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St. Pete Times

Regarding yesterday's loss:

Manager Lou Piniella had no comment and kept the door to his office closed.

Guess he was afraid somebody would ask him why McClung was brought in to pitch the ninth.

Rays fans got great news last night when it was revealed that Chad Orvella was being brought up. This resulted in Jon Switzer being sent down, which was the smart thing since he needs to be starting anyway and Lou couldn't find any time for him to pitch, what with the middle relief innings going to a guy with an ERA over 10.

Orvella should provide an instant boost to this pitching staff and help stabilize the bullpen, IF Piniella is willing to give him high leverage innings. That's a big IF. With Colome appearing to be getting back on track the Rays should have an excellent pair of setup men to get outs in the 7th and 8th innings and to get out of jams. It's also very possible that this will result in our closer being only the third best pitcher in the bullpen.

PECOTA Weighted Mean forecast: 3.31 ERA, 8.16 K/9, 2.11 BB/9

Huston Street of Oakland received much more press coming into the season but Orvella is projected to be better by a fair margin this season.

Speaking of PECOTA projections, I looked at the PECOTA card for Damon Hollins today.

Weighted Mean forecast: .265/.314/.454 (park neutral), .264 EqA

Compare that to the 2004 numbers of the man he is replacing right now in CF:

.280/.326/.436, .271 EqA

That stat line isn't park adjusted so comparing that to Hollins' projection you should assume that Rocco's numbers are a little better than the line shows.

Defensively, often forgotten among the complaints about miscues from Gomes, Gathright, Hollins, and Sanchez is that Rocco has hardly been immune from those, even in 2004 when he was used to the Trop. He has made some errant throws, more than once he has tried to scoop a ball too fast and had it roll on behind him, and sometimes he was a little rough on his routes, particularly going back in the gaps. He is certainly better than Sanchez out there but I don't see him as being anything more than average. For what it's worth, MGL's Ultimate Zone Rating had him way below average, though I think the rating was pretty extreme compared to what I saw with my eyes.

Anyway, the point of all this is that if Hollins can just play average defense in center and hit to his projection (which he is of course exceeding by a huge margin right now) then there wouldn't be too much drop-off in quality of play in center field from last season, which was one of the big worries of the offseason, wondering about that third outfield spot with Rocco out. That's all without even considering Alex Sanchez, who is also hitting like a house afire at the moment.