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The Rays Tank: James Shields signing day?

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"Now put your shields before your hearts, and fight / With hearts more proof than shields." - Shakespeare, Coriolanus [I, 4]

Man, the Trop used to be a rather dark place
Man, the Trop used to be a rather dark place
Eliot J. Schechter/Getty Images

Yesterday might have been National Signing Day, but today looks to be Shields Signing Day, and that's far more exciting to me.

He's had a difficult road this off-season, trying to find a mix of a great contract on a great team, and for a 33-year old innings eater, that's no small task. Simply put, however, James Shields would make any team better than it already is, on the field and in the clubhouse and on the staff as he shares his knowledge with those around him.

My prediction since the off-season began was $22 AAV and his home town of San Diego, mainstream assumptions, but the situation is complicated, as it is for all free agents in February. On one hand, his price may have fallen into a more affordable range for any team to swoop in; on the other hand, the Padres may have already bust their budget bringing in Matt Kemp et al. The Dodgers ate a lot of money in that deal, so there's still a chance, but how much cash Big Game James can expect at this point is a mystery.

Of course I'd like to see Shields return home to Tampa Bay, it's not my money and it's my favorite former Ray (sorry Johnny Damon). Not happening, though.

The Padres and Dodgers have to be strong contenders for his services at this point, really any team in California could be, even if we're counting the Giants, Angels, and Athletics out (according to the rumors). I think any team in the AL Central should be in on Shields, given how win-able that division looks, but the NL Central has several teams that seem to be lurking.

We shall see!

Links:

- This is the return of The Rays Tank in 2015, and speaking of Tanks, the White Sox look poised to release Dayan Viciedo. He shouldn't be a free agent for long if he passes through waivers. Could Viciedo be a better platoon partner than Brandon Guyer?

- Kiley McDaniel recaps everything you need to know about Yoan Moncada, that guy the Rays can't afford. You can help Carson Cistulli crowdsource his contract-to-be here.

- Baseball Prospectus updated its catcher framing runs calculations, as I'll let them explain:

Last year, Baseball Prospectus introduced our Regressed Probabilistic Model (or "RPM") for catcher pitch-framing. RPM uses PITCHf/x data to increase the measured accuracy of the actual contributions made by catchers. But RPM also suffered from two limitations. First, because PITCHf/x data was not publicly available before 2008, RPM could only measure catcher framing from recent seasons. Second, it relied primarily on a piecemeal approach to identifying the individual contributions of pitchers, umpires and catchers.

This year, we are pleased to announce an improvement that will address both limitations. We propose to move RPM from a "With or Without You" (WOWY) comparison method to a mixed model we call "CSAA" -"Called Strikes Above Average."

This new model allows simultaneous consideration of pitcher, catcher, batter, umpire, PITCHf/x, and other data for each taken pitch over the course of a season, and by controlling for each of their respective contributions will predict how many called strikes above (or below) average each such participant was worth during a particular season.

Although PITCHf/x data is preferable when available, the mixed model (in a revised, "Retro" form) will allow us to live without it when need be, permitting us to project regressed framing of catchers all the way back to 1988, when pitch counts were first officially tracked.

There's a lot to take in, and you should go take a look at what Pavlidis, Brooks, and Judge have been up to, but I'll give you a few Rays spotlights from the results: under the revised calculations Jose Molina has had the second best career since 1988, and Rene Rivera looks even better in 2014.

- The ZiPS Top 100 prospects list is here, released by ESPN, with new Rays prospect Daniel Robertson ranking 25th(!), nearly fifty places higher than Law's 83rd ranking. Other Rays include Justin O'Conner and Steven Souza in the bottom half of the list.

- The Hardball Times is a must read on most occasions, but there are three pieces I'd like to draw your attention to:

1. How Teams Can Get the Most Out of Analytics by Bill Petti

2. So Teams Have Lots of New Data. Then What? by Bill Petti

3. The Strikeout Ascendant (and What Should Be Done About It) by Steve Treder

- Sports on Earth tried to assign top three rivalries to every team, including the Yanks, Sawx, and Marlins for Tampa Bay.