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The Word: On All

Solutions to Edwin, draft rumors, catching problems, puppets and more, all after the jump

No Win Situation
Here we sit again, Edwin, or is it `No Win' Jackson has now went 31 appearances without a victory. 0-6 this year, and for his Rays' career, it's time to begin wondering if he'll ever work out. Didn't work as a reliever, isn't working as a starter. No longer can the Rays sell his potential to a potential suitor, and with no options remaining it lowers his all ready withering value. So that leaves four options for the Rays.

  1. Grind It Out: He is only 23, he does have great `stuff' and velocity, and he did post a mid 2 ERA when he was 19. Plus it's not as if he hasn't had some moments where he looked great, really it's just about fixing his mechanics, and subsequently his control.
  2. Pen Move: We tried it last year with Jackson to no avail, but perhaps this time things would be different?
  3. Cut Bait: What about just flat out releasing him? Sure you'd hate to dump potential, but at the end of the day potential doesn't equal results.
  4. Trade Off: I suggested the deal a few weeks ago, but here it goes again: Mike Pelfrey for Edwin Jackson. Both have some issues, Jackson likely has the bigger upside, but Pelfrey could become a decent reliever if nothing else, although only having two pitches hurts his stock.
Really anyway the Rays go could become nasty, tough decisions to be made, sure, but this is why the guys get paid the big bucks to decide.

Draft Matters
Baseball America came out with their first mock this year, and it has the Rays taking David Price, however it does mention that the Rays have three players in mind; Price, Georgia Tech catcher / first baseman Matt Wieters, and California High School third baseman Josh Vitters.

Anyone who has read DRB should know we're nearly unanimous in our Price desires, it's not about drafting for need, and it's about drafting the best player. You can say Wieters meets a bigger need, and he may, but Price is dominant. Vitters doesn't seem like a true option, however very few (other than Baseball America) saw the Rays taking Evan Longoria over Andrew Miller and Tim Lincecum. Although in this case it's likely to gain leverage on Price's contract, but who knows.

Black Hole 2
I'm not sure how many of you remember last season when I began referring to right field and third base as `black holes' for the Rays, since really they'd never had success at those positions (sorry Jared Sandberg, you're still my favorite!) well I think it's time to erase those for the time being and chalk up catcher. Here's a look at the nine seasons by our catcher, and primary backup:

John Flaherty- .207/.261 3 HR 24 RBI
Mike Difelice- .230/.274 3 HR 23 RBI

Flaherty- .278/.310 14 HR 71 RBI
Difelice- .307/.346 6 HR 27 RBI

Flaherty- .261/.296 10 HR 39 RBI
Difelice- .240/.280 6 HR 19 RBI

Flaherty- .238/.269 4 HR 29 RBI
Toby Hall- .298/.321 4 HR 30 RBI

Hall- .258/.293 6 HR 42 RBI
Flaherty- .260/.296 4 HR 33 RBI

Hall- .253/.295 12 HR 47 RBI
Javier Valentin- .222/.254 3 HR 15 RBI

Hall- .255/.300 8 HR 60 RBI
Brook Fordyce- .205/.259 2 HR 9 RBI

Hall- .287/.315 5 HR 48 RBI
Pete LaForest- .172/.243 1 HR 4 RBI

Hall- .231/.261 8 HR 23 RBI
Josh Paul- .260/.327 1 HR 8 RBI
Dioner Navarro- .224/.260 4 HR 20 RBI

Navarro- .192/.257 0 HR 6 RBI
Paul- .261/.306 0 HR 5 RBI

When your best offensive season from the catcher's spot was achieved by John Flaherty, you know you have issues, and it's probable the Rays will look into free agency for a new catcher this off-season, with Paul being a free agent, and if Joe Maddon isn't retained it's doubtful Paul would stay. The only true offensive catcher out there would be Michael Barrett; however names like Jose Molina, Paul Lo Duca, and Ivan Rodriguez will likely be available for a lot less. As of now there would really be three targets that would make sense for our young pitching staff:

Damian Miller- He's not going to solve the offensive woes, however he has good on-base skills, and calls a great game.
Career Stats: .263/.330 83 HRs

Jose Molina- Another Maddon / Angel favorite, not going to do any offensive favors, probably backup material.
Career Stats:.238/.277 15 HRs

Brad Ausmus: This would be on of Hunsicker's favorites, it's doubtful that he would leave Houston.
Career Stats: .254/.327 73 HRs

Any of those three would help the team on defense, and with the exception of Molina would likely outperform Navarro, that's assuming Dioner doesn't turn it around. Speaking of Dioner, why is that the coaches haven't considered turning him into a right handed hitter only, in a smaller sample size he's produced better than from the left side:

RHB: .290/.406/.799 (107 ABs)
LHB: .242/.307/.643 (446 ABs)

Puppet Master
There have been some murmurs that perhaps Joe Maddon is just the puppet of Andrew Friedman, however I addressed this situation recently with the following statement:

Even if Maddon were Friedman's puppet, like say...the Oakland managers have been, it would be on Maddon to make in game situations. Look at the situation in Oakland that Michael Lewis chronicled in Moneyball about the Mike Magnante situation. He was on the roster, but Beane didn't want Art Howe to use him, Howe did anyhow, and it eventually forced Beane to trade for Rincardo Rincon as well as use Mike Venafro.

It's possible Maddon has no say, but even if that's the case the in-game situations aren't on Friedman, however the players on the roster are, and it seems like he's a little tentative to make promotions and demotions, it's one thing to wait nearly two months like Beane (used to) before going hog wild, but it's questionable if Ruddy Lugo or Gary Glover should've been on the roster in front of Cola (Corky / Orvella) to begin with.

Hunting in Center?
Earlier this week, like yesterday, Jayson Stark of ESPN (look for Stark, Marc Lancaster, and our very own Jake Larsen doing a profile on the face of the Rays franchise coming soon to ESPN, congrats to Jake.) that the Rays would consider promoting the wonder twins and potentially push often injured (not injury prone) Rocco Baldelli into the world of trades, perhaps to the Boston Red Sox or Atlanta Braves. Well that hatched a new idea in my brain, which does occasionally happen. There is a situation that could occur where this is moot, and that's Rocco Baldelli moving to first base.

INF: Iwamura, Longoria, Brignac, Upton
OF: Crawford, Dukes, Young

1B: Longoria
2B: Upton
SS: Brignac
3B: Iwamura

LF: Crawford
CF: Dukes
RF: Young

That leaves the DH slot, and depending on how Dukes has grown as a centerfielder, some room for improvement. Now something the media will tell you is that every young team needs a veteran presence that can take the youth under his / their wings and bring them up like they were themselves. So an opening in center, a need for a vet leader, defensive help.

Enter Torii Hunter. The 31 year old Minnesota Twins outfielder whom is a free agent at the end of the year. Am I dreaming? Likely, however Hunter will command less than say Ichiro, Corey Patterson, and Andruw Jones, and has met numerous times with the `Three AmEgos' and is considered somewhat of a mentor to them Signing Hunter would mean that the team feels comfortable with their pitching, not necessarily the case, but it would bring a star to Tampa, the first legit free agent signing since....since...well ever?