Tag:Dan Wheeler
Posted on: January 25, 2012 3:26 pm
Edited on: January 25, 2012 4:41 pm
 

Edwin Jackson, Roy Oswalt top free agents left



By C. Trent Rosecrans


With Prince Fielder finally off the market, we're officially in free-agent left-over time, with most of the big-name, big-money guys enjoying new contracts.

So, who is left? That's a good question. The best players available are starting pitchers -- with Edwin Jackson and Roy Oswalt leading the charge -- but in our free-agent tracker, only one position player (Derrek Lee) among the top 25 free-agent position players is available, while three top 25 pitchers remain (Jackson, Oswalt, Javier Vazquez).

Here's the best player -- and the rest -- among the remaining free agents at each position as we get closer and closer to spring training:

Ivan RodriguezCatcher: Ivan Rodriguez. OK, he's a big name, a future Hall of Famer, but he's also 40 -- and a catcher. Rodriguez, 156 hits from 3,000, adjusted to being a backup catcher last season and it's the role he'll play if he can find a team for 2012.
Others available: Jason Varitek, Ronny Paulino, Ramon Castro, Jason Kendall.

Derrek LeeFirst base: Derrek Lee. The 36-year-old finished the 2011 season in Pittsburgh and had a nice finish to the season, hitting .337/.398/.584 with seven homers in his return to the National League Central after struggling in Baltimore for most of the first half of the season. However, he did miss nearly a month after breaking a bone in his left wrist shortly after joining the Pirates. Lee could retire, CBSSports.com Insider Jon Heyman reported.
Others available: Casey Kotchman, Conor Jackson, Ross Gload, Russell Branyan.

Jeff KeppingerSecond base: Jeff Keppinger. The Giants non-tendered the 31-year-old infielder who struggled in his 56 games in San Francisco. Keppinger hit just .255/.285/.333 as the team's everyday second baseman, well off his career .281/.332/.388 line. Keppinger brings versatility with the ability to play any of the infield positions, and he's also played in the outfield. He could be a fit with the Mariners, Yankees or Rays.
Others available: Aaron Miles, Carlos Guillen.

Mark TeahenThird base: Mark Teahen. Our top third baseman was recently released to make room for a 41-year-old relief pitcher, what does that tell you? The Blue Jays acquired the 30-year-old Teahen in three-team deal that sent Edwin Jackson and others to St. Louis and Colby Rasmus to Toronto. Teahen hit .200/.273/.300 with the White Sox and Blue Jays, playing both corner infield and outfield spots, in addition to handling some DH duties. Another positive is that he often tweets pictures of his two adorable boxers.
Others available: Eric Chavez, Bill Hall, Alex Cora.

Ryan TheriotShortstop: Ryan Theriot. Theriot is versatile, with the ability to play pretty much anywhere on the field -- but he's best suited, defensively, to second base. He started the 2011 season as the Cardinals' starter at shortstop, but there's a reason the team went out to get Rafael Furcal. He hit .271/.321/.342 for the Cardinals last season, but at this point he's likely best suited as a utility player.
Others available: Edgar Renteria, Miguel Tejada, Felipe Lopez.

Yoenis CespedesOutfield: Yoenis Cespedes. While we have J.D. Drew ranked higher, he's expected to retire soon, leaving the extremely talented Cespedes as the top available outfielder. Cespedes has just recently acquired citizenship in the Dominican Republic, so now the official courting of the Cuban center fielder can begin. The Marlins, of course, are said to be very interested, even if Cespedes is less interested in Miami. Both Chicago teams are said to have interest in him as well.
Others available: Kosuke Fukudome, Raul Ibanez, Juan Pierre, Magglio Ordonez, Corey Patterson, Rick Ankiel, Marcus Thames, Jeremy Hermida, Jay Gibbons, Milton Bradley.

Johnny DamonDesignated hitter: Johnny Damon. The 38-year-old Damon is hardly the prototypical slugging designated hitter, but he still has some value. Last season he hit .261/.326/.418 for the Rays with 16 home runs. He could be a fit in Detroit, where he hit .271/.355/.401 with eight home runs in 2010.
Others available: Hideki Matsui, Vladimir Guerrero.

Edwin JacksonStarting pitcher: Edwin Jackson. At 28, Jackson has already pitched for six different teams and could be looking at his seventh. With the White Sox and Cardinals, the hard-throwing right-hander went 12-9 with a 3.79 ERA in 31 starts and 199 2/3 innings. He struck out 148 batters while putting up a 1.437 WHIP. There are recent reports that he's willing to sign a one-year deal, and is drawing interest from the Tigers. He was 13-9 with a 3.62 ERA for Detroit in 2009.
Others available: Roy Oswalt, Javier Vazquez, Rich Harden, Jeff Francis, Brad Penny, Chris Young, Brandon Webb, Jon Garland, Livan Hernandez, Tim Wakefield, Scott Kazmir, Rodrigo Lopez, Kyle Davies, Ross Ohlendorf, Doug Davis.

Arthur RhodesRelief pitcher: Arthur Rhodes. Rhodes turned 42 during the World Series and still appeared in 51 games during the regular season and eight more in the postseason. The left-hander had a disappointing run with the Rangers after signing a two-year deal with Texas. But he returned as part of Tony La Russa's bullpen in St. Louis, earning his first World Series ring in his 19 years in the big leagues.
Others available: Chad Qualls, Brad Lidge, Dan WheelerDamaso Marte, Michael Wuertz, Zach Duke, Javier Lopez, Juan Cruz, Jason Isringhausen, Mike Gonzalez, Todd Coffey, Shawn Camp, Scott Linebrink, Hong-Chih Kuo, Jamey Wright, Chad Durbin, Brian Tallet, Hideki Luis Ayala, Micah Owings, Dan Cortes, Sergio Mitre, Tony Pena, David Aardsma, Pat Neshek, Danys Baez, Ramon Ortiz.

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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

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: October 31, 2011 10:43 pm
Edited on: October 31, 2011 10:58 pm
 

Monday brings plethora of option decisions

By Evan Brunell

As baseball readies for free agency, numerous decisions on options are being made. Those either free up players to hit the market or tie them to their 2011 club for one more season. Sunday's list is right here. Let's take a look at what happened Monday...

AMERICAN LEAGUE
NATIONAL LEAGUE
View the free-agent tracker here.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeonBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: October 22, 2011 3:28 pm
Edited on: October 24, 2011 4:51 pm
 

Free-agent position rankings: Papelbon leads RP



By C. Trent Rosecrans
 

With the free agent reliever market, it always seems to be buyer-beware, but every year teams overspend for closers and setup men. While not exactly a bumper crop this year, there are some good arms available, even if the top closers would all prefer to stay with their current teams. Still, we all know those preferences can go out the window when a higher offer comes.

Jonathan Papelbon1. Jonathan Papelbon: After a disappointing 2010, Papelbon returned to form in 2011, despite recording his lowest save total (31) since becoming the Red Sox closer. Not only was his ERA (2.94) down from 2010, he had his best strikeout rate (12.2 per nine innings) since 2007 and lowest walk rate (1.40 per nine innings) since 2008. His xFIP was 2.16, the lowest of his career. At 31, he's still an elite closer and the best available on the market. The Red Sox had been said to be interested in bringing him back and they still have the payroll to absorb a high-priced closer. Still, don't expect Papelbon to take a home-town discount.
Possible teams:  Red Sox, Cubs, Angels, Phillies

Heath Bell2. Heath Bell: When the Padres decided not to trade Bell during the season, it appeared he would be staying in San Diego. However, when the season ended with Bell not getting an extension, things became less sure. Now, Jed Hoyer is off to the Cubs and Josh Byrnes is in as the new GM. With this much change, things could easily change for Bell, who has said all along he'd prefer to stay in San Diego. The Padres may prefer to spend their money elsewhere. Bell is 34, but coming off his third straight 40-save season. One thing that could be troubling for a team is his falling strikeout rate. After striking out 10.2 per nine innings in 2009 and 11.1 in 2010, he struck out a career-low 7.3 per nine innings in 2011. His strikeout-to-walk ration was a career-low 2.43, although that was due to the lower strikeout numbers instead of more walks. Any team considering spending big money on him will have to seriously think about his age and if he's worth what he may command based on gaudy save numbers. He's also been aided by pitching at spacious Petco Park. The Padres may decide they don't need an All-Star closer and their money could be better spent elsewhere. Bell has said he would accept arbitration if offered.
Possible teams: Padres, Cardinals, Phillies, Mets, Orioles

Ryan Madson3. Ryan Madson: After several attempts earlier in his career to serve as a closer, Madson finally showed the ability to close out games in 2011, finishing with 32 saves in 34 opportunities. He's said he'd prefer to stay in Philadelphia, but that's easy to say during the season. A Scott Boras client, the Nationals have to be considered in the mix for Madson, who struck out 62 batters in 60 2/3 innings, while walking just 16 batters.
Possible teams: Phillies, Nationals, Red Sox

Jose Valverde4. Jose Valverde: The Tigers hold a $9 million club option on Valverde, which is pretty reasonable for a guy who led the majors with 49 saves and didn't blow a single save all season. Valverde's last outing was far from ideal, allowing four earned runs in 1 1/3 innings of Game 4 of the ALCS, but he's still an elite closer (if not exactly the most comfortable guy to watch). Valverde would command big bucks on the open market, but it seems highly unlikely he'll be there.
Possible teams: Tigers

Francisco Cordero5. Francisco Cordero: The Reds probably won't pick up his $12 million option, but he could still stay a Red. Cordero's been a stabilizing influence on the Reds bullpen in his four years in Cincinnati, but for a team like the Reds, it makes little sense to have a closer as the highest-paid player. Reds general manager Walt Jocketty and Cordero have both publicly said they'd like to work out an extension for him to stay in Cincinnati. It's similar to what the Reds did with Bronson Arroyo last offseason. The team is moving Aroldis Chapman to the rotation, so there's no real in-house candidate to fill in for Cordero if he leaves, so it makes sense to work out a deal. That said, someone could still pop in and make a bigger offer. The Brewers thought they had a deal with Cordero before he left for the Reds, so history could repeat itself.
Possible teams: Reds, Nationals, Mets, Orioles, Blue Jays

Francisco Rodriguez6. Francisco Rodriguez: After being traded to the Brewers, Rodriguez was not used as the team's closer, and said as a free agent, he'd like the opportunity to close again. That's not going to come in Milwaukee, where John Axford has established himself as the Brewers closer. However, after the Brewers' loss in the NLCS, owner Mark Attanasio made sure to point out just how important Rodriguez was to the team's bullpen and how much the club appreciated what he brought to the team. Although he's clearly not going to be the closer in Milwaukee, money talks -- and enough money and he may decide he can set up Axford. Sure, he spoke of being frustrated about not closing in Milwaukee during the year, but seeing the market could open his mind to other propositions.
Possible teams: Brewers, Cardinals, Orioles, Nationals, Phillies

Kyle Farnsworth7. Kyle Farnsworth: Fransworth more than lived up to his one-year deal last season, rewarding the Rays for taking a chance on him with 25 saves and a 2.18 ERA. He struck out 51 in 57 2/3 inning and had a career-best 0.988 WHIP and also his lowest walk rate of his career (1.9 BB/9). He made $2.6 million last season and the Rays have a $3.3 million club option (with a $650,000 buyout). It's basically a no-brainer to pick it up. Even if he doesn't repeat his 2011 numbers, he has the type of arm some team will want at the deadline to fortify a bullpen.
Possible teams: Rays, Mets, Marlins

Joe Nathan8. Joe Nathan: It's unlikely the Twins pick up Nathan's $12.5 million option -- that's just too rich for a guy pitching in just 48 games after missing the entire 2010 season because of Tommy John surgery. Still, both the Twins and Nathan are said to have interest in the closer returning to Minnesota. The 36-year-old has 260 of his 261 career saves in a Twins uniform and it's hard to imagine the two sides not working something out.
Possible teams: Twins

Kerry Wood9. Kerry Wood: The 34-year-old has already said he will either return to the Cubs in 2012 or retire. Count on the former. Wood was steady in the bullpen in 2011, striking out 57 in 51 innings and also showed no need to be the closer. Steady set-up men are something every team needs, and the Cubs as much as any other team. Wood took a below-market deal to return to the Cubs last season, earning just $1.5 million, and he may be open to doing it again. If so, it seems like a no-brainer to bring him back.
Possible teams: Cubs, retirement

Jeremy Affeldt10. Jeremy Affeldt: Affeldt is a left-handed reliever, but he's not just a left-handed specialist. Sure, his numbers against lefties are better (they hit just .144/.206/.200 against him), but he can also stay in and do a good job against right-handers. That versatility adds to his value on the mariet. He's been part of the very good Giants bullpen and expect him to stay there. San Francisco has a $5 million option on him after he earned $4.5 each of the past two seasons. He's earned the pay bump with his solid numbers. If the Giants don't exercise his option, they'll likely work out a multi-year deal with the team.
Possible teams: Giants

Jonathan Broxton11. Jonathan Broxton: Coming off a disappointing 2010, the hard-throwing right-hander appeared in just 14 games and underwent arthroscopic surgery on his right elbow in September to remove a bone spur and loose bodies. Once an All-Star, Broxton's first year of free agency will likely end with a one-year, incentive-laden contract. Broxton is just 27, but if he's no longer throwing 99 mph, what exactly is his worth? It's unlikely he'll get a job as a closer, but will have the opportunity to prove himself in the spring. The Dodgers appear ready to wash their hands of Broxton, despite the right-hander's statements he'd like to return.
Possible teams: Anyone but the Dodgers

Arthur Rhodes12. Arthur Rhodes: Rhodes has said he wants to pitch one more season and then retire. Rhodes has pitched for nine clubs in his career, including two this season -- the Cardinals and Rangers. While disappointing in Texas, Rhodes has rebounded with the Cardinals after being designated for assignment by the Rangers. Tony La Russa loves playing matchups, so it wouldn't be a shock to see him stay in St. Louis. 
Possible teams: Cardinals, Reds, Cubs, Orioles, Blue Jays

Jon Rauch13. Jon Rauch: Rauch had 11 saves for the Blue Jays, pitching in 53 games for the Blue Jays this season. Toronto has a $3.75 million option on the 6-foot-10 right-hander, which is affordable enough. Rauch gave up 11 home runs, the most he's allowed since 2008. While a former closer, he's not exactly anyone's idea of a closer going forward. 
Possible teams: Blue Jays, Twins, Braves, Nationals

Darren Oliver14. Darren Oliver: The 41-year-old left-hander has said he'd like to pitch one more year. His 2011 proves he can still do it, appearing in 61 games and putting up a 2.29 ERA. His splits against left-handers and right-handers weren't too far off, with only his strikeout rates really spiking against lefties. He had 23 strikeouts of lefties in 94 plate appearances and 21 against right-handers in 121 plate appearances. Righties had an OPS of .594 against him, lefties .587. He's spent 10 of his 18 seasons in Texas in three stints. It seems like a perfect fit for him to return.
Possible teams: Rangers, Cardinals

Jason Frasor15. Jason Frasor: The White Sox hold a $3.75 million option for 2012, but the right-hander struggled after being part of the trade that sent him to his hometown at the trade deadline. Frasor was part of the massive three-team trade that sent Colby Rasmus to the Blue Jays and Edwin Jackson, Marc Rzepczynski and Octavio Dotel to St. Louis. In 20 appearances for the White Sox, he had a 5.09 ERA, but did strike out more than a batter an inning (20 strikeouts in 17 2/3 innings). He had a 2.98 ERA in 44 appearances for the Blue Jays. 
Possible teams: White Sox, Blue Jays, Diamondbacks

Brad Lidge16. Brad Lidge: The Phillies declined a $12.5 million option on their former closer, giving him a $1.5 million buyout. Lidge missed most of the season with a shoulder strain, but did pitch well upon his return, putting up just a 1.40 ERA in 25 appearances, striking out 23 in 19 1/3 innings. Lidge has said he's open to returning as a set-up man, but it appears his days of closing for the Phillies are done, even with Ryan Madson as a free agent. Still, Philadelphia needed several closers to get through the season and having Lidge back could be a good backup plan. Neither side has ruled out a return for Lidge at Citizen's Bank Park.
Possible teams: Phillies, Orioles, Dodgers, Angels

Dan Wheeler17. Dan Wheeler: The Red Sox hold a $3 million option on the right-hander who will be 34 next season. After coming over from the Rays, Wheeler put up a 4.38 ERA out of the Red Sox bullpen. Wheeler spent some time on the disabled list with  a calf strain and then was unavailable down the stretch with forearm stiffness. His health will be major issue Boston's decision to bring him back. If deemed healthy, it would seem he'd have a good chance of returning to the Red Sox. Wheeler had a better xFIP (3.71) than ERA, with a high BABIP (batting average on balls in play) than he did in either of the past three seasons (.272).
Possible teams: Red Sox, Phillies, Cardinals, Dodgers, Angels

Frank Francisco18. Frank Francisco: Francisco is a Type B free agent, and the Blue Jays will likely offer him arbitration. The 32-year-old right-hander came over in the Mike Napoli trade and picked up 17 saves for the Blue Jays, putting up a 3.55 ERA in 54 games. He struck out 53 in 50 2/3 innings, walking 18. He's not exactly anyone's first choice for a closer, but he could go into a camp and compete for that job, or at least be a fill-in while some team's closer is injured.
Possible teams: Blue Jays, Nationals, Astros, Padres, Phillies

Chad Qualls19. Chad Qualls: San Diego is expected to decline the $6 million option on Qualls. Qualls appeared in 77 games for the Padres in 2011, putting up a 3.51 ERA in San Diego. The Padres are reportedly interested in bringing him back, just not at $6 million. He thrived at Petco Park, earning a 2.09 ERA at home and 5.05 on the road, so it's not a stretch to expect that he would have interest in returning to the Padres.
Possible teams: Padres, Diamondbacks, Nationals, Angels

Matt Capps20. Matt Capps: Just 28, the right-hander is a former closer for the Pirates, Nationals and Twins, but saw his strikeout rate (4.7 per nine innings) and fastball velocity (92.9 mph) drop this year and his ERA rise to 4.25, hardly the way you want to enter free agency. Capps made $7.15 million last season, earning 15 saves for Minnesota. He'll take a pay cut in 2012, likely signing another one-year deal, hoping to re-establish his worth. 
Possible teams: all of them

Free-agent position rankings: C | 1B | 2B | SS | 3B | OF | DH | SP | RP

Free-agent overall rankings: Position players | Pitchers

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: July 19, 2011 1:13 am
Edited on: July 19, 2011 9:17 am
 

3 Up, 3 Down: Collmenter's gem

Josh Collmenter

By C. Trent Rosecrans


Josh Collmenter, Diamondbacks: The Arizona right-hander has one of the most unusual deliveries in the game -- a straight over-the-top motion he says comes from throwing axes growing up in Michigan. The conventional wisdom had been that once a team got a second look at his funky delivery, they'd have more success. That seemed to be the case early as Colorado and San Francisco saw him as a reliever (and had little success) and then both teams put up five runs against him in his starts. On Monday, he made his first start against a team that had already seen him start before -- and not only that, it was the last team he faced, the Brewers. On July 6 he threw six shutout innings at Miller Park. Monday he threw eight shutout innings, allowing just three runs against the Brewers, striking out seven with no walks, earning his first win in six weeks.

Clay Hensley, Marlins: Florida's right-hander came off the disabled list to make his first start since 2008 and limited the Mets to just one hit in five innings. Hensley had been on the DL since June 1 with a sprained shoulder. He had appeared in 20 games as a reliever this season before his injury. The win was Florida's ninth in its last 10 games.

Dan Wheeler, Red Sox: The right-hander not only earned the win in Monday's 15-10 victory over the Orioles, he also picked up a save of the team's bullpen. A day after (well, actually later in the same day as the end of the game) Sunday's 16-inning victory in Tampa Bay, Boston starter Tim Wakefield couldn't make it out of the fifth. Wheeler went 2 1/3 innings to help shorten the bullpen. 


Roy Halladay, Phillies: I just wanted to see if his name would actually fit below the line in this space. Halladay left in the fifth inning on Monday with a heat-related illness. In four-plus innings, he gave up seven hits and three runs in his shortest outing since June 12, 2009 when he went just three innings before going on the disabled list with a groin injury. He had a streak of 63 consecutive starts of at least six innings snapped. Halladay said he'd be fine for his next start.

Alexander Torres, Rays: Coming into a tie game against the Yankees in the ninth inning isn't exactly the easiest big league debut, but it was one to forget for the left-hander. With two outs he had three straight walks (one intentional) to force in the winning run. The Rays sent him back to Triple-A Durham after the game.

Minnesota Twins: With a chance to get right back in the thick of the American League Central race, Minnesota dropped seven games behind the division-leading Indians. The Twins couldn't even blame their two fill-in starters, Scott Diamond and Anthony Swarzak -- each went at least six innings and gave up just three earned runs (and one unearned run for both, as well). Twins hitters went 1 for 12 in the doubleheader with runners in scoring position.

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Posted on: May 18, 2011 2:57 pm
 

Benoit out as setup man: Leave Rays at your peril

By Matt Snyder

The Detroit Tigers signed right-handed reliever Joaquin Benoit to a three-year, $16.5 million contract this past offseason to serve as their eighth-inning bridge to closer Jose Valverde.

In return, Benoit's provided them with three losses, a 7.98 ERA and 1.71 WHIP in 14 2/3 innings. He's been especially dreadful in his last six outings, having allowed 12 earned runs in five innings (that's a 21.60 ERA, in case you're wondering). In turn, the Tigers have made the decision to stop using him in setup situations, at least temporarily.

"He's an important piece of the puzzle," manager Jim Leyland said, "but we're going to have to look at it and figure something out. I'll have to figure out the strategic part." (MLB.com)

Anyway, the Benoit news got me thinking. The Rays lost of a good chunk of production from last season's 96-win AL East champions, and most of those guys seem to be struggling. It's not just the big names, either, it's almost everyone.

Check this out:

Carlos Pena -- Had a .457 OPS through May 2 with zero home runs and six RBI. He's been scorching hot since, but it's only gotten his line to right in line with where he was last season, which was by leaps and bounds his worst as a Ray.

Jason Bartlett -- .675 OPS last season, .617 this season.

Carl Crawford -- He's having a good May, but still has only gotten his OPS up to .524. Basically, he's on pace to have the worst year of his career by far.

Matt Garza -- He's actually pitched well, but weather, bad luck on balls in play, bad defense and poor run support have made sure that he's just 2-4 through nine starts.

Rafael Soriano -- The man who was probably the best closer in baseball last season is already hated by most Yankees fans due to his 5.40 ERA, several blown leads and indifferent attitude. And now he's got an elbow injury.

Lance Cormier -- In two years for the Rays, he had a 3.55 ERA. So far for the Dodgers? 8.71.

Benoit -- He had a 1.34 ERA and 75 strikeouts in 60 1/3 innings last year. See the intro for how this season is going.

Dan Wheeler -- 3.35 ERA and 46 strikeouts for the Rays in 48 1/3 innings last season. This year he's given the Red Sox 10 1/3 innings -- in which he's allowed 18 hits and 13 earned runs -- and a DL-stint.

Randy Chaote and Grant Balfour are the exceptions to the rule, evidently. Both are throwing well in new homes.

Still, that's a pretty big group of people to have left and gotten worse (or in Garza's case, had less fortune) in just one season.

Meanwhile, Casey Kotchman, Sam Fuld, Johnny Damon, Kyle Farnsworth, Juan Cruz and a handful of others have helped propel the Rays into first place. Again.

This is yet another reason the Rays' front office is the best in the business. Whether it's knowing when to give up on players, when to cash in via trade, when to bring guys in at the absolute optimal time, how to develop the players or how to brainwash them into only playing well for the Rays, it's working.

If only they could generate enough revenue to get the payroll into the $80 million range. It would be interesting.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: May 5, 2011 11:25 am
Edited on: May 5, 2011 12:59 pm
 

Red Sox bullpen gets shakeup

By Matt Snyder

After an extended workload Wednesday night, due to a rain delay and extra innings, the Red Sox bullpen is in need of some fresh faces. They're going to get two, as Rich Hill and Scott Atchison have both been promoted from Triple-A to join the 'pen. They will replace Dan Wheeler and Bobby Jenks, both of whom were placed on the disabled list Thursday morning, general manager Theo Epstein announced.

The move shouldn't really harm the Red Sox, considering how awful both Wheeler and Jenks have been thus far. Jenks has a 9.35 ERA with 13 hits and nine walks allowed in just 8 2/3 innings. For good measure, he's even tossed in three wild pitches. He was unavailable during Wednesday's marathon, so maybe he just hasn't been healthy all season. Wheeler has an 11.32 ERA. His issue is complete opposite of Jenks, as he's been pounded with the long ball, having given up four home runs in 10 1/3 innings.

On the flip-side, Hill and Atchison have been tearing up Triple-A. Hill has a 1.13 ERA with 18 strikeouts and five walks in 16 innings while Atchison has a 1.04 ERA with 17 strikeouts and just one walk in 17 1/3 innings. Things will be more balanced, too, as Hill is left-handed (both Jenks and Wheeler are righties).

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.

Posted on: May 4, 2011 11:56 pm
Edited on: May 5, 2011 12:20 am
 

No-hitter alert: Angels no-hitting Red Sox

By C. Trent Rosecrans 
 
UPDATE: Jed Lowrie broke up the no-hitter with one out in the seventh inning, singling to right off Downs. Downs walked Kevin Youkilis to start the inning, then got David Ortiz looking.

In the top of the seventh, Vernon Wells hit a two-run homer to give Anaheim a 2-0 lead.

Ervin SantanaA two-and-a-half hour rain delay and change of pitchers hasn't helped Boston's bats -- as the Angels have a combined no-hitter through six innings.

Starter Ervin Santana didn't allow a hit in the first four innings, striking out seven Red Sox batters in four innings before the rain delay at Fenway Park. Rich Thompson replaced Santana after the delay and held the Red Sox hitless for another 1 2/3 innings.

Thompson was pulled for left-hander Scott Downs, who came in to face Adrian Gonzalez with two outs in the sixth and Jacoby Ellsbury on third base. Downs got Gonzalez to ground out to short.

Josh Beckett gave up just one hit in 4 1/3 inning before the rain delay. Matt Albers allowed two more in his 1 2/3 innings, but no runs have scored.

Dan Wheeler has entered the game for the Red Sox in the seventh with the game tied 0-0.

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