Tag:Juan Rivera
Posted on: April 26, 2011 1:44 am

3 up, 3 down: Kennedy outshines Lee

Ian Kennedy

By C. Trent Rosecrans


Ian Kennedy, Diamondbacks -- Nobody -- or at least this nobody -- expected Kennedy to do much against Cliff Lee and the Phillies, but what did he do? He threw a three-hit shutout against the Phillies. Kennedy struck out 10 and didn't walk a batter. And it wasn't even his best night this week. Early Sunday morning Kennedy and his wife welcomed the birth of their first child. Heck of a couple of days for Kennedy.

Philip Humber, White Sox -- The Chicago starter was superb on Monday. The White Sox had lost 10 of 11 entering Monday's game in the Bronx and the right-hander took a no-hitter into the seventh inning before Alex Rodriguez's single. Humber was able to get out of the jam and left the game after that inning, stranding two runners while protecting a one-run lead. The 2004 first-round pick by the Mets is now 2-2 with a  3.20 ERA this season.

Brandon Wood, Pirates -- The former Angels prospect doubled in his Pittsburgh debut, driving in the eventual winning run in a 4-2 victory over the Nationals. Wood drove in two with the fourth-inning double.

Starlin Castro3DOWN

Starlin Castro, Cubs --  Talk about a bad night for the Cubs talented young shortstop, not only was he hitless in five at-bats, he had three errors in the Cubs' loss to the Rockies. All three of his errors came in the three-run Rockies second, with all three runs unearned.

Jamey Carroll, Dodgers -- With a 4-3 lead, two on and two out in the ninth, Jonathan Broxton got an easy ground ball from Florida's Scott Cousins to seemingly nail down the Dodger victory, except Carroll booted the ball, allowing the tying run to score. Omar Infante followed with a liner misplayed by Jerry Sands to score the winning run.

Colby Lewis, Rangers -- The Texas right-hander gave up back-to-back homers to Toronto's Corey Patterson and Jose Bautista, then walked a batter and gave up another homer, to Juan Rivera, in a six-run fifth inning. In 22 innings this season, Lewis has allowed eight home runs. He dropped to 1-3 with a 6.55 ERA.

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Posted on: April 20, 2011 9:18 pm

Jays moves: Encarnacion in, Rivera out at DH

By Evan Brunell

EncarnacionThe Jays have only played 17 games but are already changing the structure of the lineup.

Even though the writing has been on the wall for a while, DH Juan Rivera has now officially lost his starting spot. Edwin Encarnacion had been DHing recently with four of his past five games at the spot and is on a tear.

"I think, more than anything, Edwin is more comfortable [as DH]," manager John Farrell told MLB.com. "I think in the current arrangement he feels very good in that role."

Encarnacion is hitting .385 as a DH, but as a third baseman has a paltry .158/.150/.158 line in 19 at-bats with four errors in five games. Despite talking up Encarnacion's improvement as a fielder in spring training, it's abundantly clear EdE belongs as a DH or first baseman. 

"He's on a pretty good run lately," Farrell said. "He's had multiple-hit games. He's swinging the bat with more authority and making more hard contact. It's more like we anticipated from Edwin coming out of Spring Training."

Fortunately for Encarnacion, he's seized an opportunity that Rivera left wide open, as the former Angel still does not have an extra-base hit and is working on a .103/.239/.103 mark in 46 PA.

"The expectation of playing every day coming out of Spring Training was there and he was our DH," Farrell noted. "Yet every player knows that there is going to be opportunity, but production and performance begin to factor in."

They certainly have for Rivera, whose shown no capability in the early going. That's unfortunate for Toronto, who was hoping to trade Rivera and break an outfield logjam. Rivera was acquired along with Mike Napoli in the Vernon Wells deal. The Jays were able to spin Napoli to Texas for reliever Frank Francisco, but may be forced to carry Rivera all season, and certainly will have to if he doesn't get hot.

"I know he's frustrated -- he has said as much," Farrell continued. "In conversations with him, and talking with him about certain things, when things don't go quite as expected, maybe the thought process gets a little bit too entailed and doesn't free him up to allow his abilities to play out, particularly at the plate, where he can."

With Rivera hitting the pine and Encarnacion now becoming the full-time DH, Jayson Nix will make third base his home. Nix hasn't shown he can hit, but has a strong glove and in the early going has a .238/.360/.429 line in 50 PA after coming over from Cleveland where he hit .234/.288/.422 in 306 PA with 13 home runs. He also showed power but a lousy batting average in his stint for the White Sox after being acquired from the Rockies. Nix better profiles as a bench player, but for now will occupy third base until Brett Lawrie is ready for the majors, if that ever occurs. Lawrie, a top hitting prospect, is transitioning from second to third in Triple-A and has struggled in the early going.

"In this situation, I think it gets the best abilities out of all," Farrell said. "I think with our current roster and alignment, this gives us our best overall fit."

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Posted on: March 22, 2011 3:26 pm
Edited on: March 22, 2011 4:09 pm

Jays field possible opening day lineup

DotelBy Evan Brunell

The Toronto Blue Jays are readying for opening day, deploying a lineup in Tuesday's spring-training game that could be the lineup manager John Farrell trots out for his managerial debut, CBSSports.com's Danny Knobler reports.

That lineup is:

CF Rajai Davis
SS Yunel Escobar
DH Jose Bautista
1B Adam Lind
2B Aaron Hill
3B Edwin Encarnacion
LF Travis Snider
RF Juan Rivera
C J.P. Arencibia

The only differences that could occur are Bautista and Encarnacion swapping positions, as EdE isn't expected to play much at the hot corner while that will be Bautista's new home.

Rivera is tabbed for right despite being defensively challenged. Snider is as well, though, and has only 57 games in right to his name in the majors while Rivera has 272. Neither have right field as their primary position but it appears Toronto will have to sacrifice defense given the team's composition.

In other news, Knobler reports that relievers Frank Francisco and Octavio Dotel (pictured) may hit the disabled list to start the year, with GM Alex Anthopoulous believing it is possible neither can be ready in time -- but that's not definite.

Francisco felt discomfort during a bullpen session Saturday in his pectoral muscle, but a MRI came back clean. He is scheduled to see Dr. James Andrews, which makes one immediately think "Tommy John surgery," but the Jays do not expect that type of news. Meanwhile, Dotel's left hamstring injury has kept him out of major-league spring training games for a week, but tossed an inning Tuesday in a minor-league game. The club expects him to be ready, but if not, Jon Rauch will likely function as closer until both return.

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Posted on: February 16, 2011 4:20 pm

Jays sign Podsednik

Scott Podsednik
Scott Podsednik has finally landed a job, signing a minor-league deal with the Jays that includes an invitation to major-league spring training, according to the team. Podsednik, who turns 35 next month, will probably split time with Juan Rivera in left field.

Podsednik started last season with the Royals and was traded to the Dodgers in July when they needed a replacement for Manny Ramirez. He batted .262 for the Dodgers (.297 overall), and the team exercised its side of the $2 million mutual option for 2011. Podsednik declined and opted for free agency, but found the market softer than he expected. It will be interesting to see how much he got from the Jays.

-- David Andriesen

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Posted on: February 8, 2011 9:10 pm

Report: Jays would like to move Rivera

RiveraWhen the Blue Jays pulled off the trade of the year in dumping Vernon Wells' contract, they received two players in return in Mike Napoli and Juan Rivera.

Napoli was dealt days later to the Rangers for Frank Francisco, who will likely be Toronto's closer. The other, Rivera, has been considered the likely starter in left field.

Except the Jays may be dumping Rivera as well, as Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports. There aren't any concrete trade rumors, but the Jays are hoping to deal Rivera and his $5.25 million contract, sources say.

Moving Rivera would allow the Jays to slot Travis Snider in left instead of right, where he belongs. That would open up right field for Jose Bautista to remain if the Jays were able to acquire a third baseman. There aren't any feasible choices left in on the market for third base, but there are some decent outfielders left, led by Scott Podsednik. Scotty Po could man center, pushing Rajai Davis to right and give the Jays a more viable leadoff man than Davis represents.

Rosenthal adds that it's unlikely Rivera would be dealt before spring training, as teams need to see how their rosters develop.

Anyone else think it would be high comedy if the Jays dealt Rivera and another player to Texas for Michael Young?

-- Evan Brunell

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Posted on: January 22, 2011 3:00 pm
Edited on: January 22, 2011 3:09 pm

Angels trade for Vernon Wells baffling

Wells"If you want to continue to perform at the highest level, you have to keep building the business," Angels owner Arte Moreno told the Los Angeles Times back in October. "And that's what I intend to do."

Moreno, who was very upset about the team's play en route to an 80-82 record, went on to pledge that he would spend what was necessary to return the team to the playoffs.

Well, $70 million is certainly a nice chunk of change, but the Angels continued one of the most baffling offseasons ever by handing all that money to Vernon Wells instead of Carl Crawford or Adrian Beltre. Yes, Wells bounced back from years of struggles to bash 31 home runs en route to a .273/.331/.515 line in 646 plate appearances, but Wells was the proud owner of one of the worst contracts in the game that rendered him all but untradeable and has four years left on it as he enters the decline phase of his career.

Except to the Angels, apparently. In a confounding deal pulled off Friday, the Angels acquired Wells in exchange for catcher Mike Napoli and left-fielder Juan Rivera. It's pretty hard to call this an upgrade for the Angels, but is par for the course in a regime that has made more bizarre decisions than any other team since GM Tony Reagins took over. And that might be on the owner.

"We know where our weaknesses are, we know where we are thin, we know where we have to go to market," Moreno said in October. "It's going to cost money, but our fans need to know what we're committed to winning."

Moreno cited an outfielder who can hit, plus boosting offense at catcher and third base as offseason priorities. Except to hear him later tell it to the Times, the club never made an offer on Carl Crawford, and that's baffling for an owner who came into the game willing to spend and did just that by grabbing Vladimir Guerrero, Bartolo Colon and Kelvim Escobar in the 2003-04 offseason.

"There were rumors out there, but we never made an official offer, and no parameters were discussed," Moreno noted of the talks with Crawford.

"It's crazy. I paid [$183 million] for the team [in 2003], and now we're talking $142 million for one player? Seven years on a player is a huge risk financially. [Crawford's] greatest asset is speed, and he's a very skilled athlete who would have fit perfectly in left field for us. But we didn't look at him as a power hitter in our stadium."

Except that the only times Wells has outproduced Crawford in Wins Above Replacement (Fangraphs version) were in 2003 -- Crawford's first season -- and 2006, where Crawford only finished 1.1 behind Wells. Is Crawford's seven years and $142 million that much worse than Wells' four years and $81 million on the deal (the Jays kicked in $5 million)? 

Sure, that total outlay is around $70 million once you delete Napoli and Rivera's contracts, but Crawford would have only been an extra three years and $56 million more than Wells. Still a pricey tag? How about Adrian Beltre, then, who signed a five-year, $80 million deal that can increase to six years and $96 million with Texas? Yep, you read that right: the Angels chose a subpar defensive outfielder with just as checkered an offensive history for four years and $81 million over a premier defender who would have cost one less million for an extra year. And meanwhile, the Angels balked at any offer over $77 million for five years. Even if you have to add on that team option for the sixth year, Beltre is still the better buy.

Smooth, Arte.

Oh, and about upgrading offense behind the dish? The Angels traded away their answer there in order to stick with Jeff Mathis, whom is fantastic defensively but hit .195/.219/.278 in 218 PA for the Angels in 2010.

Meanwhile, Napoli had five less home runs than Wells in 136 less trips to the plate in 2010 and Rivera had an eerily similar line to Wells back in 2009 when he hit .287/.332/.478 with 25 homers in 572 PA. And between Rivera and Wells, their OPS' (.771) and OPS+ (105) are exactly the same over the last two years. And yet, the Angels chose to acquire the center fielder.

Except Wells isn't exactly a center fielder. Those three Gold Gloves from 2004-06 are nice, but not worth the metal that was sculpted. Wells has been a lousy center fielder for three years running now and would be better served in a corner. Torii Hunter may have fallen off in his fielding as well, but he's better than Wells. If Peter Bourjos remains in center (or the team signs Scott Podsednik for that role) and Wells shifts to left, that does help the outfield defense but actually would be negligible in boosting Wells' value as he would suddenly be compared to other left fielders, not center fielders. In Fangraphs' adjustments for positional value, center fielders get +2.5 wins credit, but -7.5 for left and right field -- so Wells' bat has to be that much better to make up for it.

Oh, and did we mention how Toronto waived Vernon Wells in August? All the Angels would have had to do was place a claim and he would have been theirs. Instead, they trade for him in the offseason and give up Napoli and Rivera for that right.

Sam Miller of the Orange County Register nailed the trade by saying "It's the rare trade that makes a team older, more expensive and worse."

And that's exactly what the Angels just did.

-- Evan Brunell

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Posted on: January 22, 2011 2:59 pm
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Posted on: January 22, 2011 2:57 pm
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