Tag:B.J. Upton
Posted on: November 21, 2010 6:28 pm

Futures of several Rays a question mark

The Rays aren't alone in that they are in the middle of a busy offseason and have many directions to go, but they may be the most compelling team to follow all winter.

That's because the club seems certain to lose star Carl Crawford and slugger Carlos Pena on offense, while having to rebuild an entire bullpen and slash payroll to $60 million or less from 2010's franchise-high $72.8 million.

As a result, it is widely considered the Rays will deal some costly veterans where the team has solutions behind them. That includes Jason Bartlett, subject of a MLB Facts and Rumors trade profile .

Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times expects Bartlett to exit stage left to make way for Reid Brignac and clear up roughly $5 million in salary. There's no shortage of candidates who could use Bartlett, with middle infield depth thin leaguewide. The Cardinals, Giants and Orioles have been most closely linked to the ex-Twin.

Upton Topkin also discusses B.J. Upton (pictured, left), coming off a disappointing season and who is headed to arbitration for the second time. Upton is slated to make about $4 million or more, and that's a lot to give someone coming off back-to-back poor seasons. While his .237/.322/.424 line in 610 plate appearances in 2010 was a major improvement over 2009's .241/.313/.373, it's still a major letdown.

However, Upton is still the same guy who slashed .300/.386/.508 with 24 home runs in 2007, then went bananas in the ALCS against the Red Sox in 2008. His 2011 season will be played at just age 26, so there's plenty of time left for Upton to turn his career around, and he's still capable of stealing a ton of bases, as his three straight seasons of over 40 steals indicate.

Given Upton isn't slated to be a free agent until after the 2012 season, it may not be prudent for Tampa to deal the youngster. After all, the club is still in desperate need of offensive playmakers, and Upton can help keep Tampa in contention. In addition, if Upton bounces back, his trade value skyrockets. Trading him now would mean selling low, and there's just no reason for the Rays to take that risk.

Topkin also points out that Upton was only one of two players in 2010 to have at least 60 extra-base hits (38 doubles, four triples, 18 home runs). The other person was none other than Carl Crawford, so losing two players with that distinction may be too much for Tampa to handle.

Upton and Crawford also impacted the game in a big way on defense, so even with Upton's struggles at the plate, he would create a major void in the lineup where there is already enough gaping holes.

Lastly, Topkin tackles the future of the starting pitching. With a full rotation and Jeremy Hellickson banging on the door, the possibility exists that Tampa could trade Matt Garza or James Shields, the two making the most money on the staff.

Shields Alas, Topkin is concerned about the depth of the rotation. While the club is deep in pitching prospects, Topkin says the top starting prospects are still a ways away, so if a starter was to get hurt and one of Shields (pictured, right) or Garza was traded, Tampa would be scrambling for depth.

However, he seems to have forgotten about Andy Sonnanstine, a starter who worked out of the bullpen in 2010. He could easily transition back to a starting role if needed. Secondly, Jacob McGee is also hanging around, and he's certainly ready for the majors after appearing down the stretch drive as a reliever. In addition, Baseball America 's top prospect list has Matt Moore and Alex Torres on the list. While asking them to be ready for 2011 is a stretch, they could make their big-league debut in September. If they're that close, they could step in and fill the breach if needed.

Depth is not an issue.

What may be an issue is the play of Shields, who finished with a 5.18 ERA in 203 1/3 innings. While his xFIP was 3.72, clubs may try to buy low on Shields given the ERA. That may not be tenable for the Rays, but if the alternative is trading Garza, the team may opt to bite the bullet on Shields.

With the winter meetings just a week away, we may soon know what direction Tampa intends to go. Will that include shipping away Bartlett, Upton, Shields or Garza? Stay tuned.

-- Evan Brunell

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

Posted on: October 16, 2010 9:49 pm
Edited on: October 19, 2010 12:12 pm

Who could participate in an All-Star race?

Brett Gardner has a suggestion for the All-Star planning committee.

"I think they need to have a race at the All-Star Game, just line up 10 or 20 guys and see who wins," the Yankee told the New Jersey Star-Ledger prior to the Game 2 loss.

Gardner named teammate Greg Golson and Ranger outfielder Julio Borbon as part of the top candidates, but wouldn't say who No. 1 would be.

"There's only one way to find out," he said.

Well, the All-Star Game is over and there won't be another one for quite a while. But it's never too early to look ahead. Here's who could be part of the 2011 All-Star speed demon contest.

Brett Gardner : Gardner swiped 47 bags and came in second on Bill James' speed score with 8.1. The speed score averages stolen base percentage, frequency of attempts, percentage of triples and runs scored percentage.

Juan Pierre Carl Crawford : Crawford paced the bigs in speed score with 8.5, and tied Gardner with 47 steals.

Jacoby Ellsbury : Ellsbury stole 70 bases last season and could have repeated if not for being sidelined all season with injuries. He had a 8.1 speed score.

Austin Jackson : Jackson burst on the scene in 2010 with excellent defense and added 27 stolen bases.

Shane Victorino : The Flyin' Hawaiian has stolen 37, 36, 25 and 34 stolen baes the last four years, respectively. He's also near the top of leaderboards in all years in speed score.

Michael Bourn : Bourn paced baseball in speed score in 2009 with an 8.6 mark. He has led the NL the last two years in stolen bases.

Elvis Andrus : Andrus impressed with a speed score in 2009 of 8.0, tacking on 33 stolen bases. He finished with 32 in 2010, but did dip down to 5.8 in speed score.

Julio Borbon : We'll take Gardner's advice and place Borbon on the list. He stole 15 bases in 468 plate appearance with a speed score of 6.1. His speed score was 6.3 in 2009, and swiped 19 bags in 179 PA.

B.J. Upton : Upton has matched or topped 42 stolen bases each of the last three seasons and set a career-high in 2010 with a 7.5 speed score.

Juan Pierre (pictured): Pierre is 32, but can still bring it. He set a career high by leading baseball with 68 stolen bases in 2010, but his speed score did tumble to 6.9 after a 7.5 mark in 2009.

-- Evan Brunell

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

Posted on: September 7, 2010 1:17 pm
Edited on: October 19, 2010 12:05 pm

Rays test their bench

Joe Maddon How about this for a record you didn't know existed?

Monday night the Rays tied a major-league record by using six pinch hitters in one inning. It was the ninth time that's happened -- and the seventh in September, when rosters expand.

Joe Maddon did it in the seventh inning of Monday's game in Boston because his team was being blown out and wanted to give his regulars some rest and get his bench players some at-bats.

"They all looked good up there. We like our depth, we like our bench," Maddon told the St. Petersburg Times ' Marc Topkin . "I want to keep them sharp, I've got to get them out there. Hopefully as we proceed and hopefully make the playoffs we're going to have to make a lot of tough decisions regarding who those 25 people are going to be, so these guys have got to play. If they're going to contribute the rest of this month they just can't sit on the bench."

How'd it work? Well enough for six pinch hitters to get to bat -- as well as three starters -- who accounted for two of the three outs. None of the starters got a hit, with Carlos Pena walking. The pinch hitters went 3 for 4 with two walks, scoring all three runs in the inning.

Here's how it went down:

The Red Sox started the inning with Robert Coello replacing starter Jon Lester.

Dan Johnson, batting for Ben Zobrist, singled to center.

Kelly Shoppach flied out to center.

Matt Joyce, batting for B.J. Upton, singled to right.

Willy Aybar, batting for Jason Bartlett, singled to center, loading the bases.

Brad Hawpe, batting for Carl Crawford, walked, scoring a run.

Desmond Jennings, batting for Evan Longoria, walked, scoring a run.

The Red Sox pulled Coello and put in Dustin Richardson.

Carlos Pena walked, scoring a run.

Out goes Richardson, in comes Scott Atchison.

Reid Brignac, batting for Sean Rodrgiuez, pops out to first.

Rico Baldelli flied out to end the inning.

The last team to use six pinch hitters in an inning was the Mariners in 2007 and the last two do it in a non-September game was the Expos in May of 1970.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

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

Posted on: July 28, 2010 10:04 pm

Rays lose another CF

Ben Zobrist Already without B.J. Upton, the Rays lost another center fielder when Ben Zobrist left Wednesday's game with the Tigers before the fourth inning.

Zobrist left the game with lower back stiffness, according to MLB.com's Bill Chastain .

Sean Rodriguez replaced Zobrist, who singled in the first..

Upton sprained his left ankle on Tuesday, but isn't expected to miss more than a couple of games.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter.

Posted on: July 6, 2010 2:03 pm
Edited on: July 6, 2010 2:48 pm

Latest Lee rumor: Rays to ditch Upton in 3-way?

Cliff Lee The NBA has the LeBron watch, Major League Baseball has the Cliff Lee sweepstakes.

The latest? Peter Gammons tweets :
Rumblings around St. Pete ballpark was a BJ Upton-Cliff Lee deal. 3 way? The Rays do have shown a tendency to get rid of high-maintenance, talented players (Delmon Young, Elijah Dukes) and Upton has been griping about everything lately .

However, the Rays aren't exactly hurting for starting pitching, so there would likely be a third team involved, getting Lee.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter.

Category: MLB
Posted on: July 5, 2010 7:38 pm

Two benchings, two reactions

B.J. Upton There are two ways to take not being in the lineup: the B.J. Upton way and the Gordon Beckham way.

Upton is out against the Red Sox and Daisuke Matsuzaka. Manager Joe Maddon told Upton it was because he was 1-for-13 with a homer against Matsuzaka.

The White Sox are sitting Beckham for the second straight day in favor of Brent Lillibridge.

Both managers, Ozzie Guillen and Maddon, say these moves aren't permanent, but that was no consolation to Upton.

Upton was upset and told the St. Petersburg Times ' Marc Topkin so , "I thought I was an everyday player," Upton said. "I don't know if I'm subject to matchups now or not. I'm not going to get too bent out of shape about it, but obviously I want to be out there everyday."

Maddon told Upton he'd be in the lineup for the remaining six games before the All-Star break, but that was no consolation to Upton. Asked if he was an everyday player, Upton told Topkin, "I don't know. I have no idea. I could not tell you."

Upton is hitting .228/.321/.399 with seven home runs and 29 RBI.

Gordon Beckham Beckham is playing even worse. He's hitting .206/.271/.280 with two homers and 20 RBI.  Lillibridge was 4-for-6 on the White Sox's recent road trip.

"Lilly has been getting hits and hitting the ball hard," Beckham told the Chicago Tribune 's Mark Gonzales . "I don't think I'm hitting the ball softly. I'm not lucky, that's for sure. There's nothing I can do about it."

Guillen stood by Beckham and denied speculation that Beckham could be headed to the minors.

"[Beckham] is my second baseman," Guillen said. "He still is my second baseman. But right now, I think the way Lillibridge is playing, I'm going to give him a shot."

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter.

Posted on: June 30, 2010 7:33 pm

Drew, Upton out for Fenway showdown

Boston's J.D. Drew and Tampa Bay's B.J. Upton are out for their respective squads in tonight's game at Fenway Park.

Drew is out with a stiff neck and Upton is out after injuring his right quad Tuesday night.

Upton, who didn't run hard after a double that turned into a triple this weekend, hurt the quad stretching a double into a triple.

Carl Crawford is back in the lineup for the Rays, but told the St. Petersburg Times ' Marc Topkin that his shoulder is still sore when he throws and he can only throw "about 70 percent."

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter.

Posted on: June 25, 2010 9:44 am

Upton vs. Upton

B.J. Upton The stakes will be a bit higher, but the matchup will be quite familiar.

The Brothers Upton, who played countless baseball games in their Virginia yard as kids, will meet in an organized game Friday night for the first time when B.J. Upton's Rays host Justin Upton's Diamondbacks.

"You never think one of your kids is going to grow up and become major-league baseball players, let alone both," their father, Manny, told the Tampa Tribune. "That's unbelievable. They can get drafted, but they still have to go through all those steps to make it that far. It's a blessing, because that is not handed to you."

B.J. (pictured), the older of the brothers by three years, was the second pick of the 2002 draft. Justin was the first pick in 2005. They expect about 70 relatives to attend each game of the series.

"Incredible," Manny said. "You know B.J. hits a lot of balls to the opposite field. Where does Justin play? Right field. And B.J. plays center field, and he can go gap-to-gap. I imagine if one of them robs the other of a hit, there'll be some trash talking."

-- David Andriesen

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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