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2011 MLB Playoffs: Recap Monday October 3rd

Tuesday October 4, 2011

 

 

April Whitzman (Blue Jays Writer – MLB reports):  With the National League taking the night off, we were treated to game three in both ALDS series.  Here is a recap of the scores and highlights from Monday’s games: 

 

New York Yankees at Detroit Tigers:  ALDS Game Three

It may not have been the pitching duel that everyone expected, but Monday’s game between Yankees’ CC Sabathia, and Tigers’ Justin Verlander was still an exciting one.

While Verlander pitched a strong 120-pitches-eight innings hitting 100MPH continually, striking out 11 and allowing four runs, six hits and three walks.  Sabathia, on the other hand, never made it through the sixth, allowing four runs and seven hits with six walks in 5 1/3 innings.

After the first inning, however, one would not have expected that outcome.  Derek Jeter hit the first pitch he saw for a single, scored on Curtis Granderson’s triple, who then scored on Alex Rodriguez’s groundout. T he Yankees had an early 2-0 lead.

The lead didn’t last long as Sabathia had control issues right away, walking four of the first six hitters he faced.  Double plays proved to be the Tigers’ Achilles though, as they grounded into a double play to end both the first and second innings.

In the third, however, things turned around for the Tigers.  Brandon Inge started the bottom of the inning with a double, Austin Jackson walked, Santiago scored Inge on a single, then Young singled, loading the bases for Miguel Cabrera – who homered in game 2.   He grounded into the Tigers’ third double play of the game, but still tied the game at 2 apiece.

While the Tigers were continuing to put numbers on the board and grabbing the 4-2 lead, Verlander was dominating.  He also proved his excellence on this night by striking out the side on 10 pitches in the fifth.

Yankees’ Brett Gardner finally got to the 24-game winner in the seventh, hitting a two-run double.  Delmon Young, who also homered in Monday’s game off Sabathia, allowed the Tigers to regain the lead with a home run to right field that gave Detroit a 5-4 lead.

That would be the way the game ended, as a shaky Valverde struck out Derek Jeter with runners on 1st and 2nd to end the game, giving the Tigers a 2-1 series lead.  In today’s must win game for the Yankees, A..J. Burnett is on the mound against Tigers’ Rick Porcello.

 

Texas Rangers at Tampa Bay Rays:  ALDS Game Three

The Rays and Rangers match was just as tight and nerve-wracking for the fans.  Tampa Bay’s David Price hit the mound against Texas’ Colby Lewis.  Both pitchers were dominant through seven, as the Rays held a 1-0 lead thanks to Desmond Jennings leadoff home run in the 4th.

But in the top of the 7th, the Rangers answered back.  Once Adrian Beltre got on with a leadoff single, Mike Napoli hit the next pitch he saw over the centerfield wall to take a 2-1 lead.  Josh Hamilton would later hit a 2-RBI double to increase their lead to 4-1.

But the Rays werenot going to go down without a fight.  They got a run back in the bottom of the inning, when Sean Rodriguez grounded out but scored Johnny Damon.  The Rays cut the Rangers’ lead to 4-3 in the eighth, when Desmond Jennings hit his 2nd home run of the game.

Neftali Feliz kept the score intact though in the 9th, inducing a Kelly Shoppach double play with Jennings on deck  to end the game, earning his 2nd save of the playoffs.  The Rangers took a 2-1 lead in their ALDS series.

In today’s game, Matt Harrison for the Rangers faces off against Tampa Bay and Jeremy Hellickson.  It is a must-win game for the Rays, but after their historic win against the Yankees to make it to the post-season, my gut says this series should go the distance.

 

As always, I look forward to hearing from you. Comment below, email MLBreports@gmail.com and follow me on Twitter at @Alleycat17.

 

 

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Contenders for AL Rookie of the Year Award: Who Will Win?

Monday September 12, 2011

 

 

Sam Evans (Intern Candidate- MLB reports):  With the regular season coming to an end, it’s time to start looking at baseball’s awards. The American League Rookie of the Year will definitely not be an easy choice for BBWAA voters. Even though the top candidates are pretty clear, there is still about 20 games left for most teams. This last month is important for candidates to solidify their numbers and argument for the award. Here is my opinion on who should win the award.

Three of the five last winners of the AL ROY award have been pitchers. When choosing who I think deserves the award one of my key requirements is playing time. In my opinion, a mediocre pitcher who pitched the whole season is more impressive than a position player who was only in the majors for half of the season. Also, I don’t think the team of the players record is important enough to be a consideration for voters. This award should be chosen for a player’s impact in the majors, not how hyped up of a prospect he is. So I’ll try to look past the shock value and breakdown some of the candidates.

 

        Eric Hosmer: Kansas City Royals

Hosmer  made his Royals debut on May 6th and has been the Royals starting first basemen ever since. For the year, Hosmer has batted .286/.334/.462 with 17 HR and 69 RBI’s. He has been the consistent middle of the order bat that the Royals have lacked ever since Carlos Beltran got traded.

 

        Michael Pineda: Seattle Mariners

When Pineda was named the Mariners fifth starter right before the season started, most Mariners fans didn’t know what to expect. Michael was an American League All-star and has slid into the Mariners #2 starter spot. His numbers have tailed off a little as the season has gone on, but the Mariners still haven’t made the decision to shut him down. He has a 3.72 ERA in 167 innings with 171 strikeouts. That’s more than Jon Lester and Matt Cain. Also as his 3.42 FIP suggests he has actually been better than his ERA suggests. However, he has pitched in a pitcher’s park this year which have probably helped his numbers.

 

         Ivan Nova: New York Yankees

Nova just barely has eligibility, but he has had a surprisingly solid season as one of the Yankees backend starters. He is 15-4 with a 3.94 ERA and 87 strikeouts in 144 innings. Obviously, the number that stands out is the fifteen wins, which is impressive for any pitcher. Still, with the Yankees offense wins aren’t a great stat to judge performance.  Speaking for myself, I just don’t think his numbers are impressive enough to be the 2011 AL Rookie of the year.

 

        Jeremy Hellickson: Tampa Bay Rays

Going into the season, there were pretty high expectations set for Hellickson. ESPN fantasy baseball teams were drafting him at an average of 163rd. He definitely has lived up to those assumptions and maybe even exceeded them. He is 12-10 with a 2.96 ERA and 109 strikeouts in 170 IP. Not to mention, he has done this while pitching in the toughest in baseball. He has had a lot of luck this season, as his 4.30 FIP and 4.57 xFIP suggest (courtesy of fangraphs.com). Also, he has the highest LOB% among all pitchers that have thrown over 100 innings.

 

Mark Trumbo: Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

After the Angels received the news that Kendry Morales would start the year on the disabled list, the Angels first base options looked bleak. Trumbo was the favorite to win the job but wasn’t a very heralded prospect. Baseball America had him as the Angels 9th best prospect. Trumbo not only won the job, but he ran with it. On the season, he is hitting .256 with 26 HR and 80 RBI’s. He leads all rookies in homers, RBI’s, and SLG%( for rookies with more than 300 plate appearances). Not to mention, he has provided an above-average glove at first base. His batting average is not great, and his OBP% is under .300(.295), so he hasn’t been perfect this year. In the end, he has made contributions to his team unlike any other candidate.

 

         Honorable Mentions: Dustin Ackley, Desmond Jennings,   Jordan Walden.

I think Ackley and Jennings didn’t play enough games to deserve the award, and Walden has been too inconsistent. However, if Jennings were to lead the Rays to an improbable playoff spot, I think he should win the award or receive strong consideration by the voters.

 

If I had a vote at the end of the day, I would vote for Trumbo- with Pineda, and Hellickson following. There is still plenty of time left, but in my mind Mark Trumbo deserves the 2011 American League Rookie of the year award.

 

 

 

***Today’s feature was prepared by one of our intern candidates, Sam Evans.  We highly encourage you to leave your comments and feedback at the bottom of the page and share in the discussion with our readers.  You can also follow Sam on Twitter.***

 

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Desmond Jennings, Tampa Bay Rays Makes His 2011 MLB Debut

Sunday July 24, 2011

MLB reports:   Saturday July 23, 2011.  The Tampa Bay Rays lose to the Kansas City Royals by a score of 5-4 in 10 thrilling innings.  Joakim Soria got the win.  Brandon Gomes got the loss.  Eric Hosmer had the game winning hit.  Just a normal Saturday night MLB game in Kansas City.

In the Tampa Bay loss, a new era begun in Rays baseball history.  Desmond Jennings, the 24-year old top hitting prospects of the Rays, made his 2011 major league debut.  Originally a 10th round selection back in the 2006 MLB draft, Jennings entering game action yesterday rated as one of the top prospects in the game.

Let’s take a look at the career statistics of Desmond Jennings:

Year Lev R H HR RBI SB BA OPS
2006 Rk 48 59 4 20 32 .277 .749
2007 A 75 122 9 37 45 .315 .866
2008 A+ 17 22 2 6 5 .259 .772
2009 AA-AAA 92 158 11 62 52 .318 .888
2009 AA 69 121 8 45 37 .316 .881
2009 AAA 23 37 3 17 15 .325 .910
2010 AAA 82 111 3 36 37 .278 .756
2011 AAA 68 93 12 39 17 .275 .830
6 Seasons   382 565 41 200 188 .294 .825
AAA (3 seasons) AAA 173 241 18 92 69 .283 .806
A (1 season) A 75 122 9 37 45 .315 .866
AA (1 season) AA 69 121 8 45 37 .316 .881
Rk (1 season) Rk 48 59 4 20 32 .277 .749
A+ (1 season) A+ 17 22 2 6 5 .259 .772
 

Jennings had his breakout season in 2009 and looked ready to work towards his MLB debut in 2010.  However injuries slowed him down and he spent the season developing his craft in AAA.  Come this season and we see the Jennings of old.  In 89 games, Jennings already had 12 home runs, 68 runs, 39 RBIs, 19 doubles, 3 triples. a .275 AVG and .830 OPS.  Most telling is that Jennings has been successful on 17/18 stolen base attempts.  With little to prove in the minors and the Rays needing a serious offensive boost at the major league level, Desmond Jennings got the call to join the team yesterday in Kansas City.

One of the few true five-tool prospects in the game, Jennings was slotted in the leadoff spot and playing left field for the Rays.  Expected to play solid defense and ignite the Rays offense, Jennings did not disappoint.  The final boxscore shows the following stat line:  2 for 3, double, triple, 2 runs, 1 RBI, 2 walks, 1 SO and 1 SB.  That is how you fill a box score ladies and gentlemen.  The Rays brass must be overjoyed at the success Jennings enjoyed in his first game this season.  Shades of Carl Crawford and Rickey Henderson no doubt.

With such a big game played, the expectations will already be high for Jennings.  People have to remember that he is still raw and developing as a hitter.  He is also young and will take time to mature.  With so many holes currently in the Rays batting order, Jennings will not be pitched to every game if he stays hot.  The league will also start to put a book together on him and find the holes in his swing and game.  While his two walks yesterday were impressive, Jennings was still striking out much more than he was walking in AAA this year.  The potential is definitely there, as he showed yesterday.  The expectations just have to be kept in check.

Rays fans have been calling for the promotion of Desmond Jennings since spring training.  With the team in contention, the time was right to give Jennings the call.  Long-term, I can realistically see him as a 20 home run, 50 stolen base type hitter.  The power is definitely there and he should be an extra-base hit machine as he finds his groove at the major league level.  With the art of the stolen base slowly coming back to baseball, Jennings should win several stolen base crowns before his time is done.  With the trade deadline looming, the Rays are looking at acquiring more hitting prospects to beef up their offense.  With Desmond Jennings at the top of the order, the Rays will have an offense that will compliment its superior pitching.  The World Series may not come to Tampa Bay in 2011, but the road to the championship just got more clear.  Welcome to the big leagues Desmond Jennings.  Well done.

 

 

Box Score:  Desmond Jennings 2011 Debut

Tampa Bay 110 011 000 0 4 11 2
Kansas City 000 201 001 1 5 10 0
Tampa Bay AB R H BI BB SO Avg.
Jennings lf 3 2 2 1 2 1 .667
Damon dh 5 0 1 1 0 2 .279
Zobrist rf-2b 5 1 2 1 0 2 .266
Longoria 3b 4 0 2 1 1 1 .243
B. Upton cf 4 0 0 0 1 2 .229
S. Rodriguez 2b 3 0 0 0 1 0 .211
b-Joyce ph-rf 1 0 1 0 0 0 .289
Kotchman 1b 5 0 1 0 0 1 .329
Shoppach c 4 0 1 0 0 2 .179
c-Fuld ph 1 0 0 0 0 1 .244
Chirinos c 0 0 0 0 0 0 .214
E. Johnson ss 5 1 1 0 0 3 .197
Totals 40 4 11 4 5 15  
Kansas City AB R H BI BB SO Avg.
Gordon lf 5 0 3 1 0 2 .302
Cabrera cf 5 0 0 0 0 0 .294
Butler dh 5 1 1 0 0 2 .288
1-Aviles pr 0 1 0 0 0 0 .211
Hosmer 1b 5 2 3 1 0 2 .277
Francoeur rf 3 0 1 0 0 0 .269
Moustakas 3b 3 0 2 3 0 0 .202
Pena c 3 0 0 0 0 0 .256
a-Maier ph 1 0 0 0 0 1 .271
Treanor c 0 0 0 0 0 0 .227
Getz 2b 3 0 0 0 1 1 .253
Escobar ss 4 1 0 0 0 1 .249
Totals 37 5 10 5 1 9  

No outs when winning run scored. a-struck out  for Pena in the 9th. b-singled for S. Rodriguez in the 10th. c-struck out for  Shoppach in the 10th. 1-ran for Butler in the 10th.

E: Longoria (7), Jennings (1). LOB: Tampa  Bay 11, Kansas City 8. 2B: Jennings (1), Damon (17), Zobrist  (30), Longoria (18), Gordon (26), Hosmer (14), Francoeur (25), Moustakas (4). 3B: Jennings (1), E. Johnson (2). RBIs: Jennings (1), Damon (43), Zobrist (50), Longoria (49), Gordon (52),  Hosmer (40), Moustakas 3 (8). SB: Jennings (1), Gordon (9). SF: Moustakas.

Runners left in scoring position: Tampa Bay 9 (Kotchman 3,  Zobrist 2, Damon 2, E. Johnson 2); Kansas City 6 (Cabrera 2, Getz 2, Butler,  Moustakas). GIDP: Johnson. DP: Kansas City 1  (Francis, Getz, Hosmer).

Tampa Bay IP H R ER BB SO NP ERA
Niemann 6 7 3 2 0 4 92 3.86
Jo. Peralta 1 1/3 0 0 0 0 3 17 3.80
Howell 2/3 0 0 0 0 1 12 7.94
Farnsworth 1 1 1 1 1 1 18 1.99
B. Gomes L, 0-1 0 2 1 1 0 0 2 3.78
Kansas City IP H R ER BB SO NP ERA
Francis 5 9 3 3 2 6 104 4.65
Holland 3 1 1 1 1 6 40 1.20
Crow 1 0 0 0 2 1 26 1.88
Soria W, 5-3 1 1 0 0 0 2 16 3.64

Crow pitched to 2 batters in the 10th. B.  Gomes pitched to 2 batters in the 10th.

Holds: Jo. Peralta (14), Howell (4). Blown save: Farnsworth (4). Inherited runners scored: Soria 2-0. IBB: off Francis (Jennings).

HBP: by Howell  (Francoeur). WP: Niemann. Balk: Howell.

Umpires: Home, Ted Barrett; First, Brian Runge; Second,  Marvin Hudson; Third, Tim McClelland.

Time: 3:25. Announced attendance: 27,643.

 

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James Shields to the Reds for Alonso and Grandal: July 31st MLB Trade Deadline Rumor

Saturday July 23, 2011

MLB reports:   We are now only eight days away from the MLB non-waiver trade deadline and the rumors continue to fly fast and furious.  Along with the Carlos Beltran and Heath Bell sweepstakes, the names Ubaldo Jimenez, Josh Willingham, Brandon League, Hunter Pence and Hiroki Kuroda have been tossed around as possible candidates to be moved next week.  Another big time name has recently been thrown into the mix that we will be looking at today.  James Shields, “big game James”, one of the top starting pitchers on the Tampa Bay Rays may very well be playing for a new team very soon.  The Cincinnati Reds are apparently calling and with big prospect bats sitting on the farm, the Reds may very well have the necessary bait to haul in one of the biggest fishes on the trade market.

The 29-year old James Shields was drafted by the Rays in the 16th round of the 2000 MLB draft.  Shields made his major league debut in 2006.  Here is a quick rundown of his lifetime statistics:

Year W L ERA IP H BB SO WHIP
2006 6 8 4.84 124.2 141 38 104 1.436
2007 12 8 3.85 215.0 202 36 184 1.107
2008 14 8 3.56 215.0 208 40 160 1.153
2009 11 12 4.14 219.2 239 52 167 1.325
2010 13 15 5.18 203.1 246 51 187 1.461
2011 9 8 2.53 156.1 118 40 151 1.011
6 Seasons 65 59 4.02 1134.0 1154 257 953 1.244
162 Game Avg. 13 12 4.02 224 227 51 188 1.244

 

A definite innings-eater, James pitched almost 1000 innings over his first five seasons, making him one of the most consistent and reliable pitchers in the game.  A lack of run support has definitely hurt Shields over the years, as he had the numbers to obtain more wins had the Rays offense been able to support him better.  I have watched too many instances of Shields pitching complete or near complete game losses, despite only giving up 2-3 runs per game.  2009 and 2010 were not kind to James in some ways, as some analysts viewed Shields as having hit his peak and starting to decline.  Going into 2011, nobody knew what James Shields the Rays would be getting.  The steady ace that the team enjoyed for the majority of his career or the 2010 inconsistent version.  Looking at Shields at the halfway mark of the season, he is enjoying by far his greatest season in the majors.  A sparkling 2.53 ERA and 1.011 WHIP, Shields has been everything that the Rays could have expected more.  But with success comes many questions, with the most pertinent being what the Rays should do with James.

The whispers and talk has been growing by the day that the Rays may be looking to move Shields by July 31st.  The Reds have been the team most linked to the Rays, given their desire to bolster their rotation and the deep farm of prospects they can offer the Rays.  The Reds are sitting on some of the top prospects in the game that are currently blocked at the major league level.  Yonder Alonso, 1B/OF is considered one of the best hitters not at the major league level.  Alonso would represent the centerpiece of a potential Shields deal.  Born in Cuba and having attended the University of Miami, Alonso is often compared to his friend Alex Rodriguez, based on his combination of power and patience at the plate.  Not bad company at all.  The 24-year old Alonso was drafted 7th overall in the 2008 draft by the Reds and has quickly advanced in their system.   Currently in AAA, Alonso sits at a .297 AVG, .871 OPS, with 12 home runs and 46/59 BB/K.  The Rays, desperately in need of bats, currently have Casey Kotchman manning first.  Alonso would be a perfect fit in taking over the first base job for the next decade.  He is a special hitter that does not come along very often.  While a pitcher of Shields stature is not easy to replace, the Rays would be filling a huge void in their lineup by adding Alonso.  Dealing from strength to fill a need is smart baseball management and the reason why we are discussing the trade of Shields today.

In addition to acquiring Yonder Alonso, the Rays would be adding a number one catcher to their system in either Yasmani Grandal or Devin Mesoraco.  I have seen both names thrown around, but my gut is that the Rays will end up receiving Grandal.  Mesoraco was featured by us back in June.  The likely Reds catcher of the future, Mesoraco is expected to get the call either this year or next at the latest to replace incumbent Ramon Hernandez.  With a solid backup in Ryan Hanigan, the Reds have an abundance of catchers, a strength considering that few major league teams have potential superstar backstops playing in their lower levels.  The 22-year old Grandal was born in Cuba and played in Miami, similar to Alonso.  Drafted 12th overall in the 2010 MLB draft, Grandal recently got the call to AA.  Mesoraco on the other hand, is 23-years of age and was drafted 15th overall by the Reds in the 2007 MLB draft.  Mesoraco is back for his second tour of duty in AAA, hitting a solid .309 and .895 OPS, with 10 home runs and 54 RBIs.  After battling injuries in his career, Mesoraco hit a combined 26 home runs over 3 levels last season and has not slowed down since.  The Rays would be thrilled to receive Mesoraco in a Shields trade, but Grandal is considered by many to actually be the more talented backstop.  A win-win either way for Tampa Bay.

But why trade Shields and especially, why now?  Many Rays fans are asking themselves those questions right now.  On the surface, Shields and the Rays look like a perfect fit.  He is young and still in the prime of his career.  Shields has proven to be healthy and durable since joining the Rays.  He is signed through this year, with team friendly options through 2014 at $7, $9 and $12 million per year respectively from 2012-14.  In baseball they say you can never have too much pitching.  If that is the case, then some feel the Rays should consider stockpiling their pitchers and building their team from strength.  But that is a narrow view of major league teams and how they operate.  Let’s take a look at our five top reasons for the Rays to trade James Shields right now:

1)  Sell at the Peak

You never know what the future will bring, so sometimes it is important to live in the moment.  Shields, while a steady and consistent pitcher, is currently pitching at the highest level of his career.  The Rays will need to determine if he has truly broken out or merely playing above his head.  The value for Shields may never get higher than it is today.  As well, teams contending for the playoffs may be willing to pay more at the deadline than the offseason for Shields.  The Rays, if feeling especially lucky, could request the addition of either Mike Leake or Travis Wood to the trade mix from the Reds.

2)  Numbers Game:  Rotation Log Jam

The Rays have been known for acquiring, developing and stockpiling pitchers in their system.  This past offseason was no different, as the Rays traded away top starter Matt Garza to the Cubs for a package of prospects, including Christopher Archer and Sam Fuld.  With Jeremy Hellickson ready, willing and able to join the big club, the Rays needed to clear room for their next future star pitcher.  Hellickson, combined with David Price, Wade Davis and Jeff Niemann form a formidable one through four punch in the rotation.  Based on their age and salaries, none of these starters will likely be going anywhere soon.  While Alex Cobb has been brought in for temporary measure to the majors, Matt Moore just got the call to join AAA Durham in anticipation of joining the Rays rotation soon.  Moore, one of the top-five pitching prospects in baseball, will not likely be kept on the farm too long given his dominance over minor league hitters to-date.  That is how the baseball system works.  Prospects are developed and either traded for veterans or take over for departed veterans from major league teams.  As the Rays have no intention of trading Moore, a spot will have to open up for him.  Unfortunately for James Shields, he is the veteran most likely to go.  From there, it will only be a matter of time before Archer is ready to join the big club and the cycle will continue.

3)  Dollars and Cents

It is no secret that the Rays are on a very tight budget.  Low attendance figures, despite continued recent major league success including a World Series appearance in 2008, has meant that the Rays cannot afford to hang onto high priced veterans.  Shown the door in recent years were Carlos Pena, Matt Garza and Rafael Soriano, among others for financial considerations.  While James may have what is considered a team friendly contract, paying him close to $10 million or so per year for each of the next three seasons does not work for the Rays budget.  Moore, combined with Alonso and Grandal, would fill three positions for the Rays at a combined salary that will be a fraction of what Shields makes.  In other words, Shields is a luxury that the Rays cannot afford and can fill quite adequately within at a cheaper cost.  While we do not like to think about the economics of the game, it can drive roster decisions on the same level as talent and ability.

4)  Innings- Wear and Tear

James Shields is starting to enter a zone that many MLB teams dread.  The 200-innings per season for over five seasons club.  While an informal group, there has been much talk in baseball circles that most pitchers after their first 1000 innings pitched have a high risk of injuries and decline.  Pitchers like Brandon Webb and to a lesser extent Ben Sheets, are shown as examples of modern pitchers that have arm/shoulder problems after pitching many major league innings over a span of 5+ years.  While Shields has not shown any risks yet of developing injuries, his numbers going into this season were of concern for the Rays.  So while Shields is having a Cy Young caliber season, the Rays may be fearful that he will be susceptible to injuries or declining performance very soon.

5)  Pitchers Need Run Support

In the same way a fast car needs a powerful engine and reliable tires, a major league team needs both offense and strong pitching.  The current build of the Rays is starting to mirror the San Francisco Giants.  Great young pitching but not enough hitting.  The Rays can stockpile as much pitching as they like, but if they cannot score runs they will have a difficult time making the playoffs, let alone win a World Series title.  Yonder Alonso and Yasmani Grandal are two superstar bats in the making that the Rays desperately need and do not have in their own system.  The expression goes that teams “develop pitching and buy bats.”  In this case, the Rays will be taking to buying the bats that they themselves cannot produce.  With a starting lineup of nine hitters, that Rays will be instantly filling over 20% of their lineup by way of this trade.  The hit the rotation by losing Shields would be absorbed by the addition of Matt Moore to the major league club.  But the boost to the team’s offense as a result of the addition of Alonso and Grandal is invaluable.

Verdict:  The bottom line is that the Tampa Bay Rays are in a quandary.  James Shields is the heart and soul of their pitching staff, the go-to guy who has earned his nickname of “big game.”  But as the most expensive starter on the staff, with the team’s top prospect almost ready to receive the call to the show and the team desperately needing good young hitting, the Rays have no choice but to consider moving Shields at the trade deadline.  As the team is still in contention, management will have to be careful of not sending a message that they are throwing in the towel on the season.  But to get the biggest reward, the team will have to pay a big price.  It will be difficult in the short-term to accept the trade of James Shields from Tampa Bay.  But considering the hitting that the Reds would be sending to the Rays, this is a deal that the Rays cannot afford to miss out on.  Keep an eye on Tampa Bay as the team will continue to improve, get younger at a competitive payroll come deadline day and still remain in contention.  If this is truly James Shield’s last week in a Rays uniform, please be sure to catch his last start live or on television from Oakland this coming Wednesday July 27th.  With Desmond Jennings and Dane De La Rosa just recalled by the Rays from AAA, the cycle of player and prospect replenishment has already begun again in Tampa Bay.

 

 

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