramos instantly come in mind, and the Rays probably wouldn’t be too reluctant to give up either of them.
If the one thing’s for sure, the chances of Morse being traded this winter are pretty high. Washington does not want sit a $7 million dollar player on the bench instead of getting rid of his salary for prospect talent.
Andrew Friedman and the Rays are in prime position to make an aggressive move right here that would give the lineup a much-needed boost, and I say they take advantage of the opportunity.
With Day 1 of the MLB Winter Meetings already behind us and Day 2 now in progress, Andrew Friedman and the Tampa Bay Rays have shown that they’re not going to hesitate to pursue players on the free agent or trade market. After being involved in a flurry of rumors on Monday, it looks as if the Rays could be pretty active this week in Nashville.
With a handful of possible trade possibilites on the table and multiple teams contacting the Rays, here are five things the club should try to do over these next few days.
Trade Jeremy Hellickson or James Shields
The chances the Rays trade either one of the two talented starters seem very likely at the moment. As important as these two top-tier arms are to the Rays’ rotation, trading one of the two (not both) would make a lot of sense for a couple of reasons.
Tampa has a surplus of starting pitching and is in serious need of offensive help, and both Shields and Hellickson are currently at very high value on the market. In addition, if the Rays were to trade Shields, it would be one less huge salary to pay (that they can hardly afford anyway).
Trading either Hellickson or Shields (or David Price) is really their only way of acquiring a star-quality player or top prospect caliber talent this winter. Knowing that Rays will probably trade one of them should make the next couple of days pretty exciting.
Not trade David Price
The Rays have made it clear that they’re willing to trade away Cy Young award-winner David Price for the right offer, taking into account the 29-year-old phenom’s upcoming pricey contract issues. In a recent article on ESPN.com, columnist Buster Olney points out the fact that Price may very possibly be traded sometime in the next year as the Rays are probably not going to be able to afford him eventually.
Although his value may be at its career peek right now, I think dealing Price this offseason would be a mistake. The Rays could use the offensive boost, but the core of the franchise is still pitching and defense, and trading away a player like Price would potentially be too big of loss for the team.
Put Alex Colome, Alex Torres, Alex Cobb and Wade Davis on the trade block
Believe it or not, the Rays could actually enter the 2013 season with a much better better offense without trading one of their three top starters. Being so deep in the starting pitching department, the Rays have major-league ready starters that aren’t even being used to their full potential and a handful of talented pitching prospects that they could afford giving away.
If the Rays can keep the same ridiculously good starting rotation they had this year and at the same time put together a better offense for next season, they’re going to be one very serious contender in 2013.
With prospects like Colome and Torres, and MLB-ready starters like Davis and Cobb, the Rays have the opportunity to do so.
Acquire Asdrubal Cabrera or Jason Kubel
The shortstop position has been a weak area for the Rays for two years now, and picking up a star shortstop like Cleveland’s Asdrubal Cabrera would be a very nice solution to the problem. The 27-year-old is one of baseball’s best offensive shortstops, posting a wOBA of over .330 and a wRC+ of over 110 for the past two seasons.
The Indians are looking for three to four— preferably four—prospects in exchange for him (per the Cleveland Plain-Dealer). The Rays have the pieces to make a deal like this happen, and Cleveland could really use some young starting pitching talent.
Over in Arizona, Justin Upton has been the main talk in Diamondbacks trade rumors so far this offseason, but now sources are saying that they may be shopping OF Jason Kubel instead. According to Jon Paul Morosi of FOXSports.com, the Rays are one of multiple teams that could be a possible suitor for the veteran slugger.
Kubel had himself a very nice 2012 season, posting a .352 wOBA while hitting 30 homers and 90 RBI. Not only would Kubel add depth to the Rays’ outfield, but he would also be a perfect fit for the DH role.
Sign a catcher
One big area of need to address on Tampa’s roster is without a doubt at the catcher position. The four catchers that the Rays used this this year combined for an RBI total of just 65 without one reaching a wOBA as high as .290. Defensively, the four weren’t very good either.
The two main catchers on the roster (who were the team’s two catchers in 2012 as well) are Jose Molina and Jose Lobaton. Molina had a poor season offensively last year, but did well throwing out baserunners and framing pitches, essentially helping out the pitching staff throughout the year. The main problem with Molina is that he’s 37, and can’t really provide the Rays with many innings.
Therefore, the team’s backup catcher is a crucial role. Lobaton is in that position right now, and he’s not the kind of guy the Rays would [or at least should] like playing 65+ games for them. Lobaton posted a .222/.323/.317 line last year with very little power while throwing out just 16% of would-be base-stealers.
Whether it’s via the trade market or free agent market, the Rays really need to sign a backstop this winter.