Archive for the ‘Yankees’ Category

Cork Gaines of Rays Index visited Mike Silva for his blog talk radio show NY Baseball Digest. This q&a segment titled Outside the Apple Tampa Bay Rays brought up a lot of hot topics about the ball club. Below is a representation of what was discussed.  It is paraphrased  and not word for word:

On the Rays player movement this off season:

Cork : we knew this would happen for a long time . There is still alot of talent here in Evan Longoria, B.J. Upton, Jeremy Hellickson, David Price and others.

On Manny Ramirez and what if it does not work out:

Cork:  hard to envision it could be any worse than the 9 million the Rays ate on Pat Burrell. It’s a no lose situation. Manny usually starts off good and its a 1 year deal, well worth 2 million.

On the Rays having to count on that Manny Ramirez and Johnny Damon to be good this year:

Cork:  The Rays need them to score runs. Without these additions there was not a lot of threats in the lineup. Now the Rays can put Manny 4th  or 5th,  with Damon at the top of the lineup. It slots slots everyone better. Matt Joyce  can be 7th hitter and it puts pressure off of him. It’s like getting a closer in the bullpen where it puts people in better places

On losing Pena:

Cork:  Pena will be missed for his tremendous glove, and without the addition of Manny, the Rays would of really missed his presence in the lineup. Pena was what kept pitchers honest. Pena made the infield defense a whole lot better. The Rays will miss Pena in the clubhouse. The fans gravitated towards  Pena. Now the Rays are going with Dan Johnson playing 1st base. Dan Johnson hits lefties well.  May be playing everyday he could be productive. However Maddon likes platoons so he won’t be out there every day.

On Joe Maddon as the manager:

Cork : The expectations have been raised with Maddon as the manager, an old scool type of baseball man, he is a polarizing  figure. The team has been productive with Maddon. Its either Friedman picking the right players or Maddon doing a good job with them. At times he over thinks things but overall he is a good manager.

On the Garza trade:

Cork: Rays said they wouldn’t do it unless they got blown away from an offer. Chris Archer, probably won’t see a whole lot of him this year,  maybe next year.  Chirnos was the key player in deal. As Jaso is not best defense catcher, but gets on base well and is a serviceable catcher. Chirnos was moved from the infield, Rays could move Shoppach and shave payroll.

On Hellickson and the pitching rotation:

Cork: Helickson might be skipped from time to time. Wade Davis and Niemmann are workhorse pitchers, Price is gonna be great, heavy load last year, maybe a tired arm. The key is James Shields, Rays need him to step up, get him back.

On the bullpen and is Farnsworth like putting kersosene on fire?
Cork: Farnsworth has been better the  past few yrs.  The bullpen is a hodge podge.  J.P. Howell will start on the DL and could be back  mid May or early June. Rays have 25 guys in camp which are relief pitchers. Rays need 1 or 2 to relief pitchers to step it up, but it won’t be lights out like last year. The bullpen will be ok, not great.

On Soriano in New York:

Cork: It will be intersting, for the most part ok, wonder if things turn sour, how will he react? He is the temperamental type, on edge and sometimes channels anger in wrong way. However, not looking forward to facing him.

On the Ken Rosenthal contraction/moving the team piece?

Cork:  contracting with less people as part of the game and less sales opportunities is a silly idea. The Tampa market is untapped for baseball, sports fans haven’t latched on, and building centrally located. It is equivalent  of Citi Field being located in the Hamptons. Since the Trop is surrounded by water to get to the games it usually ends up taking most people  1.5 hours to get to the game, its a problem. The Rays will never draw 3million on consistent basis. But, they don’t need to.  They can be an in the middle attendance team. It’s a good sports area. Rays don’t have history. Most  of the long time clubs all have a history that generatons of fans to build on. The Rays don’t have that. They are now experiencing a good run, 10 year from now it will be something look back on.

On Rays as a playoff team:
Cork: The early thoughts is that they can compete, still looking for bullpen help, Yankees will go out and get starting pitcher help. Rays are a 85-88 win team, break well they could win 92 games. If they get off to a bad start selling of pieces,  then a 75 win team.

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In Major League baseball, there is no salary cap, nor is there a minimum salary a team must spend on their payroll. The contract the owners give out is all guaranteed money.  Now why do you think the big market teams are quite upset about having to pay the small market teams ?

Well, the big market teams spend to compete because they are expected to do so with the  financial resources they have at their fingertips. However what is happening is the small market teams are going out to dinner on the big  market teams tab, and buying the cheapest item on the menu, and writing off the most expensive item on the menu to get reimbursed with. The Yankees owner Hank Sterinbrenner is clearly livid over this practice:

Steinbrenner revealed the team contributed about $130 million between revenue sharing and luxury tax, the most of any team in the league and the most, according to Steinbrenner that the team has ever had to contribute. A few days ago, Sox CEO Larry Lucchino indicated the team contributed $86 million. This is obviously a sore subject for the Yankees and Red Sox.

Now, one of the biggest complaints of the Rays bumbling previous owner Vince Namoli is that he walked around with a fat wallet. It seems the Sternberg ownership walks around with the same type of wallets. But, The intent of the collective bargaining process was allowing for home grown players contracts from getting prohibitive before reaching free agency. The players were to take reasonable pay bumps in accordance of improved performance on the diamond. Instead, what we witnessed this off season from Rays was taking a moderate valued contract in Matt Garza and selling it for future dollars.

I can see why teams do not want to pay to help the other teams in general.  We have seen this in the marketplace even where we want to pay for our own healthcare and not be subject to paying for your neighbors.  It’s obvious the owners had already gone to the commissioner  and slapped the Marlins on the wrist for not spending their revenue sharing dollars on payroll. The result was Dan Uggla spent one year extra in Florida before they deemed him too expensive.

It was a speed bump on the radar and eventually the big market teams will come in greater numbers and show they are serious. Selig can only stall them so long.

I believe you can take a great arm and convert them into a closer. The best example of this was Jason Isringhausen who went from a middle of the pack starting pitcher, to all-star closer.  Its seems Billy Beane is credited with this idea, and I sure thinks it makes sense especially for teams who need to get creative.

The Orioles have just signed reliever Kevin Gregg for 5 million a year. Yes, this is the failed closer of the Cubs, Marlins, Jays, and now most likely the Orioles. As bad as this signing sounds, the Yankees just did something worse than this. You see, whoever signs Rafael Soriano not only has to pay him a big contract, they have to surrender a high end draft pick to the Rays. Soriano did have a breakout season in 2011 with the Rays and is said to have been the best closer in the American league in 2010.  The Braves precisely got rid of Soriano not so much for his talent. There were concerns about his erratic ability to stay  healthy, along with how much money he would make in arbitration. They basically did a salary dump trade on the Rays who were willing to take a gamble on him. His great season priced him out of the Rays plans for 2011, and he was looking to cash in on his performance.

It just seems that there were limited options of where Soriano would be a fit. His choices seemed to be the Yankees, or the Yankees, or the Yankees.  Soriano and his agent were clearly looking for a payday, and it didn’t matter what role they would get with a new team. The Yankees GM initially stated that he would not give up a first round selection for anyone but a Cliff Lee. I started to think that was a wise decision on Cashman’s behalf.  It seems like something new Mets GM won’t be doing anytime soon.  However, this is New York and Yankees are more so going for buzz, much more than fit.

The Yankees seemed like they bid against themselves for Soriano’s services. He will be a set up man for the next three years at about 35 million. Jake Larsen made a good point in that MFIKY has never been healthy for three years in a row.  Well, you can do the math on your own, but it will be interesting seeing if Soriano can stay healthy in 2011.

On a side note, we know about the numerous draft picks the Rays are accumulating with these free agent signings.  I wonder how much cash will be handed out to the Rays free agents in total. You are talking about a boat load  of money!