Tag:James Shields
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 31, 2010 2:59 pm
Edited on: October 31, 2010 3:00 pm

Rockies have James Shields on to-do list

James Shields The Rockies have been attempting to sign Jorge De La Rosa to an extension, but it's looking more and more likely the lefty will test free agency as the second most attractive pitcher on the market.

That means the Rockies need to go out and find another starter, as they are leery about elevating rookie Jhoulys Chacin to the No. 2 spot as the Denver Post notes.

Chacin, 22, compiled an impressive year by posting a 3.28 ERA and 3.74 xFIP for the Rockies in 137 1/3 innings, making 21 starts. He is a future top-of-the-rotation starter, but the Rockies understandably are uncomfortable elevating Chacin to such a position of importance this ealy in his career.

As a result, Colorado is compiling a fallback list which has Rays starter James Shields on it.

It's a great name to have on a list, because Shields could very well be on the way out. The Rays are poised to lose their entire bullpen (or all but Dan Wheeler, if they pick up his option which is doubtful), their slugging first baseman in Carlos Pena and star left fielder Carl Crawford. That's before even factoring in a catcher spot in flux and lack of capable DH.

The Rays are also going to be slashing payroll and may fall under $60 million in total salary.

Thus, the top priorities for Tampa Bay is to cut payroll and find offense. James Shields, slated to make $4.25 million in 2011 with 2012-14 club options, is a strong candidate to go especially given the Rays have stud Jeremy Hellickson in reserve just waiting for a chance to contend for Rookie of the Year.

Shields is coming off his fourth straight season of over 200 innings, but had a poor 5.18 ERA to show for it. However, he was tremendously unlucky with a skyhigh .354 BABIP and 3.72 xFIP, so could bounce back in a big way next season. That would be to the Rockies' gain if they can pry Shields away from Tampa.

Given the Rays are seeking offense, the Rockies could dangle one of outfielders Seth Smith or Ryan Spilborghs and perhaps even Eric Young, Jr. who is capable of playing the outfield but looks to be the Rockies' second baseman of the future. The Rockies could also deal away backup catcher Chris Iannetta, who desperately deserves a starting spot. While Kelly Shoppach is under contract to Tampa through 2011 at a pretty penny, the two could platoon at catcher and the team always has the option of alternating the two between catcher and DH or moving Shoppach to first.

If the Rays are looking for prospects, catcher Willin Rosario and shortstop Hector Gomez could be traded.

Shields will be in high demand this offseason, and the Rays should be able to get a nice package for the righty. He may have had an off season, but the talent remains. In a year where the Rays will lose both players and payroll, having a trade commodity like Shields will be immensely valuable.

-- Evan Brunell

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Category: MLB
Posted on: October 4, 2010 3:37 pm

Rays announce ALDS rotation

The Rays have announced their rotation against the Rangers:

Game 1: David Price
Game 2: James Shields
Game 3: Matt Garza
Game 4. Wade Davis
Game 5: Price

According to Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times (via Twitter ), the Rays won't announce the rest of their roster until Tuesday at the earliest. He expects Jeff Niemann in the bullpen.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

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Posted on: October 1, 2010 10:26 am

Shields expects to be part of postseason rotation

James Shields Should James Shields be part of the Rays' postseason rotation?

Shields certainly hopes so, even as he prepared to make his final start of the regular season Friday night with a 5.01 ERA in tow.

"I feel like my stuff's there. I feel like I'm a competitor," Shields told the Tampa Tribune . "I feel like I can definitely help this team win games in the playoffs, but whatever happens is going to happen."

While Shields' ERA is unsightly, he's still one of the better pitchers on the team. His xFIP rests at 3.68, right in line with his previous numbers -- meaning that Shields is no different than any other year, just hellaciously unlucky.

How unlucky?

He's stranded just 69.5 percent of runners on base with a 2010 average of 72.1 percent, a figure that is higher than recent years thanks to being the Year of the Pitcher. Stranding runners is less of a skill and more of a byproduct of events, so Shields can't be blamed for more runners crossing the plate than normal -- especially since a big part of inherited runners scoring is dependent on the bullpen.

In addition, his .349 BABIP is a career high with the league average at .302. Couple that with a 14.2 percent home-run-per-fly-ball rate (average around 11 percent), and you have a cocktail of wrong that Shields has drank all season.

To his manager's credit, Joe Maddon realizes that Shields is actually a good pitcher.

"On any given night, this guy can beat a really good team," Maddon said. "With him it comes down to staying in his delivery and repeating his pitches."

Shields clearly won't top the rotation in October -- David Price figures to grab the Game 1 start while Wade Davis is in line for regular rest on Game 3. However, Game 2 is up in the air between Shields and Matt Garza, with the postseason opponent a large factor. Given that the AL East has yet to be determined, the Rays do not know whether they will face the Twins or Rangers.

-- Evan Brunell

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed .
Category: MLB
Posted on: August 7, 2010 3:52 pm
Edited on: August 7, 2010 4:51 pm

Homer barrage for Jays, Arencibia

J.P. Arencibia
It's safe to assume J.P. Arencibia will never forget his first game as a major leaguer.

Toronto's catching phenom made a major impact in his debut, homering on the first big-league pitch he saw and later adding a solo shot as the Blue Jays played a highly entertaining game at home against the Rays. They hit eight homers in winning 17-11.

Tampa Bay starter James Shields tied a modern-era major-league record by giving up six home runs, all in the first four innings. According to Stats LLC, baseball's official stat-keeper, Shields is the eighth pitcher since 1900 to give up six in an outing.

Arencibia (pictured at right), called up Wednesday after John Buck was hurt, hit a two-run homer on a 93-mph Shields fastball in the second inning. He added a double in his second at-bat and a solo homer in the sixth. He was 4 for 4 in his first six innings as a big leaguer and finished 4 for 5.

Arencibia was the first Toronto player to homer in his first at-bat since Junior Felix in 1989.

The Rays had never given up more than six homers in a game. They also set a team record by allowing 48 total bases.

The Blue Jays have the major-league record with 10 homers in a game (all the more amazing because they only batted eight times) against the Orioles on September 14, 1987. Here is the box score from that game.

-- 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