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Tag:Rays
Posted on: November 30, 2011 1:18 pm
 

Hellickson, Kimbrel lead All-Rookie team

Craig KimbrelBy C. Trent Rosecrans

Just when you thought award season was over -- move over Justin Verlander, you're not going to be on this list -- the Topps Major League Rookie All-Star Team was announced on Wednesday. This is actually the 53rd, or so they tell us, All-Rookie team the baseball card company has put out (and did include Verlander back in 2006).

So, here it is:

1B Mark Trumbo, Angels

2B Danny Espinosa, Nationals

SS Dee Gordon, Dodgers

3B Brett Lawrie, Blue Jays

OF Desmond Jennings, Rays

OF Josh Reddick, Red Sox

OF Ben Revere, Twins

C J.P. Arencibia, Blue Jays

SP Jeremy Hellickson, Rays

RP Craig Kimbrel, Braves

In all, it looks fine. I'm a bigger fan of Eric Hosmer than Trumbo, but I can see why some would pick Trumbo. I'd also take Dustin Ackley over Espinosa, but otherwise, it seems difficult to nitpick all that much. And in the end, if you're nitpicking the Topps Major League Rookie All-Star Team, you may need to get out of the house a little more.

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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.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: November 27, 2011 10:13 pm
Edited on: November 27, 2011 10:43 pm
 

Can Astros land Andrew Friedman? Doubtful

By Matt Snyder

With the seemingly inevitable dismissal of general manager Ed Wade set to reportedly take place Monday, the Astros are soon to be looking for a replacement. One name sure to be bouncing around the rumor mill this week? Tampa Bay Rays executive vice president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman.

This isn't like the Cubs' courtship of Theo Epstein, nor is it like when the Cubs were rumored to be interested in Friedman. No, this is different.

Friedman actually has roots in Houston, and even the Astros, to a certain extent. He was born in 1976, in Houston. He graduated from Episcopal High School, in Houston. He played baseball at Tulane University in New Orleans, just as his father did, which is about 350 miles from Houston. He supposedly grew up an Astros fan.

So it makes sense, right?

Well, yes it does. Only it's very unlikely to happen. Friedman loves his job in Tampa Bay and is very unlikely to leave it, even for his hometown, sources told CBSSports.com's Danny Knobler.

People surely won't stop thinking about the match until a new Astros GM is hired, but keep in mind it is a complete longshot.

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

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: November 17, 2011 5:29 pm
Edited on: November 17, 2011 6:43 pm
 

Would expanded playoffs change past results?



By C. Trent Rosecrans

Commissioner Bud Selig wants one more team in the playoffs as soon as the 2012 season, with the two wild card teams facing off in one game to decide which team moves on to the next round. The idea is to expand the playoffs and at the same time giving division winners an advantage over a team that doesn't win its division.

Not only does the extra team mean there's more playoffs, but the wild card teams will have to juggle their rotation to try to get their best pitcher pitch in the one-game playoff.

2011

American League: No baseball fan will forget watching Game 162 for the Rays and Red Sox -- a once-in-a-lifetime finish to the regular season that wouldn't happen under the new format. Of course, it was there only because of the wild card -- something that many people were against when Selig first introduced it. There will still be fantastic finishes -- just not one exactly like there was this year. Not that I was expecting to see anything like that ever again. If the new format eliminates the rule barring teams from the same division playing in the first round, the first-round match ups would have been different, with the Tigers and Rangers meeting in the divisional series instead of the ALCS.

National League: The Cardinals and Braves would have faced off in the one-game playoff, with the winner going on the face the Phillies. Chris Carpenter wouldn't have had to pitch the final game of the regular season and could have been held back for the wild card game.

What would have changed? Maybe Terry Francona would still have a job, but other than that, who knows? The Cardinals wouldn't have had Carpenter for the wild card game, but if they were indeed a team of destiny, who's to say they don't go on and win the whole thing? The American League is a tossup, really, it's tough to say exactly what would have happened.

2010

American League: The Red Sox beat out the White Sox for the second playoff spot and set up yet another Yankees-Red Sox showdown in the one-game wild card.

National League: Atlanta and San Diego would face off for the right to face the seemingly unbeatable Phillies, while the Giants and Reds would have met in the other division series.

What would have changed? Instead of facing the Yankees, the Twins would get the Rangers, but the result probably wouldn't have changed. As for the National League, San Diego was reeling at the end of the season and probably wouldn't have challenged the Braves. However, the Phillies wouldn't have played the Reds in the first round and we wouldn't have gotten Roy Halladay's no-hitter. Or maybe we would have, the Reds had the National League's best offense, so maybe the opponent didn't matter that day.

2009

American League: Instead of just one one-game playoff in the AL, in 2009 there would have been two. Boston and Texas would have been the two wild card teams, but both teams had better records than the Twins and Tigers, who met in a one-game playoff to determine the American League Central champ.

National League: The AL East isn't the only division that can squeeze three teams into the playoffs -- the Rockies and Giants would face each other for the right to play the Dodgers in the NLDS.

What would have changed? Probably little, the Yankees and Phillies would likely face off in the World Series no matter what other teams were in the mix.

2008

American League: The Twins would have been the extra wild card team, facing the 95-win Red Sox for the right to face the Angels

National League: The Brewers and Mets would have had to face off in the wild card game, with the winner getting the 97-win Cubs, while Philadelphia would face Los Angeles in the NLDS instead of the Cubs.

What would have changed? The Red Sox beat the Angels 3-1 in the ALDS, so it's not a stretch to see Boston burning a pitcher and still beating the Angels in that series. The Phillies likely would have gone on to the World Series, but the Cubs may have had a better shot to advance to the NLCS and break some more hearts by failing to reach the World Series.

2007

American League: One one-game playoff not good enough for you? How about a playoff for the playoff? The 94-win Yankees would have to wait a day to see who they'd play in the wild card game, as Seattle and Detroit both finished 88-74.

National League: This time we have a pretty good idea what it would look like -- the Rockies and Padres would face off in a one-game playoff, just as they did anyway. A 13-inning thriller, the Rockies beat the Padres to advance to the NLDS. But instead of playing the Phillies in the first round, the Rockies would have faced the Diamondbacks, who had the best record in the National League with 90 wins.

What would have changed? Probably not too much -- every series was a sweep, meaning the best teams were more or less identified.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: November 16, 2011 4:27 pm
Edited on: November 16, 2011 4:54 pm
 

Including playoffs, La Russa top manager



By C. Trent Rosecrans

At last year's Winter Meetings in Orlando there was a motion during the Baseball Writers Association of America's meeting to change the voting for the Manager of the Year Award until after the playoffs. The resolution was overwhelmingly voted down, but it did get me to thinking how Wednesday's choices would have been different had the voting taken place at the end of October rather than the end of September.

For the record, I voted against the measure. I believe the true test of a manager is over 162 games, while the playoffs can sometimes be a crapshoot with moves sometimes magnified more on whether they worked or not, rather than how things often even out over the course of a full season. Heck, the past postseason has turned managers from genius to idiot back to genius in the course of a single series.

Award Season
Kirk GibsonKirk Gibson overwhelmingly won the National League Manager of the Year award, getting 28 of 32 first-place votes. Joe Maddon won the AL award, getting 26 of 28 first-place votes.
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Related links

In the American League, Maddon probably still would have won the award, regardless of when the vote was taken (as long as it was after the regular season, he was kind of an afterthought at the beginning of September). In the playoffs, the Rays fell to the Rangers in four games, but it was through no fault of Maddon's. Nobody expected the Rays to go on to the World Series, and they didn't.

None of the three other managers in the American League playoffs -- Texas' Ron Washington, New York's Joe Girardi or Detroit's Jim Leyland -- were seen as having great postseasons, or even good ones. Washington is always criticized for playing his hunches -- including starting Matt Harrison in Game 7 -- while Leyland didn't just Justin Verlander on short rest and engaged in a bunt-fest with Girardi that nearly broke Twitter, meaning Maddon wouldn't have to worry about giving up his crown if the voting were moved.

Had the voting been done after the playoffs, the National League winner would have certainly been different. After leading his underdog Diamondbacks to the playoffs, Arizona manager Kirk Gibson was the overwhelming winner in the National League Manager of the Year award, but just a less than two weeks after 28 of 32 ballots (mine included, for the record) had Gibson on top of their ballots, it might not have been such an easy choice.

While Maddon won the American League award based in part because of the Rays' late run to the playoffs, La Russa did the same in the National League and still finished third in the voting. Maddon's Rays were 9 1/2 games out of the wild card on Sept. 2, while La Russa's Cardinals were the 8 1/2 behind the Braves on that same date and went 17-7 over the rest of the season, winning the wild card on the final day.

La Russa added to that resume in the postseason when the Cardinals made an underdog run to the franchise's 11th World Series title. Along the way he was praised for the handling of his team's pitching staff up until a communication breakdown with his bullpen in Game 5 of the World Series in Texas. At that point, the so-called smartest man in baseball looked clueless and was called worse. Two more wins salvaged that reputation before La Russa retired on top.

Meanwhile, Gibson was roundly criticized for his perceived overaggressiveness early in the series, including a decision to pitch to Prince Fielder in a Game 1 loss. Gibson was then praised after pulling starter Joe Saunders in Game 4 of the NLDS against the Diamondbacks in a win. Overall, the Diamondbacks didn't lose the series because of Gibson's managing, but he did come out with his reputation taking a bit of a hit following the first five postseason games of his managerial career.

Despite the bullpen phone mixup in Texas, there's zero doubt La Russa would have added his fifth Manager of the Year award to his collection had the voting taken place after the playoffs. While Gibson shouldn't be making apologies for winning the Manager of the Year on Wednesday, it's unlikely he'd have it if the voting were done later -- but I'm pretty sure La Russa wouldn't trade his 2011 trophy for the one Gibson' received.

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Posted on: November 16, 2011 2:02 pm
Edited on: November 16, 2011 5:10 pm
 

Gibson, Maddon named top managers

Kirk Gibson Joe Maddon

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson and Rays manager Joe Maddon overwhelmingly won the Manager of the Year award in the National League and American League, respectively, the Baseball Writers Association of America announced on Wednesday.

Award Season
Tony La Russa
If voting were done after the playoffs instead of before the playoffs, would Tony La Russa have won the National League Manager of the Year award?
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Related links

Gibson, who took over as the Diamondbacks skipper during the 2010 season, received 28 of 32 first-place votes after he guided Arizona to a 94-68 record and the National League West title. Arizona lost their National League division series to the Brewers in five games. First-year Brewers manager Ron Roenicke received three first-place votes, with former Cardinals manager Tony La Russa receiving the other first-place vote. Roenicke finished second and La Russa third.

Maddon, in his sixth season with the Rays, received 26 of 28 first-place votes after leading the Rays to a 91-71 record and the American League wild card. The Rays trailed the Red Sox by 9 1/2 games on Sept. 2, before the team went 16-8 over their last 24 games, including winning their last five games to slip into the playoffs over the collapsing Red Sox. It is the second time Maddon has won the award, also winning in 2008. Detroit's Jim Leyland and Texas' Ron Washington received the other first-place votes, with Leyland finishing second and Washington third.

Voting for the award is done after the regular season and before the playoffs begin. 

Both managers won the award in the time-honored tradition of exceeding expectations. Although the Rays won the AL East in 2010, the team lost Carl Crawford, Carlos Pena, Matt Garza and nearly the team's entire bullpen from its 2010 team. 

Gibson's Diamondbacks were an afterthought in the NL West after losing 97 games in 2010. However, Arizona took the NL West lead on Aug. 10 and left the defending champion Giants in the dust over the final two months of the season.

In the name of full disclosure, I was a voter for the National League Manager of the Year and was one of the 28 voters to put Gibson atop my ballot. I put La Russa second and Roenicke third -- flip-flopping those two in the final week of the season after the Cardinals' remarkable run to the playoffs.  

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

Posted on: November 15, 2011 4:53 pm
 

No shame in losing for stellar trio of starters



By Matt Snyder


We've all heard the old cliche and even said it from time to time: No one remembers who finishes second.

In the case of the American League Cy Young, it's really a shame that the sentiment is likely to apply in a few years, because Justin Verlander's season for the ages completely overshadowed special seasons from Jered Weaver and James Shields while again ensuring CC Sabathia's great effort was buried in the voting.

Sabathia has absolutely carried the Yankees' pitching staff in his three season in the Bronx. His average season has been 20-8 with a 3.18 ERA, 1.19 WHIP and 209 strikeouts in 235 innings pitched. That's a career year for almost any other pitcher, and, again, that's his three-year average. And he hasn't finished higher in Cy Young voting than third. This season, it was fourth place and you'd be hard pressed to argue he should be higher. While Sabathia had an excellent year, it was a special season for three different pitchers.

AL Cy Young
If you want to focus on wins and losses while disregarding all other stats, you might scoff at the mention of James Shields with this group. He was 16-12. Look deeper, though: His ERA was 2.82, his WHIP was 1.04 and he struck out 225 guys in a whopping 249 1/3 innings. And the biggest factor of all here is the complete games. Pitching a complete game does so much more for a team than any stat can measure. The manager can rest easy with a relatively stress-free day. The defense stays in rhythm without having to stand around during pitching changes and the bullpen gets a full day of rest, which translates to better performance in the following several games. And Shields threw an insane 11 complete games in 33 starts. Yes, once every three times out, he completed the job he started. No other AL pitcher had more than five. No NL pitcher had more than eight. No one has had as many as 11 complete games since Randy Johnson had 12 in 1999.

Shields still wasn't as dominant as Weaver, though. The AL All-Star Game starter went 18-8 with a 2.41 ERA, 1.01 WHIP and 198 strikeouts in 235 2/3 innings. He started the season with a six-start stretch where he was 6-0 with a 0.99 ERA and more strikeouts than innings pitched. He had an eight-start stretch in June and July where he went 7-0 with a 1.04 ERA. And he closed with a 1.84 ERA in his last four starts. In many other seasons, Weaver would have been named the Cy Young winner, sometimes in runaway fashion.

But not this one, because Justin Verlander was that damn good. Let's remember that while also not forgetting about the seasons put together by Weaver, Shields and Sabathia. They were too great to simply be forgotten.

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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