Results tagged ‘ Bobby Jenks ’

Baez was My Closer Option

 


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The more and more I heard that the Tampa Bay Rays were seeking a possible closer candidate for the 2010 season, the more the name of former Rays closer,and free agent Danys Baez pops into my mind as an option. Before the recent two-day whirlwind that landed the Rays former Braves reliever Rafael Soriano, I thought that Baez might be the Rays best option based on the high ceilings to salaries wanted by free agent and reliever out in the market place this winter. 

Baez was seeking a roster spot with a team on the Atlantic coast to be closer to his family, who reside in Miami, Florida. And that fact totally played in the Rays court if the team tried to negotiate a contract. But the two sides never met and the phone lines remained silent between them. The kicker is that I know first hand that Baez would love to return to the Rays because of the direct the team is headed in the next few years.  He saw the mass improvement and was excited to possibly be a part of the resurgence of the Rays.

 Even though it has been a few years since he was last with the Rays (2004-2005) the team has now formed a firm foundation and have established themselves in the American League East division. And with Baez’s being a part of that first thrust towards respectability, he also holds a positive historic mark on the Rays past. A reunion of the two seems more and more possible before todays news. 

Baez held the second spot on the Rays All Time Saves leader board with 71 career saves. And during his first season(2004) with the Rays, he became only  the second Rays reliever ever to post at least 30 saves in a regular season for the team. During his second season, he became only the second Rays pitcher to post 40 saves in a season.  With this, you start to see his level of constant rising to the moment by the Rays former closer.


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I could see Baez maybe signing with the team for about $5 million plus incentives, but still be under that “$7 million mark” that Rays team owner Stuart Sternberg is warning will not be in the Rays picture this season. But there are plenty of other reasons why the Rays could have considered Baez before bringing in,or trading around for another arm this off season. All the Rays front office really had to do was open their individual minds and the Rays record books to see the value of including Baez on this team. 

During 2004, Baez’s 30 saves ranked sixth best in the AL, and he had a save opportunity in 43 percent of the Rays 70 wins that season. Baez might have only been 30-33 in total save opportunities, but in a wild twist, he ended up as the games winning pitcher during all three blown saves. Baez also converted 18 straight saves from June 16th, to September 24th, to provide a positive benchmark towards the type of consistency that Baez could of produced for the Rays in 2010.

Another interesting sidebar about Baez was he converted 12 out of 12 saves opportunities away from Tropicana Field and he saved 25 out of 26 opportunities against American League foes during the 2004 season. Opponents batted for a .191 average against him with men on base, and a lowly .091 batting average when the bases were loaded in 2004. Baez did the job of closing down the opposition during his first season with the Rays.

And that high level of consistency kept going in 2005 when he improved his save total for the third time in his professional career. Baez saved a career high 41 saves during 2005, and was rewarded during the season as a Rays representative at the 2005 All Star game. Baez also became the first Major League Baseball pitcher to save over 40 games on a sub .500 team in MLB history. Baez ended up saving 62.1 percent of the total Rays wins (67) for the season. And Baez went an impressive 7 for 7 against the New York Yankees in save opportunities, tying the Yankees team record of save against them in one season set by former White Sox Bobby Thigpen in 1990.


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And one of the reason I really felt like he could be the possible answer for the Rays was most of his career has been set in the American League, and he has been a closer in the competitive A L East and knows the stress and pressures of the division. But all of this logic and statistics might be thrown away now with the addition of Soriano top the Rays staff.  The Rays have made their decision on their possible 2010 closer and the Baez idea will be again thrown on the back burner.

I am a bit upset that the team would not even consider Baez, but maybe they are seeking another direction of not including any of the past, and thrusting towards the future. I guess I will just have to catch Baez sometime during 2010 somewhere along the sidelines during Batting Practice and just personally let him know he was the guy I wanted to see close in 2010. I will keep an open mind with Soriano and hope that he can be that guy at the back end of the game to provide some stability and some exciting Rays moments for 2010.

As I always say, I guess we shall see………….

Love Me Non-Tender Candidates 2008…Part Two

 

 

As they leave the bright lights and glitter of Las Vegas tonight, the decisions and the problems of the 30 MLB General Managers and their respective departments are not over.  Even if they are flying in luxury accomodations, the GM’s and their staff know that the next 24 hours can also make or break a season by selecting the right players to help the squad in 2009. For tomorrow bring more sticky situations to try and either keep or jettison players who might make a difference in 2009.

 

So in the morning on this Friday, December 12th, every team in the major leagues must decide to either tender contracts to their arbitration-eligible players, or set them free as more glut in the 2009 free agent market. And while in past years the non-tendered players weren’t considered to be difference-makers, the list could be more interesting this year.  There are several players on this list who either had bad situation on their teams or might have been fighting back from injuries in 2008.

 

Players who are “tendered” on Friday are considered signed for 2009 at a salary to be determined, not less than 80 percent of his salary the previous season, and both sides continue negotiating. If a deal cannot be struck, the team and the player will each file a proposed 2009 salary in early January. Those figures are exchanged on Jan. 19, and a date for a salary arbitration hearing is then set for Feb. 1-21. 

 

If the sides still cannot come to terms before the date of the hearing, a representative for the team and one for the player present a case before a panel of arbiters, which chooses one salary or the other.  On the other hand, if a player is not tendered a contract before Friday’s deadline, he becomes a free agent.

 

A nationwide economic downturn has affected how Major League Baseball teams are conducting business, and in an effort to cut corners, the number of non-tendered players could increase, based solely on the market’s projected rise in their salaries based on arbitration data and past results.. The same can be said for the quality of those players. Some of the guys being considered for non-tender have been great contributors to their teams in the past, but not during the 2008 season.

 

Past  players non-tendered include David Ortiz, Rick Ankiel, Ryan Franklin, David Eckstein, and Chad Durbin.  Usually at least a few useful guys are unearthed. I am going to submit a few names that are being considered to be non-tendered starting at midnight tonight. Some of these names might sign free agent contracts with their old teams, but usually if a player is released from that team, they tend to float to another organization instead of resign with their old clubs.

 

                   

 

 The Toronto Blue Jays will have to make decision on four of their players on Friday as to if they are being considered as future pieces to the Blue Jays  picture in 2009. General manager J.P. Ricciardi said this week that Jason Frasor, Brian Tallet, Brandon League and Jose Bautista are all likely to receive an offer.  Ricciardi noted that Frasor, Tallet and League are all in the plans to rejoin Toronto’s bullpen, which led baseball with a 2.94 ERA this past season.

 

Of the three relievers, Frasor is the most likely to not receive an offer, considering he’s due for a raise after making $1.125 million in 2008 and the Jays are strapped for cash this winter.  Last season, the 31-year-old Frasor posted a 4.18 ERA in 49 games for the Blue Jays, serving as a middle reliever. Across 47 1/3 innings, the right hander struck out 42 batters and issued 32 walks. Frasor limited hitters to a .208 batting average, including a .174 mark against right-handed batters.

 

The 31-year-old Tallet, who earned $640,000 in his first year of arbitration in 2008, established a career best with a 2.88 ERA last season. The left hander appeared in 51 games and registered 47 strikeouts against 22 walks over 56 1/3 innings. Tallet was especially tough on right-handed hitters, holding them to a .230 average. 

 

 

League, 25, is eligible for arbitration for the first time this off season after making $400,000 in 2008. Last season, the hard-throwing right hander posted a career-best 2.18 ERA out of the bullpen, with 23 strikeouts and 15 walks in 31 appearances. In his 33 innings, League had a 3.71 groundball to flyball ratio and limited right-handed hitters to a .200 average.  The Blue Jays acquired the 28-year-old Bautista in a trade with the Pittsburgh Pirates in late August and the utility man appeared in 21 games for Toronto down the stretch. Overall, Bautista hit .238 with 15 home runs and 54 RBIs in 128 games with the Pirates and Jays in ’08, when he earned $1.8 million.

 

 

 

Another ex-Rays has popped up on the non-tender candidates list coming into Friday night’s deadline to offer contracts to arbitration eligible players. The Braves aren’t sure exactly how Matt Diaz fits into their plans for the 2009 season, but the veteran outfielder can at least feel good about the fact that he seemingly fits into these plans. 

 

Among the group of Braves who are eligible for arbitration, Diaz, who missed most of this past season because of a torn ligament in his right knee, was seemingly the only candidate to be non-tendered by Friday’s midnight ET deadline. But all indications are that the Braves are looking forward to having a healthy Diaz on their roster. He could platoon in left field or simply provided a reliable right-handed bat off the bench. Diaz, Mike Gonzalez, Casey Kotchman, Jeff Francoeur, Kelly Johnson and Omar Infante are the arbitration-eligible players expected to be tendered contracts by the Braves on Friday.

 

 

The Dodgers face a handful of non-tender decisions by Friday night’s deadline, with the focus . Takashi Saito. He is arbitration eligible, but only if the Dodgers tender him a contract. And even though he’s the highest-rated reliever in the National League over the past two years, the club might effectively release Saito, who missed two months with an elbow injury.

 

 

 

 

Money isn’t the burning issue for the Marlins as they approach the non-tender deadline. If they want, they have the allocation to sign all 10 of their remaining arbitration-eligible players. The team must decide if it wants to retain everyone, or pursue other options. 


 

In all, Florida has 10 arbitration-eligible players who must be either tendered a contract or not. The list includes much of the team’s nucleus: Dan Uggla, Jorge Cantu, Cody Ross, Jeremy Hermida, Josh Johnson, Ricky Nolasco, Alfredo Amezaga, Logan Kensing, Joe Nelson and Dallas McPherson. Of the group, the possible non-tenders appear to be Nelson and McPherson.

 

Uggla, Cantu, Ross, Hermida and Amezaga are position players who will be tendered. Now, the Marlins are continuing to explore possible trades for Hermida. Johnson and Nolasco are the leading candidates to be the Opening Day starter. Kensing and Nelson are right hander relievers.

 


 

Baseball’s non-tender deadline should come and go on Friday night without consequence for the Mets, whose arbitration-eligible players will play significant roles on the team in 2009.  But the Mets have little reason not to retain their eligible players: Ryan Church, John Maine, Pedro Feliciano, Duaner Sanchez and Jeremy Reed.

 

Church, 30, hit .276 with 12 home runs in 90 games last season, his first with the Mets. He was the team’s most productive hitter until a concussion sidelined him in May and created a series of lingering effects that plagued him for the rest of the season. Church, who agreed to a $2 million contract to avoid arbitration last off season, will enter Spring Training as the starting right fielder.

 

Maine, 27, is expected to be the third pitcher in a starting rotation that also includes Johan Santana and Mike Pelfrey. Coming off right shoulder surgery that prematurely ended his season, Maine will be arbitration-eligible for the first time. Feliciano, 32, produced a 4.05 ERA and two saves last season as one of the Mets’ two primary left-handed relievers. He also avoided arbitration last season by agreeing to a one-year contract worth $1.025 million.

 

Reed, 27, is the outfielder the Mets received as part of the 12-player trade Wednesday that also landed them Putz. He is expected to assume Endy Chavez’s role as a fourth outfielder.

Sanchez, 29, will begin his second full season since missing a year and a half after two surgeries on his pitching shoulder. General manager Omar Minaya has said publicly that he expects Sanchez to be more successful this season, especially now that the presence of Francisco Rodriguez and J.J. Putz will allow him to pitch earlier in games.

 

 

 

 

Pitchers Shawn Hill, Scott Olsen and Tim Redding, outfielders Willie Harris and Josh Willingham and third baseman Ryan Zimmerman must be offered contracts by Washington or they will become free agents. Entering the Winter Meetings, the Nationals had to make decisions on seven players, but the club released reliever Jesus Colome on Wednesday.

 

He appeared in 61 games and had a 4.31 ERA while being used as a setup man last season.  As for the rest of the players, Olsen, Redding, Harris, Willingham and Zimmerman most likely will be offered contracts. However, Hill will be a tough decision. He has had elbow problems the past four years in Washington and has pitched in a combined 34 games.

 

 

The White Sox are expected to tender contracts to Bobby Jenks and DeWayne Wise prior to Friday night’s 11 p.m. CT deadline for all arbitration-eligible players. This duo stands as the only two arbitration-eligible players on the team’s 40-man roster.

 

 

                        

 

Jenks, 27, could earn 10 times more than his $550,000 salary for 2008 if he goes through the arbitration process, having emerged as one of the game’s steadiest closers. Despite being attached to a great deal of Hot Stove trade talk deemed by general manager Ken Williams as “just rumor and innuendo,” the burly right hander enters the 2009 season as the second-fastest pitcher to reach 100 saves in Major League history. Jenks accomplished this feat in just 187 games, trailing only Kazuhiro Sasaki’s total of 160.

 

Wise had a rags-to-riches story in 2008. Independent baseball in New Jersey looked to be his season-long vocation, until Minor League director Buddy Bell, who knew Wise from their days together with the Reds, encouraged the White Sox to bring the 30-year-old veteran into Minor League Spring Training.

 

Wise ended up becoming an outfield starter against primarily right-handed pitchers during the final two weeks of the season, replacing the injured Carlos Quentin, and hit .248 with six home runs, 18 RBIs and nine stolen bases over 57 games. Wise also hit the White Sox first postseason home run in the American League Division Series against the Rays.

 

 


 

My Ray’s 2009 Closer Christmas Wish List

 

               

 

Sorry for the delay in getting this “Wish List” out for  my personal Rays 2009 Closer shopping list. For the past couple of days there has been a few rumblings at the Trop. concerning ticket prices and the firing of  Raymond’s alter ego, the departure of Joe Magrane,  and I decided it all took a front seat to my little wish list.

 

So I am getting down to business again by checking out the Free Agents and some guys currently thought to be on the trading block, who are considered closers in the MLB. I am also going to do my list on the assumption that current Ray’s closer Troy Percival will either be out still rehabbing his back and knee problems at the beginning of the season, or will not be with the team at all.

 

 

This is not to be considered  a positive or a negative at this time. Percival has not informed the Rays of his intentions either to rehab or have surgery on his two problem areas. I am going to remain neutral in my opinions on that for the moment, but will consider all options on the table for the position in the Bullpen.

 

There are several people who have peaked my interest lately in the closer category. Chad Cordero ( Nationals) is a proven closer, but the situation in Washington last season make me think he might not be as healthy as he claims to be  physically is on the mound. I still think a healthy Cordero would be a plus to any orgainzation, the Rays included.

 

                  

 

But there are a few guys who I think can be taken off this list because of past injuries. These guys I think still have situations that are just smoke screens to bigger problems. People like Eric Gagne ( Brewers) and Jason Isringhausen ( Cardinals) might still have the stuff, but I think they need to go to another club and post some impressive numbers if they want to seek the big money again.  Gagne has dropped about 6 mph off his best pitch, his fastball since the steroid policy kicked in a few years ago.

 

This is not a obsevation that was missed by people in baseball who have also noticed he has not developed or worked on another pitch since his dominant days in LA.

 

Jason Isringhausen tried to develop a changeup to go along with his other two pitches, and some of the ballooning ERA might be explained  in his trying to force the changeup over the plate and it just rolled and stayed in the strike zone too long and got hammered by hitters’. Both their numbers over the last season would indicate that they might be heading for that fast slope downward as closers’.

 

Brian Fuentes and Francisco Rodriquez will be the most visiableand powerful options this season for the position. The Rays will probably not have the money or the resources to go after a guy of K-Rod’s caliber right now. He would be a plus-plus addition to the young and improving Bullpen, but the high ceiling money aspect takes him out of the running fast in Tampa Bay.

 

Fuentes is another story. I think he has the same stuff that John Rocker had with the Braves. He is a leftie closer, which is a rare find, and a huge advantage to matching up the lineup with your reliever. But the Colorado Rockies have been very hesistant about even putting him visibly on the market.

 

Fuentes does offer that unusual low delivery angle which works well with his fastball and changeup in the Rockies home ballpark. His sweeping slider is an out pitch to lefites and can be very devastating to righties at times.  He has been on the  display shelf for everyone to see since the 2008 Trade Deadline, and I think the Rays underbid for him then, and might not consider him a great asset to their organization.

 

                    

 

There are a few guys who have been under the radar, but trade interest has been shown in them this off season. Brandon Lyon (Diamondbacks) is a  young guy who could be effective, but I am not sure he is cut out right now to be your close out guy. He has great stuff, but might not have the killer instinct yet and might be the better setup man for a few more seasons.

 

One guy who I admire a helluva lot as a closer, but got shafted totally by his club was Trevor Hoffman ( Padres). He was sitting there with an offer on the table and thinking about all the pros and cons and the team pulls it and tells him basically to hit the road. Do I think it was classless……….Do you have to ask?  I lost alot of respect and think that this move will come back to haunt the Padres in 2009. Hoffman will go on to hit the top spot as the best closer all-time in the MLB, and the Padres missed the boat on it all.

 

 

My top three guys might seem a bit odd considering 2 are not even free agents, but I think the Rays have the pitching and the prospects to pull off these trades without a hitch if they want to pull the tigger on them.

 

                          

                        

 

I think that the third guy on my list would be Bobby Jenks ( White Sox). People have been remarking about his decrease in strikeouts and his fumbling around the strike zone in 2008. Scott Kazmir had the same problem due to the fact that the team wanted him to throw to spots in the strike zone instead of just fire the ball into the mitt. Jenks is also a leftie and has a unusual cut to his pitches as they near the plate. 

 

He does have an unsual forte of having 4 pitches to throw at hitters, where most closer have 3 or less to work with on the mound. I think Jenks is another victim of progress and is caught up in that same mold of being reigned in and taught to hit the outside corners and throw away from batters instead of just rockin’ and rolling the ball in there. He would be a huge plur upgrade for the Rays and would be a impact player from his first pitch with the organization.

 

                

 

My second guy is also still on another team’s roster, but the Rays have been hot on him for the past year. Huston Street ( Rockies) lost a huge dose of confidence in Oakland last season.  At times it seemed that his own Pitching Coach gave up on him for awhile before finally giving him a chance to redeem himself on the mound. Street is another guy who has a 3/4 and almost side-arm delivery that can make it harder for batters’ to see the ball early on him.  His slider is short and tight, not like most of them that tend to sweep around and catch you unaware at times.  

 

During the 2008 trade deadline, the Rays were talking alot to the A’s about him and seriously wanted him to help the back-end of the Rays bullpen.  At that time , Percival was a hot and cold closer for the team battling injuries and a unwillingness to speak up about potential injuries or problems. Street could be had also for the right mixture of prospects and pitching and would be a valuable addition to the staff.

 

 

My top guy on my wish list has been a guy I wanted to get 2 years ago when he was struggling with his old team. He had been a starter and had a few injuries that basically forced the power- that- be with his team to consider him damaged goods at the time.

He struggled and fought and earned a right to go to the Bullpen and became a huge factor in his team’s Bullpen plans. He progressed to become one of the hidden gems in the closers’ role and is out as a free agent for the first time as a closer.

 

         

 

The guy who I would love to see take the mound in the 9th inning for the Rays in 2009 is Kerry Wood. The guys knows competition and how to prepare now. It took him a bit to get used to being the last guy out there every night, but I truly think he will have a banner 2009 season. With the obvious need by the Rays for a closer past 2009, this guy could fill the role and give you a guy who might even put a bit of fear in people on the mound.

 

Because he is not just a fastball pitcher, his breaking pitches, basically a huge 12-6 curveball would be a great out pitch to the batters seeking a big fat fastball over the plate. With the Rays, Wood could develop a slider that could be a great addition to his arsenal.  One thing I have always like about the up and coming Rays pitchers’. The Rays minor leaguers’ have some of the nicest sliders you will find in baseball.

 

 

So with the addition of this pitch and Wood on the Rays roster for 2009, I think the closer position will be filled for 3 years with no problems. For the team to continue this closer-by-committee BS is totally out of line with normal thinking. Dan Wheeler and Grant Balfour have designated positions in the late innings of the game. To keep playing with the formula will instill a bad karma for the team and place some instability to their game preparations.

 

When you are in the back end of a Bullpen, you best friend is repetition and the fact of security in your role. To keep throwing the names in a hat and picking my matchups and not by strengths the team is sending the wrong message to it’s Bullpen veterans.

 

 

Tomorrow I will hit the trail and throw a few names out for Bullpen upgrades via the free agent market. There is a good amount of quality arms out there who could be a huge factor in the 2009 pen. Both lefties and righties will be  thrown out in tomorrow’s blog. 

 

Until later,  have fun, stay warm and do not catch one on the outside corner for that thrid called strike.

 

 

 

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