The Rays were the beneficiaries of (reportedly) the greatest day in baseball last year:
Carlos Peña, Burke Badenhop, Jeff Keppinger, Josh Lueke, Jose Molina, Fernando Rodney, and Luke Scott.
Casey Kotchman, John Jaso, Kelly Shoppach, and Andy Sonnanstine.
Why?: Really every thing they lost, they replaced, and they also added talent. They replaced Casey Kotchman with what I believe to be a better first baseman in Carlos Peña. They downgraded a little by replacing Shoppach with Molina, but also added a very good player in Luke Scott, who I see most likely to be the Casey Kotchman of this year for the Rays in that he will over-perform his contract.
Andy Sonnantine would have been a reliever for the Rays (because of the depth of their rotation), so they over-replaced him with Fernando Rodney, Burke Badenhop, and Josh Lueke. This was a huge bolster for a bullpen depleted from their form two years ago.
I haven’t even gotten to what may be their best move of the offseason. Okay, so it really wasn’t an addition, per say, but signing Matt Moore to a 6- year, $14 million (or something in that range. I’m sure of the money, but not the years), contract was probably a good move, potentially a spectacular. For those who don’t know, Matt Moore is ranked in the same echelon as Stephen Strasburg. This is $2+ million a year for an ace-type pitcher for six year. They then have a secondary part of the deal made up of club-options that make the deal a total of 8 years and $40 million (this I am sure of).
You may or may not remember that Evan Longoria signed a similar contract (6 years 17.5 Million on his seventh day in the league, or something ridiculous like that). Well, doesn’t that look like an incredible deal now? They can’t really lose that much. At worst, they are losing the $16 Million over the first part of the contract if he stinks, or injures himself. Even for the low-budget Rays, that isn’t a huge blow. The upside on this deal is enormous, though.
Predicted Record Range: 92-97 wins
You know it’s not a good year for the Mariners offense when even Ichiro is slumping:
Jesus Montero, Hector Noesi, George Sherill, Kevin Millwood, John Jaso, Chris Gimenez, and Aaron Heilman. (Again, I deem a player notable by my personal name recognition of said player. Feel free to correct me if you think you know the players better than I do.)
Michael Pineda, Jose Campos, Willy Mo Peña, Josh Lueke, Adam Kennedy, Milton Bradley, and most likely David Aardsma.
Why?: I don’t know. I personally like the Pineda trade for the Mariners, even though I have heard negative feedback given by people who were Mariner fans at the time of the trade. Let me explain my point of view, and then you can either decide to agree or disagree. Michael Pineda was definitely good in the first half. He made the All-star team with an ERA of 2.74. That was a great pitcher on display. However, he ended up the year with a 3.74 ERA, which means he had a 5.12 ERA in the second half. This just leads to the argument of uncertainty with Pineda. Personally, I think this argument is BS when saying that the Mariners benefited from the trade, because we haven’t seen much of Montero.
Here are two arguments I *do* agree with. First, I think that having Montero around is better than having Pineda around, because the Mariners are stacked in their farm system as far as pitching goes. Pineda is way more replaceable to the Mariners than Montero is. The Mariners were a good pitching team while they were the worst offense in the MLB. Their team ERA was 3.90, or 15th best in the league while their team AVG was .233, or worst in the MLB (Personally, I don’t like AVG, because it’s too subject to luck, so I saw the indication of their terrible offense in their league low 556 runs scored). The second point is that Montero outperformed the league more than Pineda did (both were rookies). Pineda’s ERA was 3.74 compared to the league average of 3.94 or 5% better than the league average. Meanwhile, Montero’s AVG was .328 compared to the league average of .255 or 29% better than the league average.
I really can’t evaluate the other prospects swapped in this deal, because as I mentioned in the first entry of this variety, I really don’t pay much attention to prospects who haven’t tasted “The Show”.
Other than this trade, nothing EXTREMELY notable happened. I guess they essentially brought back “The Brim Reaper” George Sherill to close for them, although they could still re-sign David Aardsma as no one has picked him up as I write this entry.
Predicted Record Range: 65-70 wins I think it could easily be 70-75 wins with prospects coming to fruition, but this is the record range based purely on the exchange of talent taking place over this offseason.
Up Next: Which ever Texas team has most votes by midnight tonight January, 25th, 2012, will be the next entry