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A Tampa Bay Rays Blog: Ball on a Budget

Updated: 2016-10-27T15:21:19-04:00


Kevin Kiermaier Nominated for Second Consecutive Gold Glove Award



For the third year in a row, Kevin Kiermaier is a finalist for gold, will he win again?

Despite missing close to two months of the season, Kevin Kiermaier has been nominated for his second consecutive Gold Glove award.

Kiermaier won the award last year, and to take things further, he also won the Platinum glove which is given to the best defender at any position in the league. Kiermaier had an historically incredible year in 2015 and was definitely deserving of the accolade.

His competition for the award will be two division foes as last year’s runner up, Kevin Pillar was nominated, and also Jackie Bradley Jr. of the Boston Red Sox was selected as a candidate.

Despite missing the aforementioned two months, Kiermaier still finished second in the majors in Defensive Runs Saved with 25, behind only Mookie Betts who totaled just seven more in over 500 more innings on the field.

Kiermaier was the only member of the Rays team to be selected, as he looks to join Evan Longoria as the only player in franchise history to win at least two gold gloves. The Gold Glove winners will be announced on November 9th on ESPN.

Will Kevin Kiermaier win? Were there any snubs on the Rays roster? If KK wins, will be in line for a higher raise in arbitration?

The DRaysBay 2016-17 offseason plan project


You think you know what the Rays should do? Tell us! Our friends at South Side Sox have been running a “Choose Your Own Offseason” scenario for a couple years now, and like Bless You Boys, we’re going to join in on the fun this year. This guide borrows heavily from their example, because it’s not my idea to start with! But it sure as heck could be fun. The template below will lay out the decisions the Rays have ahead of them after the World Series, and then you have free reign to make the moves you think will vault the team back into contention! First, some tips and instructions. Copy and paste the template into a FanPost. If you have not written a FanPost before, we have instructions here. In short, you will need two things: (1) an active SB Nation account registered at DRaysBay (the “join” button is at the bottom of this post if you are not already a member), and (2) the link to the FanPost section, which can also be found on the right side of our home page. Cot’s Baseball Contracts has Tampa Bay’s payroll obligations. Note: Contracts are where you need to be reasonable, as the Rays are expected to keep their payroll in the $70 million range from now until eternity... You can find the 40-man roster here, the Payroll should not exceed $85 million without good reason. MLB Trade Rumors has a list of the 2016-17 MLB free agents. Remember that some of these players have contract options that will be exercised (like our old friend Wade Davis), so use your best judgment to determine which players will actually be available on the free agent market. The swag I’m still working out the details, but rest assured there will be some sort of prize for your contributions. Rest assured that the best submissions will make it to the front page, and then we will either take it to a vote, or let a random number generator do the picking. The more submissions we get, the better the prizes. That’s all I can promise for now... Now, the fun part. [Insert your name]’s Offseason Plan Arbitration-eligible players Only three players are under contract for next season: Chris Archer – $4.92 million Evan Longoria – $13.0 million Logan Forsythe – $7.0 million Arbitration-eligible players You can choose to offer the following players the contracts listed below or non-tender them (i.e. not offer them a contract and allow them to leave as a free agent). Feel free to explain any of your tougher decisions. Alex Cobb (5.061) – $4.0 million Bobby Wilson (5.057) – $1.1 million Drew Smyly (4.154) – $6.9 million Erasmo Ramirez (3.158) – $3.5 million Brad Boxberger (3.109) – $1.5 million Corey Dickerson (3.101) – $3.4 million Brad Miller (3.094) – $3.8 million Xavier Cedeno (3.060) – $1.2 million Jake Odorizzi (3.042) – $4.6 million Danny Farquhar (2.168) – $1.1 million Kevin Kiermaier (2.131) – $2.1 million The Rays have no players with options for next season, so the decision to retain the players is quite simple. Pay arbitration, or waive the player to be a free agent. Pending Free agents These players were with the Rays last season, but will be declared free agents when the World Series ends. Alexei Ramirez – $3.0 million in 2016 Kevin Jepsen – $5.31 million in 2016 Logan Morrison – $4.20 million in 2016 Free agents If you choose to sign any free agents, name the player(s), the maximum contract offer you would extend to them, and a brief explanation. Here’s an example: Jason Castro (one year, $6.9 million): The Rays would benefit from having a seasoned catcher on the roster, and this former Mike-Fast-employed backstop has never made more than $5 million in a single season. Entering his age-30 season, this former All-Star has a bat that worked its way up to an 88 wRC+ last season, which is Ruthian for a Rays catcher, with a double digit walk-rate and home run total. The strikeouts are a problem, but what else is new for the Rays? He’d probably be more thrilled with a two-year deal. Trades If you choose to trade any players, propose a deal that sounds rea[...]

A physics lesson from a Joc



Game 2 of the World Series was eventful last night.

The Chicago Cubs evened the series on the back of Jake Arrieta’s pitching, with him making the longest no-hit bid in the World Series since 1969. Everybody’s favorite story line, Kyle Schwarber pitched in a couple RBI groundball singles, and Ben Zobrist knocked a triple to extend the Cubs lead.

But let’s step back to something more fun.

There was a play in the NLCS where Joc Pederson got fooled and turned around by the movement due to rotation of a fly ball. That prompted Dr. Alan Nathan to break down the physics, using Statcast data given to him by an “anonymous benefactor.”

Very cool stuff. Here’s the play in question:

There is a way in which this fly ball was somewhat unusual, in that it was hit directly at Joc Pederson. That means that from Pederson’s perspective, all movement of the ball relative to the line between him and home plate was due to spin, as opposed to normally, where the outfielder’s path is only due in a very small part to the spin deflection. That means that in terms of what Pederson has to do in the field, it’s much more weighted toward understanding the spin deflection.

Think of it this way. If the ball was hit to Pederson’s right, he starts heading right, and then adjusts his route slightly based on how the ball is spinning. But in this case the adjustment based on how the ball spun was on whether to turn his whole body one way or the other.

I think this is something to consider for pitchers, too, as they think about location and movement: how do you locate your pitch so that it’s movement matters most? Are there some locations for some pitches that make the batter’s decision easier and others that make it harder?

Read the piece here.

Tampa Bay Rays News and Links: Chicago Cubs bounce back, even series against Indians


The world series continues, prospect reports, the first of many stadium proposals, and Yeonis Cespedes to become a free agent Links: After being shutout in game one, the Chicago Cubs came storming back last night to take even the series with a 5-1 victory, thanks to a stellar performance from Jake Arrieta and the Cubs bullpen, while Kyle Schwarber and Ben Zobrist had multi-hit games David Ortiz and Kris Bryant won the 2016 Hank Aaron Awards for their respective leagues, the award is given out to the league’s top offensive player. Know thy enemy, Baseball America has the top ten lists out for the Baltimore Orioles and the Toronto Blue Jays. The Rays top ten will be released on the October 31st. Everyone pretty much already knew this but Yeonis Cespedes is expected to exercise his opt-out clause with the New York Mets and will become a free agent. The Boston Red Sox received some good news as Drew Pomeranz will not require surgery Max Scherzer’s wife tried to throw out one of his historic no-hitter jerseys. Stadium news: Per the Tampa Bay Times, the baseball commissioner is optimistic about the Rays talks regarding a new stadium in the Tampa Bay area. But no deadline and no details. Oldsmar will make their pitch to land the Rays stadium later today Whether anyone else is convinced remains to be seen, but the city of Oldsmar will show it's serious about landing a new Tampa Bay Rays stadium when it reveals to the public a master plan developed by an architectural firm. A 2 p.m. news conference is scheduled at the Oldsmar Council Chamber, 101 State Street W. The presentation will be made by Oldsmar Mayor Doug Bevis and Francisco Semsch, president of FSA Inc. architects. Source — Rays History: On October 27th, 2008 the Tampa Bay Rays and Philadelphia Phillies were playing game five of the world series in absolutely dreadful conditions as temperatures were in the low 30’s and the weather had turned the playing field had flooded to the point that the infield looked like a small pond. After BJ Upton forever immortalized the moment by swiping second base and scoring the tying run in the sixth inning, the game became the first ever in the World Series to be suspended and resumed at a later date. id="0c60f" data-src="" data-aspect="1.7857" style="width:100%" frameborder="0"> Trivia: The answer to yesterday’s question was Travis Harper, answered correctly by Wrong answers included Rick White, J.P. Howell, Cesar Ramos, Esteban Yan, Dan Wheeler, and Lance Carter Former Prospect: The good news about [Prospect] is that he's the hardest thrower in his team’s system. The bad news is that his fastball is straight as an arrow. Even so, 98 mph is 98 mph. [Prospect] is difficult to hit, limiting opponents to a .238 average last season. He started 10 games, but that was so he can get innings and develop more pitches. The fear was that his fastball is so good that he would use it to overpower Class A hitters and wouldn't throw his breaking ball and changeup if he was used only an inning at a time. He's viewed as a potential closer because of his fastball. Hint: he was never a top-10 guy, but was in the top-30 for four straight years in the early 2000’s [...]

Late Night Raymblings: There is a prospect that looks like Good Archer


Rays pitching prospect Diego Castillo might be "good Archer" out of the bullpen. In tonight's Raymblings I'm going to compare a current major league pitcher for the Rays to a current minor league prospect of the Rays. Diego Castillo is a RHP prospect currently pitching in the AFL, and his stuff looks pretty similar to Rays ace Chris Archer--at least close enough to take a deeper look. Usage (%) H mov (in.) V Mov (in.) Velocity (mph) Archer Fastball 48.45 -3.35 10.15 95.17 Archer Slider 40.22 3.04 0.61 88.99 Archer Change 11.29 -7.18 3.84 87.57 Castillo Fastball 58.57 -6.38 7.43 99.17 Castillo Slider 32.86 2.08 0.65 88.73 Castillo Change 8.57 -6.34 5.67 91.38 Average MLB FB -4.2 8.9 92.4 Average Slider 2.8 1.2 84.3 Average Change -6.7 4.1 83.7 They use the same pitches, and even have similar usage rates. Castillo has much more velocity on the heater and change up than Archer, and both are well above major league average velo with all three pitches. Castillo is currently working in a bullpen role, so he might have an extra tick or two on his pitches due to that. Castillo's pitch movement doesn't appear to be as elite as his velocity. The fastball run is good, but the lift is well below average for a fourseam. This not only hurts the fastball, it also factors into his other pitches. Where Archer has 10" of vertical movement separation from fastball to slider, and 6" to his change up, Castillo has only 7" to the slider and a mere 2" to the change up. The change up also has identical run to the fastball, which is probably not good. Castillo's slider, meanwhile, is his best pitch. I say this confidently because it is so very close to being Archer's slider, which is industry-wide considered to be one of the best sliders in baseball, if not the best. The velocity and drop are both the same, and Castillo is missing only 1" of run on his slider compared to Archer's. They both throw the slider close to league-average movement, but with 4.5 more ticks on the gun. Archer has excellent command of his slider, something Castillo will want to work towards to get the most out of the pitch. Now that I've made the case that these pitchers are at least fairly similar, let's look at how they performed along similar stops in their minor league career. Castillo Age Level Innings K/9 BB/9 H/9 HR/9 20 DSL 25 9.4 4 9.4 0 21 A- & A 32.2 7.7 3 7.4 0.3 22 A & A+ 60.1 10 2.5 9.2 0.6 Archer Age Level Innings K/9 BB/9 H/9 HR/9 18 Rookie 56.2 8.4 3.8 9.7 0.6 19 A 115.1 8.3 6.6 7.2 0.6 20 A 109 9.8 5.4 6.4 0 21 A+ & AA 142.1 9.4 4.1 6.4 0.4 22 AA & AAA 147.1 7.9 5.3 9 0.7 There are a few big differences we can see right off the bat. Archer was pitching in more advanced leagues when he was Castillo's age, and he was also starting games and racking up many more innings. On the other hand, Castillo walks fewer batters, suggesting he has better command of his pitches than Archer. I don't know if the plan is to convert Castillo to a starter or not. If they think he can be something like a Chris Archer with better command, that would certainly be worth the wait as he builds up innings in the minors. If they think he is a bullpen version of Chris Archer, Castillo is on pace to provide that to the major league club as early as next September, though 2018 seems more likely. These are exciting options to consider for this young man. [...]

Tampa Bay Rays News and Links: Cleveland Indians Take Game One, Shut Out Chicago Cubs



The Indians took game one of the world series, shutting out the Chicago Cubs


Rays History:

On October 26th, 2008 the Tampa Bay Rays and Philadelphia Phillies played game four of the World Series with the Phillies routing the Rays by the score of 10-2, adding insult to injury as their starting pitcher, Joe Blanton homered off of Edwin Jackson. Due to the loss, the Rays fell one defeat away from losing the series.


The answer to yesterday’s question was Ryan Rupe, answered correctly by KKoverLongo???

Wrong answers included Joe Kennedy and Victor Zambrano

By The Numbers:

Andrew Miller has put on one of the most tremendous displays in post-season history as he continues to string together scoreless multiple inning appearances.

His run of dominance has to have some front offices around baseball thinking of ways to retool their bullpens. The Rays have tried multi-inning relievers, but not to the great effect the Indians have seen in 2016.

So, onto the trivia, which pitcher in Rays history owns the most relief outings in which he recorded at least two innings pitched?

How the Rays could have ruined the Cubs postseason


Revisiting the Javier Baez for Alex Cobb trade that nearly was... The Chicago Cubs will make history tonight as they will play their first World Series game in 71 years and continue their journey to end a 108-year curse without a championship. While the Cubs’ super team – which boasted seven All-Stars during the regular season – got the team to the playoffs, Javier Baez has done the heavy lifting ever since. In 10 postseason games, Baez boasts a .346/.373/.531 slash line with one home run and seven runs batted in. Coming out of Chicago’s series win over the Los Angeles Dodgers in the National League Championship Series, the Bayamon, Puerto Rico, native shared NLCS Most Valuable Player honors with left-handed pitcher Jon Lester. Clutch, game-winning home runs, and flashy defensive plays endeared Baez to fans. The same flashy plays that were once a source of frustration. A year ago, Baez seemingly possessed limitless talent in defense but produced less than stellar results that irritated the fanbase. "Sometimes people might criticize the fact he can be flashy. However, that's something I would never want to coach out of him," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. "I want him to make better judgments regarding the mental component of the game. The physical side of it, he does things that are unique." However, the 23-year-old phenom almost became a victim of the Cubs’ depth; trade rumors involving Baez circulated all off season. At one point, Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times reported that Baez was heading to the Atlanta Braves in exchange for Shelby Miller. But that deal never happened, and Miller ended up in Arizona. The one destination that Baez seemed destined for was Tampa Bay. With myriad young pitching and a shortage on offense, Baez’s young, impactful, developing bat and defensive versatility seemed like a perfect fit. Right-hander Alex Cobb was the piece headed for the Windy City -- if the two sides agreed on a deal. Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images The trade that almost happened Cobb, 28 at the time, had missed all of 2015 with Tommy John surgery. In parts of four seasons beforehand, the Rays’ fourth-round pick from 2006 owned a 35-23 record with a 3.27 ERA in 498 2/3 innings. But overpowering hitters was never Cobb’s calling – evidenced by his career fastball velocity (90.8 mph) per FanGraphs, and meager K/9 rate (6.5). He also never exceeded 166 innings in one season. But Cobb was an ace, and could easily return to form. The Cubs wanted him, and could have had him for what seemed like a small price to pay. While Baez's athleticism was on display in Chicago, the rest of his game was not. After being called up in 2014, Baez – despite slashing just .169/227/.334 – he smashed nine home runs and drove in 20, but he also struck out 95 times in 213 at-bats (40.1 percent), more than alarming. Baez’s contact skills did not improve in Spring Training of 2015, and he spent most of the season in Triple-A. The Cubs seemed to be moving on from Baez. They signed Ben Zobrist to a four-year, $56 million deal to play second base, acquired shortstop Addison Russell in the 2014 trade of Jeff Samardzija, and had top prospect Kris Bryant cemented at third base. Then it all fell apart. Marc Topkin reported on December 8, 2015, that the Cubs and Rays sides "cooled" on trade talks involving Baez/Cobb when other players’ names became involved. That same day, the Cubs signed veteran hurler John Lackey to a two-year deal. The Cubs chose right Baez went from offseason trade chip to super utility player. Meanwhile, Cobb rehabbed from surgery and came back to make five starts in 2016, going 1-2 with an 8.59 ERA in 22 innings. In a Cubs infield that includes the likely 2016 NL MVP Bryant, the player with the second-most RBIs (95) among MLB shortstops, and MLB’s version of a Swiss army knife, Baez carved out[...]

Former Rays in the World Series


The Rays have six former members of their organization on the World Series rosters of the Chicago Cubs and Cleveland Indians The Tampa Bay Rays may have not made it into the playoffs, but they have several former members of their organization who have helped pave the path for other teams to make it. There are only seven games left to be played of major league baseball this year, if the series merits seven games, and those will be played by the Chicago Cubs and Cleveland Indians with game one starting tonight at 8 eastern at Progressive Field in Cleveland. For those of you who should obviously have been wondering which of your favorite former Rays were on these World Series bound teams, then look no further. Cleveland Indians: Brandon Guyer Guyer was acquired by the Rays back in January of 2011 in the mega Matt Garza deal that netted the Rays several top prospects, including Chris Archer. Guyer would make his Rays debut later that season, but would spend the next couple of years splitting time between Durham, Tampa, and the disabled list. That is, until he found his niche, which was hitting left-handed pitchers and also him, himself getting hit by pitches. He currently hold the Rays all-time and single-season records for being hit by pitches. He was dealt to the Indians at the 2016 trade deadline for a couple of minor league prospects. While with Cleveland, he has slashed .333/.438/.469 over 38 games with a 153 wRC+ as they made their final push to the playoffs Mickey Callaway The first player that the Rays drafted to reach the majors was Mickey Callaway. The selected him in the 7th round of the 1996 draft and he’d make his major league debut three years later in 1999. His major league pitching career would turn out lack luster, but it would turn out that as bad as he was on the hill, he was the opposite in the dugout. Callaway managed to bridge his pitching career into a spot as the prized pitching coach for the Cleveland Indians who Terry Francona places a lot of the credit on for the Tribe making it where they are today. Chicago Cubs: Joe Maddon Maddon came to the Rays in 2006 after decades in the Angels organization. After two very rough years to start his tenure, everything clicked and the Rays made it all the way to the world series. From 2008 to 2013, under Joe Maddon, the Rays were the best team in baseball. Then, he left the club immediately following the 2014 season and took over the Cubs managerial position with the goal to bring a championship to Wrigley for the first time since 1908. He is four victories from accomplishing that goal. Davey Martinez Martinez was drafted by the Cubs in 1983 and made his debut in 1986. He’d spend the next two decades being a journeyman outfielder, making stops in Montreal, Cincinnati, Chicago, San Francisco, Tampa Bay, Texas, Atlanta, and Toronto. During his stop with the Rays, he recorded the first hit in franchise history. After retiring, he would become the Rays bench coach and he has enjoyed possibly the best run of success anyone could hope for to start out their coaching career as he began with the Rays in 2008 and left with Maddon following 2014 to become the Cubs bench coach. Mike Montgomery A former MLB top 100 prospect, Montgomery has been traded already three times in his brief career as the Royals flipped him to Tampa in the James Shields trade, the Rays flipped him two years later to the Mariners for Erasmo Ramirez, and this past July the Cubs acquired him for prospects from Seattle. Originally a starter, Montgomery has flourished in the pen and since joining the Cubs in July, he has helped bridge the gap from the starting rotation to the closing pitchers with excellent numbers. Ben Zobrist Zobrist was drafted by the Houston Astros in 2004 and after quickly advancing through the minors thanks to some strong on-base numbers, he would be traded to the Rays in Ju[...]