It's no secret that the Rays have some offensive problems. The team had big offensive problems last year and the team leader in homeruns is now on Atlanta.
People are upset that the trade of Shields makes it seem like a rebuilding year... but not so fast. The pitching still has a chance to be excellent and if we get some more offensive help, we can still compete.
People want Upton, but that would take a lot and AZ probably will keep him. Two very realistic options are trading for Michael Morse of Washington or Jason Kubel from AZ (who they would more likely trade).
The Nats are close to resigning 1st baseman Adam LaRoche, leaving Morse expendable without a position to play. The trade for Span to play center leaves the outfield too crowded with Harper, Span, and Werth.
Arizona was already talking about trading outfielders... now with the signing of Cody Ross, it's even more likley. Rumors are that Kubel could be traded.
Morse was hurt to start the year last year but still finished with 18 homers and close to 70 rbis while hitting .291 (would have been the best on the Rays last year). The year before that, in 2011, Morse hit 30 homers with 95 rbi while hitting over .300.
Kubel was even better last year...Kubel hit .255 with 30 homers and 90 rbis. Both would have led the team last year.
Then that gives us a solid outfield with Kubel/Morse in left, Jennings in Center, and Joyce in right. We should see Wil Myers by May/June (they want to keep him in the minors until then so it delays his FA eligibility. When he comes up, Kubel/Morse or Joyce can DH.
Then you have a solid lineup that looks something like this...
1. Jennings CF2. Zobrist 2B3. Longoria 3B4. Kubel/Morse LF5. Myers RF6. Joyce DH7. Escober SS8. Loney 1B9. Molina C
Get it done!
Obviously he wouldn't be playing the field. We have a nice empty spot at DH we can slide him into. And headcase......maybe when he's playing defense, but as a teammate, from all that I have heard, he's great!
He might not have the most patience at the plate, but he'll hit us 20-30 bombs, with 80+ rbi's, and won't be hurting us at all, because he'll never get near a glove. Slide him right in at the 4 spot, sign Myers to a Matt Moore/Evan Longoria rookie contract kind of deal, so he can start the season with us, and here's our lineup:
1 Yunel Escobar SS2 Ben Zobrist 2B3 Evan Longoria 3B4 Alfonso Soriano DH5 Matt Joyce LF6 Wil Myers RF7 James Loney 1B8 Jose Lobaton C ( Still hoping for an upgrade here. Ronny Paulino, PLZ?)9 Desmond Jennings CF
Of course the Cubs are also going to be taking on a huge portion of the money remaining on his contract, which honestly makes this THE best move we could make at DH.
Oh btw, no apologies necessary. :-)
With their surplus, I dont think it would be alot. The Red Sox just got an all star closer from Pitt for virtually nothing. (Terms not official yet) Maybe 2 of the 10-20 ranked prospects on here. Rays have had a ton of young pitchers have great seasons and everyone wants that. Montgomery and someone? Or include a bullpen piece with that. Or a Sean Rodriguez and Cobb or something. Theres a ton of options.
Even trading Shields.. we still have a lot of pitching options. Hellickson and Moore would definitley stay put. Price, Moore, Helly, Cobb, Neiman, Archer, and Odorizzi should compete for the rotation.
You're obviously not a fan of the Rays if you think Fuld is going to be manning CF. Fuld will be on the team, but as a 4th outfielder. NOT a starter......barring injury, of course.
And Loney, I guess you could say he's a weak spot.......well, no, not if he returns to his normal production. Loney is actually a guy you might wanna watch out for to have a break out year.
Molina, I agree with you 100%! Except the part about him being 27.....
Sheesh ... Have any of you ever played the game of baseball?
The Nats are not going let Morse go ... Kubal is way over priced and is on the slippery down slope.
The Mets got the catcher we should have gotten in Travis D'Arnaud, so the hole is still there. Onlyhope is to see if they want Jennings and a couple of minor league prospects for him. The kid is thebest catcher I have seen in decades after Mauer.
We should go chase down some proven minor league hitters (there are at least 4 in the Mexican League who can rake better than anyone in the Rays organization. They have some holes, but so what, they can hit and get on base) and invite them to spring training. Let's see what they can do in REAL TIME, not in some scouts imagination.
We already gave up a REALLY good pitching for a bunch of minor league maybe's. Truly a dumb move.
Have any of the teams with major prospects won the world series lately. NO. And they never will. Prospects need time to get MLB experience. Mike Trout is a good as you can find and the Angels were also rans and so were the Nats with Harper.
Seriously, 50% of all the players on every MLB team would never have made it out of A ball in the 50's, 60's and 70's. They have more holes than a pound of Swiss cheese. Of couse they are bigger, stronger and look good but they do not have the necessary skill sets to play at the MLB level.
If we want to win, Andrew has to get Jacoby Ellsbury from Boston or Adam Eaton from the D-Backs or Peter Bourjos from the Angels to play OF and D'Arnaud from the Mets. We NEED an OF who can get on base at more than .350 clip and who can play plus defense. We NEED a major big time defensive catcher with at least an above average stick. We have signed Mike Fontenot to a minor league deal. He can play decent 2B. He hit .289 with a .343 OBP with Phillies this year. He's a scrappy player who gives 100% all the time.
We have the pitching ... We need to catch the ball better and get on base at a much higher clip. The catcher, DH and two other position guys cannot all be almost automatic outs. Forget power with massive numbers of K's. Just get on base. The rest will take care of itself.
My preferred lineup would be this one.
Ellsbury LFZobrist CFLongoria 3BJoyce DHLoney 1BEscobar SSD'Arnaud CFontenot 2BBourjos RF
Here's the deal: With this lineup, we catch everything in the gaps. Our RF has the best arm inbaseball, run on him if you dare. Our corner defense is airtight. Middle infield is solid and bothcan hit some. The DH can hit 35 jacks if he gets to hit every day and improves. Longo will hit 35 jacks if he is healthy. The catcher is off the charts good on defense and will hit .250 and maybe more right off the bat. With experience he will be better than Javier Molina. Book it.
BTW: I'd trade Meyers straight up for D'Arnaud. It's easy to find OF prospects who grade high ... almost impossible to find the Buster Posey clones who are the real deal.
We have 5 starters who run much better than average. We can easily steal 162 bases as a team.
With our pitching, even if we have to give up Nieman who would be my first to go, we'd be right in the hunt ... Blue Jays are going to be tough. Yankees and O's could bought be good depending onhow their pitching works out. Boston will be so-so. As it stands now, the whole AL will be a bit better even when you put Houston in the mix. Speed, defense, pitching and consistent hittingshould get the job done, since most of the other teams have more holes than a collander.
Michael Morse, 31----- 2013 Salary 6,750,000. 2014 Free Agent.
I don't see the Rays making either of these moves. They've made the big trade, pitching for hitting. I don't see them trading off any more pitching- unless it's a minor league deal.
Actually, the Rays have dramatically improved their hitting with Loney and Escobar.
Loney played most of last year with a bad wrist ... He is a solid OBP type hitter. DittoEscobar. Plus, Andrew signed Fontenot to a minor league deal ... He hit .289 for halfthe year with the Phillies in 2012. He can pick it okay at 2B.
Replace the dreck hitters we had with those 3 guys and we are 100 K's better off andwe get on base 100 times more.
Guys with sticks like Loney, Fontenot and Escobar are critical to winning games becausethey get on base. And you cannot score runs if you strike out.
You're right about the importance of OBP. Loney has a superior glove but so did Pena. While Pena hit for a low BA, his OBP was very good b/c of all his BBs. Plus, Pena had more power. Escobar is a defensive improvement at SS. But he won't have to do much more w/ his bat to be better than what the Rays had at SS (Rodriquez).
But the main point of my post was all the offensive power the Rays lost w/ BJ and Pena going (and Scott unsigned). Also, we lost the best hitter on the Rays, Keppinger.
While I know hope springs eternal, our hope has to be based on a realistic assessment of the Rays weak offense which needs improvement before the season begins, in my opinion, if the Rays hope to reach post season in 2013. Thanks for your post.
For one of the rare times, I agree with Yoda 100%.....People who are discounting the acquisitions of Escobar, Loney and Fontenot are totally wrong in their thinking....All three have low K rates, all three put the ball in play, all three find a way to get on base....something drastically missing from the Rays in 2012.......Defensively they also make the Rays better and more like the record setting defense of the Rays in 2011.......Add to that Myers, a healthy Longoria, a steady Zobrist, an improved (I hope) Joyce and if Jennings gets his act in gear, the Rays have a team capable of having the best team BA they have ever had.....Of course, like any team, the key will be staying injury free as much as possible and not losing anyone for a half season or more.....
Some may not see it with the loss of BJ, Keppinger, Shields, Davis, etc., but this Rays team as it sits right this minute is a much improved Rays team over the 2012 team..... I truly believe that with the gained experience and with Price the leader, the starting pitching will be extremely solid again and the bullpen will get reworked and get the job done........It's time that people began to give Hickey, Boroski, Bosman and Allen the credit they deserve for the job they have done with Rays pitching.
Keep in mind we are entering January and you can look for one or two more deals to get done to make the Rays even better for 2013 and beyond.