Tag:Andy Sonnanstine
Posted on: December 26, 2011 6:33 pm
 

Cubs sign Andy Sonnanstine to split contract

By Matt Snyder

The Cubs have signed free agent pitcher Andy Sonnanstine to a split contract, the club announced Monday. A split contract means the player will be paid a different salary for minor-league days than he will be for major-league days. It's a little-known contract, but beneficial to use on players the club expects to be shuttling back and forth between Triple-A and the majors often -- meaning you can expect Sonnanstine to be nothing more than organizational pitching depth.

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One of new Cubs president Theo Epstein's goals upon taking the Cubs' job was to increase pitching depth throughout the entire organization. Remember, this is a Cubs ballclub that lost two starting pitchers to injury in April and would use reliever James Russell as a starter for an average of 3 2/3 innings for five starts. After that experiment failed miserably, the Cubs went outside the organization for the the likes of Doug Davis, Ramon Ortiz and Rodrigo Lopez. Obviously, Epstein doesn't want to have to go through a similar situation, so he's just grabbing all the arms he can find.

Sonnanstine, 28, fits the bill of merely providing depth. He started four games and appeared in 11 as a reliever for the Rays last season, while also making nine starts and one relief appearance in Triple-A. He was a valuable member of the Rays' rotation in their 2008 AL championship season, but hasn't been very good at all since then at the big-league level.

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Posted on: December 8, 2011 8:43 am
 

Homegrown Team: Tampa Bay Rays

Josh Hamilton

By C. Trent Rosecrans


What if players were only permitted to stay with the team that originally made them a professional? No trades, no Rule-5 Draft, no minor or major league free agency ... once you are a professional baseball player, you stay in that organization. This series shows how all 30 teams would look. We give you: Homegrown teams. To view the schedule/past entries of this feature, click here.

No team has had as much success drafting and developing its players like the Tampa Bay Rays. The one-time laughingstock of MLB is a model franchise to even the biggest spenders. The Rays have had big name leave, but keep replacing them with younger, seemingly better players. A year ago, the Rays lost Carl Crawford because they could no longer afford him. By the end of the season, Crawford and the Red Sox were sitting at home while the Rays were in the playoffs -- again. The reason is because they grown enough crops on the farm to have a successful harvest nearly every fall.

Lineup

1. Carl Crawford, LF
2. Desmond Jennings, RF
3. Evan Longoria, 3B
4. Josh Hamilton, DH
5. B.J. Upton, CF
6. Aubrey Huff, 1B
7. Reid Brignac, 2B
8. John Jaso, C
9. Elliot Johnson, SS

Starting Rotation

1. David Price
2. James Shields
3. Jeremy Hellickson
4. Wade Davis
5. Jeff Niemann

Bullpen

Closer - Dan Wheeler
Set up - Matt Moore, Andy Sonnanstine, Alex Cobb, Jake McGee, Jason Hammel, Jose Veras

Notable Bench Players

The Rays have a couple of decent bats off the bench in Delmon Young, Matt Diaz, Jonny Gomes and Jorge Cantu.

What's Good?

Crawford and Hamilton to go along with Longoria, Upton and Jennings? That helps, that's for sure. The rotation is exactly the same -- and that's a good thing. You've also got Moore sitting there. The starters are an embarrassment of riches. It's one of the main reasons the Rays can still compete in the AL East with a smaller payroll.

What's Not?

The bottom half of the lineup isn't great -- especially with Johnson at short. But there's enough help at the top of the lineup to make up for the bottom. The bench isn't deep defensively, but it's the American League so you don't need quite as much as you do in the National League. The bullpen isn't full of experienced relievers, but there are some quality arms that can switch from starting to relieving.

Comparison to real 2011

The same pitching staff plus Crawford and Hamilton make up for losing some of its Frankenstein bullpen and Johnny Damon. I put Hamilton at DH to try to save some wear and tear on his body, he can still play in the field every once in a while and give Jennings a day off and have someone like Young DH. Or Young can play in the outfield. The bullpen might be the most interesting question, but I think the offense and the starting pitching are enough to improve, if slightly, on the team's 91-71 finish.

Next: Philadelphia Phillies

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Posted on: May 20, 2011 5:16 pm
 

On Deck: Interleague's best


By C. Trent Rosecrans


A little something different today for on-deck, with interleague play starting, here are the top three interleague matchups on tap this weekend. But what's really different is this ranking of the top three is done not by hype or television market or geography, nope, it's done by good ol' fashion numbers -- combined winning percentage.

BATTLE FOR OHIO -- The two teams play for the Ohio Cup -- and for the last couple of years, that's all that was at stake. Not this season. The Reds' resurgence started last season when they won the National League Central and this season they enter this series just a half-game out of first, while the surprising Indians lead the American League Central by five games, the biggest lead of any of baseball's division leaders. Indians starter Alex White, the team's first-round pick in 2009, hasn't pitched an official game in nearly two weeks and had his outing last Saturday cut short after an inning because of rain. Former Indian Brandon Phillips has absolutely punished the team that gave up on him in 2006, hitting .354/.390/.540 with five homers in 29 games against Cleveland. Combined winning percentage: .600. Reds at Indians, 7:05 p.m. ET (Watch live)

SUNSHINE STATE SHOWDOWN -- Usually you think of old folks when it comes to Florida, but between the Rays and the Marlins, you have two of the best young teams in baseball. The Rays have rebounded from their slow start to take the lead in the American League East, while the Marlins are just a game and a half behind the Phillies. There's never really been a rivalry between these two teams as neither have really been playoff contenders in the same year. That could change this season. Andy Sonnanstine goes to the hill for Tampa tonight for his second start of the season, while Anibal Sanchez is off to a hot start, going 3-1 with a 2.90 ERA. Combined winning percentage: .570. Rays at Marlins, 7:10 p.m. ET (Watch live)

DIVISION LEADERS -- Considering the Rangers made the World Series last season and are currently leading the American League West and the Phillies have the game's best rotation, this could be an October preview. As it stands, it's the only matchup (today at least) of first place teams. Oh yeah, and C.J. Wilson against Roy Halladay, that's not too bad either. Too bad there's no Josh Hamilton, Chase Utley, Shane Victorino or Nelson Cruz, but there's still plenty of star power to go around. Combined winning percentage: .563. Rangers at Phillies, 7:05 p.m. ET (Watch live)

And, just to note, the three worst matchups by terms of combined winning percentage are: Twins-Diamondbacks (.412), Astros-Blue Jays (.425) and Dodgers-White Sox (.444).

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Posted on: May 5, 2011 12:56 pm
 

Niemann likely headed to disabled list

By Matt Snyder

Rays starting pitcher Jeff Niemann was removed from his start Wednesday night due to back tightness, and it looks like he's going to end up on the disabled list. He's being checked out by a back specialist and is having an MRI, but reportedly the DL is the most likely scenario.

"He's hurting a little bit,'' manager Joe Maddon said. "It's be hard to imagine that he's going to come back and be well all of a sudden. I'd have to almost believe and anticipate that it's going to be more on the DL side.'' (Tampabay.com )

The most likely options to replace Niemann in the rotation would be Andy Sonnanstine and Alex Cobb.

Sonnanstine was formerly in the rotation and is pitching well from the bullpen this season. In 12 1/3 innings, Sonnanstine has a 2.19 ERA and 0.89 WHIP. He hasn't been a regular starter since 2009, when he was 6-9 with a 6.77 ERA in 99 2/3 innings. Cobb made a start Sunday and lasted 4 1/3 innings, allowing four hits, four walks and four earned runs. He's having a banner year thus far in Triple-A, though, with a 2.05 ERA in 22 innings, going along with a 3-0 record and 29 strikeouts.

Niemann, 28, is 1-4 with a 5.74 ERA and 1.37 WHIP in 31 1/3 innings this season. Maddon mentioned that he was most concerned about the sizeable dip in velocity that came along with Niemann's back issue.

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Posted on: March 29, 2011 10:42 pm
 

Rays don't have a closer

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Joe MaddonIt's less than 48 hours until the 2011 Major League Baseball season kicks off, do you know who your closer is? 

Joe Maddon doesn't.

"Well, there isn't one," the Rays manager told Roger Mooney of the Tampa Tribune "and I'm not going to declare one, because I think if you are not absolutely certain, then you shouldn't do that, because you're only setting yourself up for problems later on."

Maddon said he was happy with his rebuilt bullpen with just one holdover from last season, Andy Sonnanstine. He'll be joined by Jake McGee, a September call-up a year ago, along with Kyle Farnsworth, Joel Peralta, Juan Cruz, Cesar Cabral and Adam Russell. The team will also add J.P. Howell in May.

It appears Farnsworth is as close as the team will have to a conventional closer, but Maddon may not save his closer for the ninth inning and obvious save situations.

"What I've learned over the last couple of years is that it's really about the leverage of the moment," Maddon said. "Why permit the game to get away in the seventh or eighth inning and have no chance to win it in the ninth and then you're using somebody entirely different anyway. I'm going to do my best to parcel out the work nightly and match them up as well as we can, try not to abuse anyone by warming them up and not putting them in the game."

Just the use of the word "leverage," Maddon is going to get a lot more fans in the sabermetric world. In hypothetical baseball, the prevailing theory is that a closer isn't needed, but no team has really tested that since the 2003 Red Sox, and that was abandoned during the season. Maddon doesn't have much of a choice, there's no lights-out closer sitting in the Rays' pen -- there may not even been a dimmer switch -- but he's got to try something. It will at least be something interesting to watch as the season goes along.

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Posted on: March 1, 2011 11:02 pm
Edited on: March 2, 2011 7:09 am
 

Stars, scrubs of March 1 games

MarkakisBy Evan Brunell

Did you realize that the regular season officially starts this month? OK, OK, so it starts on the 31st and we're only on the first day of March, but still.

Until then, however, we will have to content ourselves with spring training games, and this early into the schedule these games are peppered with scrubs and players trying to get their timing in place for the regular season. And some are a bit further along.

Let's look at some stars and scrubs of the day's games ...

STARS

1. Ryan Raburn, DET: Raburn held off teammate Victor Martinez in a split-squad game (3 for 4, 2 R)

2. Nick Markakis (pictured), BAL: 3 AB, 2 R, 3 H, 4 RBI, 2 HR. Could Markakis reclaim his long-lost power? After bopping 23 in 2007 and progressively declining to just 12 in 2010, Markakis ripped two home runs off Andy Sonnanstine and finished with three hits and four RBI in three at-bats. A return to the top of the best right fielders in the game is possible.

3. Gio Gonzalez, OAK: 2 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 5 K. What a great showing from Gonzalez, who is slated to be the No. 3 starter for the A's Gonzalez has improved each season in the majors, but last year really benefited from limiting his home runs and playing in a pitcher's park. It's early, but if Gonzalez can limit his walks like he did Tuesday, he could be in line for a real step forward into the elite, and has unquestioned strikeout ability.

SCRUBS

1. Brett Anderson, OAK: 2 IP, 6 H, 4 ER, 0 BB, 2 K. Unfortunately for Gonzalez, his quest for a win was erased by Anderson's clunker. Anderson followed Gonzalez in the game despite being one spot ahead in the rotation. The lefty coughed up four earned runs and six hits in two innings, walking and whiffing two apiece. Better days are ahead for the talented youngster.

2. Andy Sonnanstine, TB: 2 IP, 6 H, 6 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 5 HR: Poor Sonny. The starter-turned-reliever got a shot at the starting gig again even as he figures to remain in the bullpen. He did himself no favors by coughing up six runs in his two innings of work, striking out just one and giving up an eye-popping five home runs -- two to Markakis and one apiece for Vladimir Guerrero, Adam Jones and Jake Fox.

3. Ricky Romero, TOR: 2 1/3 IP, 5 H, 4 ER, 2 BB, 2 K: After a breakout season, the Jays are counting on Romero to anchor the top of the rotation for Toronto. He certainly didn't get off to a strong start but he didn't give up any extra-base hits, although he was on the hook for Miguel Cabrera's three-run double off Zach Stewart that plated runners Romero put on base.

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Posted on: December 7, 2010 3:04 pm
Edited on: February 21, 2011 3:47 pm
 

Rays need to rebuild bullpen

Carl Crawford and Carlos Pena are gone, but those aren't the Rays' biggest losses, manager Joe Maddon said at Tuesday's media session at the MLB Winter Meetings.

"If we can get a bullpen back together, that can put us back into the 90-win category," Maddon said.

The Rays are slated to lose not only closer Rafael Soriano, but already lost Joaquin Benoit to the Tigers. Dan Wheeler is a free agent, as are Grant Balfour, Randy Choate and Chad Qualls, who all three turned down arbitration. The team also non-tendered Lance Cormier.

That leaves the Rays in need of a near-total bullpen restoration. Andy Sonnanstine is the lone carry-over from last season's bullpen.

"I don't think it's nearly impossible," Maddon said of rebuilding the bullpen, "but it's going to be challenging."

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

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Posted on: October 1, 2010 7:38 pm
Edited on: October 2, 2010 12:23 am
 

Price will pitch in relief Saturday

David Price David Price won't start on Saturday, but has a chance at his 20th victory anyway.

The Rays will use Price in relief for two innings in Kansas City on Saturday, the St. Petersburg Times ' Marc Topkin tweets . Either Jeremy Hellickson or Andy Sonnanstine will start against the Royals.

Price has already set the team's record for most wins in a season and can become the franchise's first 20-game winner if he manages a win in relief.

UPDATE: Sonnanstine will start for the Rays tomorrow.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

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