Tag:John Jaso
Posted on: February 22, 2012 1:22 pm
Edited on: February 23, 2012 2:35 pm
 

Spring primer: Seattle Mariners


By Matt Snyder


The Mariners are coming off a 67-95 season, when they finished 29 games out in the AL West -- seven behind the third-place A's. It was the sixth time in the past eight years Seattle came in last and they haven't seen the postseason since 2001. One big trade headlined the offseason as they attempt to turn the tide.

Scott Miller's Camp Report: With Jesus, Seattle seeks resurrection | Likes, Dislikes

Major additions: C/DH Jesus Montero, RHP Kevin Millwood, C John Jaso, RHP Hisashi Iwakuma
Major departures: RHP Michael Pineda, UT Adam Kennedy

Probable lineup
1. Chone Figgins, 3B
2. Dustin Ackley, 2B
3. Ichiro Suzuki, RF
4. Justin Smoak, 1B
5. Jesus Montero, DH
6. Mike Carp, LF
7. Franklin Gutierrez, CF
8. Miguel Olivo, C
9. Brendan Ryan, SS

Probable rotation
1. Felix Hernandez
2. Jason Vargas
3. Hisashi Iwakuma
4. Kevin Millwood
5. Hector Noesi

Blake Beavan and Charlie Furbush are also in the mix.

Back-end bullpen
Closer: Brandon League
Set-up: RHP Shawn Kelley, LHP George Sherrill

Important bench players
C John Jaso, IF Kyle Seager, OF Casper Wells, OF Trayvon Robinson

Prospect to watch
With the second overall pick in the 2011 draft, the Mariners pegged left-handed starting pitcher Danny Hultzen from the University of Virginia. It's likely his presence -- in addition to Furbush, Beaven and prospects Taijuan Walker and James Paxton -- made it easier to deal Pineda for some offensive help. Hultzen appeared in the top 30 overall in most prospect rankings this spring and is said to be close to big-league ready. The M's likely don't have a reason to rush him, but if he's ready come June or July, it wouldn't be surprising to see him make an impact this season.

Fantasy sleeper: Kyle Seager
"Seager isn't much of a home-run threat, and playing home games at Safeco Field won't help matters, but his gap power and keen batting eye could help him to an average in the .290 to .300 range, if not higher. Owners may look at last season's .258 mark, his lack of prospect hype and his place in a less-than-imposing Mariners lineup and discount him. However, Seager's ability to get on base and rack up doubles makes him worth a late-round flier in mixed league formats." - Al Melchior [Full Mariners team fantasy preview]

Fantasy "head-to-head hero:" Dustin Ackley
"Ackley's in-the-park extra-base hits will make him one of the seven or eight best second basemen in Head-to-Head, but the potential for mediocre homer and run production makes him a later-round option for mixed league Roto owners." - Al Melchior [Full Mariners team fantasy preview]

Optimistic outlook
Ackley and Montero become stars, Figgins returns to form, a finally-healthy Gutierrez returns to form as well and Ichiro thrives in the 3-hole, finally giving the Mariners a viable offense. Iwakuma adjusts to America impressively while Hultzen storms onto the scene in early June to provide an additional pitching boost. The Rangers and Angels suffer major injury and underachievement issues, and the Mariners shock everyone by winning the AL West.

Pessimistic outlook
Heading into this season, expect the Mariners to be picked third by pretty much everyone. Thus, the pessimistic outlook would be that the Mariners find a way to finish below the A's. If the offense sputters, younger players stall in their development and the rotation behind King Felix proves thin -- which is possible -- that last place finish could repeat.

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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: November 28, 2011 11:06 am
Edited on: November 28, 2011 12:54 pm
 

Jose Molina signs with Rays

By Matt Snyder

Free agent catcher Jose Molina has signed with the Tampa Bay Rays, the club announced Monday. The signing comes just about 12 hours after the club announced it had traded catcher John Jaso to the Mariners. Molina's deal is for one year and $1.5 million with a $1.8 million option for 2013 with a $300,000 buyout.

Molina, 36, hit .281/.342/.415 in 191 plate appearances last season in what would likely qualify as the best offensive season of his career. Then again, the Rays didn't exactly sign Molina for his bat. The reason he's hung around baseball this long is because he's a great defensive catcher and we know the Rays love good defense.

MLB Free Agency
Don't expect Molina to play full time behind the plate, as he's never caught more than 100 games in a season. Jose Lobaton and Robinson Chirinos will also likely grab some playing time.

The Rays will mark Molina's third AL East team in four seasons, as he's previously played for the Yankees and Blue Jays. He also spent seven seasons for the Angels after coming up with the Cubs.

He is the brother of both Bengie and Yadier Molina.

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Posted on: November 27, 2011 7:40 pm
Edited on: November 27, 2011 8:12 pm
 

Mariners trade for John Jaso

By Matt Snyder

The Seattle Mariners have traded relief pitcher Josh Lueke and a player to be named later, along with cash considerations, to the Tampa Bay Rays for catcher John Jaso, the Rays announced Sunday night.

Jaso, 28, hit .224/.298/.354 with 15 doubles and five homers for the Rays in 273 plate appearances for the Rays last season. He hits left-handed, while Mariners incumbent catcher Miguel Olivo swings from the right side, so some semblence of a platoon is possible.

“John gives us a left-handed hitting catcher with some big league time who is still young,” Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik said (Mariners Musings). “His left-handed bat will be a nice complement to our right-handed hitting group. He’s a tough kid with post-season experience and should be a nice fit with us.”

The Rays could be ready to go with prospect Robinson Chirinos behind the plate, assuming they don't make any other acquisitions behind the plate. Another option would be Jose Lobaton.

Lueke, 26, is a 6-foot-5 right-hander. He appeared in 25 games last season, putting up a 6.06 ERA and 1.44 WHIP in 32 2/3 innings. He did strike out 29 hitters and had a big strikeout rate in the minors, so it's possible that's where the Rays see upside. Lueke has a criminal past, as he pleaded no contest to charges of false imprisonment and violence against a woman back in 2008. Rays executive vice president Andrew Friedman said in a statement that the club did thorough research on Lueke.

"We're satisfied he's going to be the kind of person and teammate that we look for and we expect him to contribute positively to our group," Friedman said (Marc Tompkin).

Expect the player to be named later to be a marginal prospect, nothing more.

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Posted on: September 29, 2011 4:05 pm
Edited on: September 30, 2011 2:57 pm
 

2011 ALDS matchup: Rays vs. Rangers

By Evan Brunell

The Rays and Rangers will meet for the second year in a row. Last season, Texas came away with a victory, needing the maximum five games to do so. They would go on to advance to the World Series before losing to the San Francisco Giants. Both teams are in dramatically different places this time around, with the Rays team undergoing turnover while the Rangers' offense is one of the most fearsome in recent memory. Let's break down each team's position and determine who has the advantage....

TEAM INFORMATION

Tampa Bay Rays (host games 3, 4)
91-71, AL wild card champions
Manager: Joe Maddon
Team batting statistics: .244 batting average (25th in AL), .322 on-base percentage (13th), .402 slugging percentage (13th)
Team pitching statistics: 3.58 ERA (8th), 1.22 WHIP (2nd), 2.27 K/BB (2nd)
Star player: SP James Shields -- 16-12, 249 1/3 IP, 2.82 ERA, 3.25 xFIP, 65 BB, 225 K

Texas Rangers (host games 1, 2, 5)
96-66, AL West champions
Manager: Ron Washington
Team batting statistics: .283 batting average (1st), .340 on-base percentage (5th), .460 slugging percentage (2nd)
Team pitching statistics: 3.79 ERA (13th), 1.24 WHIP (5th), 2.56 K/BB (5th)
Star player: C Mike Napoli -- .320/.414/.631, 432 plate appearances, 30 HR, 75 RBI

SCHEDULE (Click here to view the entire postseason schedule)

Full Playoff Coverage

Game 1: TB @ TEX, Sept. 30, 5:07 p.m. -- Matt Moore (1-0, 2.89 ERA) vs. C.J. Wilson (16-7, 2.94)**
Game 2: TB @ TEX, Oct. 1, 7:07 p.m. -- James Shields (16-12, 2.82) vs. Derek Holland (16-5, 3.95)
Game 3: TEX @ TB, Oct. 3, 5:07 p.m. -- Matt Harrison (14-9, 3.39) vs. Jeremy Hellickson (13-10, 2.95)
Game 4*: TB @ TEX, Oct. 4 -- Colby Lewis (14-10, 4.40) vs. David Price (12-13, 3.49)
Game 5*: TB @ TEX, Oct. 6 -- James Shields (16-12, 2.82) vs. C.J. Wilson (16-7, 2.94)

* If necessary | ** all pitching matchups projected

TEAM BREAKDOWN (Click player name for statistics)

Catcher
Texas: Mike Napoli, Yorvit Torrealba
Tampa Bay: John Jaso, Kelly Shoppach

The Rays' catcher situation is like that of shortstop: Choosing between bad or worse. Jaso and Shoppach have both combined for extremely disappointing seasons while Napoli was one of the best offensive players in the game, robbed of his due because his counting statistics aren't up to snuff due to playing in just 113 games, but Napoli can do serious damage. Torrealba isn't a zero either, but most of his value comes on defense.

Advantage: Rangers

First base
Texas: Mitch Moreland, Napoli
Tampa Bay: Casey Kotchman

Kotchman came out of nowhere to give Tampa fantastic value out of first base, hitting at a .306 clip and providing his usual stellar defense at first place. While no one expects Kotchman to keep this up next season, what matters is right now. And right now, Kotchman is head and shoulders better than Moreland, although if Texas goes with Torrealba behind the plate and Napoli at first base, this conversation changes.

Advantage: Rays

Second base
Texas: Ian Kinsler
Tampa Bay: Ben Zobrist

Both Kinsler and Zobrist had excellent seasons -- both at the plate and in the field. Picking one or the other amounts to nitpicking as both players have 30 stolen bases. Zobrist holds a small edge in batting average and Kinsler holds a small one in slugging percentage. Even fielding numbers aren't any help. This is as even as it gets.

Advantage: Tie

Shortstop
Texas: Elvis Andrus
Tampa Bay: Sean Rodriguez, Reid Brignac

As mentioned before, Tampa's shortstop spot is horrible. Between Rodriguez, Reid Brignac and Eliot Johnson, Rays shortstops combined to hit .193/.256/.282. League average was .266/.321/.386. That's simply awful, awful production. The Rangers clearly win out here, with Andrus' solid bat and strong glove.

Advantage: Rangers

Third base
Texas: Adrian Beltre
Tampa Bay: Evan Longoria

Evan Longoria has been one of the best third basemen in the game for a long time. Up until this year, you could have argued that he was the best AL third-baseman for years running. Alas, Beltre's second straight excellent season has supplanted Longoria, coming off a down year. Beltre's 32 homers rank fifth in the AL, and he missed a month and a half! Add in his all-world defense, and he runs away from Longoria even though Longo is still a threat and hit .289/.454/.589 in September.

Advantage: Rangers

Left field
Texas: David Murphy
Tampa Bay: Desmond Jennings

Murphy looked like he would have a lost season, but turned it on down the stretch and forced the Rangers to move Josh Hamilton to center for the playoffs in order to get Murphy's bat in the lineup. It's easy to remember that Jennings debuted with fantastic numbers in August, but September told a very different story. All in all, both players have things working both for and against them and nothing quite standing out.

Advantage: Tie

Center field
Texas: Josh Hamilton
Tampa Bay: B.J. Upton

This is pretty easily Hamilton's domain here after Upton hit just .243. Hamilton remains one of the best players in the game despite being injury-prone. When he's on the field, he produces. Upton can't say the same, although he turned on the jets at the right time for Tampa and had a productive September.

Advantage: Rangers

Right field
Texas: Nelson Cruz
Tampa Bay: Matt Joyce

Here's an interesting matchup. Cruz missed time with injury but when he was right, enjoyed yet another productive season, missing 30 homers by just one blast. Cruz's calling card is power, while Joyce counters with a better overall game, flashing a strong glove. With both players' offensive games basically evening out, the balance tips to defense, and Joyce wins there.

Advantage: Rays

Designated Hitter
Texas: Michael Young, Napoli
Tampa Bay: Johnny Damon

Yet another win for the Rangers on offense. We all know what Napoli can do, but Young figures to get most of the at-bats at DH. Despite Young having to adjust to the DH spot on a full-time basis for the first time in his career, Young coolly racked up 106 RBI and should get some MVP attention. Damon, by comparison, falls far short.

Advantage: Rangers

Starting pitching
Texas: C.J. Wilson, Derek Holland, Matt Harrison, Colby Lewis
Tampa Bay: Jeff Niemann, James Shields, David Price, Jeremy Hellickson

The Rays win here, although Rangers fans will probably beg to differ. Yes, Wilson had a fantastic season -- you can't take that away from him. But Shields, Price and Hellickson all had excellent years as well. No one's shorting Holland and Harrison here, but at best, these two pitchers are no better than fifth best overall with three of the first four spots belonging to Tampa. The Rays are in the postseason for their pitching, not their offense.

Advantage: Rays

Relief pitching
Texas closer: Neftali Feliz
Tampa Bay closer: Kyle Farnsworth

Feliz's future as a closer was in doubt even as late as early August, but he clamped down the rest of the way and will pair with Mike Adams for a formidable 1-2 punch. There isn't a soft underbelly of middle relief either, and this bullpen has the potential to pick up the slack left over from the starting rotation to beat Tampa. But the Rays have taken a completely remade bullpen and turned it into an elite corps, too. Tampa's relief ERA of 3.73 is 10 spots higher than Texas' 4.11, but Texas' bullpen is different after importing Mike Adams, Koji Uehara and Mike Gonzalez. Let's call it even.

Advantage: Tie

Total advantage: Rangers (5), Rays (2), Tie (3)

PREDICTION (click here to see full postseason predictions)

CBS Experts
Evan Brunell: Rays in 4
Gregg Doyel: Rays in 4
Danny Knobler: Rangers in 5
Scott Miller: Rangers in 4
Trent Rosecrans: Rangers in 4
Matt Snyder: Rays in 5

Evan's take: The Rangers are a fearsome club, there's no doubt about that. The offense is awe-inspiring and the pitching has the ability to hang tough with Tampa Bay. The Rangers basically cruised to the division title in September, so it's easy to overlook the club because of lack of press, but those who overlook the club are making a mistake. I selected the Rays in four because in the postseason, I believe far more in pitching than offense. I also give credence to how teams played down the stretch. Tampa went 17-10 in September (of course, Texas went 19-8, so there's that) and was in playoff mode for two weeks, constantly playing must-win games then seeing it all pay off when Evan Longoria's second homer of the night went over the fence to give T.B. the wild card. The combination of pitching and the hot hand tilt me toward predicting the Rays to advance.

More Rangers-Rays ALDS coverage

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Posted on: September 15, 2011 10:52 pm
 

Playoff race: Breaks going Rays' way

Evan Longoria

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Things are certainly breaking the Rays way right now -- especially B.J. Upton's bat.

Thanks in small part to the flying end of Upton's bat, the Rays took the opening game of their crucial four-game set at Fenway Park, beating the Red Sox 9-2.

WIth two outs in the third inning and runners on first and second, Upton's bat splintered on a slow roller to shortstop. Just as Boston shortstop Marco Scutaro was about to field the grounder, the barrel of Upton's bat reached him and he had to dodge the piece of the bat, allowing the ball to go between his legs and John Jaso to score the game's first run and extend the inning. The next batter, Evan Longoria, homered to give Tampa an early 4-0 lead -- all thanks to the bounce of a bat.

The win pulls the Rays to within three games of the American League Wild Card, with three more games agains the Red Sox. A sweep here and it's a whole new ballgame.

Boston Red Sox
Remaining schedule: 3 vs. TB, 4 vs. BAL, 3 @ NYY, 3 @ BAL
Coolstandings.com expectancy of wild card: 80.6 percent

Tampa Bay Rays
83-66, 3 GB
Remaining schedule: 3 @ BOS, 4 @ NYY, 3 vs. TOR, 3 vs. NYY
Coolstandings.com expectancy of wild card: 7.8 percent 

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
82-67, 4 GB
Remaining schedule: 3 @ BAL, 4 @ TOR, 3 vs. OAK, 3 vs. TEX
Coolstandings.com expectancy of wild card: 2.5 percent

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Posted on: June 22, 2011 1:41 pm
Edited on: June 22, 2011 2:23 pm
 

Maddon going 'unconventional' against Marcum

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Rays manager Joe Maddon is known to buck the old managerial book, but today's is a little different.

Against Brewers right-hander Shaun Marcum, Maddon is loading up on right-handed hitters. He announced the move on Twitter:


Joe Maddon 

That means the team is keeping Matt Joyce, Johnny Damon, John Jaso and Reid Brignac on the bench. That means Ben Zobrist in right for Joyce, Sean Rodriguez at second, Elliot Johnson at shortstop and Kelly Shoppach behind the plate. Johnson and Zobrist are the switch hitters.

Maddon's one of baseball's best managers, and if I had the No. 1 pick in a managerial draft, he'd be my choice. That said, I'm not sure about this one. The rationale is likely that right-handers will have a better chance against Marcum's excellent changeup.

The numbers, however, don't exactly reflect that.

So far this season, right-handed batters are hitting .160/.225/.251 against Marcum and lefties are hitting .274/.312/.415 against him. Of the eight homers Marcum has allowed this season, five have been to left-handed batters in 20 fewer plate appearances. His career numbers are a lot closer, as right-handers hit .239/.297/.417 against him and lefties hit .241/.304/.401.

As for the two Rays switch hitters, Zobrist's numbers are pretty similar as a right-handed batter and a left-handed batter; Johnson is much better from the right side (.273/.400/.303) than the left (.167/.180/.354). 

Of course, Marcum is in his first year with the Brewers and these Rays are familiar with the former Blue Jay. As noted in Jonah Keri's The Extra 2%Maddon used a similar strategy against Marcum last season and the right-hander was 0-2 with a 5.55 ERA in four starts against the Rays. The Rays won three of those games. In the first, Marcum allowed 10 hits and five runs (four earned), but threw eight innings of one-run ball before giving up three hits and four runs in the ninth. The Rays pounded him in their next matchup, with 10 hits and seven earned runs in four innings. The second two matchups were less successful for Maddon's team, with Marcum going six innings each time, allowing five hits and one run in one start and six hits and three runs in the other.

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Posted on: November 15, 2010 2:22 pm
Edited on: April 18, 2011 11:36 am
 

Feliz, Posey win Rookie honors

Buster Posey Rangers closer Neftali Feliz and Giants catcher Buster Posey are your Rookies of the Year. No surprise, really.

The only question about today's results was which deserving National League rookie would win. Buster Posey ended up winning, taking the award over Atlanta's Jason Heyward.

While I would have voted for Heyward, I have zero problem with Posey winning. Both were incredible. What strikes me as interesting is the voting results, as Posey won comfortably, getting 20 of the 32 first-place votes and finishing with a total of 129 points. Heyward got nine first-place votes and 107 total points. I honestly thought it would be closer.

Three voters didn't vote for either, one voter went with Cardinals starter Jaime Garcia, while two voted for Gaby Sanchez.

The American League spread was about the same, as the National League. Feliz received 20 first-place votes and finished with 122 points. Tigers center fielder Austin Jackson finished second, with eight first-place votes and 98 total points. Twins third baseman Danny Valencia was third.

Pedro Feliz The difference, as discussed last week, was the caliber of candidates in both leagues. Feliz had a good year, but he's a closer, and that's a different role. Just for the record, let's look at the stats from the American League Rookie of the Year:

69 1/3 IP, 43 H, 21 R, 21 ER, 18 BB, 71 K, 2.73 ERA, .880 WHIP

Not bad numbers. Now let's look at a rookie in the National League who didn't garner a single vote.

68 IP, 56 H, 25 R, 22 ER, 17 BB, 92 K, 2.91 ERA, 1.074 WHIP

How about that? How did that guy not even get considered for the National League Rookie of the Year?

That's because he got hurt -- and he was a starter.

Stephen Strasburg made just 12 starts, but still pitched nearly as many innings as Feliz, who was the Rangers' closer. He didn't have 40 saves.

That said, Feliz definitely deserved the award.

The voting:
National League (points)
Buster Posey 129
Jason Heyward 107
Jaime Garcia 24
Gaby Sanchez 18
Neil Walker 3
Starlin Castro 3
Ike Davis 2
Jose Tabata 1
Jonny Venters 1

American League
Neftali Feliz 122
Austin Jackson 98
Danny Valencia 12
Wade Davis 11
John Jaso 3
Brandon Boesch 3
Brian Matusz 3

The National League Cy Young Award will be announced tomorrow.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com