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Transaction Report: Rays Activate Fossum; Demote Waechter

Transaction Report 6/8/06

[DRaysBay Photo Archives]

The Move-The Rays activated starting pitcher Casey Fossum off of the 15 Day Disabled List and he will return to the team after 15 Days (retroactively) of injury time.

The Details-With the rotation reeling and a jump-start needed, Fossum was activated off the DL early before the team headed off to Kansas City for a nine game road trip. He originally was DL'd because the team wanted to be cautious about a groin strain that he was nursing. He missed just two starts, and because of the flip-flop in the rotation order, Jamie Shields is actually in Waechter's old place while Fossum regains the No. 4 spot he had all along.

The Analysis-Assuming that Fossum had adequate time to heal his groin strain, which is almost certainly true considering that the Rays were erring on the side of caution by DL'ing him anyways, I don't see how this move negatively impacts the team.

That said, Fossum wasn't exactly stellar before hitting the shelf. He was 1-2 with a 5.46 ERA in 10 starts before being DL'd, and actually walked more (21) than he struck out (18). Couple that with the usual hit batsman problem (seven already this year) and he is lucky to have an ERA of just 5.46. His FIP reflects this, as it is an awful 6.61. On top of it all, he gave up 1.77 home runs for every nine innings. So this isn't exactly getting Cy Young back, Fossum needs work, a lot of it, to rectify his control, because if he keeps this up, he will make Waechter's numbers look like Kazmir's.

But having him back in the rotation and being able to squeeze Waechter out should be enough of an improvement for now, but Casey needs to work on his control, or this roster move will have been in vain.

Transaction Report 6/8/06

[DRaysBay Photo Archives]

The Move-To make room for Fossum on the 25 man roster, the Rays optioned Waechter to Triple A Durham.

The Details-Rays skipper Joe Maddon has not said whether Waechter will pitch out of the bullpen or the rotation in Durham, however his poor numbers starting may force the Rays to consider the bullpen option heavily.

The Analysis-There was no doubting that Waechter was a negative influence on the rotation. There just wasn't. He was just not good this year. And you could see this move coming. After all, how many managers seek out opportunities to skip a starter's turn in the rotation when the team has an off day? It was clear that Waechter had lost the confidence of his manager, the fans, and his team. The move out of the rotation needed to be made.

In 11 games and 10 starts with the Rays, Waechter was 1-4 with a 6.62 ERA, winning his first game in nine months in his last start on Sunday. He struggled with control, putting up a K/BB of 1.32, and hit five batters. Further, he was not putting away hitters, as his 4.25 K/9 attests.

But there were redeeming factors that should have kept Waechter on the team in a bullpen role, if not in the rotation. First off, he made significant improvements in keeping the ball down, and it showed, as his 1.02 HR/9 was his lowest total since his 35.1 inning campaign to kick off his career in 2003. Again, that isn't stellar, but when you considered that those numbers had been 2.56 and 1.66 the last two years, respectively, he had made tremendous strides in that area.

Further, Waechter was victimized by a bit of bad luck. Opponents were getting aboard on balls in play at a .329 clip this year, which indicates that he was not being helped by the baseball gods, and it showed in his 5.09 FIP, the lowest since his 2003 campaign.

Those circumstances should have gotten him a bullpen job at the very least. They are not stellar, but there is no excuse for Travis Harper and Chad Harville to be taking up those spots at his expense. He could be a valuable long reliever, something the Rays do not have, and could have eaten up some innings to relieve the workload of the rest of that unit.

And besides, it just adds up. When you look at Waechter's only other relief appearance, a two inning stint in Texas earlier this season, he looked absolutely great. He shut out the Rangers, and was able to sit down opposing batters very efficiently. The problem is, Waechter's stuff is just not suited for the rotation. His stuff can easliy be sniffed out by opposing hitters after one turn through the order, if even that, and he just cannot pitch late into games. But if he is in the game for limited stints, you don't have that problem.

It just makes sense to me to move him to the bullpen, but it looks like we will have to see how the Rays want to mold his future down in Durham, whether it will be as a starting pitcher, or as a member of the bullpen. Let's just hope they make the logical choice.

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Casey Fossum [Fan Graphs]
Doug Waechter [Fan Graphs]