The Rays don't have the talent they need to in the bullpen and in the rotation, so it is not all Joe Maddon's fault for how the team is playing, but he has contributed to it with dumb decisions. With the Rays up 1-0 last night and Jason Hammel pitching outstanding, Joe Maddon removed Hammel because he got a an arbitrary pitch count number. Hammel, who had only given up one hit and two walks, said after the game that he wanted to finish out the inning. According to Maddon Hammel was gassed and could not continue the inning. Maddon made the choice to use a pitch count and go with a bullpen that has been horrible rather than stay with a young pitcher who was going well and it cost the Rays the game. Our young starters need to be allowed to get themselves out of jams like that and should not be worried that they will be pulled at any sign of trouble.
The effect of the decision last night cost the Rays the game and further dejected players on the field. When Salas was called into the game you could see Carl Crawford and BJ Upton look at each other and just shake there heads. After the home run they gave each other a look that showed they were expecting it. After Sals gave up the three run home run you could feel the air come out of the entire Rays team. Maddon's decision cost them yet another game.
Sean Riggan's season is now over after having season ending elbow surgery. Riggans has had elbow problems all year long and has had multiple DL stints to try and get healthy, but the pain stayed. Riggans went to Dr. Koco Eaton and she removed a mass from his elbow that could be a bone chip or hard cartilage. He is expected to be ready for Spring Training, but it is yet another set back for Riggans who was supposed to be the catcher of the future for the Rays. Riggans will be 28 by mid season next year and that is old to still be in the minors.
Josh Paul was activated from the 60 day DL yesterday and the Rays waived Raul Casanova. Casanova has been a great fill in for Paul since he has been on the DL, and some thought that maybe Dioner Navarro would go down to Durham instead of Casanova, but with Navvaro's improving defense the Rays decided to keep him on the roster. The team ERA is a little lower when Paul is in the game, and he was throwing out 42% of the runners before he went on the DL. Paul could see more time than he was getting before his injury because he is veteran presence behind the plate and hits better than Navarro as well.
The Rays traded Seth McClung to the Brewers for reclamation project Grant Balfour. Balfour has great minor league stats, but below average MLB stats and has had two shoulder surgeries. Balfour has a 5.22 ERA in 70.2 IP with a 1.51 WHIP. In his time in the minors he has a 3.36 ERA in 586 IP with a 1.20 WHIP. He does have a nice 3/1 strikeout to walk ratio in the minors and has talent, but he is a project. Balfour had over a 20 ERA while with the Brewers this year, but is still expected to come right in and pitch out of the Rays bullpen. We know what we had with McClung so although this is not a great move, it at least was a move to try. The Rays have sent down Sean Camp to make room for Balfour in the bullpen.
The Rays have also just traded Jorge Cantu for the Reds for two AAA pitching prospects, Calvin Medlock (RHP) and Brian Shackelford (LHP). Cantu became expendable with the signing of Akinori Iwamura, and the emergence of Josh Wilson and Brendan Harris. Everyone knew that Cantu was not happy and was not wanted by the Rays so i do not expect much in return, but anything that helps would be good. Medlock has potential and Shackelford will most likely be a lefty specialist. Neither of them will be in the Rays rotation, but both could help bolster the bullpen next year.
The Rays ended the day by trading Ty Wigginton to the Astros' for former closer Dan Wheeler. Wigginton had been mentioned in a trade with the Yankees for Scott Proctor, but the Rays said they were not going to trade within the AL East. Wheeler will be an immediate upgrade in the bullpen and has closing experience in case the Rays decide to move Al Reyes to Seattle. Wheeler has been a dominant force in the bullpen the last couple years, but struggled at times this year closing for the Astros. While Wigginton was very versatile and has a great bat to help, the Rays need bullpen help and Wheeler will offer that. If Wheeler goes back to the form he displayed the past couple years this could turn out to be a great trade for the Rays. Even if Wheeler keeps up how he was pitching in Houston it is still an upgrade for the Rays and will lead to more wins.