Results tagged ‘ Nick Franklin ’

With Cabrera Now a Ray, Who in the Infield is Expendable?

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Sure he still has a physical to pass, but we might as well get used to pronouncing and saying Asdurbal Cabrera’s name here in Tampa Bay. His $8 Million 1-year deal will eat some of that fat cabbage the Rays have saved on a few deals already completed this off season, but his addition also means someone will surely be dealt in the coming weeks. 

The only real question remaining is when the Rays make a move to shed another high profile player.

images (7)You have to think the signing of Cabrera a shuffling of the Rays infield as the Rays would not have signed him as an everyday DH, or keep his defensive skills on the bench.

Now the question is which part of the Rays prolific 2014 double play tandem could be packing their gear? Do they entertain offers only for Ben Zobrist, or does the team also put Yunel Escobar on the trade block as a second viable option?

While most people would immediately point to 2B/INF Zobrist as being the odd man out, I am not so sure. Even though Zobrist is entering his walk season in 2015, the former AL All-Star might just be more valuable to the Rays.

images (4)Zobrist does have huge trade value in his “plug-him-in-anywhere” versatility that every team covets.

Of course this is just my opinion, but I think the Rays should keep a firm grip on Zorilla and possibly look a little more towards the Shortstop position for a guy who is expendable, especially with the Cabrera signing.

People tend to forget Cabrera was the Cleveland Indians starting SS in 2015 before his late season trade to the Washington Nationals who used him primarily as a Second Baseman.

With the Rays currently having Logan Forsythe and Nick Franklin on their roster, 2B is becoming a mighty crowded space and quite possibly the Rays could look a bit west of the pivot for some roster reevaluation.

So let’s take a gander at both Zobrists and Escobar’s number from 2014 and see who might be offensively expendable:

images (2)Zobrist played in 146 games in 2014 posting a .272 average with 10 HR and 52 RBis while maintaining a sparky .749 OPS. He also posted a .983 Fielding average with 8 errors, 224 assists and 44 double plays.

Stats might be viewed by some as close, but the reality is that Zobrist can be plugged into more offensive scenarios like hit and runs, suicide squeezes and running the base paths.

downloadIn comparison, Escobar played in 137 games, posted a .258 average with 7 HRs and 39 RBis and .664 OPS. Yunel posted a .965 Fielding average with 16 errors, 267 assists and 50 Double plays.

One last glaring stat about the pair: Zobrist had 10 stolen bases in 2014…..Escobar had 1 SB.

Escobar to me has been a great Rays player, but the switch-hitting Zobrist give the Rays more options both in the field and at the plate.  And Cabrera is a step better than the Rays current SS option of Escobar both on the field and with his bat and that combo could spell Escobar’s name being shopped harder than Zobrist right now.

images (8)So let’s compare Cabrera’s combined 2014 stats at the plate and in the field to further show Escobar might be a name to watch closely in the coming weeks.

Defensively Cabrera posted a .964 Fielding percentage with both the Nats and Indians in 2014, but he also posted a .995 Fielding percentage in 48 games with Washington as a Second Baseman.

Cabrera had a total of 15 errors in 2014, 14 with Cleveland, and 1 with Washington. If you combine his two teams, he posted 255 assists and 57 double plays.

images (6)These stats might conclude a dead heat for Escobar and Cabrera defensively, but when you look at their offensive numbers Cabrera might be the better offensive weapon for the Rays than Escobar.

Cabrera posted a combined .241 average, which might not be as appealing, but his 4 Triples and 14 HR show he still has some pop in his bat. Cabrera also had 61 RBIs and posted a .694 OPS.

Cabrera’s offensive totals might not get you jumping for joy, but put his name into the bottom half of the Rays lineup and the team instantly gets a second burst of potential power to drive in runs and provide stability for the bottom of the lineup.

images (9)Let’s not even remind ourselves Cabrera as a member of the Tribe was the AL All-Star in 2011-12, a Top 20 vote getter in the AL MVP Award, plus a Silver Slugger winner in 2011.

Escobar also was a Top 20 NL MVP vote getter in 2009 while with the Braves, but has never appeared in an All-Star game in while at the MLB level.

Ultimately you and I will not be making this decision, but you have to think that a offensively-challenged team like the Rays would keep their best power option not matter the salary.

Cabrera and _______ seems like a better double play tandem option in 2015. Now the Rays just have to decide if they pencil in Escobar’s name or Zobrist’s in that sentence heading into 2015.

Peering Into My Rays 2015 Looking Glass-Position Players

2015

 

Well, Dandy Don has sung and the large but svelte woman in that Viking cap has vocally acknowledged the Tampa Bay Rays have lost that final grasp on any chance at an October date with destiny. So the chase is now over, but a few games still remain.

Over the next 2 weeks I think we will see a few slices of what might and could happen this winter in regards to our hometown Rays.

th3JODA4XGWe already know we will not see any fashion of a  $80 million payroll in 2015, but the Rays have a lot of pieces to consider this winter, some expendable, and some they have to keep at all costs. Might be a interesting winter as the Rays have a chance to push out another cycle of truly young pitching talent, might dangle a few names on their hook, and possibly be seeking a consistent power bat that could awaken an offense that rises and falls more than the tides in Tampa Bay.

From behind the plate to down the First Base line in the Bullpen, the Rays have some important work to do to not only up their offensive firepower, but also to shore up a reliever corps that did not have that secure level of consistency we have grown accustom to here.

I truly suspect the Rays will not only dangle but seek out a possible trade partner to take on veteran backstop Jose Molina’s 2015 salary. With the solid emergence of Curt Casali behind the dish in 2014, it makes Molina not only an extra body behind the plate, but a large salary that could be used to possibly secure a power bat for the Rays lineup.

thAWBZUW96In Casali’s favor right now is that he is showing great command of the Rays pitching corps and currently hold the best catcher’s ERA of 2.0 in the majors. He has caught Alex Cobb 6 times this season and sports a 1.09 ERA with Cobbster on the hill, including framing pitches during Cobb’s recent no-hitter adventure.

I think Ryan Hanigan is on solid ground, but people in Cincinnati probably thought the same before the 2013 offseason. Helping his cause for 2015 is definitely his current .306 average in 11 starts since coming back off the DL on August 26th.

Now in regards to the Rays infield. It would seem that 3 of the 4 slots are already occupied by players who should be rubber stamped in as starters for 2015.  Sure anything can happen, but these 3 players also have contracts inked with the team, some long-term, some with quicker expiration dates.

James Loney seems secure at First Base especially since he signed that 3-year #21 million contract in 2014 and should man the Rays 1B bag possibly until someone on the way up in the Rays farm system pushes him off it.  But also making Loney an easy name to pencil in is his superb bat skills and being great at GTMI (Get The Man In). Heading into Sunday’s contest Loney has 66 RBIs, second only to Evan Longoria.

thEFVI841BDo not be surprised if the Rays possibly show Sean Rodriguez a bit more at First Base in 2015. There is no guarantee the Rays will keep S-Rod, but he has been one of the most consistent pieces of the Rays utility corps right alongside Ben Zobrist.

Speaking of Zorilla, could this offseason be the first one where the Rays ask Zobrist to possibly take a few more turns at First as a possible fill-in should the team not re-sign Rodriguez? We all know Rays Manager Joe Maddon is S-Rod’s biggest supporter, but his salary is climbing and with less dollars in the till, could Rodriguez be one of the Rays biggest question marks going into the winter.

Third Base is all Evan Longoria’s until health or just plain age ripe him off the hot corner. People forget Longo is itching close to that big 3-0 that sometimes robs a player of agility and quickness needed to prevent screamers down the line. I do not see 2015 as the season Father Time begins to creep up on Longoria, but if he does we could possible see Tim Beckham or Logan Forsythe as guys to pencil in with spot starts.

th2I88KN6BLongoria did have what many consider a sub-par season in 2014, but he still leads the team in most offensive categories and is still the Rays Clubhouse figurehead, and that will not change for some time. His tear in offense since the All-Star break might just be to him finally finding that mechanics groove we have been waiting for all this season.

Shortstop is also a spot that seems secure, but has also been a spot of ups and downs in 2014. Now I like the spirited play of Yunel Escobar, but I think a healthy Hak-Ju Lee could press Escobar with a outstanding spring. You know subconsciously the Rays Front Office would love this kind of competition considering one would command a MLB minimal salary (Lee), and the other $5 million.

You might wonder why the Rays did not bring up Lee or Beckham in September or after Durham finished their postseason run. Both have 2 minor league options left and if neither fights nor gains a 25-man roster slot in 2015, that gives the Rays some flexibility to hold onto them at least in Durham.

thNYXYJESCSecond Base might again be a “insert here” space in the Rays infield. With names like Nick Franklin, Forsythe, Lee and Beckham possibly fighting for a chance to line up at 2B, this might be one of the most contested spots during the spring of 2015.

Sure you could put Zobrist firmly in black ink in this spot, but I think Maddon still loves to tinker and place Zobrist and his many gloves wherever he sees a possible weakness. I truly think we will see Zobrist either swapping gloves a lot again in 2015, or he will be gone. I think a lot depends on the Rays evaluation of what they could obtain via a winter trade for Zorilla while he still has ample value to a team looking for a players who has a command of his offensive and defensive skills.

The Rays might end up coming out of 2015 spring training with their youngest outfield trio since their inception. I have an odd feeling this might be the other place where competition will be strong and possibly we see a name or possibly 2 change uniforms in direct response to possible 2015 salary as opposed to their overall value to the team.

thNOJJ6HYGOutfielders Matt Joyce and possibly Desmond Jennings might also see their names in print a bit more during the Rays off season. Not because they are not valued or important Rays pieces, but there is a younger crew of Rays outfielders led by Wil Myers and Kevin Keirmaier who can provide the same offense and defensive excellence at a more modest price.

The Rays also need to make a valued judgment on Brandon Guyer who doesn’t have any minor league options remaining. This whole Guyer situation might come down to a mirror image evaluation that the Rays had to make on Sam Fuld before the 2014 season. Believe me, if the Rays find value in keeping Guyer, he could definitely slot in as the team’s 4th or 5th outfield option without a problem.

I will no discuss the DH position since I think that will be a hired bat or possibly more Longoria and Zobrist in 2015 if the team can not find an adequate stick that can elevate the Rays offense.

In addition Maddon could use any variety of bench selections to insert or delete at his leisure. Designated Hitter might be a revolving door for the Rays if a valued bat is not found before the spring of 2015. 

thVSZNTP0FI have a feeling we will see a leaner and more stat-infused Rays team over the next 2 years. The Rays will again possibly show a “youth movement” as most positions will be secured by vets, but the younger corps of the team could mature into the offensive pieces the Rays lacked in 2014.

With a slimmed down payroll and some veterans nearing the cusp of free agency, the Rays might call upon their striving younger core to provide a cohesive and focused 2015 nucleus.