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A Tampa Bay Rays Blog: Ball on a Budget



Updated: 2017-03-27T10:00:05-04:00

 



MLB Trade Rumors: The Rays are interested in former Yankees top prospect Rob Refsnyder

2017-03-27T10:00:05-04:00

The Rays are looking for right-handed outfield depth and Rob Refsnyder meets the criteria With Derek Norris in the fold, the Rays are searching for additional right-handed depth and the team is interested in Yankees infielder/outfielder Rob Refsnyder, according to the New York Post’s George A. King III. Refsnyder, 26, is stuck in limbo with the Yankees as the team has no clear role for the Seoul, South Korea, native. In parts of the last two seasons, Refsnyder has posted a cumulative .262/.332/.354 slash line with 17 runs batted in (RBIs) through 74 games. He hasn’t helped his case this spring, however, as he has managed just a .195/.313/.654 line in 41 at-bats. Through 2,080 plate appearances in the minors, Refsnyder owns a .293/.379/.429 slash line. He was ranked by Baseball America as the Yankees’ seventh-best prospect after the 2014 season. Drafted as an outfielder out of the University of Arizona in the fifth round of the 2012 MLB Draft (187th overall), the Yankees moved Refsnyder to second base. However, with Starlin Castro cemented at the keystone last season — and a reluctance to promote Refsnyder until mid-July in the year before — Refsnyder has not seen significant time at second base in the majors. Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports The Yankees have shown a willingness to discuss Refsnyder in the past; Yankees general manager Brian Cashman told Chad Jennings of the Journal News two offseasons ago that he rejected a trade to acquire former Ray Ben Zobrist for Refsnyder and Adam Warren. Most of Refsnyder’s playing time in 2016 came as a first baseman and outfielder. FanGraphs rated Refsnyder’s defense positively at both first base and the outfield in limited time. Over the weekend, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reported that the Rays are looking for an additional right-handed bat, and Refsnyder was listed as a possible target along with Bryce Brentz, Peter Bourjos, Austin Jackson, and former Rays Justin Ruggiano and Melvin Upton. Matt Duffy’s return from a heel injury has encountered setbacks, increasing Tampa Bay’s interest in a right-handed bat. The Arizona Republic’s Nick Piecoro reported last week that the Yankees and Rays have interest in shortstop Nick Ahmed; with Didi Gregorious likely sidelined for all of April and Duffy’s status uncertain, the defensive-minded Ahmed makes sense for both sides. Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports However, Topkin noted that the Rays prefer to acquire an outfielder with options who can backup defensive wizard Kevin Kiermaier in center field. Refsnyder does have options but has never played center field at the professional level. With Opening Day this Sunday, the Rays have a lot of roster decisions to make in the coming days. [...]



Tampa Bay Rays News and Links - Opening Day is less than a week away!

2017-03-27T09:00:08-04:00

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Richie Shaffer’s off-season travels, Tropicana Field has a new turf, and Jesus Sucre looks like a lock for Opening Day




Season Preview: Logan Morrison

2017-03-27T08:00:02-04:00

Hoping for a turnaround season, Logan Morrison could be a a valuable asset in 2017. Background: Logan Morrison, 29, has had an inconsistent career (you can view his career stats here.) He was drafted in 2005 by the then Florida Marlins and spent the 2006 - 2010 seasons in their farm system. An impressive 2010 season at AAA landed him a spot in MLB All-Star Futures Game and a Marlins call up. He ended up finishing the 2010 season in the majors putting up great numbers, giving hope to the Marlins organization. After his solid 2011 season though, Morrison has never gotten back to a consistent level of production. Once his numbers started dropping off, he was traded to the Mariners for the 2014 season. After a decent (1.1 WAR) 2014, he was below replacement level in 2015 with a slash line of .225/.302/.383. To be fair, Safeco field is generally known as a pitchers park. Nonetheless, he continued to be plagued by inconsistent hitting. During the 2015 off season, Morrison was traded in a package deal with current Rays Brad Miller and Danny Farquhar. 2016 Season: Morrison had a roller coaster type of 2016 season. The Rays went out looking for a power hitting first baseman, after having first baseman of different skill sets (Casey Kotchman and James Loney). Many Rays fans (me included) grumbled when he started the season 2 for 44. He did, however, turn things around. During the stretch in May, he racked up 26 hits in 24 games resulting in a .337 average and a .475 OBP! After his hot May, he leveled out to about a league average player. Morrison finished with a .238 average, which is expected when a hitter trades contact for power numbers. In his defense, his BABIP was under .300 meaning he was getting a bit unlucky on the balls he put in play. He also finished with a disappointing 14 home runs, which is a decrease from his 2015 season with the Mariners. Morrison struck out at a 22.4% rate. He surprisingly hit better against lefties, hitting .258, while hitting .234 against righties. In 2016 he did show a slightly above average BB% at 9.3% and a great ISO at .176. His 2016 season ISO is an increase of .018 from 2015, meaning he is at least hitting the ball with more power, even if the home runs didn’t show up. He also had a decent wRC+ of 101. His defense at first was pretty much league average. He only committed four errors but with limited range. Overall, Morrison needs to find more consistency if he is to contribute to a successful 2017 campaign. Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports 2017 Season Outlook Logan Morrison will get the chance to start at first base with Rickie Weeks being more of a utility player with Casey Gillaspie and Jake Bauers being sent down to the minors, and Casey Gillaspie and Jake Bauers waiting in the wings. On the current depth chart, here, Brad Miller and Nick Franklin follow behind him, but neither is likely to be the team’s regular first baseman. So far this spring Morrison has struggled (3 hits). He still has time to prove himself, and be a valuable asset to the team. In fact, Kevin Cash has even been tinkering with the idea of putting him in the lead-off spot (see link). He is still young enough to produce good numbers, and he has produced well before in the past. Conclusion: In signing Morrison the Rays must believe he still has the ability to produce, at least until the team is ready to start the clock on Gillaspie (or even Bauers). The Rays must have a productive first baseman this season to be a contender. The Rays will give Morrison the chance to continue playing, but it should be noted that Gillaspie will be the first call up if Morrison does not produce well enough. [...]



Rays 2017 Season Preview: The Rays rebuild is nearly complete

2017-03-26T11:00:02-04:00

Meet the changing face of the Tampa Bay Rays Five years ago the Rays were coming off the euphoria of a crazy September 2011 that involved the single most exciting night of baseball that I have ever personally experienced: Game 162. It wasn’t all about the Red Sox collapse. It was about the heart of the Tampa Bay Rays, and their ability to be challenging for the playoffs in the first place. The “Rays Way” Revisited In 2011, the Rays won 91 games, and won 90+ for the third time in the previous four years. Evan Longoria had established himself as a superstar and the undisputed face of the Tampa Bay Rays, and wasn’t alone as he had stars to support him in David Price and Ben Zobrist. The Rays talent was coalescing through the success of James Shields and B.J. Upton. Star prospect Desmond Jennings came up in the second half of 2011 and looked like he could be the answer for the loss of Carl Crawford from the previous off season. Although the Rays had two more winning seasons, with 90- and 92-win seasons and a Wild Card appearance in 2013, the 2008 - 2011 period represented the peak of the Rays improbable run from bottom feeders to stardom. As a low revenue team the Rays are dependent on the farm system in filling in the holes when they lose players to free agency or have to move players due for financial reasons. Over the past five years the farm just hasn’t been productive enough to keep the Rays winning 90+ games a year like they did in all but one season between 2008-2013. There is but one exception. Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images Kiermaier in his element Kevin Kiermaier is a once in a generation talent on defense who has become an excellent wingman to Evan Longoria. Along with ever budding baseball star Chris Archer, these three players have become the heart of the Rays roster, but the front office has only been able to build around them with players more average than above average to date, taking bets on position players coming off injuries, and working trades for under the radar role players. In other words, the Rays have been stalling, trading nearly every one of their veterans as they approached free agency in an attempt to bring in the next wave of talent from outside the organization, with Longoria the sole exception. But now it seems that approach may finally be working in their favor. There have been growing pains as they have tried to keep the machine turning in the Rays’ constant attempt to stay competitive in the AL East, but as a result, the team is younger now than it was five years ago, and is ready to promote their acquired talent. Many of the prospects were acquired via trade such as Willy Adames, Jose De Leon, and Jake Bauers, while other prospects like Casey Gillaspie and Brent Honeywell may finally offer the Rays some draft successes. All five players are on Baseball America’s Top-100 for 2017, and all but Honeywell will start the 2017 season at Triple-A. The Rays rebuild is nearly complete. The next wave is coming — here’s who you need to know: Photo by Harry How/Getty Images The front office’s trades and amateur talent acquisitions haven’t paid off yet, but the future looks bright when you consider the upper levels of the farm. Willy Adames is the stud prospect you dream about. He plays an up the middle position with a promising bat, and has every intangible you could wish for in a future star. He just spent his age-20 season playing in Double-A Montgomery, and is slotted to start the season in Triple-A Durham, but could see himself in the Rays middle infield by mid-summer. His bat and his solid if not spectacular glove at shortstop could be a key building block to the next great Rays run. Jose De Leon received a cup of coffee last September with the Dodgers, and struggled in his four starts, but absolutely cruised through some tough hitting environments in AA and AAA, and recently performed well for Puerto Rico in the Wor[...]