Thursday, July 12, 2007

Changes Rays Need to Make in the Second Half

The Rays have the worst record in the league and have become the laughing stock of the league. The fans are upset and so are the players. The Rays are the brunt of the media's jokes and its time to make a change. The Rays need to show fans and players that they are serious about winning and competing. The Rays need to make some moves in the second half to show that they are moving the right way and get people excited about next year. Here are just a couple of moves that would be effective to help the Rays now and show the fans that they are moving forward.

Trade Ty Wigginton/Elijah Dukes for Salomon Torres.

Not sure what it will take to get Torres, but if the Pirates want Dukes straight up for him, I would rather do that. Torres has been a great set-up man for the Pirates for a couple years now, but struggled in the closers role. He wants out of Pittsburgh, and actually accused them of tricking him into signing his recent contract. With how he feels, the Pirates maybe eager to get rid of him before he causes more problems. Torres would supply a much needed arm in the bullpen for the 8th inning to get to Reyes, and if Reyes goes down on the DL again, Torres has closing experience. Ty has helped the Rays, but they need relief pitching more, plus they can play Cantu and Wilson at 2B for the rest of this year before Evan Longoira is ready to come up next year. Over the last 5 seasons as a Pirate Torres has averaged a 3.22 ERA, which is better than any pitcher on the Rays at the moment.

Have the Outfield Consist of Crawford, Upton, and Young

Many of the problems during the losing streak were in part to some bad defense that we had not seen before. Young was not used to playing center, and Johnny Gomes is not a great fielder period. By keeping Upton in center it allows Young to move to right where he should be and is most comfortable. When your pitchers are not getting it done, the worst thing is errors that extend an inning. By creating continuity and comfort in the fielders, it will lead to less errors and more outs to help out the pitchers. Upton's future is in center field and with Rocco's future a mystery, the best thing to do is get Upton in center and used to playing center field so he is ready next year.

Send Dioner Navarro Down to Durham and Replace him with Josh Paul and Sean Riggans

Navarro has been total garbage this year. He calls a bad game, he can't hit, and he can't throw out runners. Josh Paul is an older veteran catcher and when he was playing the pitchers had a lower ERA, and he was throwing our 40% of the runners. Riggans is one of the future catchers of this team and really isn't getting anymore experience by playing down in Durham. Riggans is a solid defensive catcher and also has some pop in his bat. Also, with Andy Sonnanstine and JP Howell being up, and Jeff Niemann on his way, it would make sense to have a guy on staff that has caught for them for over a year. Even if Riggans is on the bench, he can tell Paul where the pitchers like to throw and how to talk with them. Paul is the experienced older catcher people are calling for and Riggans is the young guy that can learn from Paul and be the future.

Promote Jeff Niemann in Two Weeks When a 5th Starter is Needed

This is a long time coming. Jeff Niemann was a first round pick 3 years ago now and was expected to be in the rotation already. Niemann had some health issues, but he is healthy now. He has close to the 200 innings that the Rays say they want from their young pitchers and has looked good in his outings. This season he is 9-5 with a 3.75 ERA. In 98.1 innings he has given up 101 hits, walked only 39, while striking out 93. Niemann says he is ready to come up and I believe he is. He may have the most talent in the Rays system and that includes Scott Kazmir. Niemann will benefit from coming up and pitching the second half. He can gain the experience he needs to go into next year and be a solid starter in the rotation.

Call up Dale Thayer, Juan Salas, Justin Ruggiano, and Leave Howell in the Pen

The Rays need to fix the pen and that starts by getting rid of the crap. Send Fossum, Stokes, and Camp down to the minors. Replace them with Thayer, Salas, and Niemann. Leave Howell in the pen to be the lefty specialist as he actually can get left-handers out unlike Fossum. Thayer has been impressive in AA Montgomery. In 45.2 IP he has a 1.97 ERA, walked 11, and struck out 44. He has closing experience down there and is ready to get up and help out. Before he was suspended for substance abuse, Salas actually looked good in the pen. He has looked good in Durham during his return so call him up to replace Stokes, who is absolute trash. Ruggiano is having a great year in Durham in the outfield and with Wigginton being traded for Torres it opens a spot to bring up some bench help for days off in the outfield. We know what we have with the guys in the pen now and also with guys like McClung and Orvella, so lets go with guys that have a chance at helping us out.

Minor League Moves to Further the Development of Players that are Almost Ready

With spots being available in Durham the Rays should promote Chris Mason (SP), Evan Longoria (3B/2B), and John Jaso (C). All three of these guys have shown they can handle AA ball easily and are good enough to move up and see what they can do. Longoria's move would allow the Rays to see if he can handle AAA and maybe worth a September call-up for some experience before going into next year. The Rays should also promote Jacob McGee (SP) from class A to AA and join Wade Davis in the rotation there. These moves will move the development process forward and help get these guys ready to contribute sooner than later.

New Look Rays

Lineup: 1. Aki, 2. Crawford, 3. Upton, 4. Pena, 5. Young, 6. Harris, 7. Gomes, 8. Paul, 9. Wilson

Bench: Cantu, Ruggiano, Riggans, Norton

Starters: James Shields, Scott Kazmir, Andy Sonnasntine, Edwin Jackson, Jeff Niemann

BullPen: JP Howell, Juan Salas, Dale Thayer, Jay Witasik, Gary Glover, Salomon Torres, Reyes

The Rays would be giving guys who will be with the team experience and they will be helping them this year. The fans could get behind the team and see what the future held for the Rays. This would also help the players who seem to be down as well because of how bad the team is. The Rays need to make some moves and these seem like they would do the trick.


Gang Green said...

I agree with the majority of what you posted with the exception of trading for Salomon Torres. Outside of his strong finish to the '06 season (aided by a 90% strand rate in September), he's been decidedly mediocre. Stick to the youth in the bullpen principle and get rid of Stokes and Camp for sure.

Adam Lewis said...

It looks now like the Twins are interested in Ty wigginton. I would def take one of their young pitchers for TY