Gimenez Has Sung and Played His Way to a Possible Roster Spot
More and more Tampa Bay Rays C Chris Gimenez is making himself more attractive to the Rays as both a player, and a personality. Everyone has seen his singing renditions by now on Youtube or MLB’s Cut4, but he is quickly making himself a little less expendable especially after his “passed ball” like save of a certain single down the First Base line in yesterday’s contest against the Detroit Tigers. Heck, he looked more like a hockey goalie trying to divert a puck around the pipes than someone doing anything and everything to make it hard for the Rays to send him anywhere but St. Petersburg, Florida this April.
Gimenez is showing the same energy and determination that endeared me to him during the Rays 2012 season this Spring. It is still kind of ironic to me that we might not have every gotten a chance at having Gimenez even within the Rays system if not for the Rays 2012 Winter trade of the staring catcher to the Seattle Mariners and their counter-move of designating Gimenez for assignment and the Rays plucking him for their own farm system. All Gimenez has done since his arrival in the Rays system was put the Rays at ease with his positive and energetic on and off the field entertainment.
And the Rays have a tough decision to make in the next 11-odd days as to if Gimenez has done enough to even nudge fellow backstop Jose Lobaton from the Rays back-up position, but no matter what happens, I do not envy Rays Manager Joe Maddon or VP of Baseball Ops Andrew Friedman one bit on this decision. Sure you can automatically pop out the reasoning that if the Rays try to even attempt to send Lobaton to the minors, he would have to go through the waiver system, and more than a few teams are seeking catching help or at least depth in their own farm systems.
Even the pure fact Gimenez is flexible and can man an infield spot when not behind the dish should give him extra brownie points, but he also has no more minor league options and the pure fact he can give Maddon some thought into playing the field possibly in an unforeseen day-night doubleheader or a spot start should make him a bit more valuable in the long run. And you know if Gimenez himself hit the waiver wire he will be plucked up quickly and never have another at bat in the Rays system.
That being said, maybe another great indicator the Rays are taking a hard look at Gimenez as an option is the fact he has 34 plate appearances so far this Spring, double the current plate appearances of Lobaton (17). If you want to get really statistically honest, Gimenez’s line of a .382 Batting Average, .529 Slugging Percentage and a .935 OPS might be a solid indicator Gimenez might be ripe and ready for a 180 day MLB spot.
We all know that Gimenez has appeared in 18 games this Spring, and usually that can be a solid indicator if the team is taking a deep and concise evaluation of a player, but Lobaton has also appeared in 14 games, so this line of thought might be moot at best. Even if you look towards the Fielding stats of each player this Spring you will only see part of the picture as Lobaton has not been out in the field and Gimenez has had multiple chances on the clay to try and influence the Rays thought process he would be the right piece of the 2013 regular season puzzle both behind the plate or as a side dish in the field.
Even if you throw in the arbitrary stats of what each player has done behind the plate to stop base runners, each has had limited steal attempts against themselves, and Lobaton wins this battle with a .500 stolen base percentage to Gimenez’s .333 mark. Adding a second stat into this mix, with Rays proposed starter Jose Molina just now about to return to Port Charlotte, Florida after his Puerto Rican team experience in the WBC, a majority of the starts behind the plate over the next 11 days will probably be Molina’s as he get into his groove for the 2013 MLB campaign.
I have a feeling even over this 11 day last chance for either of them to get that back-up slot, the Rays will not tip their hand as to who will be designated, or traded before the Rays first Home series of the season. My tip of the cap goes to Gimenez for not only what he does on the field, but the excitement and energy he also generates off the field especially in his new found Twitter presence that has more than a few of us following or finding his quips amusing as well as insightful. But teams do not pick their final player based on personality or off the field quirks of brilliance, they base their reactions on statistics, whether a certain player can play beyond their potential and if they are a fit to the over scheme the team will employ for the regular season. Who knows, the Rays could also dangle either of them as trade bait for further depth knowing the loser of this battle will have to leave not only the Rays, but their system via a trade or possibly the waiver wire.
Believe me, I do not dislike Lobaton or think he has played himself out of a spot on the 25-man Rays Opening Day roster, but in my humble opinion he has had his time to try and show his growth potential during the 2012 regular season and did not produce enough for me to even remotely think he is a sure thing or consistent part of the Rays catching corps. Both players kind of canceled each other out during the Rays 2012 season in regards to Stolen Base Percentages as both were above the .800 percentage mark with in itself is considered a superior mark. Gimenez appeared in 42 contests and posting a superior average (.260) to Lobaton’s .222 in 69 games and displayed a sure fire upside of potential in power.
Hey, David Price’s dog Astro must think Gimenez is the right fit, he already marked his territory on Gimenez’s bag, so you got to think he has the Astro sign of approval. No matter what I ( or Astro) think, the Rays will have a hard decision on their hands in regards to these two talented backstops. Someone has to go whether it is by trade or lost with no return via the waiver wire. Might money is firmly on Gimenez contributing to the bitter end and getting the nod, even by the smallest of margins to find himself introduced to the Rays Republic on the First Baseline come Opening Day. Maybe I’m trying to sing Gimenez’s praises because we already know he can sing them himself if asked….this time possibly during the Rays 2013 season while standing in the Rays Clubhouse after a thrilling walk-off victory.